A little over 6 years ago I had surgery to break up a stricture just above my stomach. I took prilosec for a few months after that to "help" my body avoid re-creating the stricture, but stopped taking it because ... I didn't like the idea of taking it for the rest of my life. Plus, there are a wide range adverse effects reportedly related to taking it long term.
About a year and a half ago the stricture announced it was back, and I began taking prilosec again. Luckily, for whatever reason, the prilosec helps with my symptoms (food getting stuck in the esophagus). It doesn't really make a lot of sense as the stricture is certainly still there, but perhaps the prilosec helps keep down my acid re-flux (well, likely it makes it "pH-neutral reflux") and that helps my esophagus from being overly irritated. And a less irritated esophagus means no problems swallowing.
Yah, I know. TMI. You can stop reading at any point.
The next step was to talk to someone who might be able to help (other than my very knowledgeable, yet too personally connected, wife), so I'm seeing Dr. Sandberg-Lewis. We're working on a plan to get my body back in order to eventually get me off the prilosec.
What does this mean in practical terms?
We ran some tests and found a number of food allergies, and that I have SIBO. The food allergies can be related to a number of issues, but the hope is to reduce/eliminate those reactions so my body can be healthier in general (less inflammation, better digestion of food, etc.). The SIBO could be influencing my acid re-flux by causing pressure that forces the stomach acids up into my esophagus (if not the fluids from my small intestine up there...).
For the SIBO, I'm taking a garlic extract and another supplement (neem) to control the overgrowth of bacteria. I'm also to eat a particular diet (specific carbohydrate or gaps or cedars sinai) - which reduces/eliminates the foods which feed the bacteria that are over populating my gut.
For the food allergies, I'm avoiding the foods I'm allergic to, and rotating through the rest of the food families. My food allergies are: dairy, egg, almond, wheat, yeast, beans (dried and green), bell peppers, sesame, and I'm mildly allergic to corn and rye.
Mary's been super supportive, and other than the beans, egg, and sesame, it's the kind of food she'd prefer to (not) eat.
We're also drastically reducing sugar intake - which actually isn't too difficult given the fact that most of the sugar I take in is associated with wheat/dairy/egg (baked goods, desserts of all kinds).
It's been almost a week now, and I'm doing pretty well. I was a little worried about not getting enough calories, but I'm quickly realizing how I can get them in different ways (I've got to watch out for eating too many nuts).
The biggest issue, for me, is my lack of symptoms. I don't really notice the acid re-flux unless I eat late at night, or eat a huge dinner - then sometimes I can feel the heart burn (if I'm not on prilosec). And, of course there's the difficulty swallowing - but that's one I actually didn't have for a few years after the surgery, so it's not a very useful symptom.
So, when I re-introduce the foods I'm avoiding, will I notice anything? I kind of hope so, but then again, I want to be able to eat dairy/egg/wheat... I'm not noticing much of a difference yet - other than my ring finger has shrunk just a little and the ring sometimes wants to fall off - so perhaps I'm already less inflamed.
When I had the surgery, the surgeon commented on my esophagus being irritated and corrugated, and didn't recommend doing the surgery again. So, my goal is to get healed up so that if my SIBO is gone, and my acid re-flux is gone, my esophagus is healthy and could handle another surgery to get rid of the stricture (should it be a problem). Then, with a healthy body, perhaps the stricture won't regrow.
For now, I'm focusing on the elimination diet, and will begin my supplements as soon as they get here. And, some time in the next week I'll read up more on the specific carbohydrate, gaps, cedars sinai diet and make some more adjustments to what I'm eating.
But baby steps for now.
Not to mention, all of this should help avoid gall stones too.