Acupuncture for GERD!

I have taken my own advice and started getting acupuncture for my GERD. These will be in the bariatric section of this blog since my GERD is caused by VSG and also under Health.

I’ve had the first appointment and it went very well. Not very painful at all. I could feel a couple of the needles, but in a zingy kind of way, not a hurty kind of way. I can’t explain it any better than that. The needles are tapping into your energy meridians in order to stimulate Qi, so if you think of these meridians as electrical circuits, you can imaging what a zingy feeling could be like. It’s interesting.

Dr Jiang Li is an AMAZING Chinese doctor here in Atlanta whom I HIGHLY recommend if you have ever wanted to explore Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. I saw her years ago for compressed disks cause by some asshole “trainer” who had zero clue what he was doing. The acupuncture session then was terribly painful the first time and somewhat better the second, but my back was completely better in just a few days. Read about the first session here and the second here – I am very specific with needle placement for the second session, so read it for info! (I have no idea why I stopped going after only two sessions, but it is SO like me to do that. Sigh.) This time is VERY different!

Anyway, I’ve been recommending Dr Li to people forever and it suddenly occurred to me that I should take my own advice and seek alternative treatment for this damned GERD. So here we are.

I will try to get her to take a photo of me during treatment next visit, so you can see what it looks like. I never look, I just try to be still and breathe. But here’s what happens during a visit:

1. Wear loose clothing! I forgot and had to deal with a bra and jeans! She generally does not ask you to disrobe.
2. She’ll ask you why you are there and allow you to tell her whatever you feel she needs to know. She is a good listener.
3. Then you’ll move your clothes around to expose the areas she needs to use.
4. You’ll lay on your back and she might palpate your organs if you’re there for that. I was, and she did.
5. Then the poking begins. You do NOT generally feel anything other than a tap. However, if she is right on the meridian that is having trouble, you might feel a slight poke and after that, the tingly zing I was talking about. That means she has hit on the RIGHT PLACE. It’s generally 10-12 needles, but I’m not certain since I keep my eyes CLOSED. Yes I am a chickenshit. LOL
6. She will leave you there for about 15-20 minutes. I use this time to breathe deeply into my Qi and try to stay relaxed. I was anxious during my first treatment and my body was trying hard to pass out – which you cannot do while supine, thankfully [memory of the first time made me anxious]. But I calmed down and it was fine. My issue was reflux, which is exacerbated by laying flat. THAT was an issue, but not the acupuncture. (Bringing bed wedge next time for this.)
7. She’ll come back and remove the needles in one motion. It’s SO crazy! Like, literally, ONE SECOND to remove them all.
8. She’ll then ask you to roll over on your stomach, or in my case, on my left side, to access your spine.
9. Again, the poking begins. She might press here and there with her fingers to find the spots first. I felt several of these, because that’s where the problem was years ago and that meridian is the problem child now. But nothing big, just a small prick then the tinglies.
10. She’ll leave you again for 15-20 mins.
11. She’ll come back in and take out the needles.
12. That’s it!

Notice there wasn’t anything about taking histories or any of that? Yep, TCM is about addressing the imbalances of your Qi NOW. You can present with whatever is bothering you and she will ask why you’re there, but that’s all she needs to know. She will also ask you if you have any heart, BP, or other issues before she starts. But for the most part, there is little talking and she gets to business. The session will take about an hour.

Afterwards, you go out front, set your next appointment and pay. If Dr Li thinks you need a medicinal tea, she’ll give it to you now. Unfortunately, I did need one. ::sob:: This is what it looks like:

And it tastes WORSE than it looks. It is BITTER, OMG, SO bitter. Like my soul bitter. ::shudder:: I have to take it twice a day for two weeks, until my next appointment. I will give you this advice about the medicinal teas: take them as a shot! They come as granules in a packet and the instructions say to put in 8oz of hot water. NOOOOOO. Here’s what I do in order to be able to get this nasty shit down my gullet:

Get a jar with a lid that holds a cup, pint, quart, whatever. I use a pint canning jar. Boil TWO OUNCES of water for each serving (1 packet) of the vile tea. Put the # of packets corresponding to the water in the jar. Add hot water to the jar and stir until the granules are dissolved. Put lid on the jar and refrigerate. Get a 2oz shot glass (or make a glass with a 2oz mark). When it’s time for the Death Tea™, get the jar and shake it to make sure meds are distributed, then measure out 2oz in your shot glass. Shoot that shit like it’s cheap tequila!! Voilà! Done!

