My (new) fat year: hiatus

Oh my goodness. Was it really 5 February when I last posted about my (new) fat year? I think it’s fair to say I’ve been having a bit of a … hiatus. (Keep reading!)

We were doing really well on the high-fibre diet. We were eating at meal times only – mostly – and feeling fuller for longer with less of a need to snack. Our clothes were fitting better. And we were starting to get some more energy. I even managed to keep off the scales, which was a daily obsession that definitely needed breaking.

And then I started to feel ill. I started to have chest pains, but I knew from a previous episode that my heart was probably fine. However, I was getting indigestion and heartburn all of the time. Rennies weren’t touching it any more.

I was getting really bad acid reflux every night. And at one point – well, two times, actually – I had what felt like a marble stuck in my gullet and I had to hold my breath to get rid of it. (Apparently, the poet had something similar once upon a time, but his “lump”, of course, was the size of a golf ball … it’s since grown to the size of a tennis ball in the re-telling!)

And then I noticed some posts for World Cancer Day 2019, which was on 4 February … and while one or two of the symptoms discussed almost matched my own, I tried not to worry too much as so many other symptoms were non-existent – such as the loss of weight …

Off I pootled to the doctor anyway, yet again, with yet another digestion/weight query/worry. He put me on antacids for a fortnight and asked me to note what I was eating that might be triggering this. It was only a short list, but it looked like this:

  • chocolate (wail!)

  • oranges

  • orange- or lemon-flavoured squash (cordial)

  • eating late at night

  • fizzy pop

  • orange- or lemon-flavoured sweets

I also had to eat food that either eased the symptoms or didn’t cause them at all, and that list included the following:

  • white bread

  • white scones

  • pears

  • white pasta

  • Soreen maltloaf
  • water or other flavoured squashes

So was the high-fibre diet causing this, or was it aggravating it? Was it just a shock to the system? Or were the two completely unrelated?

The antacids worked, for the fortnight, but as soon as I stopped taking them, the indigestion came back. So I was given an extension for another fortnight. And, again, they worked while I was taking them, but stopped working within 6 or 7 days of coming off them – and you’re not supposed to take antacids for extended periods of time as they, apparently, mask other symptoms.

(The poet, by the way, also had antacids prescribed and his acid reflux went away, never to be seen again.)

The next stage was a trip to the endoscopy unit for a gastroscopy. This is where they send a camera on the end of a tube down into your gullet. And my appointment was yesterday.

I was very nervous and almost postponed it as it was originally for very early in the morning – on the morning after a Monkey Dust gig, which is always a late night anyway, but this particular one is usually the latest. And they did postpone it … to 1:10 in the afternoon!

They were running behind when we got there and expected me to be waiting for at least an hour before I went in. But they got me in much sooner in the end.

I opted for a sedative, although the consultant tried to change my mind, saying by the time the sedative kicks in, the procedure will be over and done with. But, wimp that I am, I insisted, and that was why the poet had come with me really, to drive me home after the sedative. And to hold my hand, of course, and give moral support.

I worried that I might gag (or gip, as they say around here), that I might belch or bring something up. I worried I’d be a total baby and wimp out completely. But I was brave and determined … and it really wasn’t that much to worry about.

They sprayed my throat to numb it, they put a plastic … thing in my mouth to guide the tube in, and they really were in and out within a moment. Probably 3 minutes tops.

And the verdict? I have a hiatus hernia, quite a large one, apparently. And that is such a relief – on several counts:

  1. It really isn’t that sinister

  2. It’s actually quite common and treatable

  3. I wasn’t imagining the symptoms

  4. I wasn’t wasting anybody’s time

  5. There’s a lot I can do to ease it

I don’t remember coming home from the hospital, but I do remember having bread and jam when we got in as I hadn’t eaten anything since 2am that morning. I was to stay away from hot drinks, but I did have a cup of hot milk at bedtime. They warned I might have a sore throat for a couple of days, and I do have one, of a fashion. It isn’t sore as such, more … bruised. So the hot milk at bedtime was quite soothing.

This morning, I hopped on the scales for the first time in ages. We’ve also cut aspartame out of our diet and re-introduced sugar, and I thought the scales might have a shock for me after such a long time of not checking. But my weight hasn’t budged a pound. It hasn’t gone up and it hasn’t gone down.

I have some research to do. Apparently a hiatus hernia can be managed and it can be reversed, but in many cases they can operate to put it back and repair the tear in the diaphragm.

We can probably re-introduce the high-fibre diet, but we might want to do it slightly more gradually. And I can re-introduce walking – one doctor told me I was wasting my time if I wanted to walk for weight loss, as you have to do a lot more, apparently, to see much of a difference. But gentle exercise is part of the maintenance or reversal procedure.

I have no idea if the hiatus hernia is what caused me to gain the weight in the first place, or if it’s prevented me from losing the weight. But there’s lots for me to find out about now, and our diet will be re-organised to suit.

Onwards at last! And Phew!

2 Responses

  1. Phew indeed. That must have been a real worry. You were really brave. I’ve never had to face an endoscopy, I can gag/gip on my own toothbrush at times, so I wouldn’t be half as brave!
    I also have terrible acid reflux and take a prescribed drug, once a day, that stops it happening. I’ve tried coming off it, but the reflux returns.
    Hope you are able to sort the hernia – show it who’s boss! Take care.

    • Apparently *everyone* warns them that they have a low gag threshold, but I didn’t gag once, but I did do an involuntary burp. Oops! It is a relief, though, and something to work towards.