Monday, June 6, 2011

Please Don't Pass the Salsa...

The last few months have been insanely busy. Going back to school with two kids was quite a shock. Then two months ago after drinking a Kombucha, my throat closed up. I had just read Sloane Miller's new book Allergic Girl and while I was reading it, I kept on thinking "Wow--well there is one problem I don't have" because we don't have any IgE allergies in our family. Our throats don't close up and we don't need an EpiPen--we just can't eat gluten.

Which is why I was quite surprised when my throat closed up on the way to the library while drinking a Kombucha a few weeks later. I tossed my glass bottle of Brooklyn Kombucha in a garbage can on the corner and headed to a deli for some Benedryl. The antihistamine seemed to work a little and I stuffed the extra hot pink pills in my wallet for a rainy day. Then a week later my throat closed up AGAIN--but I hadn't drunk a Kombucha. And the Benedryl didn't have any effect. In the middle of the night one evening when it happened again, I headed to the ER because it was late and I was worried about falling asleep with my throat swollen. The ER told me it had been so long (since the throat closing had started after dinner) that I wasn't going to die and there was nothing they could do for me except recommend a CT scan to make sure an object wasn't stuck in my throat. (Another wonderful mainstream medical moment for me.) Finally, in math class before my third exam after eating a Kind Bar, I felt the same tightening of my throat and inability to breath. After my exam I called an allergist to rule out allergies.

The funny thing was, despite my symptoms no one seemed to be in any rush to examine me. Two weeks later I went in for allergy testing. They did a breath test to check my breathing and rows of allergens on my arms which revealed I wasn't allergic to anything. Minutes later, the allergist grabbed Dr. Aviv, an ENT who did a scope and determined I had laryngopharyngeal reflux and vocal cord dysfunction. My windpipe was snapping shut when I was inhaling and preventing normal airflow. To me it felt like I was suffocating. And I was. According to my sister who has a similar problem, the doctor told her in some studies 90% of the population has reflux at some point in their lives so this isn't a rare and unusual condition. Although the vocal cord disorder, which I have never heard of might be an unusual presentation. Often vocal cord disorder presents as asthma but an inhaler has no effect.

Dr. Aviv recommended a book called "Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure", a speech pathologist and Prilosec for six weeks. He also gave me some articles he had written on this disorder.

I don't know what triggered my reflux and vocal cord dysfunction but I do know that all the food I was eating was on the "do not eat" list. Almonds, Cocoa, Lemon, Vinegar, Kombucha (caffeine and carbonation,) Salsa, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers. The last 20 years I have been guzzling hot sauce. And I was completely fine until I wasn't. They are ruling out H-Pylori--a bacteria which also causes ulcers. Of course, there is no better way to learn about reflux than to live with it. Theory is one thing--reality is another.

I started with a week of a low acid diet, and when that didn't work I took everyone's advice and took a week of Prilosec. For a bunch of reasons, I have switched from Prilosec to Manuka Honey.

I still don't have the energy for a full post about everything I have learned over the last few months--my mind is spinning and I am unable to write without spicy condiments. But I wanted to let everyone know that I am fine--just gluten free and salsa free for the time being. Please don't pass the hot sauce.

More later on Reflux and Manuca Honey.


Benbarton1 said...

Wow, super sorry to hear about this. Good luck ironing it all out and hang in there!

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Cindy said...

Oh my goodness! That sounds very scary, and I hope you'll be feeling better soon.

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Cannon and Kassie said...

Crazy! I'm glad that you figured it out but that stinks that you have to further restrict your diet. I hope it helps it not to happen again xo

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