:: Volume 606 ::

January 12 '08
Volume 606

Having An EGD My Swallowing Problem

For a number of years, possibly fifteen, I’ve experienced difficulty in swallowing certain foods. Meats, when not sufficiently chewed, such as chicken and beef were among the foods most difficult to ingest beyond the esophagus.  However, I have also experienced swallowing problems with cornbread and spicy foods.

Rather than see a doctor about the condition I generally describe as “my swallowing problem,” I chose to explore ways to reduce the occurrences of the problem. I discovered that whenever food felt lodged in my esophagus I was in no danger of choking for my air passage was not blocked. I found that by consuming a carbonated beverage at mealtime, there would be enough gas pressure in my stomach so that a self-induced burp could coax the blockage loose. I learned to chew food more thoroughly and to not hurry my eating. This past year, I also learned to talk less while eating and to concentrate more on chewing and swallowing.

My swallowing problem was not life-threatening, and I considered it a minor inconvenience to the enjoyment of eating. It was something to respect rather than fear. I might not have done anything about it in the way of seeing a doctor, except that in thinking some recent chest pain might be related to my heart, I described my esophageal experiences to my cardiologist.  He convinced me I needed to have my esophagus checked by his use of a single word, cancer.  

As I recall he stated, “What you have is not normal…if unchecked and untreated, it could turn into cancer.”  

I laugh off my chances of contracting certain diseases and disorders, but cancer gets my attention. There have been too many folks in my family diagnosed and treated for cancer (some died with the disease) for me not to take cancer seriously. And, having personally survived prostate cancer, I’d just as soon not take on another cancer challenge.  

My cardiologist made an appointment for me to see a gastroenterologist in early December. I was told a test would be needed in order to render a diagnosis and/or treat my swallowing problem. I had hoped to get the test completed prior to 2008, but I was told by a “scheduler” (not only are physicians specialists, now office personnel are specialists, too) that was not possible and since the new appointment calendar had not arrived, I would have to wait a few days before setting a date for the test.   

The test is called an EGD, where EGD is short for Esophago/Gastro/Duoden/oscopy (used for emphasis, caps and slashes are mine). I tell folks it’s like a colonoscopy, which is something most people have heard of, but it’s done from the other end. I meant to ask if they use the same instrument, but that slipped my mind when I was with the doctor.   

The one thing I made sure to ask the physician was if I would be put to sleep for the procedure, because I’d heard, what to me were “horror stories” of persons having to swallow a steel ball and have it pulled back out several times in order to stretch the esophagus.  I’m okay with having my esophagus stretched, as long as I don’t know what’s happening at the time.  

“Actually, you’ll be in a deeper sleep than when you had your heart catheterization,” he shared, assuring me I had no reason to dread the procedure, “and, unlike a colonoscopy, you don’t have to be cleaned out, just take nothing my mouth after midnight if you’re coming in for an early morning test. During the tests, we’ll do whatever needs done…stretch your esophagus or biopsy anything suspicious looking.  Oh, and you’ll need someone with you to drive you home.”  

Barbara and I arrived bright and early on January 2, for my test. We were there before seven o’clock for the seven-thirty appointment.  After checking in, we were soon called back to the “holding corral.” Okay, it’s not a corral, but there were a dozen or more private stalls.  I was assigned to stall number three, I think.  I was given a hospital gown and told to remove my shirt, slip on the gown, and lie on the bed. Not long afterwards, a nurse went over a list of questions and procedures.  Someone also stuck a needle in the back of my right hand for a port to administer the appropriate medications. I had not slept well, having awakened around three a.m. and had been unable to go back to sleep before arising around four-thirty or five o’clock.  Rather than being anxious to have the medical procedure over with, I simply wanted to sleep on the bed/ gurney.  

Shortly before eight o’clock I was rolled into another room for the procedure.  I met a nurse who stated she would be administering my anesthesia, and I met the nurse who would be assisting my physician. I was told to lie on my left side in a comfortable position.  I remember someone telling me the anesthesia was in the IV and that I’d be getting sleepy very soon. I glanced at the clock on the wall, noting the time was 8:10, and wondered when exactly I’d be getting sleepy. That’s my last clear memory until around the middle of the afternoon.  

I vaguely remember being told I could get dressed and go home and of Barbara leaving to bring the car around to the pickup area, though I have no memory of being wheeled to the car or getting into it. Barbara forgot to get the denture cup from underneath my bed and called back to the office to let them know we’d left an upper partial in the room.  My memory of the incident was we were still on the parking lot, but Barbara said we had driven about two or three miles when she thought of it.  

Barbara has since shared that I asked about the findings of the test, what I could eat, and when I could eat it.  She said it was like I had dementia and could not remember something I’d asked her minutes before. I’m sure I checked business email and voice mail after I got home, but I don’t remember doing either.  

