August 23, 2019

Ulcer Culture

I'm in great shape for an uninsured man who has sought medical care all of three times in the last ten years. I'm usually hesitant to even take an ibuprofen for headache, relying instead on hot washcloths and Tibetan singing bowl videos. There's just something about the pharmaceutical industry I don't like. I think it's the greed and cruelty.

On two separate occasions, flu made me so dehydrated that I sought help at my friendly neighborhood emergency room. I don't know what kind of rehydrating solution they used, but, judging by the bill I got later, this magical concoction was made from unicorn tears. I'm a little surprised IV fluids haven't replaced the gold standard. The doctor popped his head into my room and said hello. That was another thousand.

About five years ago, I popped down to an Urgent Care to get some medicine to treat a stomach ulcer whose status had changed from "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" to "Maneater." The doctor sent me away with a prescription for some antibiotics and Prilosec, warning me that - goofy Dracula voice - someTIMES they come BACK!  Blah!

One year later, just like a Girl Scout selling cookies (or in this case, an ulcer), the little pest returned. This time, money was more scarce than usual, so I simply masked the pain with Prilosec. Prilosec is amazingly effective at letting you eat whatever you want without pain, even tomatoes, to which I'm allergic. So, it's very tempting to go beyond the recommended 14 day limit. Never one to pass up a hot slice of pizza, I took them for four years, up until about a month ago.

That's when I noticed that I was having heartburn even with the Prilosec. "This can't be good," I thought, swallowing a mouthful of lasagna laden with ketchup and salsa. I knew that the time had come to face the almost unthinkable prospect of - goofy Dracula voice- eating HEALTHY and making SENSible LIFEstyle CHOICES!  I owed it to myself, and I owed it to the people who really cared about me, all three of them.

The first thing I did was cut out soft drinks. Oh, what a cola nut I am. I'm a root beer drunk. A Mountain Dew disciple. A Coke addict. I believe my mother filled my baby bottles with Dr. Pepper, which would explain the rubber walls in my nursery. But I did it. No soda, no cry.

Next, I stopped taking Prilosec, replacing it with Zantac, which works differently. I stopped eating all dishes with tomatoes. Incidentally, that is 90% of all dishes. Instead, I have been eating sensible foods, like yogurt with blueberries and honey, washed down with aloe water. I am down to half a cup of coffee a day and, after quitting smoking ten times in the last month, I'm... almost certainly not smoking as much.

You might wonder why I haven't just returned to the doctor to get some more antibiotics. Well, besides being on a budget (and on top of that, broke!), apparently the little buggers that cause ulcer, h. pylori, become more resistant to antibiotics every time you use them. That means if I use antibiotics and the ulcer comes back, it's going to have brass knuckles and a Hitler tattoo.

After a week of up and down days, I feel pretty solid. My hope is that I have extricated the h. pylori from my stomach lining with a steady stream of cranberry juice, bone broth and Pepto Bismol. I am going to take one more round of Prilosec so stomach acid won't interfere with the healing process. In 14 days, my gut should be as good as new, or at least, certified refurbished.

Until then, I'll try to post as much as I can. I'd like to post here every day, preferably a few times an hour. I want to be around a long time, at least until the End of Days.

Stay attuned...

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