Updated: Jul 26, 2018
This JO Steenkamp blog entry explains epigenetics in a way I would find only with difficulty elsewhere, if at all. I am interested in the subject, but it is very new science and not too many people can speak with authority on it. The explanation given in the blog came to me, through a trusted source, and it seems I could relate to it.
This happened within the next 48 hours:
I have had a sore throat from reflux for a year now. The doctor said initially that there is no cure for the sore esophagus, it can only heal when the reflux stop, which might need surgical intervention. For a year, I lived with the situation. Three weeks ago I started a strict diet without coffee, alcohol, salt, sugar and fat, and I am following it diligently since then. I have lost weight, but my health situation has not improved. Yesterday I finally took the courage to see a gastroenterologist. He did not look at me or discuss my health concern, but recommended a gastroscopy. I understand the logic of having all data about my esophagus and my stomach before making a diagnosis, but at the same time, I felt that the procedure would only produce data already known: my stomach is producing too much acid, therefore I have silent reflux, which gives me a sore esophagus, which is a bad situation which should not be allowed to continue. Still, surgery on my stomach valve to stop reflux sounded all wrong to my system.
At night, I read up on stomach acid. It is produced by the vegetative system from different hormones in order to break up peptides, fats. I couldn’t understand why my system would produce so much acid, when I am not eating fatty foods, and having been following a generally healthy diet for decades. Why would my body not understand that all that acid is not needed? Isn’t this the advice we get from doctors: change your eating habit, and your health will improve. A thought process entered my mind as I was contemplating acid and peptides: I am stock from a family in which every generation had to physically work hard only to eat and to survive. I am the first in all the generations before me who makes a living only from brain work. All the generations which fed into my DNA ate lard, and butter, and intestines in order to survive, to keep warm, and to gather enough strength to get through a day of hard physical labour. The cultural change happened only during my father’s lifetime. He would still eat bread with butter dished up thicker than the slice of bread it was placed on. He got scolded by all watching him for his unhealthy eating habits. I silently judged my father uncouth, congratulating myself equally silently for knowing better.
But today, I had a sense of being part of, not separated by gentrification, a large number of people who’s DNA I carry forward who needed a lot of stomach acid to digest their harsh diet. For the first time, I could feel empathy for all these people I am a biological part of, while I am known to struggle with the embarrassment of my poor family background in my now fancy social environment. I seem to understand that my system has not yet unlearned to overproduce acid. I have rescheduled my gastroscopy appointment set for next week to September, because I have a feeling that things will shift now. I feel that I might be less angry at my stomach from now on, less embarrassed by it. More accepting of the generations who built me. It feels like my hormonal system will shift also, and that my stomach and my esophagus might feel different in the future. Let’s see.