Posts Tagged ‘GORD’

Back on board!

February 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Life got busy & interesting and hence there hasn’t been any regular posting here for 8 months. Twitter also intervened, capturing my undivided attention at times as I watched various shufflings  in the Australian political landscape.

I still find Twitter a most useful way in which to keep track of the news here and overseas, especially at times of fast moving crises – floods, cyclones, fires & severe storms. An Australian summer has it all and it’s been a particularly tough one for so many people across my country.

At this stage I don’t think I can write coherently on what I’ve seen beyond stating how humbled and proud I feel of my fellow Australians & those overseas visitors who have shown so much kindness & help to those in need. I recommend you read Patty Beecham’s eloquent blog of her experience in the Brisbane Flood (scroll through, dip in and out, be touched by her posts on Murphy’s Creek as well as her words as she watched Cyclone Yasi devastate the far north of her state).

I worked much of the latter half of 2010. The usual mix of hard slog, laughs, good people, frustrations & regular pay. I am enjoying my usual summer break now.

I’ve yet to plan out my working plans for 2011 due to the sudden arising of a couple of intense health issues. Once they’re sorted I can scatter my resume far and wide and gather me a job.

Glitches & gremlins in the public health system mean I am still waiting to hear the results & treatment plan from my last endoscopy. I should have an appointment to see the visiting Gastroenterologist by the end of March.

I was diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia last September or so. A couple of months of taking heavy duty iron tablets and my iron levels were restored to normal. Terrific. Then, out of the blue, when I was getting ready to break out the champagne to celebrate having finally, come to the end of the menopause (yay!), some very heavy bleeding (HMB) laid me low for a few weeks. And those iron levels plummeted.

And thus I found myself on a drug cocktail of progesterone, tranexamic acid & painkillers. And iron.

An ultrasound (pelvic & trans-vag) a week before Christmas resulted in a referral to the visiting Gynaecologist. The first available appointment is at the end of this month. I did consider travelling south and going private but a check of a few gynae clinics showed waiting times for a first referral anywhere between 8 and 16 weeks. I might as well stay in town and go public. I am getting terrific support from my GP.  Hoping the diagnosis will be nought but a hormone imbalance. 🙂

With the wet weather we’ve been having here in Alice Springs over recent months the grasses have grown long & the desert is still green. This has encouraged mice to proliferate. Many of them into my house. A friend offered her cat but I said no need, between the snap-traps and the perentie in the roof-space I should be able to cull the numbers of rodents. 🙂

Highlight of the summer for me has to be the Desert Tree Frog. One appears on the kitchen window at night chasing bugs & avoiding the geckos, another frog ventures out on to the front door. Absolutely lovely. 🙂


So what is a hiatus hernia?

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I was asked the other day exactly what is a hiatus hernia & why does it cause me grief.

Basically a hiatus hernia is where part of the stomach moves (herniates or protrudes) upwards into the chest cavity via an enlarged hole (the hiatus) in the diaphragm.

The vast majority of people with a hiatus hernia don’t experience any problems.

But a lot of us do.

It’s probably easier to use a few diagrams to illustrate.  Let’s start with normal anatomy.

Your insides. Note that the stomach should be sitting below your diaphragm. This is normal.

There is no hiatus hernia here. The lower oesophageal sphincter can function like a valve with the help of the diaphrgam's pressure.

Notice that for most people the junction between the oesophagus & stomach (called the lower oesophageal sphincter) sits BELOW the diaphragm. This allows the sphincter to act as a valve & prevent reflux of food and acid back up the oesophagus.

Here’s what happens if you have an hiatus hernia, and there are a couple of varieties.

This is the most common hiatus hernia type, a sliding one. See what's happened to that lower oesophageal sphincter? Can't work as well if it's up in the chest cavity.

A different type of hiatus hernia, the rolling one. Not so common. It is possible to have a combination of rolling & sliding.

Notice this time that sphincter is now above the diaphragm, where it can’t function as a valve anywhere near as well. And the diaphragm isn’t able to assist with keeping pressure on the sphincter if it’s sitting above instead of below.  The result can be GORD or GERD (reflux disease).

In my case it means a lot of GORD symptoms & I have to take care when bending over (not good) & with heavy lifting (and that means being careful even when lifting a bag of groceries).

I have adopted some of the “lifestyle” advice: no alcohol, no fatty foods, no hot spices, no fizzy drinks etc. I eat a low-fat vegetarian diet with very small servings & watch my nutritional intake carefully. I use the services of qualified dietician to guide me in food choices.

No, it can’t be treated with alternative therapies. And if you try to do “Visceral manipulation” as per the photo at Figure 5, I will scream. In pain.  Within hours I’ll have very nasty & painful reflux for a few days. And then I will commence litigation proceedings against you. Just saying.

