MALIA’S PERSONAL STORY

Fall of 2021, I was just dropped off by my parents as a freshman in college. I remember that feeling the first day I was there. The air was so fresh. But as orientation week went on, something started to happen to me. I developed a huge lump in the back of my throat. I started crying for no apparent reason, making the lump feel even worse. My chest started burning. All the time. But worse of all, the pressure. There was always so much pressure. In my chest, in my throat. On my seventh day of university, it got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breath. On top of the pressure, I had a panic attack. The ambulance was called. They told me nothing looked wrong. But if I kept hyperventilating, they’d have to take me to the hospital and give me something to calm me down. I opted to stay in my dorm, since they told me nothing was wrong. I hoped I would be better in the morning. I wasn’t. Mind you, this is during COVID. I was a freshman. I was between doctors at the moment, and the university health services were only doing over the phone consultations. Numerous times, I was told nothing was wrong. I needed a strep throat test. I needed to take my allergy pills. Then, finally, a months into school (I was struggling), I was informed that I could very possibly have GERD. Even though GERD, well, sucks, it was nice to finally have an answer. However, knowing I had GERD wasn’t enough. At my school, with everyone getting appointments for their COVID symptoms, I couldn’t get a sit down appointment with a doctor to talk about my options. (please get vaccinated people). It got to a point where I did some research and decided to gets some famotidine (over the counter) to alleviate some of the symptoms. It worked. Pretty well at that. Then I stopped. I wanted to prove to everyone, and myself, that I was 100% better. I had a barbeque sandwich for dinner. The next day, I woke up to the worst pressure I’d ever felt. I couldn’t breath, I felt like I couldn’t move. Worst of all, I couldn’t think. When the pressure decreased, I decided that I was in no shape to be worried about college. I needed to get my health back on track. I needed to be surrounded by familiar medical professions and my family, who would look after me and personally oversee my recovery. I booked a one-way trip home, dropping all of my academics. That was 3 months ago. Now with a new diet, medication, and hand-on treatment, I am finally on the road to recovery. Although my breathing doesn’t feel the same, the pressure is almost never there. I am more knowledgeable about treatment and surgical options. And, I am more comfortable with exercise and fitness. I can finally walk my dogs again. I can talk in more than just short phrases. I can ride in cars and planes (yes, even that was an issue). Although air feels different, it still feels free. I can enjoy that once more. However, I’m always afraid that one slip up, one meal, will ruin my day, week, month, or even semester. So ya, that’s currently my life with GERD. It’s a work in progress.

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