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The Black Plague (and other signs of summer)

Ok. I hope I'm back for good now. I have been really sick (at least for me) over the past 2 weeks.

I thought I had bronchitis, or maybe even walking pnuemonia. I was all achy and flu-like, had headaches, my throat was sore and I had an awful, awful cough that made my entire chest ache.

After a week of this, I went to the doctor to get a real diagnosis. As it turns out, I really did have bronchitis, but the underlying cause was something I hadn't considered- gastroesophageal reflux disease (or acid reflux disease or GERD). This was a tad disconcerting, given the situation my family is in right now.

A few months back my mother was diagnosed with a type of fibroid lung disease. After doing extensive tests, her doctors theorize that what caused her massive amounts of lung scar tissue was probably an undiagnosed/treated case of esophageal reflux. The stomach acid ate away at her esophagus and then began working on her lungs. She is doing fine now, but is on oxygen 24/7 (more than likely a permanent situation) and could possibly need a lung transplant not too far down the road.

Sitting in my doctor's office, hearing this particular diagnosis, I had an epiphany. Up until now, I feel like I've lead a pretty charmed life as far as diet and food go. I eat what I want when I want it. I don't eat horrible things, but I know I eat too much of everything. And I get ZERO exercize. I used to get plenty of exercize. I used to run or walk 2 miles a day. I'm not sure why I ever stopped doing that.

Anyway- so what this has meant for me over the past week, is a kind of boot camp for food. I have a list of foods I should avoid while we're getting the stomach acid situation under control:

foods high in fat (like everything I crave)
citrus foods such as orange juice
tomato-based foods
spicy foods

I feel sure that all of these things will come back (in moderation), but for right now I'm trying to get better about avoiding some of them.

OK- enough whining. I am also going to post a recipe today (I finally feel like getting back in the kitchen). Stay tuned.....


BreathinSteven said…
Hey Lady!!!

I hope your Mom is all right... GERD / reflux is becoming a lot more alarming than it has in the past... I don't know if your Mom was diagnosed with IPF / Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis -- but now they're expecting many cases of IPF likely began with reflux...

It's not so much that the acid "eats away at the esophagus then" begins working on the lungs -- it's something that some are now referring to as "silent aspiration"...

Particularly at night while your in a position laying down, the stomach fluids can travel up the esophagus and can be somewhat sprayed / misted into the lungs... Over a long period of time it will cause damage and scaring and now they're finding out / realizing that sometimes leads to IPF...

In addition to the foods (all of which I love -- why can't they tell you no more brocolli or mustard greens!!! -- why does it have to involve chocolate and tomatoes and coffee?!?!) you might also consider sleeping with your head a little higher -- they sell "wedge pillows" or you can chuck a few books under the feet at the head of your bed... (I imagine the doc may have mentioned that...)

Things and foods will come back -- and they've got some marvelous meds they didn't have 5-10-15 years ago that really keep things in check...

I'm a 48-year-old male and I used to have lung problems, but they weren't caused by GERD -- they were from cystic fibrosis -- but I'm around a lot of IPF patients... I'm breathing with girlie-lungs now... Lungs from a beautiful 17-year-old girl from Iowa named Kari who will be my hero until I breathe my last breath with her lungs... I have a little more about her at

You get that GERD checked out and do what they tell you -- and I hope your Mom continues doing OK -- oxygen 24/7 sucks, but it keeps you going... And if she ever does need a lung transplant, I hope what she needs is there when she needs it... I do a good deal of public speaking about organ donation to spread awareness so that people like your Mom can get what they need when they need it...



Steve Ferkau
Chicago, IL
Mimi said…
Thank you so much for leaving your comment!
I believe my mother's disease is something like "intercessional" fibroid lung disease, or something like that. I am in the process of getting more info so I can help her and maybe avoid a similar diagnosis one day myself!
BreathinSteven said…
You're so very welcome! I'm not sure, but I think that the word you may be looking for is "interstitial"... You might try this link at the American Lung Association website -- it has some definitions...

And I hope you've nipped things in the bud and will avoid your Mom's situation in the future...


Anonymous said…
I'm glad your Mom finally got a diagnosis. That's something for sure and while you're here, I'll do whatever I can to help out at the house - pick up where you and Devin left off. Di

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