Living with an illness
My story about living with an illness
This is my story about living with an illness.
During the second part of 2010 I noticed that I would get the hiccups almost every time when I started eating. I used to eat very fast and was overweight at the time so at first I didn’t think much of it and then the choking started.
I would eat and then suddenly I couldn’t get my food down. It started out slowly – choking on my food every other day and later every day and I became really worried when I couldn’t swallow drinking yogurt and even water.
I had to face the reality of not being able to swallow when one of my daughters saw me struggle trying to eat yogurt and fruit salad. Finally I decided to go to the Doctor and he send me to a Specialist who conducted some tests on me, which all came back negative and he then told me to above all loose weight. I went home not knowing what to do next while the swallowing became worse and worse.
Desperation kicks in
For more than a year, I went from Doctor to Doctor with several tests and scans – all negative. One evening I again choked and went to the emergency room where the Doctor on duty told me that it was all in my head that I just need to bite and eat a hamburger. Nobody believed me, not even my children.
My medical aid was maxed out by now and I have lost 20 kilograms in the span of about 6 months. I started choking on water and couldn’t get it down. I was desperate for help and so I phoned a relative Doctor who happened to work with scans at the local private hospital. I was in tears when I told him about this mysterious illness and all the tests that came back negative.
Diagnosed at last
This Doctor took me serious and told me that he would be doing a Barium Swallow on me and so the next morning I walked into his office, scared to death. The date was 1 November 2011. I had to swallow a substance that tastes like gass bubbles and then within about 15 seconds the diagnosis was made: I had Achalasia – a rare swallowing disorder. On 4 November 2011 I had surgery – a heller myotomy and was on a strict clear juice diet only for 30 days before starting to eat, first soft foods and then solids. The moment I opened my eyes after surgery, I was given a glass of water and when I took the first sip of water, it went down smoothly.
Surgery and relief
The surgery was a success and although I will not get my swallowing back 100 percent, I can now eat and drink most things. (With Achalasia the peristalsis in your esophagus dies so you have to drink water at room temperature with every meal) Most fluids goes down smoothly and without any hassles. Pasta’s and soups and most soft foods I get down with the help of my best friend – water. I have to be very careful with breads and meat as I can choke on it. I am always very aware of every time I swallow anything.
Back in hospital
Since my surgery in 2011, I were back in hospital 3 times with complications before stabilizing in 2014.
Living with an illness Achalasia
I live a normal life as far as possible but have to carry a bottle of water everywhere I go. I choose carefully what I eat when out with friends and family. Drinking wine or milk shakes while eating is difficult to do.
Rooibos tea a product from my native South Africa together with honey is a favorite drink of mine and goes well with my illness.
I have learned what works and what doesn’t and embrace my illness.
I am an Achalasia survivor.