Hello, I’m a 67-year-old male diagnosed with Achalasia and GERD around 2006. Had Poem surgery, Botox, and Balloon stretching of the lower sphincter, been to cardiologist several times with a clean bill for the heart. I’ve had every esophageal test known to man and now they want to repeat them.
About ~two years after being diagnosed with Achalasia and having Poem surgery at Shands Hospital in Gainesville Fl, I started experiencing severe chest pains. These attacks or episodes come randomly. There is no consistent pattern. I can be sound asleep, in the gym, at dinner, watching TV, in the shower, or on the bike trail. The pain starts off center-right of my chest in close proximity to my right pectoral and esophagus. Sometimes I can sense an episode coming on and nip it in the bud with ice-cold water. The pain radiates in an area about the size of a softball and left unattended becomes devastating.
“When I refer to cold water throughout this discerption I mean a 30-ounce Yeti tumbler filled with ice first then filled with cold water, then refilled with ice and water until the pain is extinguished. Plain water without ice is useless for me.”
Other times the pain comes on fast and intense as hell. It’s pure evil! It’s so bad and painful that without a plentiful supply of ice and water served up immediately I’m in the fetal position clutching my chest in agony and eventually it turns into mostly dry heaving with minimal actual purging of anything. As a result, I can’t leave my house without my trusty Yeti 30-ounce tumbler filled with ice water. The Yeti will hold ice water all day long. I also keep several bottles of water in my vehicle and replace them frequently. If I can start drinking the ice water the moment I know an attack is coming on it’s usually minimal. It’s like a forest fire. If you catch it the moment it starts it requires minimal water. If the fire is allowed to spread, considerably more ice water is required. The problem is unlike a forest fire analogy one can only drink so much water. Sometimes the pain will minimize yet keeps attempting to come back unless constant cold water is administered. It becomes a contest with the goal of extinguishing the pain before I absolutely can’t drink another drop of water. At some point, I start “mostly dry heaving” and sometimes need to defecate simultaneously. By this time I’m shivering uncontrollably because the gallon of ice water I’ve consumed has lowered my body temperature. I’m absolutely miserable and my entire day is ruined trying to recover from an episode like this. Not to mention I’m most likely going to be up all night urinating.
I’m convinced this is going to be the death of me. I’ve learned to remain calm and stay prepared. I’m an avid cyclist and go long distances. I pack as much ice water as possible and have attacks frequently while cycling. I keep a 100-ounce insulated hydration pack strapped to my backfilled to the max with large ice cubes and then filled with ice-cold water. I also carry two insulated and frozen solid water bottles in water bottle cages on my bike frame. They begin melting and will keep ice for a few hours while riding. On longer rides >50 miles I’ll ask other cyclists to carry more if they have any empty cages available. I often experience attacks while cycling and my fellow cyclist never know because I’m able to contain and minimize the episode while cycling. The hydration pack has an outlet hose dangling that is super convenient for drinking while cycling. Simply bite on the mouthpiece and instant ice water is available. I have to take mini sips to conserve the water. It’s a balancing act trying to extinguish the pain while not drinking all the water. I’m tempted to wear it when I’m not cycling too!
I’ve seen several doctors regarding this pain and not one has a clue. I’ve fired my digestive disease doctor and got the same nothing results from the next one. My primary doesn’t know where to send me. He did relight the fire under my digestive guy who is putting some feelers out at Shands. Hopefully, that materializes into something productive. I wasn’t sure this pain was esophagus-related. After reading some different threads I’m leaning towards the esophagus again.
My greatest fear is at some point the cold water doesn’t work anymore or becomes less effective. This is terrible but I’m thankful the ice water packs such a punch and I’m not on pain meds for this. I’d be a useless junkie by now. Sadly, the episodes are becoming more aggressive and more frequent. I’ve managed to concur my high cholesterol and blood pressure issues and I lost 130 pounds. But I can’t shake this chest pain issue for anything!