Around the holidays (3+ months ago), I got a stomach ache. It didn’t go away for a week. Since then, my appetite has diminished by about 50%. I noticed the issue quickly and bought a new scale that syncs to my phone. (It was on sale at the time) I strongly suggest getting a scale like this for anyone who wants to lose weight. I find the feedback loop incredibly useful and your doctor will appreciate the more detailed history. Then I went to a doctor.
My first doctor said, “Hmm, this could be appendicitis or some other serious problem. Let’s do a CT Scan and a bunch of blood tests.” I got the results and they were all negative. The doctor didn’t know what to do and suggested going to a specialist.
The specialist was from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The school did not fill me with confidence. He said, “Hmm, let’s do an endoscopy and colonoscopy”. For those of you who don’t know, this is when they jam a GoPro down your throat and up your rear to take pictures of your innards. The prep for it is to drink a special fluid that cleans out your entire digestive track. (Completely! Yuck!)
The results came in. I had a small hiatal hernia and a tiny amount of Barrett’s Esophagus, plus a small polyp that was non-cancerous. The hiatal hernia was causing Acid Reflux and GERD (i.e. chronic hearthburn). He suggested taking proton-pump inhibitor pills like Nexium. I am not a huge fan of taking medicine for the rest of my life, plus googling proton pump inhibitors yielded very mixed results. Some articles said it made the problem potentially worse! So I got a new specialist at Stanford Medicine to try and understand better what to do.
First, let me just tell you: if you can, get treated at Stanford. They have valet parking, gorgeous offices, and the best doctors. It makes you feel like you are being pampered by the best physicians on earth. Some of this may be placebo, but the whole place just made me feel confidence. (Last year, they did successful wrist surgery on my torn ligament)
Ok, back to the saga. Doctor #3 said that my main symptom was weight loss, not pain. He then went o20-minutenute lecture about how Americans are too fat. He said, “Whoever said 3 square meals a day must have worked in the food industry. We need 1 meal a day. Maybe 2 small (half-sized) meals if you want.” He said when you go to a restaurant, they typically give you double the food you actually need. He also said diabetes is rampant. It was quite a passionate lecture. He looked at my weight chart on my phone.
He said, “Well this isn’t how you want to lose weight, but it’s still a good thing. If you aren’t in alot of pain, let’s just keep an eye on it. In the meantime, keep exercising (tennis 2x per week) and don’t overeat.” He then suggested Maalox or Mylanta if I felt heart burn. (Liquid antacids)
To be clear, I haven’t changed the kinds of foods I eat. I generally don’t eat McDonalds or drink soda. This weight loss is all due to 50% less food. I may get hungry again, but I hope I can stick to 50% portion sizes.
The doctor is right, we all eat too much food. This might not work for everyone, but for me, just changing portion size has had a dramatic effect.
By the way, he said my hiatal hernia was too small to justify open chest surgery and the Barrett’s esophagus was too small to warrant treatment at this time. He said my GERD was also mild and liquid antacids were good enough for now. I took some more blood tests, but nothing surprising so far.
Usually, I blog about user experience, technology, and design. However, this is what’s on my mind right now, so there it is.