Further information on hiatus hernias can be found at Patient UK, & that same site has some good info on acid reflux & oesophagitis which often accompany hiatus hernia. I particularly like that site’s information as it provides clinical references.

Note on treating GORD (GERD) & hiatus hernias with alternative therapies:

When I was first diagnosed I was a great user of an assortment of alternative therapies to treat any ailments I might have. I look back at those years & see that most of those ailments were self-limiting. They were going to get better with or without any complementary therapies I might choose to swallow or dabble with.

Initially I used herbal medicine to complement my medical treatment. In the first few weeks it worked, it eased my painful symptoms. But I continued to get symptoms and the herbal treatments were doing nothing (yes my doctor knew I was using). The sheer cost of alternative therapies was such that I felt I had to go with the treatment that was having a positive impact on me. That was the scientifically proven, evidence-based MEDICINE.

I do however continue to use peppermint oil to massage lightly over my stomach & abdomen most nights as it takes the edge off the painful bloating pain (& feels nice).  And if I am experiencing oesophagitis (with throat/voice pain) I will drink slippery elm powder mixed with a little apple juice. Because that temporarily eases that pain.  But they are adjuncts to my medical therapy. And I won’t have it any other way.

Baked Mixed Pasta with Gnocchi & Cheese Sauce

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I’d made a large pot of pasta sauce last week and now we were down to the dregs. I also had a very small serve of Soyaroni pasta left over. Not enough to really make two generous serves but too much to be thrown away. What to do? Add to it, throw in some more pasta & bake of course!

Baked Mixed Pasta with Gnocchi & Cheese Sauce

Baked Mixed Pasta! This will feed my partner & I for 2 or 3 nights. The other dish feeds us a single serve each (scroll down to other photos).

This is the large casserole dish before it went into the oven. I had enough pasta between the soyaroni & the gnocchi to warrant making a second, smaller dish (see below).

I cooked up a packet of fresh potato gnocchi to add to my left-over Soyaroni pasta (pasta made with soy flour).

I tossed the combined pastas into the large casserole dish with the left-over pasta sauce & mixed it thoroughly.

Because I had some & felt inspired, I also cooked up some bacon cut into strips (of course I used “fake” bacon being vego).

Looking at the amount of sauce-coated pasta in the casserole dish, I decided there was now quite a lot so opted to ladle out a few spoons into a second dish.

Now to make the cheese sauce. Yes, it’s low-fat but still yummy.

Cheese Sauce

600ml milk (I use 250ml full-cream milk + 350ml WATER)(this makes a low-fat milk but still leaves the fat molecules in which are handy for ensuring easy & even thickening when you add the cornflour)

4 tbs cornflour (I always try to use maize cornflour)

¼ – ½ tsp butter (for the colour & those fatty molecules)(OPTIONAL)

Dried parsley, cracked pepper (a sprinkle or more of each to your own taste)(OPTIONAL)

Low-fat grated tasty cheddar cheese (about 1 cup, maybe a bit more)(or use a similar cheese)

A pinch or more of grated parmesan (okay, this isn’t low-fat)

I make my sauce in the microwave on HIGH power, using a large 1 litre jug.

  • Add enough milk to the cornflour to make a smooth, runny paste.
  • Add the butter into the milk (it’s going to melt).
  • Heat the milk mixture in the jug for 90secs. Then stir or whisk the melting butter.
  • Whilst stirring the milk mixture, add the cornflour paste. Stir briskly.
  • Heat the mixture for 2 mins.

The mixture should be thickened & have a glossy surface. Stir. (It’s normal to have thick, chunky bits of cornflour at the bottom but even after removing those there should still be enough cornflour in the milk to ensure a nice, thick sauce.)

  • Add the parsley & pepper & stir in.
  • Add the grated cheese(s) and stir through. Leave for 2-5 mins to allow cheese to melt. Stir again.

Cheese sauce is ready to use!

  • Pour your cheese sauce over your sauce-coated pasta.
  • Sprinkle with a little extra grated cheese of your choosing (I used tasty cheddar & parmesan).
  • And finish off with a tiny sprinkle of sweet paprika (to give it a “browned” look when cooked).
  • Bake at 180C in a fan-forced oven for 30-40 mins. (This step may be done later in the day if pre-preparing your meal.)

Ready for the oven!

Now it's ready to eat!



February 13, 2010 2 comments

It was my birthday earlier this week. No big celebratory deal for me but I did think I should at least have a cake.

Given the fragility of my stomach I opted for a healthy, low-fat fruit cake. Made with pumpkin no less! It’s been years (decades) since I baked a fruit cake. It turned out well & we’re enjoying it immensely. And it has not upset my GORD (GERD) in spite of the presence of a little ginger.

Healthy, home made, easy fruit cake.

