I Shut Down…

…when I’m concerned or facing unpleasant things in life.  My kids have come to understand this about me and that it’s a trait I share with my father.  When people stop hearing from me, stop seeing posts on social media, my blog etc., whenever there appears to be a sudden silence,  my son will call, “What’s going on?”

I’ve been unusually quiet lately.

Screenshot_20190824-003845_Google

There’s a lot of things that we as a society just do not talk about, or at least, have not in the past.  It’s generational, I think.  The former generations led very private lives,  there were things that you didn’t talk about for the sake of propriety,  skeletons were to be kept in the closet and family matters, behind closed doors.

My mother recalls the first time her grandfather saw a TV commercial for toilet paper.  He was completely aghast,  proclaiming “indecent! The next thing you know, they’ll be showing commercials for womens “products”! If that day ever comes, I’m throwing this thing right out the door!”   Oh Lawd! If he only knew what we see on TV today, he’d be rolling in his grave!

The point is, we don’t talk about things especially about what to expect as we age.  We don’t speak about many of them from embarrassment, denial or maybe the hope that if we eat better, exercise more or take enough supplements that we can exempt ourselves from the inevitable degeneration of our bodies.  But, because we don’t talk about them, many of us are caught by surprise.

For example, my father is so intensely private about his personal life that I have no idea what my medical history on his side holds and have no idea how to answer those questions at the doctors office.  To prove this point, I have been going through some medical issues and came to a point where I felt I should let family know about it.  I’ve found that it’s kinder to let them walk through things with you, especially if there’s a possibility of things going badly.  It’s just cruel to wait until things are dire and sideline them with that.  When I contacted my dad, he says,  “Well, you are your fathers daughter.  I have that too!”  WHAT???

So what’s my deal anyway?

Ok, I’ve had heartburn, bad heartburn, for…years.  I used to carry the biggest jar they make of TUMS in my purse and eat them like candy.  Later, they gave this issue a name, GERD,  A digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the lining of the esophagus.  Note: GERD can effect anyone of any age, even infants and toddlers!

I was put on Omeprazole. When we moved here, I ran out and couldn’t get a refill in the midst of getting our insurance transferred to this state and the rigors of finding a new primary doctor.  Oddly, having began a keto diet, my symptoms completely vanished so I didn’t seek further treatment.  Healed!!!  But then….

Note: Even if you haven’t the symptom of heartburn, you may still have GERD.

Hi Dad,
Just keeping you in the loop, nothing serious….
So last year at a dinner with a lot of dog show handlers etc. I choked on a bite of sushi. I mean honestly choking. (Confession: It was an embarrassing situations so I did the most stupid thing…I got up, went to the bathroom alone and without letting anyone know! Brilliant!) Luckily, I was able to retch it forward. After that, there have been periods where I had difficulty swallowing, feeling as though I could easily choke again. When it happened again a few weeks ago and I tried to get Clay’s attention for help (He was totally clueless as to what my pounding on him and grabbing my throat meant. Lol) I again was thankful to have finally been able to retch the small bite of chicken, up.
I’ve had a simple scope which showed irritation from GERD, a swallow study that shows cricopharyngeal bar where food gets stuck.
Because, if left untreated, it will get worse until nothing at all will be able to pass through it, it must be treated.  However, the specialist, because this almost always presents in women in their 80’s, (I’m 57) he wants to make sure that it is the only issue and not an underlying one that could be missed so he’ll be doing an
esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) on Monday. If it’s just the first issue, he’ll do surgery to remedy.
TaDa!

cricopharyngeal bar

The cricopharyngeal (CP) bar can form from a thickening of the cricopharyngeus muscle caused by replacement of its muscle with fibrous connective. This is thought by many to be a reaction to chronic reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. Fibrosis makes the muscle stiffer so that it does not open fully during swallowing; thereby, obstructing flow into the esophagus, and increasing pressure in the pharynx during the swallow.  The cricopharyngeal (CP) bar is an uncommon but important cause of oropharyngeal dysphagia(OPD).  CP bars primarily occur in elderly patients age 80+.

