Unlike Mark McGwire, I’m not waiting until several years into retirement to confess my reliance on performance-enhancing drugs. This run for glory that I am documenting day-by-day is made possible by regular doses of Omeprazole, the generic version of Prilosec, the delayed-release stomach acid reducer.
I have had heartburn almost all my life which is commonplace for someone brought up in a traditional Jewish home who retained a taste for fried foods, fatty meats and Charlotte Russes into adulthood. I recall Buddy Hackett describing his visit to the base infirmary some months after being drafted into the Army. He feared he was dying because the fire in his chest went out, not realizing that the bland food in the mess hall had at least temporarily ended his perpetual indigestion.
In 2009, the heat in my engine room was reaching uncomfortable levels on a regular basis. Lunch at an Indian restaurant near work (my location then was about ½ mile from Chinatown, so I stayed within a few blocks where a couple of Indian restaurants were the only reliable source of good cheap eats) eliminated the need or desire to eat dinner since I still seemed to be digesting lunch until bedtime. However, the tipping point was an otherwise tasty tuna salad sandwich on rye with shredded lettuce and abundant tomato slices from what we unfortunately now label a “deli” in Manhattan, that is a grocery store offering sandwiches and often a salad bar. Once upon a time, when Jews were Jews and in prolific numbers throughout New York City, a deli meant kosher corned beef and pastrami and hot dogs sitting all day on a grill before being served with sauerkraut, chunky, crinkle-cut French fries, and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic. The only other credible alternatives were Italian delis displaying purportedly edible items that no member of my family would come within a foot of, or a German deli in Yorkville or Glendale, Queens, where I would not be welcome. For two days after that tuna sandwich, I couldn’t eat a thing. I didn’t actually experience heartburn, but simply felt that there was no room for food to pass below my collar line. This was more mentally disturbing than physically disturbing. I was missing meals even as I contemplated what I could have been enjoying.
My reliable internist, Dr. Michael Perskin, referred me to his colleague, Dr. Morris Traube, Section Chief, Gastroenterology. Dr. Traube has a crowded business card, Professor of Medicine, Associate Chair for Clinical Affairs, and his degrees, MD and JD. How about that, he’s a doctor and a lawyer; he must have been an only child. But, the best thing is not recorded on his business card; Dr. Traube is a rabbi too with a congregation in the orthodox enclave of Monsey, New York. I could not resist suggesting to Dr. Traube that he needed a hobby. Undeterred, he performed an upper endoscopy and pronounced me sound, although note that his examination was conducted entirely below the neck. However, he advised me that many foods could be responsible for my indigestion and GERD, including coffee, chocolate, and fried foods. Fortunately, I got a second opinion from my wise friend Gil Glotzer, who is thoroughly qualified in this field as a personal injury lawyer. Dr. Traube prescribed Prilosec for my discomfort and Gil had me eliminate tomatoes as a prophylactic measure. Indeed, I have been free of gastric distress ever since operating under no other constraint than avoiding fresh tomatoes. Pizza and pasta involving cooked tomatoes have gone all the way down leaving ample space for chocolate-covered graham crackers as a post-prandial treat. The only time I strayed from the Glotzer diet was that turkey sandwich at the training session in White Plains which almost prevented me from eating dinner that night. Lesson learned. Thank you Rabbi Traube, Attorney Glotzer and Omeprazole. If the latter keeps me out of the Hall of Fame, so be it.