Moist Fruit Cake

3 cups (500g) mixed dried fruit – (I used an uneven mix of sultanas, raisins, cranberries, apricots & glace ginger)

½ cup of caster sugar (yes, you could use Splenda or similar sugar substitute)

1 tsp mixed spice (I used ¼ tsp each cinnamon & nutmeg)

½ cup water

1 tsp bi-carb soda

1 cup cooled mashed pumpkin (squash) (250g raw aprx) – (you could use sweet potato)

2 eggs, lightly beaten – (OR 3 egg whites)

A few drops of lemon & vanilla essences

2 cups self raising flour

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a large loaf tin or 19cm round tin (or use baking paper).

Place fruit, sugar, mixed spice & water into a saucepan. Bring to boil & let boil for 3 minutes.

Stir in the bi-carb. (It will fizz.)

Stir in the cooled mashed pumpkin. (At this point I transferred mixture to a very large bowl.)

Stir in the eggs.

Finally add the flour, folding it in to the mixture. (I needed to add a wee bit more flour as it looked more like a batter than a cake mix.)

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin.

Bake for around 1 hour. Check that it is cooked all the way through by inserting a skewer into the cake – if it’s ready the skewer will come out clean.)

Let cool initially in the tin then turn out on to a rack.

Close up of the cake showing the fruit & you can even see the pumpkin fibres. No, it doesn't taste like pumpkin. At all.

I cut the cake in half (because it is heavy & large), then lengthwise followed by small slices. Then I bravely wrapped & froze most of the slices so we wouldn’t eat it all at once!

Next time I make this I will experiment with adding some nuts into the mixture.

Orange & Almond Cake

January 19, 2010 1 comment

Let’s cook!

Something sweet, indulgent yet quite nutritionally dense. Orange & almond cake. It’s gluten free for those that seek such recipes for their diet.

This is a very easy recipe and doesn’t use as many eggs as traditional Jewish recipes I’ve seen over the years.

Orange & almond cake.

Orange & Almond Cake

3 oranges

3 eggs

1 cup caster sugar

300g almond meal (ground almonds)

1 teaspoon baking powder

extra 3/4 cup caster sugar (approximate measure, you might need less)

Grease a 22cm cake tin. (I used a large loaf tin)

Pre-heat oven to 170° Celsius.

  • Place whole oranges in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
  • Drain & repeat.
  • Chop 2 of the oranges & remove the pips.
  • Place those oranges into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs & 1 cup of caster sugar until thick and creamy.
  • Add in the processed oranges, almond meal & baking powder. Gently fold together. (Mixture is often quite runny depending on how large your oranges are. If it’s too runny, you can add some plain flour.)
  • Pour mixture into prepared tin.
  • Bake at 170° C for 1 hour. (Should be golden brown, and an inserted skewer should come out clean when cooked.) (My cake today took 1 hour & 15 mins.)
  • Allow to cool initially in the tin. Be careful when tipping out on to a rack.

Whilst the cake is cooking, here’s what you’ll do with that remaining orange & extra sugar:

  • Remove the peel from the 3rd orange in strips.
  • Put peel in saucepan, cover with some water & boil for 5 mins.
  • Squeeze in the juice of the orange.
  • Add the extra sugar, up to 3/4 cup. (I use less than half that.)
  • Stir until dissolved and thickened.
  • When cake is cool, use a knife or skewer to make slight holes in the cake. Drizzle over the orange syrup. (Note” you may not actually need to use syrup if cake is very moist.)
  • Serve in small slices.

I find this cake is excellent to freeze. It also seems to be a little less wet if I refrigerate it.

I find I can use a small slice of this cake as a meal replacement and not irritate my GORD (GERD). Acid reflux sufferers it may be worth experimenting with this if you’ve not tried it before. Thanks to all that almond meal the cake is very filling. Enjoy!

Popping in to say hello

December 19, 2009 6 comments

I haven’t blogged for a long while, sorry about that. Have been busy coping with some painful health issues and the heat. It’s also nearing the end of the year and I’ve been trying to tidy up my computer and online life. Toying with Tumblr, trying to work out the “right look” for me there. And then that leads to a reassessment of my blogs, new themes, new ideas. And it all takes up so much time. Throw in the health issues and it takes up even more time.

If you want to know what I’m up to, visit me at twitter  I tweet from a personal perspective so you get to read what I’m doing, reading and what’s firing me up.

Christmas will be quiet in my house this year so very likely I will pop back in here on the day and quietly blog away. Until then, take care, and may you all have a very merry Christmas season.

Alternative & Complementary Therapies

June 19, 2009 2 comments

Like most people I’ve experimented with alternative and complementary health therapies over the years.

Attracted by the phrases “natural”, “not addictive” and “no side effects”, I was seeking to avoid having to use drugs and doctors to maintain good health. I used reflexology, massage therapy, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal medicine, naturopathy and reiki. I’ve also used meditation and yoga.

