Eating is a pleasure that I sometimes took for granted. That is, until I got cereal stuck in my throat one night. I took a bite of my meal, and began to swallow. But instead of the food going straight down, it got lodged in my throat. I started coughing uncontrollably, hoping a few quick sips of water would wash the food down. But it didn’t. After 48 hours I had to have an emergency endoscopy and bronchoscopy.
A few weeks later, after a biopsy of my esophagus, I was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, also known as EoE. Eosinophilic esophagitis is a digestive disorder that results in an increased number of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in the lining of the esophagus. The large number of eosinophils causes the esophagus to become inflamed, and it's sometimes painful to eat or drink.
I've lost about 20 pounds as I’ve struggled to adjust my diet in order to keep the disease under control. Swallowing is still difficult, so I’m on a soft diet. Patients with more severe forms of the disease have to be on a liquid diet or feeding tube.
I’ve found a few ways to cope. First of all, I have learned to practice mindful eating. Instead of rushing through meals, I take my time and focus on each bite. I also make sure to work closely with my doctors by following instructions carefully so I can heal faster. In addition, I try to keep stress at a minimum. When I’m tense, swallowing is more difficult. Finally, I make sure to address feelings of anger and sadness. This is not an easy disease to deal with. Trying to explain to others why I can’t eat solid food can be frustrating. It can also be lonely when there are parties and family gatherings that I can’t fully participate in. Therapy has helped me deal with the rollercoaster of emotions.
Writing for getahealthyyou.com has been a great outlet for me to share health tips and encourage others to live healthier lives. ---By Sheiresa Ngo
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