Friday, February 16, 2007

Oh Mee, Oh My (Hic)

Poor Jennifer Mee. She's the 15 year old girl from St. Petersburg, Florida who can't seem to shake off the hiccups. She's had them for more than 3 weeks now. I can definitely relate. Two years ago, I had them for a week and a half and they pretty much drove me nuts, or as my friends might say, nuttier than I already was. I did a lot of research on the Internet, trying to find any sort of cure. I experimented with just about everything I read, to no avail. I tried holding my breath. I put sugar under my tongue and in the back of my throat. I breathed into a paper bag and drank out of the wrong side of a glass. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. I could not sleep at night and I got desperate. Finally, I made an appointment to see a doctor. My doctor had died, so I had to find a new one, one who had never met me or knew of my medical history.

When I got in to see this new doctor, I (hic) explained (hic) my (hic) dilemma. He looked down my throat. "I don't like the redness I'm seeing," he said. He listened to my neck, chest and abdomen. After a few minutes of careful examination, he made a diagnosis. "I believe you have a lung tumor." My heart sunk down into my butt. That should have been enough to scare the hiccups away, but it didn't.

"You're kidding?"

"No, that's pretty much what I think it is. I've had cases like this before and that's what it generally has turned out to be. I'm going to schedule you for chest x-rays and an upper GI."

"Oh, wow. In the meantime, can you give me anything, like Thorazine?"

"Thorazine? How do you know about that?" he asked.

"I looked it up on the Internet."

"No, really, how did you know about Thorazine?" He gave me a rather sharp and puzzled look.

"I'm telling you, I tried looking for a cure on the Internet and read about it." Thorazine (chlorpromazine) is a drug prescribed for schizophrenia. Seriously. It's also used to treat chronic hiccups. I think he wondered if I had a history of schizophrenia or some other psychotic problem.

"Yes. I'm going to give you a prescription for that." I felt a little relieved, in the hope that this drug would cure me. Hic, I mean, heck, I was more concerned with getting rid of this immediate problem than I was about dying of lung cancer. I left, and hiccuped my way to the pharmacy.

When I got home, I immediately unscrewed the cap and swallowed one of those pills. An hour later, nothing. Man, I thought, this is crazy. I took another one. About an hour later, I was in some sort of la la land I had never been to before. Wow. I was somewhere up in the clouds and decided I needed to get into bed. That was it for me. I woke up the next morning and the hiccups were gone. Bingo! Cured! My first solid night of sleep in what seemed like forever.

The following week, I went to get the tests done and a few days later, I went back to see the doctor. As I was walking into one of those waiting rooms, he passed me in the hall and said he had some good news and some bad news, but don't worry, the bad news isn't that bad.

He walked in with some papers. "You do not have a tumor. You have a hernia on your esophagus. You also have one here and here." He pointed to parts of my stomach. "You also have GERD." GERD is short for gastroesophageal reflux disease. I have always had bad heartburn and I knew I had damaged my esophagus through the years.

"I want you to get some Prilosec OTC and take 2 capsules (not one) a day."

"For how long?"

"Until I tell you to stop." which I interpreted as never. "I'm also going to write a prescription for an ulcer medication, not that you necessarily have one, but it will aid in the GERD."

I had a couple of follow up visits and everything seemed fine. I never really got the hiccups again, at least not like that. Every time I do hic a few times, I get scared. Oh, by the way, I asked what I should do with the rest of those schizo pills. "Throw them away. You don't need them." Yeah, right, like I was going to do that. Hah! At least, I never drove when taking them. That would have been crazy.


  1. I read a similar article on the GERD.
    This natural weapon against GERD, usually taken in pill form, has come into vogue within the past few years. Like all acid reflux remedies, orange peel extract works for some people but not others, though this particular remedy has a better success rate than some. There is more about the Heart burn GERD in the rest of the article.

  2. GERD is a pretty terrible thing. I used to get this feeling in my throat like I had swallowed a grapefruit. The pain was incredible. I had a terrible time trying to breathe and I'd salivate like a flood. After about 5 minutes, it would go away. It was generally caused by eating or drinking and it wasn't like I didn't chew my food properly. Since I went on the medication, bouts like that have virtually stopped. My esophagus has been healing. I guess food did get lodged because the lower part of my esophagus was no longer muscle. It became part of my stomach.

    Since being diagnosed with diabetes, I have been taking cinnamon capsules. I read somewhere online that cinnamon may help in preventing or reducing acid reflux. Interestingly, I have subsequently lowered my (now) Prevacid intake to 1 or 2 capsules a week with no ill effects.

    Thank you, Pavan. I've never heard of orange peel before to treat GERD until your comment, and I will do some research on it.