I’m Bettina Kilburn, M.D., M. Div–a psychiatrist by training, with a multifaceted consulting practice, located in Atlanta (Decatur), GA. Also, I’m ordained clergy in the Presbyterian Church USA. And I know what it’s like to live gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). In non medical terminology, reflux sucks–the heartburn, the food coming up, the sore throats, the never ending cough, losing your voice. More than being about food, GERD impacts your relationships–your time with friends and family, your social life and your most personal intimate activities. All day, every day, you’re aware you have GERD. As one young (now former) GERD sufferer puts it, “Every day with GERD is a bad day”.
Being evaluated for GERD is no fun. I remember wondering if there was any end to the scopes, tubes, substances, and probes I would be asked to swallow. The challenges didn’t end with diagnosis. There were food restrictions and eating schedules, medications that needed to be timed in relation to eating, lifestyle changes to adopt. Managing GERD requires discipline–not necessarily an easy thing. I embraced the discipline of managing GERD, and it helped my life greatly.. But over time, the GERD tyrant returned and made my life miserable again.
On April 10, 2012, I underwent magnetic sphincter augmentation with the LINX device to treat both gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). I had the privilege of being the fifth person in the United States to participate in LINX implantation following FDA market approval of the magnetic device.
The recovery was not without its challenges. During my “tenure” as a LINX patient, I had late term complications from my original surgery, and second surgery on 8/12/15. The LINX community has learned a lot from patients like me–and I’m happy to report I’m finally doing well again.
Every day without GERD is a great day. My journey with (and now without) GERD and LPR is one story among the many, many stories that comprise GERD and LPR statistics and research. I’m sharing it as a GERD patient advocate. I hope that my story may help other GERD and LPR sufferers considering their own choices.
On a larger level, as both a physician and former GERD and LPR sufferer, I’m honored to contribute to the efforts of all who champion treating the challenge of GERD as a significant, and increasing population health issue.
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