I used these modalities to treat everyday ailments. I even have qualifications in some of them.

But how many of these therapies do I continue to use regularly because I actually feel them doing me good?


I use 3 essential oils – lavender (antiseptic, burns), aniseed (mucolytic – GORD, nausea), peppermint (GORD – nausea or bloating).

Occasionally I’ll heat an essential oil in a tea light vaporiser, this is because I like the smell. Nothing more.


Arnica ointment or oil (not the pilules prescribed in homeopathy), for bruises as part of first aid treatment.

The scientific part of my brain screamed that there is no way homeopathic pilules could possibly work. But, sometimes, I don’t know, they did seem to do their alleged job. But not always and not enough to keep me using the therapy long term. I didn’t like the fact that homeopathy treats the symptom picture, nor the fact that as the symptoms change during the course of a disease process, you needed to change the prescription. Costly, and hard work if self-treating. Very costly if seeing a practitioner.

However, I must say that my experiences with classically trained homeopaths in the UK (on the NHS!) and in Australia has always been conservative and honest, with an insistence that you also consult a medical doctor. In recent years I have noticed the trend to the “I can cure everything!” style of homeopath, the ones that charge hefty fees. Alas, most people do not have the skills to research & critically analyse their illness and treatments adequately and hence get taken for a ride by some very dodgy practitioners.

But I am happy with my arnica ointment.

Massage Therapy

Occasional massage for relaxation of tight, stressed muscles. I prefer to see a physiotherapist for muscle & skeletal injuries. Cheaper. I don’t like chiropractors. Sorry.

Herbal Medicine & Vitamins and Minerals

When my oesophagitis flares up, or when my vocal cords are damaged from GORD, I will drink the powdered bark of the Slippery elm tree.

Smells like tree bark. Tastes like tree bark. Even when mixed with apple juice. But it does give immediate, short term pain relief for the mucus linings of the upper digestive tract. Slippery elm is also used to treat the symptoms of stomach ulcers.

When you research slippery elm and study how it works in the human body, you will see that popping the pill variety will do you little good at all. It is the powder, mixed with water or juice, that coats the inside of your oesophagus and stomach, that will mask the pain for a while.

I take vitamin & mineral supplements IF and only IF I have a demonstrated deficiency. There is no point to do otherwise. Far easier and tastier, not to mention healthier, to eat a nutritionally balanced diet containing a whole pile of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Propolis tablets or tincture are made from bee pollen. I stick with the original New Zealand sourced product for when I have a serious chest cold. Gives a bit of relief to the congestion, that’s all. If I don’t have any in the cupboard when I catch that cold, doesn’t matter. If I do, I use it.

Yoga & Meditation

I enjoy doing the yoga asanas, for exercise & relaxation. And meditation I also do for relaxation.

Accupressure & puncture

Together with shiatsu massage, I’ve used acupressure to treat odd, mild symptoms. Travel sickness, an upset stomach, period pain, those sorts of things.

I’ve resorted to applying pressure on the designated points usually because the pain killing drugs are not quite enough to give relief, or because I can’t find any panadol or panadeine in the house.

Accupressure sort of works for me, and it’s not a bother to try it out, but I wouldn’t want to depend upon it as my only treatment.

The only times I’ve used acupuncture, it didn’t do anything apart from making me feel quite relaxed for a short time. Then I reached for the panadol when I got home. J


Initially I thought naturopathy was quite a sound therapy. Appears to focus on vitamins, minerals and basic nutrition. But it seemed to me that where a dietician or nutritionist will give you a list of foods, recipes and a diet plan, the naturopath will hand you a very expensive bottle of their own specially prescribed pills.

Western Medicine

I came to terms with having to use a lot of western medicine after I developed GORD & oesophagitis. The above complementary therapies didn’t relieve my symptoms at all (with the exception of the slippery elm, and that only worked on one of my symptoms). I got to the stage where, after having yet another relapse, I was so tired of trying so many alternative therapies that were obviously not working. I don’t care, but it’s not right for the patient to have to go on experiencing high levels of pain and other uncomfortable symptoms for months on end just because the complementary therapist says “oh but you need to give it about 3 or 4 months to work properly”.

I began researching the journals for evidence based best practice with treating GORD. My doctors have prescribed the optimum treatment protocol for me. And whilst I may experience constant breakthrough pain and other GORD symptoms, the medications are working and they are safe. I consult a nutritionist for help with diet.

Since I stopped playing around with the complementary therapies, and been content to pop my prescription drugs at the required times and just use those adjunctives that work for me, I’ve been a lot more relaxed. Not cured. But I’ve stopped searching too wide for answers. I’m happy restricting my research to the narrow field of medical science. It’s given me more time to spend on myself, on coping with the constant pain and nausea. And still manage to have some energy left over at the end of the day to smile and take pleasure with my partner and family.