Sometimes I write a comment in response to someone else’s comment and it has so much content that it really should be a post of its own. This is one such comment with….hmmm….a few modifications.

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Photo complements of The Body Consultants.

I know!

I KNOW!!

But being macho is not just a male trait, I’m female and am just as guilty.

I don’t want to be seen as a ‘WUSS’ or have the label ‘HYPOCHONDRIAC’, but that’s no excuse for dancing all night on a broken foot and boasting about it to the technician putting the cast on at 2:00 am.

The truth is that the nagging messages we get from our bodies are pleas for help.

backache (1)

Thanks to Lotus Love for this image.

Years of masking acid reflux with a bottle of Tums…a lifetime of drinking Coke even when it will melt a nail overnight…a nagging headache that just won’t go away…shortness of breath after climbing the stairs each night…

My body speaks to me constantly, begging for mercy, but I’m so busy I deliberately tune it out. I’ve become entrenched in the habit of ignoring the messages and it’s more comfortable to live in pain than to make an appointment with a doctor.

My suffering has grown to status symbol importance, like MacDonald’s golden arches, and I constantly remind all within hearing that “My Back is KILLING ME!” when, in truth, it is me killing my back.

abdominal pain

Complements of UCMP Helathbeat

And, all the while, my body has been building a backlog of stress from the pain and is reacting by dumping more acid into my stomach, increasing my heart rate, and keeping me awake at night so I can’t heal.

Then…when something breaks and can’t be fixed I proudly say such things as, “I haven’t been to the doctor in 30 years! Never been sick a day in my life! How could this happen to me???” It would be more truthful to say, “Why didn’t I pay attention to the signs and take care of this before it reached epic proportions? I guess I brought this all on myself.”

MamaCatThe funny thing is, although I feel that I can’t afford the time or expense for my own medical issues, I take my pets to the vet if they don’t eat right for a few days, or they mope around like they don’t feel well. But I never consider the owner of the pet. What will happen to them if I can’t get up at feed time or take them out?

I know maintenance is necessary for other things so I take my car to the shop if the engine sounds funny or the brakes don’t work, or the windshield wipers make noise. But what about the driver of the car. How difficult will repairs be when I have a stroke while driving? And what about that family in the  minivan next to me?

 Why do I always feel that I am invincible?

  Our journey of discovery through esophageal cancer and the medical system.

The first symptom we noticed was at our anniversary dinner when food got stuck in Ted’s throat. That was not actually the first symptom.

For years Ted had acid reflux. He complained that I cooked dinner too late and this caused his acid reflux. Yes, I did cook late, but when I cooked earlier he ate something later anyway. We would snack as we watched TV until late into the night. While snacking on popcorn, potato chips, another bowl of chili, or whatever else he found to munch, he drank gallons of coke. Rarely was his glass empty for more than five minutes. He called it our ‘decadent lifestyle’.

Because he often had acid reflux, there was a gigantic bottle of TUMS on his bedside table. There were several other bottles in the ensuite bath, and another bottle in the kitchen. As a precaution, there was even a bottle in the family room, within reach as we watched TV.

The first symptom – the one we never paid any attention to – was his sudden lack of acid reflux. In fact, he had not taken a TUMS in over a week before he even mentioned it to me. He was relieved because the pain had been getting so severe that he thought he might have an ulcer.

If you have persistent acid reflux, there is a good possibility that the constant burning is causing changes in the tissue of your esophagus. This can be checked by a doctor performing an endoscopy. If there are changes to the tissue your doctor will have a heads-up and can keep an eye on it.

Even if there are no changes, there are medications you can take that will help neutralize the acid. Eating habits and diet can be adjusted so that acid reflux is less likely to occur.

If you’ve had long-term acid reflux and it has suddenly – for no apparent reason – disappeared, I urge you to see your doctor immediately. You only get one esophagus, and esophageal cancer is aggressive.

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