Health Alert: Acid Reflux, Aciphex, Tinnitus, and Vocal Cords

If you don’t care about me or my health, you can skip right over this post and read the other stuff in this blog. It’s far more interesting and less disgusting than this post.

If you know me, you know I’ve got Acid Reflux disease. Common and not much to say about it really. I’ve had it for quite a few years and finally started treatment for it about 3 or so years ago. Although we’re not sure what caused it, the suspicion is one of those nasty drugs they gave me trying to cure my tinnitus might have caused it since some of those drugs had my stomach in turmoil. I still have tinnitus of course — happily I don’t have a terrible case of it as it comes and goes, but when I do have it, it’s maddening. My very distant cousin William “Captain Kirk” Shatner has tinnitus too.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand and continuing with the back story, last month I went to my doctor for my annual physical — you know the one I only have every 3 to 5 years because, like most guys, I hate going to the doctor. My doctor rather insisted I have one when I went in. Happily, I passed with flying colours at least. All my blood counts were normal, cholesterol was almost normal (165), blood pressure was flawless, and even my EKG showed as perfectly normal — pretty cool for a guy who is decidedly not normal and prides himself on it. But when it comes to one’s health, I guess normal is good. My doctor though I had the heart of a 20-year-old, though I could probably stand to lose a few pounds.

While there, I mentioned to my doctor that my throat was a bit sore on one side. He squeezed around it, poked, prodded, asked questions, and said I probably needed to take an antacid before bed in addition to Aciphex (which I take for the aforementioned Acid Reflux). He thought it would get better. But, quite frankly, it hasn’t in the past few weeks, and it started getting worse. You may find this hard to believe, but I am getting to a point.

So today I went to an otolaryngologist. The doctor tried to use a tongue depressor to look down my throat but I have a serious gag reflex and that, despite my advanced warning, did not work out well — as the doctor found out. If the patient says not do so something, be warned.

So, after failing to succeed with that plan, he went to plan “B” which was to spray some substance like Lidocaine up my nostril which of course made it numb and without feeling on one side, a bizarre feeling. You know that expression “up your nose with a rubber hose” — well that’s pretty much what it was except there was a camera on the end. It went up my nose and down my throat along with my admonitions — swallow, breathe through your nose, etc. It’s really hard when there’s a camera shoved up your nose to breathe through it at the same time. Try it some time. Then the ‘swallow’ trick is pretty hard too. It’s very uncomfortable but not painful at all, as long as you don’t think about it. So up to now, this post has been wildly entertaining and/or gross for everyone. Now is when you want to stop reading, ’cause this test produced results.

Yeah, so the news wasn’t good. The good news is I went to the doctor early enough. If you don’t go to the doctor you can end up with cancer in the throat or esophagus, often fatal. Fatal is bad. I don’t have that so far. However, there is a growth/lesion on my left vocal cord near the top where it connects. I’ve named it “Fred” — okay, that’s a lie, I haven’t named it because I’m hoping it’ll go away and if you name something you get attached to it. Never name a stray. Because of the acid reflux, this lesion has been irritated and is now swollen and growing. Growing is bad.

The plan of action is to reduce my acid production to about zero. I am still on Aciphex but now also on Pepcid and Nexium in addition, plus Tums as needed. On top of that, a heavily restricted diet has been ordered. Basically, if it has flavour I probably shouldn’t eat it. In fact, judging by the list the doctor gave me, if it has flavour or colour I shouldn’t eat it. Yes, it’s white mushy crap for the next five weeks: mashed potatoes, boiled rice, and so forth. (It’s amazing the list of foods you can’t eat when on an acid restricted diet: no bananas, dairy, carbonated anything, no caffeine, alcohol, coffee, tea, carrots, broccoli, peaches, apples, fruit juice, citrus, beans, and so on….)

In five weeks, I return to the doctor for a follow up. If “Fred” is shrinking, yay! If it’s not, it’s surgery for me. Very risky for my vocal cords and I prefer not to lose my ability to speak. I’ve always felt if the doctor thinks it might be risky, then it’s definitely risky.

So there it is. I am, however, done being cranky about it as I have been all day. That is until I find out I can’t eat anything except bread and water.

Leave a Reply