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The fact that I’m writing this should tell you all you need to know: I’m washed up. Starched and dry-cleaned.
And before my heartburn really truly became a problem on a consistent basis, being washed was never something that bothered me. Staying in on weekends or going out and actually just having one or two beers at my age is just part of life. I accepted that fate long ago. But never in my 26 years on this earth did I think my being washed up could get to a point where I’m shying away from foods that I used to love. Cheeseburgers, sushi, and anything in between – hell, even salad sometimes if it’s got a heavy enough dressing on it – you name it, I’ve had heartburn because of it.
Eating food has become something of a chore this past month or so. I’m walking on eggshells whenever I sit down to enjoy a meal, whether I’ve prepared it or I’m getting it served to me at a restaurant. To put it simply, my body has the yips and I’m ashamed of it.
When I’m out for dinner and it comes time for the waiter to go around and ask everyone at my table what they’re having to eat, I internally ask myself if my system would be able to handle the meal that they’ve just ordered.
Oftentimes, I’ll find myself shaking my head out of untethered jealousy when friends of mine order a steak medium rare and, because of my condition, am forced to get a chicken salad with light dressing or a well-done hamburger (no bun, please!).
I sat at a sushi restaurant just two weekends ago keeling over at my table, holding my chest cavity and rocking back and forth in my chair waiting for the pain to subside so I could stick another Spider Roll down my disgusting gullet. The wild thing about my heartburn is that I haven’t totally learned my lesson yet. I love the flavors of the foods that I’m eating too much to completely give up eating them despite the horrific pain that it is causing me.
I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit Googling ways to get rid of heartburn without eliminating delicious foods of my youth to no avail. I’m experiencing heartburn with most every meal nowadays, and while two Tums before the meal and one afterward usually quells those symptoms to a certain extent, they aren’t totally getting the job done. I’ve tried switching the cadence of the Tums, going one before the meal and two after.
I’ve done two before and two after – nothing works. I’ve gone to the local pharmacy and asked the man behind the elevated counter what the best OTC heartburn medication he’s got will do for me. I’ve tried Prilosec and Zantac, and I even started bringing Alka-Seltzer with me when I go out for dinner.
Alka-seltzer, in case you’re unaware, is the 1960s version of Prilosec. I’m convinced it has a placebo effect for people of a certain age because other than the “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” noise that it makes when you drop it into a glass of water, Alka-Seltzer is pretty much worthless.
The obvious solution to my problem is to go see a doctor about this. I’m sure this could be cured with a prescription medication, but the thought of doing that is just so goddamn depressing. We’re in the trust tree right now so I’ll just say it – It’s a pride issue for me. I’m embarrassed of what I’ve become. I’m old, a shell of my former free-wheelin’ self that, at one time, could take down two Chipotle burritos in one sitting if I was really feeling saucy.
My stubborn mind thinks that I can solve a heartburn problem by clenching my teeth and gritting my way to a victory. I actually believe sometimes that when I sit down at a table and order a fucking medium rare steak with caramelized onions and a blue cheese crust with a side of french fries that this particular meal is going to be different. That this time I won’t have heartburn. But it’s just something I tell myself. Heartburn is waging an un-winnable war against me, and sooner or later I’m going to have to come to grips with that..