…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.
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.
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.
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+.
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.
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