My Adjustable Bed and My Reflux
I’ve probably had reflux my entire life. I’ve taken reflux medication, and I’ve done natural, non-pharmaceutical alternatives. One surprising and very important strategy in my arsenal is my adjustable bed. I have a queen-sized Viscoelastic mattress and a movable base. I can raise the head or the foot of the bed, much like a hospital bed. But let me tell you how I got to this point.
Types of Reflux
I have laryngo-tracheal reflux (LTR), also known as extra-esophageal reflux (EER). Unlike the more commonly known gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD), the symptoms of LTR are usually like sinus symptoms instead of heartburn. I had gallons of post-nasal drip and hours of coughing before I was finally diagnosed.
My Bed Wedge
I had read multiple times that when you have reflux, you should put blocks under your headboard posts to elevate the head of your bed. I always felt that would strain my bed frame. A colleague, a physical therapist, said she recommended clients put thick books between the mattress and the foundation to elevate the head or foot of the bed.
Sometime thereafter, my sister moved in with us in 2008. She’s very handy. We started planning a wedge between the mattress and springs. I had a king bed at the time. She took two sheets of plywood and made a ramp about four feet wide that covered the width of the bed. Per my specifications, she built the head end at about six inches elevation. Later, I read it should have at least 10 to 12 inches elevation. Oh well. I had lots of other strategies, like drinking carrot juice after dinner, not eating for 2-5 hours before bed, and taking the homeopathic pulsatilla.
In December 2008, just before I was to retire from the Air Force in early 2009, my gastroenterologist wanted me to have another endoscopy to examine my esophagus and such as a check on my reflux. They discovered a small lump in the antrum of my stomach. Two more endoscopies later, I was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). They wanted to whisk me away to surgery right away, but I opted for surveillance. GISTs are typically non-aggressive, and almost never metastasizing. I had just completed 20 years on active duty. Even though the tumor was very small—less than an inch in diameter—it would require opening me up because of the location. I didn’t want to start my retirement with major surgery.
I coasted along, and in June 2013 the tumor ruptured, and my hemoglobin dropped. After blood transfusion, I had surgery. When I first came home, I slept in a recliner because it was easier to get up and down, and had less pull on my incision, which was about six inches long. When I later tried to sleep in my bed, I found that I could not. They had removed 35-40% of my stomach. Even though I was still on reflux medication and had my bed wedge, I had terrible backwash, so I slept in the recliner for over a year.
Tempur-Pedic Adjustable Bed Base
It took a while to convince myself to say goodbye to my beautiful bedframe. I gave it to a friend, which helped in letting go. My brother had bought a Sealy Visco mattress, with a Tempur-Pedic adjustable base the year before, so I had made up my mind to do the same. I bought it Labor Day weekend, probably the best prices of the year for mattresses. Plus, I got a nice military discount.
I love my bed and highly recommend an adjustable base to anyone with reflux if you can afford it. Unlike my wedge, an adjustable bed is just that—adjustable. I often have to start out with the head elevated at least 45 degrees but can usually lower it some a few hours later. Sometimes, I can sleep completely flat.
My Exceptionally Rare Tumor
An interesting thing happened. I didn’t have a GIST after all. My surgeon wound up sending my tissue to Dayton, Ohio. It took several months to get my pathology report. I had what my surgeon characterized as “an exceedingly rare tumor”, a PAMT—plexiform angiomyxoid myofibroblastic tumor. At the time there were only 24 identified cases world-wide. In 2017, it was up to 50. I assume the number will continue to climb. There were probably many cases over the years, but the pathologists just has to shrug and say, “I don’t know what that is.”
Questions & Answers
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