Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Sticking Problem

endoscopy en·dos·co·py [en-dos-kuh-pee] Noun 1. visual examination of the interior of a hollow body organ by use of an endoscope

I have had a sticking problem for over 25 years. Actually the name of the malady is esophageal stricture or narrowing of the esophagus. This is a hereditary condition I inherited from my father but it is actually a fairly common condition that many people suffer from.

I realized the seriousness of the problem the first time I swallowed a bite of steak and it lodged in my throat. That time, I spent several hours at home drinking fluids trying to force the meat down. I finally gave up and went to the emergency room where they had me drink liquid for another hour before bringing in a surgeon to remove the foreign body from my body.

About 15 years later, it happened again. This time when the steak got stuck, I knew it was pointless to wait, so we went to the emergency room immediately. After this surgical removal, the doctor suggested throat surgery to correct the problem. Nice plan but it was only successful for awhile and pretty painful in the process.

A few years later we ended up in the emergency room for a lodged piece of chicken. Fortunately, this time we didn't have to call in the surgeon because I managed to force the chicken down just prior to being called into the emergency room. Unfortunately, I couldn't be released until the emergency room staff checked me over. Their solution was to have me drink a glass of water in their presence to prove the chicken was gone. That was the most expensive glass of water I ever drank.

About three years ago, I ended up in the emergency room with steak caught again. This was actually the way I met my new doctor (my old one was retiring, probably due to crazy people like me who refuse to give up steak and forget to take small bites). My new doctor was leaving the emergency room and saw me in distress and made the emergency room personnel move me to the front of the line. After that surgical removal, which included dilation of the esophagus, I was told this procedure might have to be repeated periodically.

So that brings us to yesterday. I went in for a precautionary check for ulcerations, polyps, or other problems and to re-stretch any places that were constricted. Not the most fun way to spend a Tuesday but totally worth it if it keeps me out of a "sticky" situation in the future.