Among my multitude of unique and mostly useless gifts, I typically find that I am especially blessed with a cast iron stomach. I can often consume any food without fear of consequences…downstream…and excessive acid has proven to be an issue so few times for me that I can count the occurrences on one hand. The Puddinette looks at me with narrowed eyes on those few occasions when I power through leftover pizza at midnight. She is usually crunching Tums at the time.
This morning, though, I didn’t so much wake up as I was dragged to consciousness with the hot burning sensation of comeuppance leaking into my throat from deep within the pit of my stomach. I simply can’t come up with a way to accurately describe the intense fire scorching the back of my mouth. The best I can do is to say that it felt as if an angry mob of Lilliputians, torches and pitchforks in hand, marched up my esophagus and proceeded to burn that dangling thing in back of my throat for witchcraft, heresy, or both.
As a relative novice in the trials of heartburn, I first tried to cool it with several vast gulps of water. I saw a twinkling of amusement in my lovely wife’s eyes when she realized both my predicament and my first attempt at resolving it, much like a parent will smile the first time a young child tries to “help” folding the laundry, which inevitably results in a huge pile of helplessly twisted clothing.
Tums, I thought, that’s what I need. Isn’t there an old comercial where a Tums sponge absorbs a bunch of…colored stuff…in like, 1.4 seconds? As that was almost certainly an accurate representation, surely I’d just need to nosh one or two and the painfully acidic prickle would go completely away in a corresponding lapse of time, right? So I chomped one up, joyful in the label’s assertion on the bottle that it was, in fact, “Xtra Strength”. That had to mean even faster results! I then waited, expectantly, for some kind of, I don’t know, instantaneous coolness, or other relieving sensation that would wash away the agony.
Turns out my expectations may have been a little elevated on the subject of how quickly an antacid works. The instant relief I was hopeful of didn’t really occur so much instantly, or even momentarily, as rather theoretically. I sat on the side of my bed and time dragged out before me like it does for a convict doing a dime, a kid on Christmas Eve, or anyone having business at the DMV.
A few minutes went by, and I started coughing with nearly every intake of breath. It was bad; thermonuclear warhead bad, Godzilla approaching Tokyo bad, Pauly Short movie bad. Finally, the Puddinette, sensing my increasing discomfort, asked me if I was having a heart attack. She’s a trained medical professional and tends to start with the most catastrophic possibilities first and work down, but that’s another post. When I replied no, she undoubtedly thought to herself (as a veteran of the War on Reflux), Aw, the poor rookie, he thinks his little case of heartburn is soooo bad. She told me that a glass of milk is often helpful in extinguishing such a fire. I suspect she sent me to the kitchen knowing full well that the Tums would kick in very shortly, but coincidentally, it was also just about time for someone to get the kids started on breakfast. I think I was had.
At any rate, I inhaled a glass of milk and made a quick breakfast for the kids. Afterward, the agonizing reflux had subsided, and I went on about my day. Regardless, the next time one of the Four Horseman rides up into my throat, I think I might have to reconsider my lifestyle.
This is probably how you end up consuming “thickened liquids” and tapioca pudding 3 times a day.