My food knowledge helped me make up this method; knowing how to make a recipe that gives the proper dose and knowing that refrigeration will tamp down the nasty taste are key elements to this method. And it WORKS. I strongly suggest this if you are given Death Tea™. Blech. (Oddly, it does not make me the least bit nauseous, even being so gross. It’s weird shit, this Death Tea™!)

The teas are an integral part of balancing Qi, so you really need to take it if you are prescribed it. I can tell a difference even after only 1.5 days. If you want to know what you’re taking, you can look it up via google. For instance, my tea is “Left Side Metal” tea and when I search that, I get several articles about what that means, the organs it represents and tons of other info.

Last thing you need to know is that acupuncture is not expensive. A regular session with Dr Li is $80 plus the tea if you get one. That is SO affordable, considering how powerful TCM and acupuncture are. As I said, I’m already feeling different after ONE session and 3 doses of Death Tea™.

If you have chronic conditions, inflammatory conditions, GERD, arthritis, WHATEVER, I say, give acupuncture and TCM a go. I am taking my own advice and wondering why I didn’t do this years ago! I’ll post more about this as I go and I’ll try to get photos.

More PPI and Famotidine Info for GERD

This is a repost of the update I just did on my PPI post from last year.

While I am glad I’ve rid myself of PPI use, I can’t say that it’s been without its issues. I have bouts of GERD every single day, while awake and while asleep. I typically get a flare after eating (doesn’t matter what it is) and occasionally with alcohol.

I have been using Pepcid, an H2 blocker with antacid (10mg famotidine + 750mg calcium carbonate) when GERD was really bad or it was flaring before bed – and it works GREAT! I was having some issues with the H2, but they planed out. I do have some constipation issues, but nothing that a senna caplet can’t handle.

I looked up famotidine and it has the best track record for long term use. There are no long term health issues from using is, as there are with PPIs. I discovered that PPIs have been DIRECTLY LINKED to liver damage with long term use. That is in addition to the potential kidney issues. Here is the NIH article on liver damage. Yeah, HARD PASS on the PPIs.

I do use Tums (calcium carbonate) A LOT to manage the breakthrough GERD that I get during the day and sometimes at night. I was looking up the details of calcium carbonate, such as safe amounts to take daily and found that it’s generally 2-3 grams per day for old people like me. Each chew is 750mg, so that’s 3-4 per day. Sometimes I am within that, sometimes not. The long term overdosing on calcium carbonate can cause kidney stones, but that’s about it. Constipation is a common side effect, which I manage with senna.

BUT overall, I feel that famotidine and calcium carbonate are my long term solution to VSG induced GERD. I use calcium carbonate (Tums chews) during the day if I need it and I take one Pepcid (famotidine + calcium carbonate) before bed. I’ve been on this regimen for about a year and it is OK. Not as good as PPIs, but I just can’t justify the potential organ damage that is caused by stopping stomach acid production. I think there is going to be a huge wave of people with organ failures from taking PPIs for years. I don’t want to be one of them.

So, if you use PPIs regularly, I implore you to rethink that strategy. Remember, ANY drug that ends in -zole is a PPI. Drugs that end in -dine are H2 blockers. That is an easy way to tell what your Dr put you on.

You have to understand that Drs are all about treating symptoms. They rarely look at the long term effects of anything they prescribe. If your Dr has you on PPIs long term, ask him or her if they are aware of the various NIH papers and studies on the long term effects. I’d be shocked if they have read ANYTHING about it. If YOU want to educate yourself, then I suggest you read my posts about PPIs. I’ve linked to various studies and papers that have been done about the potentially deadly health issues caused by long term PPI use. HERE is a fairly inclusive post with lots of referral links. If you want it all, go to the search box (front page) and search GERD, which will give you ALL the posts I’ve made regarding GERD.

GERD Update #eleventyfive

The GERD has been worse the last few weeks, to the point of keeping me up at night and eating Tums like candy. The Pepcid helps, but I’ve had a couple of times where even that did not quell the pain 100%.

At the private dinner the other night, the doctor (who I was cooking for) was telling me that I needed to get GERD surgery or I might have a hiatal hernia that is causing the GERD. He was very sure that a Nissen fundoplication was the answer to my problems.

