I have a medical condition. It’s called laryngopharyngeal reflux, or ‘silent’ reflux if you’d prefer the slightly easier-to-spell version. A leaflet I have in front of me says it’s caused by a weakness of the muscular valve which is designed to let food pass from the oesophagus into the stomach but should prevent the contents of the stomach travelling in the opposite direction. Symptoms involve persistent hoarseness, sore throat, the sensation of a hard lump in the throat, persistent throat clearing, waking with a choking feeling, trouble swallowing, excess throat mucus and a dry mouth.
I have had all of these symptoms. Most days I’ll get three or four of them at least. I take pills and I take Gaviscon. They appear to have negligible effect.
I have another medical condition. It’s called oesophageal hypomotility disorder with intermittent ineffective peristalsis. When you eat food, your oesophagus is supposed to move in a certain way to allow it to pass into your stomach. My condition means that it doesn’t always function properly and occasionally goes into spasm, causing discomfort and pain which feels like it’s somewhere in my back, only deeper inside.
Logically, it would seem that the former could potentially be responsible for the latter, but my symptoms have been the other way round. I’ve had the hypomotility disorder for over a year now, and the silent reflux has been a comparatively recent development – around six months. Unfortunately, my GP doesn’t really seem to take my condition too seriously, and will simply prescribe me the same tablets which have had little effect. I’d say ‘no effect’, except things do seem to get slightly worse on the occasions I’ve run out.
I’m mentioning this because my dad pointed this out to me the other day as we went through my tax return. While the figure I had to pay was significantly higher than I’d expected (or hoped), my dad made me realise that I’d managed to earn such a decent amount while suffering from persistent discomfort and pain, and that I should be proud of myself.
Most of the time I’m incredibly self-critical. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. Maybe I should be proud of myself.
A few minutes ago, I caught myself singing along to Def Leppard’s When Love And Hate Collide, which was showing on Kerrang! TV in the background.