Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Can you say Roto-Rooter?


For months I've had trouble swallowing. It started in December and got progressively worse. After several visits to the ER, urgent care, and to the ENT, we thought we'd found a solution. The ENT treated me for a salivary stone, then, after more tests, said I had an auto immune disorder. One frustration let to another as I endured test after test. The last one, a modified barium swallow study, revealed the problem wasn't only in my salivary glands, but also in my esophagus. 

I'd had an upper endoscopy done earlier in the year for severe acid reflux and a hiatal hernia, so I was surprised they wanted to do another, but the swallowing was getting more and more difficult. I wasn't being able to eat normal meals. After a few bites, I felt full and would blow up like a balloon from bloating. I knew something was extremely wrong. 

There had been a follow-up endoscopy scheduled for October, but I knew I couldn't wait that long, so I went into the portal and asked to be put on the waitlist. When they called Friday to offer a Tuesday appointment, I jumped on it. I knew God was in the details because this doctor was always booked up and it was rare to get a spot. If I didn't take it, I'd have to wait until October and by then, I'd have probably choked to death! 

Friday through Sunday, I existed on protein shakes and water. The test wasn't until 2:45 p.m. on Monday, so after midnight Sunday, I was instructed only to have one sip of water with my blood pressure medication. 

All day Monday, I waited and watched the clock. Time moved so slowly. Finally, when it was time to go, hubby and I dashed out the door. We'd calculated how long it would take to get to the hospital in a neighboring town - 45 minutes. 

We made small talk along the way and not long after we'd departed, a concrete mixer pulled in front of us. He was going so slow and there was no way to pass him. 

We poked along behind him for the majority of the way until finally, just a few miles from the hospital, at 2:40 p.m. he turned on a side street and we were able to cruise at a faster pace. 

I was dropped at the front door of the hospital while hubby went to find a parking space. I didn't want my slot to be given away, so I race walked to the elevators and made it to the suite just in time. 

As I sat and waited the waiting room, I was praying. God, please, help them find a vein! Every time I go to a medical office for a blood draw, the staff have trouble. I'm limited to my left hand because of the breast cancer and lymphedema. Those veins are so tiny and crooked it makes it difficult for even a well-trained nurse to find a usable vein. 

About 15 minutes passed and I was called back. As usual, the nurse had trouble. A doctor came over to see if she could help and neither of them could find a good vein. Then, they brought in a vein scanner light. 

The vein scanner lit up my veins and they were finally able to find one. 

After inserting an IV, I was wheeled into the room and the doctor told me what he was going to do. I had no idea he was planning to stretch my esophagus until that very moment! Apparently, the barium swallow study had revealed a stricture that was causing the food to stick in the middle of my throat. 

I was turned on my side and a device was placed in my mouth to hold it open. They strapped on an oxygen cannula and administered the anesthetic. Instantly, I was out. 

When I awoke, I was in the recovery room with the worst sore throat you could imagine. It felt like someone had taken a broomstick, wrapped it in sandpaper, and reamed me out. I asked the nurse if they had something I could drink. I told her I hadn't had anything since 5:00 a.m. and that was just a sip of water. I was surprised when she said no that I could get something after I left. How rude! I'm sure they had a little dixie cup they could have filled with tap water. Heck, I would have even taken water in a urinalysis cup at that point, my mouth was so dry. 

She went over paperwork with me and then the doctor came in. He told me all he'd done. Not only had he stretched my esophagus, but he'd also taken multiple biopsies of my throat and stomach. 

I'll have to wait for 7-10 days to get the results from those tests. In the meantime, I'll be living on liquids and soft foods for the next day or so while my throat heals. 

I'm really scared about a possible recurrence of cancer and since my brother died of esophageal cancer, this worries me even more. 

All I can do is pray and trust God's got this. I'm so tired of going through medical procedures. I just want to feel normal for a change, but what's normal, right? Are any of us really normal? 

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