I’m pleased to report the biopsy of “benign-appearing esophageal stricture” that was dilated was just that, benign. While the test revealed a nodule in the esophagus, it showed a normal stomach and normal duodenum.  However, Barbara mentioned the Doctor said my esophagus was quite narrow and there was initially some doubt as to whether or not he could get tubing with the scope inserted for the test.  

My throat felt sore following the procedure, and the act of swallowing even liquids was moderately painful that day and for the next several days. I am to return to the Doctor’s office at the end of this month for a follow-up. Currently, I’ve encountered no problems with food lodging in my esophagus and am hopeful the stretching procedure will resolve my swallowing problem for months to come.  If not, I imagine another EGD will be scheduled.    

Christmas Bonus Won't Buy A Pool

I fully expect SUPERVALU will institute a Christmas bonus plan after I retire.  It would fit perfectly into life’s grand scheme of my being born at the wrong time.  I’ve beat this dead horse before and won’t dwell on it except to say, had I been born at a later time, I would have gotten to eat before adults at reunions and other mass gatherings, rather than waiting to get the leftovers.  And, had I been born sooner, as an “elder” member of the church, my opinion would matter, rather than having to contend with church leaders who cater to the wants and needs of young adults and prefer their opinions to that of the older generation.  

Yeah, it’d be just like SUPERVALU to start a bonus plan after I retire.  There’s been a bonus plan around for years for members of management, but for underlings like me, a bonus plan only recently became available.  I became eligible this year for a bonus, but it didn’t come in time for Christmas, and it won’t be computed until the end of the fiscal year, which for SUPERVALU comes at the end of February. I just hope to get the check in time to settle with the IRS in April.  

Lewis Grocer passes out a ham to employees for Christmas.  I’m not an employee of Lewis Grocer in the true sense of the word, but all the field staff get included on the ham list each year and I’m thankful for it.   

SUPERVALU finds it convenient to mail out a modest $15.00 gift certificate to us, which is redeemable at any SUPERVALU supplied supermarket, but after reading the memo announcing the gift, I felt guilty for wanting to keep it for myself.  

“If you would like to donate your gift certificate to A Gift of Love (West Georgia); please submit your certificate to the HR department no later than December 17read more like “Since this is not a lot of money, why don’t you just give it to somebody who needs it more than you do.”  

Each year, when I use the gift certificate at a supermarket, I tell the owner that it is my Christmas bonus, which usually draws a laugh.  

In the movie National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold, in anticipation of a Christmas bonus, made a down payment on an in-the-ground pool in hopes his bonus would arrive in time to cover the check.  As Christmas neared, Clark got pretty edgy for fear the bonus would not arrive in time.  

Though, the memo about the gift certificate arrived on December 4th, Christmas came and went, but the “bonus” never did arrive. And, each day prior to Christmas, I’d tell Barbara after checking all the mail that my bonus didn’t come. How disappointing! It would have come in handy to put extra food on the table for Christmas Dinner.  

I suppose I had gotten somewhat edgy, but it may have been the head cold that stirred me to action on December 20th. I sent a note to the HR person explaining I had not received the gift certificate.  She was on vacation, and I didn’t hear back from her until the twenty-sixth.  Two days later, UPS delivered the long awaited package.  

Like Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation,” I spent my bonus before I got it. Unlike Clark, I didn’t have to make a down payment. While I really haven’t spent it yet, I know exactly what I’m going to purchase with it.  I intend to buy as many one-pound packages of Conecuh brand smoked sausage as I can get for fifteen dollars.  In this family, we like to grill a few smoked sausages to supplement a steak dinner or a hamburger.  And, I’ve not found a better tasting smoked sausage than Conecuh.  

Though disillusioned when he learned his Christmas bonus was an enrollment in a jelly-of-the-month club, Clark Griswold’s story has a happy ending, with Clark promising to fly his family down when his new pool is ready.   

My end-of-fiscal-year bonus won’t be enough to buy a pool, let alone fly my family in for a dip, but it may be enough for another Ridge Rider party assuming Uncle Sam doesn’t need all of it. I’ll let you know.

Bodock Beau Top Thoughts 2007

This is an abridged list we received from Kim Goslin.  

1.       Life is sexually transmitted.

2.       Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

3.       Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

4.       Some people are like a Slinky…not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

5.       Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

6.       All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

7.       Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200.00 and a substantial tax cut saves you $0.30?

8.       In the '60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

9.       We know exactly where one cow with Mad-cow-disease is located among the millions and millions of cows in America, but we haven't got a clue as to where millions of illegal immigrants are located. Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of immigration.

10.   Life is like a jar of jalapeños. What you do today, might burn your @$$ tomorrow.


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