After some research, it appears that I am not able to have Nissen fundoplication to relieve my GERD since I’ve already had VSG surgery. There are many surgeons who are starting to do the Nissen WITH VSG due to so many VSG patients ending up with GERD or having it get worse. But of course, I missed that train. :(

I asked the Mexico surgeon about it and his only solution was RNY Bypass. There is nothing surgically I can do for this fucking GERD – other than go full on RNY bypass and I will NOT do that. If I’d wanted bypass I’d have gotten one at the outset. Bypass is a nasty business and it interferes with nutrition for the rest of one’s life. NO THANKS.

I can (and probably will) check to see if there’s a hernia causing all this strife. THAT can be fixed laparoscopically. But knowing my luck, it will not be a hernia, just a weak esophageal sphincter, which can only be fixed by the Nissen procedure.

I guess I’m left with GERD. I should buy stock in TUMS since I eat them like candy – literally after almost every meal. And Pepcid, which I have to take occasionally to sleep. Sucks.

The one shred of good news is that the Pepcid is not binding me up too badly, which means it is helping without the horrible side effects of PPIs.

I guess I’m now a part of the chronic illness club. Awesome. I am not happy about this, but there is nothing I can do but treat symptoms. Just like Nick, who can only treat his fibromyalgia as it pops up. Sigh.

Interesting GERD Development

I am still wrestling with GERD, and I have discovered an anomaly!

I started taking probiotics (Vitacost brand) about a month or so ago. Probiotics are supposed to aid in managing GERD symptoms and I’d been taking Kyo-Dophilus before I got the Vitacost brand without issues. Soon after starting these, I began to have bouts of severe hypersalivation (called “water bashing”) which is caused by acids touching the esophagus an causing an automatic salivary response. In addition to having a LOT of saliva, swallowing it would make the GERD even worse! It was keeping me up at night.

I was even getting GERD spikes during the day and occasional water bashing during the day! I thought I was doomed to start back on PPIs to get rid of this nasty symptom. As it was, I was having to take Pepcid (H2) several times a week just to sleep.

Tuesday I decided to look up probiotics and GERD. Lo and behold, there IS actually a correlation to taking them and having worse GERD symptoms! Sigh. I, apparently, am one of the people who have bad results with probiotics. LUCKY ME! I stopped taking the probiotic yesterday and the GERD has already backed off a bit. I think it’s the Vitacost brand that has something in it that does not agree with me. Nonetheless, probiotics are OUT.

I’m still having some water bashing – I had a couple of short bouts last night. I’m hoping it will cease now that I’m off the probiotics. The minor good news is that the H2 (Pepcid) does not seem to cause complete constipation, so I think I can safely use that for nighttime GERD.

So, if you are taking probiotics and your GERD is no better, try stopping them. They might be making it worse!

This fucking issue (GERD) is a moving target. UGH. I’m mostly OK, but it is something I deal with every single day. BUT would I choose to skip VSG knowing that I’d have GERD? NOPE. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I’d do it again. It’s worth playing the odds that you won’t have GERD like I do. I think most do NOT. But I will tell you to get OFF PPIs as soon as you possibly can, so your body does not become dependent like mine did. GERD is no joke!

GERD update

I’m still taking no PPIs and only the occasional H2 (Pepcid). The GERD is still around, however, it’s just kind of like whack a mole with how it pops up.

I still have reduced stomach capacity – about .75 cup rather than 1-1.25 cup with PPI, but that’s ok. I really don’t mind that. What I DO mind is random freak outs of Lil Tummy. Occasionally, I’ll have pain after I eat, particularly if it’s protein. It’s like an overfull pain, despite not eating that much volume.

Occasionally, I’ll have a bout of GERD about a half hour after eating. Which is odd. Typically, Lil Tummy will exact its revenge right after I eat too much or have something it doesn’t like. ??

Same goes for night time. Sometimes it’s fine, other times, I’ll have acid up to my throat. No rhyme or reason.

The good news is that Tums will calm any burning and at night, Pepcid will calm the reflux for sleep. Not much can be done for when Lil Tummy decides I’ve eaten too much or the wrong thing and it gets painful. Just gotta ride it out.

Due to taking Pepcid 1-2x a week, I still struggle with constipation issues. I’ve found the herbal supplement Smooth Move to be extremely good at helping with this. I hope all this will plane out eventually, but if not, eh, I’ll live. I don’t gripe about it too much, because Nick has fibromyalgia and has body pain pretty much every day. I don’t feel as bad as he does, so I really have little to complain about.

I do think that things are getting incrementally better. I hope that continues. I still do NOT regret VSG surgery. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.