It all started about 15 years ago. I had recurring cases of heartburn – especially nights. I went in for a checkup and they sent me to a specialist for a gastroscopy. The result was that the valve that keeps stomach acid out of the esophagus had been „burned“ by stomach acid (Reflux Oesophagitis)and that I would have to take tablets for the rest of my life to keep the stomach acid weak enough to prevent further damage. The pills (Omeprazol then Nexium) work!
Fast forward about 8 years, after a New Years Buffet, I developed chest pain like I have never experienced before. I drove to the hospital at 3:00 in the morning suspecting a heart attack and they let me sit in pain until around 07:30 when a doctor performed the gastroscopy again and found more damage. They gave me Tramal (a strong opiate) to damp the pain and I calmed down. They could not determine why in spite of religiously taking the pills I had this relapse. Eventually they decided that I was allergic to tomatos, pineapple, rhubarb and Gewürztraminer white wine. – all stuff that I ate during the Buffet. I was discharged after 3 days. Unfortunately, because of the Opiates, my intestines went into sleep mode and everything stopped up. At the same time I caught a stomach virus. My dilemma: The virus was there but couldn’t go anywhere. Now my whole body was in pain and unfortunately the opiates effects lasted about 3 weeks before I was able to get intestinal movement again.
Again, I had 6 years of no real further symptoms, then it came back with a new twist: I would be eating and all of a sudden it felt like my stomach locked up and the food that I swallowed was stuck in my throat. That gave me a feeling that I needed to vomit, which I usually did and then I was immediately able to finish eating. Again, I suspected that there was an allergic reaction as usually cheese was involved before the incident. This only happened 4-5 times in a year and therefore did not seem especially „critical“. A little more than a year ago, I had a „stronger“ reaction: 2 minutes of eating resulted in 5 hours of vomitting. It was a musically busy period so I was distracted enough to not go to the doctor immediately afterwards. Then came August last year. A repeat of the previous event, but 7 hours + of vomitting. I went to the hospital and they performed a series of tests with xrays and other things – no obvious cause detected. The last test was a gastroscopy and THAT doctor saw something wrong immediately. He said that a portion of my stomach had pushed its way through the diaphragm and that this was called „Upside-Down-Stomach“ or hiatus-hernie and could cause the reactions that I had.
They wanted to operate immediately but I had the entire fall and Christmas season with concerts so I asked what could I do. They told me that this was a VERY bad request on my part, but by increasing the pills, that I could keep the acid so low in level that with a bit of luck, I could get through. The last Concert in the series was Brittens War Requiem on the 8th and 9th of February 2014. My operation was scheduled for the 10th at 9:00 AM.
After the operation the surgeon told me what I had broken in all of these years of playing with desaster: The hole in my diaphragm was about 4“ in diameter and both the esophagus and aorta abdominalis shared that hole. Google "Upside Down Stomach". The diaphragm had to be reinforced with a net made out of pigskin.
I am patched up now and back home but have to lay off 100% for the next 3 months!
The moral of the story: Do what you are supposed to do, when you should. Then you will not have to when you have to!
Please spare me "advice" unless you have first hand experience in dealing with EXACTLY WHAT I HAD. I have excellent chop exercizes that I have used successfully for over 40 years and am not looking for new experiments.
This post only should serve as a warning to not selfdiagnose when you have recurring heartburn and to "help" your doc by not wanting a patch, rather a solution.