Has this ever happened to you? You are in the checkout line at the grocery store and your toddler with reflux starts regurgitating her breakfast. First there is the telltale junky cough, a few good gags and then out comes a bit of her breakfast into your hand and down her cute little outfit. You are clutching your coupons in one hand but you absentmindedly open your purse, fetch a tissue and wipe up the mess in a matter of seconds. All is well until you notice the stares of those around you. To the other shoppers, it looks like you brought your kid with the stomach bug to the store. Worse yet, she is sitting in a shopping cart and contaminating the shopping cart that will be used by another child. Some people glare at you. Others clutch their children and head for another checkout lane far away from you. Sound familiar? This used to happen to me all of the time.
When my refluxer was a toddler, she went through a period when she would spit up a bit each morning. Often her sisters would casually mention it, “She spit up in front of the doll house.” We soon had little spit up stains all over the house. A respiratory infection made the coughing, gagging and choking much more frequent and loud. But I still had to buy food and run errands so I took my otherwise healthy refluxer with me.
Sometimes it feels like you can’t really explain reflux to others. You have to live with a baby or child with reflux and just experience it to truly understand what it is like. Sometimes I try to explain it or make a humorous statement about it (“She really is a quiet little girl but her digestive system is very loud.”).
So how do you explain reflux to others? Do you even try? Does anyone get it? Let me hear from you!