For all two of you who have asked for an update, I’ll offer the latest news regarding my ongoing health struggles. I went in on October 1 to have a full TransNasal Esophagoscopy (TNE) performed. Essentially, this is where they insert a flexible tube up your nose and down your throat and through the entire lengthy of your esophagus to the top of your stomach.
I got there and checked in. I was asked to put on a gown and wait. And wait. And wait.
No one looks good in these gowns. I must confess I began to wonder just how many people had worn this particular gown. What kinds of strange bodily fluids had been absorbed into the threadbare fabric barely keeping me from full exposure? I decided it was best to not consider this at all. I needed to distract myself somehow.
Thankfully, it was just at this time that someone arrived with a nice stack of paperwork for me to fill out — because nothing calms the nerves and distracts the mind like filling out paperwork in the doctor’s office. Honestly, it’s like the same 20 questions over and over and over — with about five new questions added in each time.
Name. Address. Phone number. Email. Name of your great-grandmother’s house cat. What is your favorite color? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? How long have you had these symptoms? How bad are they? Can you describe them in minute detail here (and they give you two lines in 6pt font)?
They asked me to describe my understanding of the procedure I was about to endure. Really. I had to tell them what they were going to do to me. In detail.
And then I was asked to read and sign this document:
Let me just say: this was a little more than I was prepared for. So, I started to freak out a little. My blood pressure and heart rate started to climb against my will. I’m signing a paper that says I’m having a procedure that may cause permanent scarring! This I was not “okay” with.
Three deep breaths.
And then I got to wait some more.
Three more deep breaths. I can feel my heart racing and my mind won’t stop telling me I’m never going to have a speaking voice. I’ll have to get one of those computers like Stephen Hawking has. But mine will be the cheap, Radio Shack version of it (because I’m not a bajillionaire like Dr. Hawking).
That’s when the nurse came in with the magic fishing line. I don’t know what else to call it. Fishing line. Dental floss. Something. It was this string attached to some gauze pads that had been soaked in something magical. Getting the string into my nose and just letting it sit there was quite a chore. My gag reflex has been so sensitive since this whole process began! We sprayed the Afrin stuff and the numbing stuff — four times! The nurse told me she’d never had a patient struggle as much as I did. I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed. But, eventually, we got everything where it needed to be.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited.
And the magical solution in which those magical gauze pads had been soaked began to work its magic.
Three deep breaths became three REALLY deep breaths. And the magic worked.
Eventually, the doctor came in and asked me how I was doing. I told him I had been extremely freaked out, but now I was strangely calm. He suggested it was not such a strange idea. I was heavily medicated. Heavy medication has that effect on a lot of people.
I became aware of how heavy my body felt — like someone had turned gravity up to 115%. My mind was slow. I would think of funny things to say 30 seconds after I should have said them. And, for some reason, I wasn’t scared. I couldn’t think of a horrible negative thing that might happen. I was really, really medicated.
The doctor said, “We could put you all the way under, but you’ve never been all the way under before. We don’t know how you’ll respond to the anesthesia, so I’d like to try to do the scope now — with you so relaxed. If it doesn’t work, we can put you to sleep. But I’d like to try it this way first. Would you like to try that?”
I nodded. “But not like a cat?”
“Not put me to sleep like a cat.” The joke was 30 seconds too late.
The nurse walked me to an elevator and down we went. Then through a hallway and into the operating room and then it all happened. I could feel it the whole time. That was surreal. First the scope with a viewing tube, then the biopsy port to take small tissue samples. That felt a bit like a tiny wire brush which rotated 360 degrees inside my esophagus, scraping the inner lining. They did that in three different places that I recall. And then it was over. It took probably 25 minutes, maybe 30, maybe 90. I couldn’t really keep track of time. Did I mention that I was heavily medicated? I think it was closer to 25.
And I’ve been waiting for nearly two weeks. I have a follow up scheduled for Friday, October 17. Until then, fingers crossed, prayers appreciated, good vibrations, etc. I’ll let you folks know what I hear from the doc later this week.