cricopharyngeal dysphagia

The esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat and the stomach, has a muscular sphincter at its upper end that controls the passage of food into the stomach. This upper esophageal sphincter (UES)—also called the cricopharyngeus—is a semi-circular muscle located in the neck about three inches below the Adam’s apple. To prevent the reflux of foods from the esophagus into the throat, the cricopharyngeus remains contracted and tight at most times. When a person swallows, though, it relaxes and allows food to pass through. In people with cricopharyngeal dysfunction, the muscle doesn’t relax, and the food is blocked from passing into the esophagus

The specialist was a pretty chipper guy, full of smiles and I liked that he wasn’t dismissive but thorough with his care.  I met him first during the consultation then just prior to the procedure.  Of course I had to fast so that meant no morning coffee which is a horrible idea.

esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

Basically,  they put me to sleep then ran a scope down my throat, all the way to my stomach with a camera attached.  During this procedure, I was told he would take a small biopsy to test for a bacteria that causes ulcers.

After waking from the proceedure, the specialist,  not smiling at all but rather appeared concerned, briefed me.  Apparently,  he performed a dilation.  (Esophageal dilation is a procedure that allows your doctor to dilate, or stretch, a narrowed area of your esophagus)

I was informed that I have Barrett’s Syndrome.  (Barrett’s esophagus is a serious complication of GERD. In Barrett’s esophagus, normal tissue lining the esophagus — the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach — changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine.
Barrett’s esophagus does not have any specific symptoms.  It does, though, increase the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is a serious, potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus.)

He also did a brush biopsy and stated I may have pre-cancerous cells.  5 days later and though, it’s better, my throat still hurts and swallowing a bit painful, especially with anything even vaguely firm.

Right now, I’m waiting for the results from the biopsies. (Ugh, the waiting is the worst!)  If all comes back well, I will still have to have an EDG, every 3 years to monitor for cancer.  In the meantime, we’re continuing forward.  I have an Esophageal manometry scheduled for early Sept.

Esophageal manometry measures the rhythmic muscle contractions that occur in your esophagus when you swallow.  The test also measures the force and coordination of esophageal muscles as they move food to your stomach.

How the Test is Performed (Sounds like a drag!)

During esophageal manometry, a thin, pressure-sensitive tube is passed through your nose, down the esophagus, and into your stomach.
Before the procedure, you receive numbing medicine inside the nose.
After the tube is in the stomach, the tube is pulled slowly back into your esophagus. At this time, you are asked to swallow. The pressure of the muscle contractions is measured along several sections of the tube.
While the tube is in place, other studies of your esophagus may be done. The tube is removed after the tests are completed. The test takes about 1 hour.

After this, it should be decided if surgery and which surgery is needed.  I’ll keep you posted…I promise.  Until then, let’s keep talking.💕

 

Photo courtesy of Freepic

 

71 comments

  1. Wow. That’s a lot to handle! Thanks for sharing. I have something wrong in my esophagus, but it’s lower down, so no choking. But I get the sudden blockage where nothing passes, and it’s too gross to talk about with anybody but a medical professional. Maybe I should get it checked out, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Omgoodness! I understand how you feel. I was so embarrassed by these episodes. I felt like a specticle as the worst episodes always happened in public situations! But yes! Please do have it checked out! Any of several things could be causing the issue you’re having but all of them can be managed or reversed if caught and treated early! Hugs & prayers💕 Keep me posted on what you find out.

