I’d been having heartburn off and on for three months while eating. But the last three weeks the pain had increased dramatically.
One Saturday afternoon the pain lasted for 3 hours as I struggled to get food to go down. I finally vomited up the “hairball,” as one doctor put it, and found some relief by late afternoon.
Most of my life I have been conservative — no, reluctant — to see doctors. But, this pain got my attention as my body was telling me something I didn’t understand. I made an appointment with a primary care physician, one I had seen 14 years before when we used to live in the area. I chose him because (a) I liked him as a person, (b) he always taught me what was going on when he did examinations by pulling out his pen and drawing maps on the thin tissue covering of the examination table, and (c) he was probably smarter and wiser in his practice since I had seen him 14 years earlier.
Sitting in the waiting room for my appointment, I saw a sign on the cupboards behind the receptionist desk:
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
I like that slogan. I’ve always liked that idea, and have tried to help myself and others respond to the prompt, “Will the true you please stand up?”
After a regular examination and questions of me, the doctor told me that I should see an internal medicine specialist, and he had his receptionist place a call.
At 7:30 AM, 31- August, Marie and I go the lab where I am to have an endoscopy exam, after my doing a “fast after midnight” the night before, to assist having accurate, internal probes. The doctor places a cable down your throat with a camera on the end of it, so he can see your insides in living color.
With an IV needle in my right arm, I was wheeled into the examination room, and the nurse placed an oxygen hose in my nose. That’s the last I remember for about an hour.
The procedure lasted about about 20 minutes and I was wheeled back into the waiting area where the Dr. explained to Marie what he learned. I was still in la-la land and wasn’t awake to be in the conversation.
He explained that he had tried to dilate my esophagus, but could only get an 8-10 cm. opening, rather than the 18 cm. he wanted. In the process, he had found some polyps that he biopsied and sent them immediately to the local pathology lab, to make sure about the health of the tissue. He said that the results would come back in 48 hours.
Marie was the designated driver, and as we headed north toward home, I was seeing double of everything, as the anesthesia was wearing off. Two cars instead of one, two trees instead of one. I told Marie, “This is an interesting way to ‘double your pleasure, double your fun.’”