It’s hard to even talk about the last two weeks without sounding like the intro to some pornographic joke. So there’s your warning.
I couldn’t swallow. I mean, I could, technically, but it was just really, really difficult and it took more energy and concentration than it should have, especially since I was not, in fact, filming a swallow scene in a porn video.
It all started when I decided to be proactive about my health. Stupid. There I was, happily chugging beer, pretending there was no such thing as cardio or sit-ups and masking over any other medical symptoms with my time honored cure-all: shots of bourbon.
But then I went in for my annual check up and I remembered to mention that sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like I’m choking. Also I have this lingering dry cough. “It’s probably acid reflux,” the doctor said. Next thing I knew I was scheduled for a barium swallow.
The barium swallow was gross, but not painful. They said something about food moving too slowly when I was laying down. I should prop my pillows up and not eat right before bed. Sounds like old age to me. I’m game.
Except from the day of the barium swallow until I was saved from the pits of hell yesterday morning (a span of almost exactly 2 weeks), I was no longer able to swallow properly. I went in with “maybe acid reflux” and came out with “positively going insane.”
At first it just felt like there was a permanent lump in my throat that I had to swallow around. I reverted back to eating like a toddler, existing on applesauce and yogurt because it was easier than risking choking on a bite of chicken. Soon I could feel my throat swelling after I ate, no matter what I ate. Some foods were making it worse, or at least that’s what my brain was telling me. At that point, in my poor brain’s defense, I had been hungry for days and sitting up half of every night convinced that my throat was closing completely. The end seemed imminent, despite how many times John kindly assured me that I would live to a ripe old age of crazy.
My friends all offered possible causes and solutions, ranging from stories of food allergies to dirty jokes. My sweet brother took no less than a million phone calls from me asking for medical advice. And John, well, of course he listened to me gag, panic and whine incessantly but still agreed to be my best friend forever. I think a lesser man would have bailed on day three.
After about a week I stopped feeling really hungry. I’ve always assumed I would have been the first person to die off in a concentration camp, but I started to think maybe I was underestimating myself. As long as there was no frozen ice pick gardening action, I might have been a contender. It was in this morose mood that I entered my appointment with a gastroenterologist. Everyone in the office was getting into the Christmas spirit, but I made sure to promptly crush that by forcing them to acknowledge my pitiful state.
They showed me how much they appreciated my attitude by offering to schedule me for an endoscopy at the end of January.
Closing in on a 12 pound weight loss, I (correctly) deduced that I could not go without comfortably swallowing real food for another month. It wasn’t even about all the Christmas cookies I was missing out on at that point (okay, it was a lot about that).
Then, long story short, a friend was able to get me in quickly to see another doctor and that doctor took one look at me and immediately scheduled me for an endoscopy the next morning. Several panic attacks and an awesome, tripping acid-like anesthesia experience later (there was a puppet show involved, I swear!) I am now swallowing just perfectly. I have no idea how or why and I don’t really care. They did take some biopsies or whatever, but let’s be honest, that was probably just to make me feel important.
For now, I’m busy eating everything in sight. It’s a Christmas miracle. So you know, feel free to drop your baked goods off anytime. I can pretty much toss them back three at a time now…..