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When I was in second grade in 1995 I started to have stomach issues. I was never a very large child and didn’t have any weight that I could afford to lose. Over several months I lost so much weight I almost had to be hospitalized. All I knew was every time I ate I felt so sick- so I’d eat just a bite or two and stop. My mother was pushing my pediatrician for answers. His response after switching me to a lactose free diet (which didn’t make a difference) was that it was all my head. I also endured a barium x-ray of my GI tract. I remember the technician telling me I did better than most adults.

Finally, my mother finally got me in to see a GI doctor. My pediatrician had been balking on giving us the necessary referral for insurance to cover the visit. When I finally saw the specialist he had a diagnosis within 5 minutes after listening to everything my mother told him. He put me on medication and I also had an upper GI endoscopy done to confirm the diagnosis. My diet became very limited. All citrus and other acidic foods were cut out, so no spaghetti with red sauce, oranges, pizza, etc. I wasn’t allowed to have anything spicy, so no more tacos. Anything with caffeine was cut out of my diet, so no chocolate or soda, etc. The list of what I could eat was much shorter than the list of what I couldn’t eat. This made birthday parties especially hard, although everyone tried to accommodate me as best they could (breadsticks instead of pizza, they tried to have vanilla ice cream for me, etc.). We also raised the head of my bed in addition to restricting my diet and prescription medication.

I was diagnosed before acid reflux was all over the TV and something that was talked about. It was before we had the PPIs that are available now. I was put on liquid Zantac (ranitidine) and Propulsid in addition to OTC medications, such as liquid Mylanta. Propulsid actually ended up being recalled for causing fatal heart arrhythmia in some patients. The ranitidine was foul tasting and is known as being one of the worst tasting liquid medications out there. In fact a nurse was really surprised when she asked my mother how easily I took it and my mother replied that I took it without any issues. My mother says that goes to show just how sick I felt that I would take nasty liquid medications without a fuss as I knew I would feel better. I had to take the medications three times a day, so while I was in school that meant a trip down to the nurse to take it. It also complicated sleepovers, so we tended to have them at my house.

We eventually got it under control, but then it flared up again from stress when we had a major move to a new state. We got it under control again and I was fine for many years. It flared up again in my senior year of high school, even though I was excited and not stressed about graduation and college. I’ve been on PPIs since 2006. I’m hoping in the future that I might be able to get off PPIs and have a more permanent fix.

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