I am an 18 year old recent graduate of Fairview High School in a suburb just outside of Cleveland. I do a variety of different activities, including Civil War reenacting, studying the battle of Gettysburg and Civil War medicine, am involved in battlefield preservation, writing and reading (favorite authors are Shaara and Hemmingway), and running track. I was an honors student and plan to go to college to study medicine, specializing in either Cardiology or Radiology.

My symptoms of GERD started all of a sudden in July 1997. They were flu like symptoms: nausea, a headache, and a general ill feeling. Within two days, these symtoms were accompanied by my stomach growling loudly and then releasing a burst of acid. I hate visiting doctors, but this was making me miserable so I went when it did not go away after a couple of more days.

My doctor thought I was "stressed" and gave me Tagament and Phenergan and sent me on my merry way with the diagnosis of "gastritis". The following week I went on vacation to Richmond and various Civil War sites. Most of the trip I was okay, but I will never forget how awful I felt at the Cold Harbor battlefield. For the next several months I had attacks like I had there: a soreness in my stomach, nausea, and the growling accompanied by acid. They would last several hours, but those hours felt like a lifetime of misery. The nausea was so bad I stopped eating and lost 30 pounds off an already wiry frame by the end of the month.

For four months, my doctor simply left me on Tagament and the Phenergan (for nausea) even though my symptoms were not lessening. The acid was awful; I could feel it burning up through my chest. Finally, in October, my doctor sent me to a Gastrointestinal doctor. All the time I kept feeling I was losing my mind. The GI put me on Prevacid, 30 mg, and Propulsid which I did not tolerate well. When the nausea still did not subside, he also put me on Compazine. The Prevacid pushed the awful attacks farther apart, but everyday I still had a lot of acid in my chest and I began to have hoarseness and chest pains.

In January, while attempting to train for indoor track, I encountered a new evil. I did a particularly hard work out outside in the cold air and I felt awful afterwards. I was dizzy, lightheaded, my throat hurt, and I felt like I was going to pass out. My mouth tasted bloody, and when I wiped my mouth my hand came away red. A trip to the ER, and an emergency endoscopy later, I was the proud owner of a esophageal ulcer and severe esophagitis caused by the acid that had been coming up my throat for the last 6 months.

I wouldn't give up running even though it caused severe pains in my chest from my esophagus. My doctors are unsure on why my esophagus was so much more sensitive to the acid than the norm. I only ran because it was my senior year, but I didn't have much fun. I had to cut out training completely and often, on days of a meet, I felt so miserable with the pains that I didn't even want to run.

Track season ended in the last of May, and that brings me up to the present. I was recently diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus, which should have not been a big surprise, but was. The symptoms of GERD I had at the beginning and those awful attacks have lessened and I get an attack now about every two months. However, I still suffer almost daily from chest pains, hoarseness, and a constant bloody taste in my mouth. It is something I have learned to live with though. I still try to enjoy the things I love, but I must admit I can't do as much as I used to.

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