What do I remember most about where our reflux journey began?
I remember the first time we experienced projectile vomit. Who knew someone so small could create so much sick! I remember the throws we used to have on our sofa until it got to the point where they were in the washing machine more than they were on the sofa so we put them in storage bags.
I remember dreading every bottle feed and always waiting for it to come back up. I remember when we started weaning and having such high hopes but the reality was every spoonful was met with screaming, gagging and tears.
I remember only leaving the house if it was absolutely necessary to avoid the stares as Dexter threw up everywhere.
I remember the acid rebound we got every time his meds were changed but still having the hope that this new one would be ‘the one’.
I remember the stains on the carpet like tokens of war and how amazing it was when we borrowed a carpet cleaner. I remember the constant broken nights sleep as the acid bubbled in the back of his throat.
Not to mention the recurring bouts of gastritis he got as his stomach lining became so raw and inflamed from constantly being sick, which naturally irritated his reflux and created a ‘vicious circle of vomit’.
These are some of the things I remember the most from a time when Dexter’s reflux was unmanageable, and yet in the middle of all that I still remember him smiling. Look at any of the photos we have from that time and he is smiling. Happy, at least on the outside. Don’t get me wrong he was in agony. He was downright miserable, especially at mealtimes! But during those moments of respite, even though they seemed rare at the time, he was happy.
These days we very rarely see sick (touch wood!). Yeah there is always a flare up when he’s ill. He still has some food issues, but if I’d spent my whole life being sick I wouldn’t be a fan of food either. We still carry sick bags everywhere we go but I can honestly say in the last 12 months we have only used 1, and that was a flare up caused by a virus. These days we CAN feed him in public. Let him try finger foods. Let him be around other people eating. All things that back in the beginning seemed impossible.
Reflux isn’t easy. The sad fact is he has spent most of his life in pain and swallowing back acid. The turning point for us was finding the right medicine for him. Medicines are funny things. You could have 2 kids who on paper are identical in their symptoms and underlying condition but will have a totally different drug and dose that works for them. There’s no quick fix and it’s an exhausting journey, but once you get near to the light you will look back and see just how dark it truly was. Only then will you take a breath, hold your head up and say ‘we did it. We can control it. We will win’.
Don’t get me wrong we still have ‘acid days’. Days where the reflux seems to get some momentum and tries to win. Days when the medication just doesn’t seem to touch it. Thankfully these are so few and far between now that when we get them we at least have the comfort in knowing that they won’t last long.
If you are a new parent just starting out on this journey please, please believe me when I say one day you will look back like I can. Look back and say ‘Wow that was so hard! But we did it!! We are winning!’ You might not believe me right now but honestly, it will get better! You have the strength to beat it! Remember wars aren’t won at the first hurdle. There are many smaller battles on the way. Some you will win. Some you will lose. But overall you will be victorious. The war will be yours!
Most of that battle lies in finding the right medication to control reflux. Dexter is 3 and a half now and is on an adults dose of a really powerful antacid and will likely be on it for the long term. But it works! He doesn’t have acid breath any more. He can play and laugh without it bubbling up and choking him. He can eat and keep food down. It’s been a long 3 years but we are here. Living life on the other side. Not cured but managed and at the end of the day that’s good enough for me.