So as any regular reader of this blog knows, I got some health problems. Nothing disastrous, just annoying. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is my chief annoyance, followed by clinical depression, OCD, and generalized anxiety (mood disorders are frequently symptoms of PCOS).
But there’s only one condition I take medicine for, and that’s GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disease.
I was first diagnosed with GERD in college, though I’ve had heartburn almost as far back as I can remember. I remember complaining about heartburn to some mom involved with my Girl Scout troop back when I was a seven-year-old Brownie.
“You can’t possibly have heartburn,” she said, MOCKING MY PAIN. “You’re too young.”
Bullshit, I thought, as my seven-year-old esophagus burned to the tune of that Girl Scout mom’s fiddling.
Anyway, a dozen years later, my doctor told me I had reflux and handed me a pamphlet with a list of foods to avoid (note: ALL THE DELICIOUS ONES) and other general tips, like to lose weight (I guess skinny people don’t get reflux, and little brother has been lying about his heartburn this whole time [note: my little brother is quite thin and has just recovered from Barrett’s Esophagus, which means his GERD was so bad it turned his esophagus into scar tissue]) and not wear tight pants (over my dead jeggings!). He also suggested I take omeprazole (Prilosec).
I’m not into taking pills, wearing loose pants, or not eating delicious foods, so I ignored all that advice for years. It’s just heartburn, I thought. My menstrual cramps are worse, and you can’t pill-food-pants those away, either.
Besides, I thought, I’d rather die than live without coffee.
A few years later, my wanton esophageal abuse/neglect had caught up to me. My thrice daily post-meal heartburn had turned into a persistent nausea, a feeling like I was on the verge of vomiting all day long, the sensation that there was food lodged in my throat for hours at a time. With hearburn on top. My appetite dwindled. I had problems focusing. I had to do something.
I started taking omeprazole.
After two weeks, my GERD was still nasty. I knew I had to take drastic measures. So I declared a moratorium on cumin, chili, and ALL THE TASTY SPICES, and quit coffee.
That last one hurt.
I have very strict dietary restrictions due to PCOS. I’ve elected to manage my hormone imbalance using nutrition. I haven’t had bread, pasta, or potatoes in over a year. No pizza, no beer, no burritos. I’ve been eating huge quantities of food, but I’ve also given up all my favorite foods because my ovaries are little shits.
And so far, it hasn’t been a big deal. I eat pork rinds in place of chips. I make taco shells out of cheddar cheese fried in butter (okay, probably not the best for my GERD, but STEP OFF). I wrap things in bacon instead of bread. I make pancakes out of almond flour (and it’s fucking delicious). Life isn’t bad.
But giving up coffee was infinitely harder than all those things, caffeine addiction aside.
Apparently, I have a connection to coffee that runs deeper than my love of any other victual. Even after a few weeks of no caffeine intake, I found myself pining for that bitter flavor (with sweetener and cream, because yum). Autumn rolled in, and everyone started talking about pumpkin coffee, and I felt like my true love had just left me for literally everyone in the world who had a functioning esophagus.
It became intolerable. And then I found coldbrew.
Cold brewing coffee reduces a lot of the acid content of coffee. If you drink decaf, it’s even better for your esophagus. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it was my last shot (ahaha, shot! get it? like espresso shot? I AM SUCH A CARD). It was my last shot at happiness.
So I bought a French press at my local Marshall’s for $20, and picked up a bag of pumpkin coffee.
Making coldbrew coffee is literally the easiest thing you can do. I really mean, literally. Not figuratively. All you do is put some coffee in your French press, add water, add sweetener if that’s your bag, stir, and put the lid on (but don’t press down on the antenna jawn). Stick it in your fridge overnight.
Wake up the next day, press the little antenna jawn down, pour, drink. Bam. Delicious.
What sucks about coldbrew coffee is that it’s starting to get cold outside, so I sit in my apartment shivering while I drink it. What rocks about coldbrew coffee is that it doesn’t jack my esophagus up, even if I haven’t taken my omeprazole yet (I, too, like to live dangerously).
So I’ve been reunited with my long-lost love. It actually makes me so happy that I go to bed excited to wake up the next morning and drink my damn coffee. On the days I don’t see my fiance, my coffee is actually the best part of my day. On the days I do see my fiance, it’s a very close second.
So there’s a little life hack worth trying if you have acid reflux. You can thank me later.