      Like

  2. I swear you are going to think I just say this stuff, but on my honor I suffered from GERD. The ironic thing is, that I think it was the worst it had ever been when I was getting chemo. But, no lie, for some reason it disappeared after I completed my stuff. I guess it is one of the very few side effects that I don’t mind having. There is so many bad side effects that I still deal with that offsets it but after 20 years with it, I can deal with this other stuff for more years.
    I shut down completely. And I remember when I first was diagnosed, I shut everyone/thing out. The ironic thing is that my one “escape” if you will, at the time was writing in my blog and documenting everything. (not sure if you have happened to read it, I am not asking you too at all, I wrote it for the purpose of 1) Informing and updating those who knew me. I did not want to have to relive it over and over so when ever asked what was happening or whatever, I just gave them my blog site. 2) I really did it so that if I could help anyone through anything like it, then it would be all worth it. I think I am just suggesting that you write. Even though everything WILL BE good, You will do yourself a favor by writing (perhaps start that new blog site you talked about wanting to do earlier.)
    I will continue to always send positive vibes your way!! Much love to you!

    Like

  3. It’s hard to process for ourselves without being expected to deliver news to friends and family. You need to take time to register and absorb info before you can share. I’m glad you did, creating awareness is literally a lifesaver.
    This all sounds frightening and I wish you didn’t have to go through it but it sounds like a very proactive plan is in place and I’m glad of that too. Fingers crossed the tests are easy on you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Britchy! I’m so glad to see you here! Been missing you friend! My last diagnostic test is Thursday so I should have an update then and on what direction we need to go. Funny thing, growing older and feeling like your body has turned against you. Paying the bill for all the abuse we’ve put it through in our youth, I suspect. If this is the worst of it, I’m certain I’m getting off easy. Lol
      Love you, dear friend! Seeing you online just made my day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my gosh Laura, that is so scary. I will keep you in my prayers. And anytime you need to just talk know that you have a lot of fans here on this blog. Surgery is scary but it helps so much (if that is the case) I hope you have better days and this is all behind you soon. You and your family have a wonderful Sunday.

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Cheri! Prayer and good friends is the very best medicine! My next diagnostic procedure is Thursday afternoon. I hope to have a clear direction and update then.
      Hugs & 💖’s, dear friend!

      Like

  5. Hi Laura. We I am hit with something unexpected I too become quiet and it might appear to others that I have shut down, but during that time I spend much time praying – seeking wisdom and strength and listening for God to answer. I am praying that He will give you wisdom and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Laura, that was not happy news at all! Thank you for the information though, as having worked in different medical offices and hospitals, I hadn’t heard any of that and find it quite interesting what they can do. I will be hoping and praying with you for a very positive outcome. X

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I appreciate you sharing this, Laura. I have ignored symptoms of GERD and recently been experiencing a blockage in my esophageal passage. My new doctor says we can’t ignore it. Your post helps me see why it is important to follow through. It’s not just a little discomfort. I will carry on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent VJ! While I’m so sorry you are going through this, I’m so glad that you are actively taking care of it now! The prospects of it’s continuing damage can become dire. Sooo happy you’re having it seen to! Hugs & prayers 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh wow!! It sounds like you’re in good hands with your doctor which is always a good thing. I’ll be watching for updates. In the meantime, I’m sending prayers and good vibes your way!! 🤗🤗🤗

    Like

  9. So not good news.. but knowing is FAR better than not knowing so a big Thank You for sharing, L. 🙂

    You did not mention cutting out flour eggs or sugar in your diet, so i’m hoping you can still eat CAKE!!!!?

    Lots of fruit too, maybe? 😉

    You’ll be at the top of my prayer list until we hear better news!

    Be relentless in seeing yourself grow stronger and overcoming this – OK?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sending positive energy your way! I am grateful that so much can be talked about today, and having things out in the open is an important starting point. I was quite pleased when one day my teenage grandson stopped by and said his sister wouldn’t be over because she just started her period and had cramps. He said this completely matter of fact, and went on to ask me if he could make a sandwich!

    Like

  11. Same EXACT thing happened to me. Turned out to be a tumor on my thyroid disrupting my food passageway. Turned out to be non-cancerous, but one day they will have to do surgery to remove it as it is still growing, slowly.

