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2013-52 Week 12

I’m going to warn you up top that I can already tell this is going to be a weird one. It’s been a busy week and I’ve found it difficult to work up the will to actually write this, but a self-imposed deadline does wonders to light a fire under you. I’ll also say that I will be talking about myself in a critical way in the following paragraphs, but that doesn’t reflect my attitude at the moment. Call it a little bit of self-analysis, brought on by the events of the past couple days, which in turn have changed my outlook for the next year (and, potentially, the rest of my life) in intriguing ways.

Don’t you just love when events in your life are arrayed in such a way that you get to nearly immediately discover an area of (non-religious) hypocrisy? Hold on, I have to backtrack a bit. Actually, I have to backtrack a long way, the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, to be exact. It was my second to last visit to the Emergency room (the last one being for the dizziness that prompted the Lost Year) when I got a piece of chicken stuck in my esophagus. Did I mention that I’d be talking about my medical history here? You can go if you’re not interested, I understand completely. Anyhow, that piece of chicken lead to my nearly getting admitted to the hospital before I finally threw it up at four in the morning, a follow up appointment with my doctor which led to a referral to a gastro-doc in a shabby office in Van Nuys (assigned by my health company), an initial tube down my throat and the expansion of a stricture, a few months on acid reducers, and then a follow up tube down my throat that I never got the results for because I just didn’t like the office or doctor and once my appointment got shuffled around too many times I just walked away.

So with that out of the way, we can come back to my hypocrisy. Jess was telling me a story late last/early this week about a woman who developed an eating disorder in college and went years suffering from low energy and foggy mental processes before finally finding a roommate who showed her how to eat healthily and not worry about the perceptions of others. My initial thoughts were how ridiculous it was to be suffering with the same symptoms for years when the answer was so simple and staring her right in the face the whole time. I’m thinking that putting these last two paragraphs together, you can see where this is heading.

Warning again (I’m sensing a theme here), this paragraph is kind of gross. Since the second tube in March 2010, I have, on and off, had to deal with food proceeding slowly down my esophagus (once a day or every other day) and occasionally getting stuck to the point where I had to throw it back up again (see, gross), though never taking more than a couple minutes to work back up (this happened once a week or every other week). I take two Tums a night before bed, as I’ve had a couple nights where some acid reflux hit in the middle, and that was the initial diagnosis even though I showed absolutely zero other signs of heartburn. Anyhow, the Tums seemed to nip that problem in the bud, and while Jess convinced me to go back to my regular doctor to get a new referral before the end of last year, I hadn’t gotten around to actually making the appointment with the new gastro-doc. So last Friday night I get some Weinerschnitzel to bring home, as Jess and I were behind on our post-fight chili fries (have I not discussed those yet?), and Jess had stayed home from work that day (I just checked, and I haven’t talked about them yet, though it will have to wait for another time). I’ve always had trouble with Weinerschnitzel, as I tend to eat it too fast and not chew well enough, and meat is the worst offender with my esophagus. One thing I always found that was weird, if I had a problem during a meal, once I cleared it up it wouldn’t recur during the same meal. In this case, however, it got well stuck, enough that it took an hour and a half to clear and we were ten minutes for packing up to the emergency room again. I also attempted to drown myself in a genius maneuver where I tried to power it down by slamming water, assuming it was stuck in the same place as before which was down towards the entrance to my stomach. When it turned out to be just below my airway, well that water had to go somewhere and I barely managed to avoid dumping it all in my lungs.

So, long story short or if you skipped the previous paragraph, a barely avoiding having to go to the Emergency room with food stuck in my esophagus prompted a call to the new gastro-doc. It was at this point I realized things were serious, as I called at 4 pm on Monday (have I mentioned I don’t like phones?) and was told that they wouldn’t normally have anything until May, but they had a cancellation and the doctor had an availability for 2:30 the next day. An amazing blessing, and an indication that I should take this opportunity to get to the bottom of things. The appointment came quickly, and before I knew it I was waiting in a little room up in Mission Hills in a far nicer office, looking at a couple of certificates for “Highest Patient Satisfaction” (2008 and 2011) and playing on my phone. When I made the appointment they asked for the name of my previous gastro-doc and any procedures. The new doctor came in with all the information and started telling me what she thought was going on, though I quickly told her that I had never seen the results of the second test. This is where Jess gets her “I told you so”s in, because she has been asking me to get those results for YEARS. Turns out they were kind of important, as a biopsy during that test showed that it wasn’t acid reflux causing the constriction problems, it was inflammation from a major food allergy.

So three years later (almost to the day, both of my throat tubes were March 30/31) I had an answer, one that explained so many things. All the inflammation problems post-Lost year, the continued swallowing problems without any acid reflux symptoms, and even my difficulty in losing weight (Jess found an article indicating that major food allergies lead to an over-production of insulin which leads to an over-production of belly fat, strangely enough where I keep all mine). My hypocrisy was now clear, I had spent years living with symptoms that had an explanation that was mine for the taking. Apparently when I develop allergies I don’t screw around, as the level required for the diagnosis of this condition is a score of at least 15, and my score was over 100. I thought that I had developed pollen allergies in the past couple years, but it turns out that I may have just been manifesting this food allergy the whole time with widespread inflammation.

Unfortunately, while I may have an answer, I do not yet have the answer, as the diagnosis had no way of determining what I am allergic to. That is going to require some blood test and diet experimentation, although I was given a list of common allergens (dairy, egg, soy, nuts, wheat, and shellfish) which may be the culprit. It’s obviously something that I eat on a regular basis (sadly that discounts shellfish) and I’m really hoping it’s not dairy (I love you cheese!). This is apparently not common, and more is still being discovered about the condition (eosinophilic esophagitis), but it’s fantastic to finally be able to nail it down to certain degree.

Okay, that’s enough life-lesson learning and medical stuff, and enough for the week as we head into Easter weekend. Good Friday service is in a couple of hours and then a nice long weekend courtesy of Mr. Cesar Chavez on Monday. One other semi-exciting thing happened on the way to get Jess after my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, the back passenger tire on our car went flat. After a change to the mutant spare (which I eventually called AAA out to do after I got the car jacked up, the lug nuts weren’t turning and that’s what I pay them for, right?) and a trip to the place that sold me them (America’s Tire on Balboa south of Devonshire, recommend), they patched the valve stem, put the tire back on and I was merely out the four hours it took for the initial incident and waiting for the repair. So that could have been far worse.

Have a happy Easter everyone and remember that He is Risen!

Weight: 227 Loss: 3 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 174.2 miles (+5 miles) Last year-to-date: 78.7 miles – Words-to-date: 23552 (+1523)

Posted in Matt 2013-52, Matt General. Tagged with , , , , , , .

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  1. M said

    Yay, Matt, I’m glad you’re on the right track now. hope it doesn’t take long to figure it out

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