Sandi Acking Up: A Necessary Evil

Welcome to the holiday season, the time when we tend to overdo everything. Most people put on a few pounds from all the amazing food available and way too many of us drink a bit too much and pay dearly for it the next morning.

There really is not much worse than a hangover, unless it’s really overdoing it and spending the shank of the night worshipping at the porcelain icon.

Throwing up is simply awful, and most people who can avoid it 99 percent of the time.

Not me.

I have had arthritis a long time. I have been on so many drugs I can’t remember all of them but I do know this: I have been on every non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has been on the market. For example, I was on Motrin while it was a prescription.

They may have worked for a time, but they always stopped, and I always was put on a different one.

I didn’t know it then, but while it helped with inflammation, it also did a number on my stomach lining, giving me gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).

If you add this to the sad fact I have one of the fastest gag reflexes on record, it means I can pretty much vomit at will. 

Before GERD was so fashionable I spent a fortune on allergists and digestive specialists. I was told by one the best diagnosis he could come up with for me was “You have a funny tummy.” (Say this was an upper crust British accent and it sounds much better. I always smiled when my British doctor said it).

Whatever the reason, I spent years retching from coast to coast at all the best places. Whether traveling as an event coordinator, movie critic or travel writer, I have emptied the contents of my stomach in the best joints around, including the friendly skies.

I became a master both of heaving and hiding it. I could do a phone interview at my office, talking to movie stars or rock gods, taking notes and throwing up in my trash can with no one the wiser.

It was not fun. I tried all sorts of anti-nausea drugs and some worked for a time, but not always. The first drug that really worked was the original “Little Purple Pill.”

When I started taking it, it was $10 a pill. Now, it’s everywhere. And, while it soothes my unruly innards most of the time, it still doesn’t work 100 percent of the time.

I’ve used barf bags on airplanes, drink cups in darkened theaters. 

One would have thought I’d become thin as a rail, but the addition of steroids to the mix nixed that.

Oddly enough, I was out on disability before acking finally drove me to the  ER, and it wasn’t because I was throwing up blood. It was because I couldn’t stop gagging.

Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge, I never had morning sickness, but I do understand how bad she felt when she went into the hospital.

Every time I wound up in an ER, my potassium had tanked. I’d get a bag full of saline and potassium and a wide variety of drugs that those docs hoped would stop that nasty gag reflex. 

Once, I impressed the nurses with my prescience. I could tell them with pinpoint accuracy when I was going to be sick, and to get me one of those lovely basins. It was strange to have an audience, to know my gastro-intestinal system so well.

These days NSAIDS are banned for me. Stopping those and adding potassium and B-vitamins supplements to my diet seems to have stopped the sickness in its tracks.

 I don’t know if this is coincidence or dumb luck, but I do feel better knowing I can now talk to celebrities face to face without the fear of heaving up my dinner at their feet.

The final insult? To this day I can’t drink anything too acidic — especially wine. A small glass of red wine is now equal to a night full of tequila shots and beer where my funny tummy is concerned.

I’ve been sharing my strange life with you for a few months now. I hope you’re enjoying my stories and I hope you can see that no matter what obstacles fate has placed in your path, most of the time you can find a way around them.

My wish for all of us for 2013 is we take better care of ourselves, and that the doctors and researchers who tirelessly work toward better treatments and cures for what ails us, to find them, and find them soon.

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