The GERD Bed Nightmare

The emergency room doc sent me home with a piece of paper and instructions on how to elevate my bed to ease my acid reflux problem. His instructions made sense at the time. They turned out to be a pain some place other than my stomach last night.

I had heard of GERD before but hadn’t paid too much attention until it struck at 2 a.m. a couple of weeks ago and sent me to the hospital with a burning in my chest. Actually, it was my gallbladder, but the doc was also concerned about my acid reflux.

“No problem getting blocks to elevate your headboard,” he said as though he was a common prescription. “They will cut it for you at Loew’s or Home Depot.”

Wrong. My man went several places looking for the service that would provide two solid blocks of wood, six inches high, that we could jam under the headboard posts. Not only did those two stores refuse but even the local lumber company said they couldn’t do it. Never mind that we have spent tens of thousands of dollars on two by fours and other supplies the last several years.

Fortunately, we are in the middle of redoing yet another condo, so my man prevailed on the builder to get the job done. It took him a week and he apologized for the delay. Seems no one wanted to be bothered with such a trivial task.

The community where we live provides the most helpful handymen. Onassis and his cohort showed up and in short order had put the blocks under the headboard, warning us not to jump around too much in the middle of the night. No further comment needed here except to say that definitely was not happening.

My man was already asleep when I headed for bed about 10:30. I studied the slope—about a 45-degree angle and wondered if I should approach the bed from the bottom or just go for it. I went for it. I eased slowly under the covers and relaxed.


I was out of bed in a flash. My man also sat up and looked at me: “What was that?!”

On came the lights. The blocks and headboard were still intact. The lower half of the bed had not broken in two. I finally figured out that one of the blocks had been set on top of the quarter round. Although I couldn’t see it, I was sure it had snapped under the weight. Still, it seemed to be holding.

Back in bed I went, slowly and deliberately, trying to convince myself that I would not slide down the bed and over the footboard onto the floor.

“I am not sleeping on an angle. I am sleeping in a nice flat bed,” I told myself. Those were similar to the words I spoke when I first crossed the St. Pete bridge, which at first sight appears to go straight up in the air.

It’s my brain, and if I can’t convince it of something, who can?

I finally dozed off, sleeping fitfully until about 5:30 a.m. when Mother Nature called me to arise from the incline and head for the bathroom. When I returned, I entered the bed from its lowest point and crawled to my pillows. Another hour of something resembling sleep and I was done with the Mt. Everest adventure.

When I got up and surveyed the mess before me, it was obvious that I had compensated for the slope by moving my pillows halfway down the bed. My man had done the same thing.

“It’s too much,” I said when he was finally awake. “We have to cut those blocks down to four inches; I don’t care what the instructions say.” He agreed, adding that we also needed to dust under the bed—a topic for another time.

There was something else about that piece of paper. It said to give up caffeine, soft drinks, tomatoes, and on and on. I decided to pitch it and reach for the Pepcid instead.

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