Tommi Mitchell – GERD Success Story

Putting out the fire – controlling GERD and enjoying life

Rushing from one sales appointment to another with quick meals in between was a typical day for Tommi Mitchell. When she experienced occasional indigestion, she assumed it was because of her on-the-go lifestyle.

"I would have this burning sensation in my chest after I ate," Mitchell explains. "It usually occurred when I ate fatty foods, so I didn't pay much attention to it until it got worse."

Mitchell's indigestion progressed over the next several years to the point that she was experiencing severe indigestion multiple times a week. The disease finally brought her to a halt.

"I became so ill, I lost a lot of weight in only three days," Mitchell recalls. "I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, and I didn't have any energy. Most of the physicians I saw recommended antacid, which wasn't working. It wasn't until I met Dr. Memon that I began to recover."

Beating the burn

Muhammad Memon, MD, of the Southwest Gastroenterology Clinic and an independently practicing gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, sought to discover the underlying cause of Mitchell's indigestion.

"Dr. Memon took the time to listen and was always gentle and kind," Mitchell recalls. "He learned about me, my family, and my symptoms, which included a dry cough, hoarseness, and a burning sensation."

Dr. Memon thoroughly examined Mitchell and performed several tests. After ruling out more serious conditions, he diagnosed her with gastroesophageal reflux disease, better known as GERD.

While surgery may be an option for treating GERD, Dr. Memon helped Mitchell avoid surgery by teaching her how to manage the disease through changes in her diet and behavior.

"Before I go to sleep, I elevate my head with pillows," Mitchell says. "I eat early in the day and avoid evening meals. I chew my food more slowly and eat smaller portions. I also avoid foods that can cause heartburn."

These foods include anything fried; tomato-based foods such as pizza, salsa, and chili; dairy products, including ice cream; citrus fruits; and chocolate. Plus, Mitchell passes on caffeinated and carbonated beverages.

"I'm also proud to say I quit smoking, and I do some type of exercise every day," she says.

Mitchell says she is feeling significantly better now. "I can go wherever I want and do anything I want to do with my grandkids," she says. "I'm enjoying my life again."

From the winter 2011 edition of Shine magazine