RHEA MILLER'S PERSONAL STORY

February 16, 2019 Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Hi, I’m Rhea, I’m 17.


On October 8th, I had surgery to get my wisdom teeth out. For the next few weeks, I was on every medicine you could think of. Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Hydrocodone, Antibiotics, the works. I was constantly drugged with something, so I was constantly putting chemicals in my stomach. About a week after I was taken off the meds, I started to get burning pain, usually in the middle of the night. It didn’t start out bad, but it progressively got worse as the days went on, to the point where I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain. I finally made an appointment with my doctor sometime in mid December, because living with this pain had become unbearable. The strangest thing? Things you wouldn’t expect to trigger it would trigger it. I ate Thanksgiving dinner and was completely fine. A few days later, I ate a yogurt cup and was in fetal position on the floor. I thought it might be dairy, but the next night I ate a mug of hot coco made with milk and was fine. My doctor’s office told me that, until my appointment, I was to not eat anything 2 hours before I went to bed. I didn’t eat anything for 5 hours. And, of course, in the middle of the night I was up again, throwing up bile into the toilet until I was blue in the face. On January 2nd, I finally had my doctor’s appointment. We made a treatment plan. At least a year’s worth of PPIs are in my future (I’m on the highest dosage right now and it will continue to get lower and lower every two months). Any breakthrough reflux I have on the meds is treated with emergency Cimetidine. But, the thing I‘ve found that helps the most is a TENS unit. It’s a lifesaver, I’m telling you. If you’re in the middle of a reflux attack, put the electrodes directly over your pain and then turn it on. The purpose of a TENS unit is to not stimulate your nerves (although it does), but to distract your brain and redirect the pain signals so that you don’t feel any pain. It works wonders. I haven’t had an attack in a few weeks now, but just in case, I have my TENS unit right beside me while I sleep.

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