"What is the dilation process like? Did it help, if only temporarily?"
I was put under sedation, and the doctor used maloney bougie dilators. I made sure to ask the doc what type of dilator he used since I had read there are several. I remember the nurse giving a shot into my iv and helped me put a mouth guard in my mouth and that's it. The procedure from the time I was put out to waking up was right around 30 minutes. I stayed in recovery about 20 minutes and then sent home. I was able to eat soft foods that day. Within 3-4 days I was able to eat tortillas and pizza which I hadn't eaten without fear in months. It's been 10 months and I'm still eating breads and most other foods okay but am noticing I have to chew a whole lot more, feeling that lump in my throat again, and even a little heartburn and burping.
I stopped taking the prilosec a month later, because I too don't want to be dependent on them or suffer horrible withdrawals....but at this point I'm debating going back on them and see if it will make a difference. I only took the prilosec for 3 months, so I didn't notice any withdrawal issues. I cut back the dose slowly over 2 or 3 weeks and that helped. It sounds like your biopsy was positive for eosinophils if your doctor gave you a steroid inhaler. I was supposed to follow up with an allergy doctor but haven't yet. I had complete allergy testing over 18 years ago and found out then I was mildly allergic to a few foods and almost everything under the sun! ha!
It is good to know you're not alone! I wish I had did more online research and found this place this time last year. Everyone I know didn't seem to understand how scary it is to not swallow right...honestly they still don't! Do what you can to get this taken care of.