    Like

    • Omgoodness! I’m so sorry! I had my thyroid removed several years ago. Mine was a cyst, and they were initially worried that there was a scar tissue issue causing this. There again, I’m the type that rushes at problems. Lol. That specialist said we could do a series of biopsy, monitor, biopsy, but in the end, he was going to take my thyroid so, not being one to drag out unpleasant things….got it done. Lol
      It was an easy surgery, easy recovery so dont fear it when that time comes. I take a pill each day now. Keep me posted on this. Hugs, 💖’s & prayers

      Like

  12. Wow Laura…….breathe……I am sure you’ll be fine. I am a shutter downer too. It’s good the Drs know what you have, imagine poor Barrett. We have good news and bad news Barrett…………the bad news is we aren’t sure what you have……the good news is we are going to name it after you.
    Keep smiling and enjoy every moment ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I really do and so surprised by it, really. I’ve lived in some small town, out of the way places before. The care you get from doctors in those places are minimal at best and many are practicing there instead of big money cities because they’ve gotten in trouble elsewhere. (Ran into that before) or they simply have less resources. In truth, the 1st doc, an ENT, did the minor scope and swallow study, sending the results to a specialist. When the results came back showing the esophageal bar, I thought we were done and there wouldn’t be a need for the EGD. I’m so glad he was so thorough or I would never have know I had an issue that needs to be treated and monitored. It was a blessing in disguise.🤗💕

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hugs sweetie.

    I developed Barrett’s after my pregnancy at age 42. I had the balloon inflation treatment and things got significantly better, but on occasion something will still get stuck.

    Prayers for your situation and I’m glad you popped in. I was thinking about you this week and thought, “all those people are keeping Laura busy at the lake house this summer!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you sweet friend! Who knew, right? It’s a bit of an ordeal but….if I hadn’t have choked, I never would’ve known what was happening, that I had something that needed monitoring or put me at risk. The primary reason I saw the doctor to begin with is that my grandfather died with esophageal cancer and now his son, my uncle is fighting the same. If the biopsy comes bad badly, I caught it early, if good, I can now keep up with screenings. I’m anxious to get through this next step so if the doc decides to do the surgery on the valve ( hate the word sphincter. Lol) then we can get this over with. Hahaha Epiphany! IGuess that’s my personality thru & Thru. Some people avoid unpleasant things. Me, I rush at them, even unpleasant chores. Those are the things I’ll tackle first. Why draw out something unpleasant? Rush at it and get it over with. Hahaha I just realized that about myself! You really are a listening tree! 🤣😂💕

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Omgosh! That’s scary. But it sounds like you are getting the best of care and have lots of loving support. I wish you the best outcome and lots of happy and comfortable swallowing!

    In general, it is so true that we don’t know what to expect… my parents had certain serious health issues that I don’t seem to (thank goodness), but i have other minor, though annoying ones that will get worse OR I’ll get hit with some new thing! Yahoo!

    Anyway, very informative post. Thank you for sharing… i did not know about this medical condition.

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Paula! Omgosh though, neither did I! Sure, I experience a lot of heartburn but I had no idea what it could lead to! Growing up, we all wish to somehow be special. Developing a condition at 57 that is nearly not seen until 80 and above, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Lol
      I had a “diet” now that virtually eliminated absolutely everything that’s wonderful in life, like coffee, salsa, pizza, chocolate, fried or fatty foods, milk, cream, spaghetti, etc. It’s enough to drive you to drinking! Oh wait! No alcohol either! 🤣
      Then there’s the issue of the meds I have to take. Taken for extended periods causes osteoporosis (which I’ve already developed) liver failure and can cause lupus. Theres a bonus! Lol

      Liked by 2 people

  15. HOLY SHIT. You’ve had a lot of shit to deal with. Like holy shit.
    I wish I could just sit next to you with a cup of coffee and chat. Be an ear for you.
    You’re an amazing woman. And honestly, with all that – I can’t even imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s