August 27th, 2007 by Potato

Heartburn is a condition that seems to run in my family, particularly on my dad’s side. I don’t know if it’s an overabundance of acid, or a familial weak cardiac sphincter, or if our poor diet and stress-bunny tendencies are to blame, but a typical breakfast for my dad or I is a can of coke and an alka-seltzer. Most of the time I hardly even notice it when I’m awake, but then when I’m awake gravity is usually my very close and personal friend, keeping all that stomach acid mostly down. When bedtime comes though, heartburn can be pure agony, not really from the pain or discomfort, but because it is a condition that for some reason has an incredible ability to keep me awake. After all, I can sleep through almost anything else, including pain, daylight, (some) noise, headgear, and the cat walking on me.

What I find amazing is how some foods can affect heartburn, and how random it is sometimes. For the most part, I can drink as much coke and rootbeer as I want, but Jolt will usually give me heartburn (though admittedly I only drink Jolt during times of great stress, so I couldn’t say if that was the main culprit or not). Perversely, a single small glass of orange juice before bed will just kill me, which is just not fair since it’s actually healthy in other respects. Chips (not that I’m allowed to eat those any more) are fairly inconsistent. Often they’ll lead to terrible night-time heartburn, but sometimes I can polish off a whole large bag and suffer no ill effects. Garlic, particularly in the guise of garlic fingers (oh how I love garlic fingers) often has a very delayed heartburn effect, waking me up after I’ve been asleep for several hours. I find that strange, since after that much time I figure that anything with garlic should have cleared my stomach and be making its merry way through my intestines by then. Anyhow, once the middle of the night garlic heartburn sets in, it can be really stubborn, requiring separate repeated bouts of alka-seltzer to finally clear.

Two days ago, I found it very strange when I was scanning people and was suddenly hit with this garlic taste and attack of heartburn. Not just because I was awake and sitting upright, but also because I hadn’t had anything to eat within about 6 hours, and nothing with garlic all day long. Shortly after I first felt the sensation, the guys I was scanning started talking about going out for a beer and a bite to eat after the scanning was over. Since it was a friday night in London, I couldn’t think of a single place to go that wouldn’t be pounding obnoxiously with dance music… except for one: Symposium. And if we were going to go to Symposium, then I would probably order some bruscetta, and if I did that, I would get heartburn…

And the realization hit me: I was going to get some bruscetta so good, with such intense heartburn that it would rip a hole through the very fabric of time, and actually give me heartburn before I even thought of eating it! When we got there and I was looking through the menu, I was sorely tempted to order something else, like a waffle, just to see if that act would make my garlic-flavoured heartburn go away, but in the end I was helpless, and almost of its own volition, I heard my voice ordering bruscetta from our completely spaced-out waitress.

In the end, having delusions of time-ripping bruscetta goodness is not anywhere near the same thing as having a good plate of food in front of you in the real world. It was actually pretty terrible that night: they got the spice mix completely wrong, it was spicy to the point of making my lips tingle, with none of the garlic, oregano, or basil flavour that bruscetta should have. They also put icky feta on it (it’s not part of their usual recipe, and not mentioned in the menu — if it was, I would have ordered it sans feta), and there were hardly any bits of tomato on it (usually I have to fight to keep them all on the bread without making a giant mess; not a problem I faced then). Despite the fact that I was very hungry after a night of scanning without snacks, I just couldn’t finish it off. It also made my heartburn go away, making me realize that I probably had it in the first place because I was hungry and my stomach was churning in the lab.

3 Responses to “Heartburn”

  1. Ben Says:

    Why can’t you eat chips anymore?

  2. Potato Says:

    Because they’re fatty and salty and I need to cut down on both of those things… but mostly because I can’t have just one. It’s easier to just keep them out of the house entirely.

  3. Ben Says:

    Strangely, Shoppers Drugmart sells some pretty good wholegrain nachos with flax seeds that are actually pretty healthy, even if you can’t have just one (I believe a “serving” is 28 chips…) Then again, consider yourself lucky that you live in a situation where you can just keep things like that out of the house altogether, if you so choose.