So here’s a lovely GERD symptom: food makes it hard for me to breathe

Wikipedia | Gastroesophageal reflux disease

This is the Wikipedia image for GERD. I’m not really sure what I’m looking at.

My history of disordered eating most likely isn’t entirely to blame for my gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD), but I’m also sure it didn’t help matters that I once habitually binged on and purged large quantities of food. Faulty esophagi run in my family — I’ve suffered from heartburn at least as early as seven years old — but I took my jalopy of an esophagus and tried to drive it up a mountain during a massive landslide.

And similarly, it’s not fun to have gastrointestinal problems when you already have a pretty strained relationship with eating.

One of the most delightful symptoms of GERD is shortness of breath following meals. Eating large meals makes me feel like I’m suffocating for a couple of hours. Eating medium-sized meals makes me feel like I’m suffocating for a couple of hours.

I have to eat small, spaced-out meals if I want to have any sort of comfort. And it kind of pisses me off. It pisses me off because I am so way past done limiting the amount of food that I eat. It pisses me off that the amount of food that makes me feel satisfied is equal to the amount of food that makes me feel like someone is holding a pillow over my face.

It doesn’t take a genius to think of all the various ways this fucks with the post-ED psyche. Is this my fault? These symptoms are relatively recent — did I deliver the death blow to my esophagus?

My body is physically forcing me to eat in a way that reminds me of the days when I dieted, when I deprived myself. This isn’t an uncommon situation for people with gastric problems. My fiance has to eat like a bird because of his Crohn’s. This way of eating is convenient for neither of us, doesn’t line up with our schedules or appetites.

But these are the cards we’re dealt, and we cope.

I, for one, have found something of a workaround.

It might sound crazy, but one of the ways I counter my stupid stomach is by drinking my nutrients. The “crazy” part comes in because I drink coldbrew coffee every day. You might be saying, “Coffee? Reflux?”, but for me, coldbrew coffee has been a godsend because it cuts down on the acid, and I drink nice dark roasts that don’t bother my stomach.

I put a generous portion of heavy cream in my coffee, and the fat keeps me satiated without making it hard for me to breathe. I didn’t come up with this idea myself — my friend Lisa, who has stomach problems due to WLS, mentioned once that coffee drinks are a great way to get energy when you’re having problems digesting solid food. Similarly, some of my low-carb friends rave about things like bulletproof coffee, basically a very fatty, energy-rich coffee concoction using grass-fed butter.

So that’s the stopgap for now, at least until I figure out how to fix my food tube.