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There's a reason why her initials are S and M ...
Well, that was deja vu all over again .... 
14th-May-2007 10:10 am
Roslin--Bored Now
In my recent post of 10 odd things about me, I mentioned that I have a Schatzki ring, a medical condition that once sent me to the emergency room about six years ago.

History repeated itself yesterday. *sigh* I'M OKAY THOUGH, let me make that clear from the get-go.

I was eating a steak dinner on the deck with the family for Mother's Day. Steak is the main culprit in these situations, it seems, at least often enough for the medical profession to give the symptoms the name "steakhouse syndrome". What happens is this: The thickened ring of tissue at the lower end of the esophagus locks shut on some swallowed food, usually the aforementioned steak, forming an obstruction. Once that happens, any food, drink, medication or saliva the subject swallows can only come back out the way it went in, because there's no way for it to get down to the stomach.

Yeah, 'nuff said about that. Skipping merrily along ...

The only way that bad boy will come out is through endoscopy. The last time this happened, I spent a few hours resisting the idea that yes, I needed to go to the hospital, while a bunch of well-meaning people offered not-too-helpful advice ("No, I'm not choking, please DO NOT administer the Heimlich maneuver, thank you ..."). This time I knew exactly what was happening, and as much as I cursed the fact that uninsured I had to go through this crap again, I nevertheless had my father get me to the ER within an hour of my first symptoms. The nice people at Yavapai Regional Medical Center were very quick about getting me processed, triaged and into a room. Soon after that, I had a chest x-ray taken, monitors attached, blood drawn and an IV catheter in me. Then a bit of waiting around happened whilst they contacted the on-call GI doctor and she assembled her team. They twice gave me some water to swallow, before and after getting some IV Zofram, to see if the ring was relaxing on its own. It wasn't.

Once Dr. Wang and her team arrived (with all their equipment), I signed a bunch of paperwork and answered a bunch of questions. I mentioned that I went a little apneic while waking up after my last endoscopy, that is, I was breathing too slowly and kept setting off the monitors that were measuring the level of oxygen in my blood. They thanked me for telling them and assured me that they would have me on oxygen and would go as light as possible on the fentanyl and Versed they'd be using. They were doing "conscious sedation", by the way, not general anesthesia. Conscious sedation meant that, while my brain would have no awareness of the stuff they were running down my throat, I would still be awake enough to maintain my own airway with no need of a tube in my trachea.

After all had been explained to the satisfaction of both sides, they kicked Dad out of the room (he'd been patiently waiting with me), rolled me on my left side and gave me the drugs. So I was Not There while the good doctor ran a tiny camera down my throat to the obstructed area, cleared out a largish amount of food, then checked again for bleeding or any other abnormalities. I forget if she mentioned whether or not she dilated me-- that is, ran a small balloon down into the Schatzki ring and inflated it to stretch the tissue --but whether she did or not, I'll probably need a follow-up dilation after a while. I woke up without setting off the pulse-ox this time, then lay around for a while watching the Battle of the Pelennor Fields part of The Return of the King until they decided to release me, carefully going over my after care with me and Dad first.

Since I'm on soft food for 24 hours, Dad indulged me by picking up a couple of pints of ice cream on the way home. So I checked my e-mail, tried to write some more with the assistance of some Mayan Chocolate Haagen Dazs, gave up and conked out until this morning. Breakfast was peach yogurt; lunch will probably be cooked Grape Nuts with honey. I have a prescription for Protonix to fill and a follow-up appointment to make.

All kudos to Dr. Wang and the rest of the staff at YRMC for getting me taken care of in under five hours. They complimented me several times on how calm and relaxed I was about the whole thing, but really, there was no reason to get worked up. I knew what was happening, and my being a vet tech meant the medical procedures weren't particularly mysterious. I could breathe perfectly well and had no more pain than a moderately nasty case of heartburn would cause. Oh, and the damn automated BP cuff kept taking an absolute stranglehold on my upper arm. *looks askance at resulting linear bruises* I just hope and pray that the state-assisted medical insurance for which I signed up comes through, because this plus the follow up will probably come to at least a few thousand dollars in the end. O_o Any helpful vibes you care to give me in that direction will be gratefully accepted.

So my only major annoyance is that I was planning to pull an all-nighter on "Gossip" last night, and the drugs wouldn't let me. *sigh*
14th-May-2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, my poor Boo! *hugs*

Gah! Does that mean you can't eat steak anymore? :(

*loves you*

Here's Adama's crotch to cheer you up. :p
15th-May-2007 01:09 am (UTC)
*huggles back* No, it doesn't. Even if I removed steak from my diet, the ring would just find something else to lock on if it's determined to lock. What I *should* do is get the dang thing dialated periodically, if I can find a way to get the insurance or money to do so.

*loves back*

Thenkyew. 8^9~~~~~~~~ Have some wet Castillo back atcha.
14th-May-2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
Poor you :-(

That sounds distinctly unfun, but good on you for dealing with it all so calmly.

And ice cream diet though...all is not so bad ;->
15th-May-2007 01:22 am (UTC)
As medical emergencies go, this wasn't so bad. I didn't have much pain; it was just the horking up that was unfun. Well, that and the damn BP cuff.

And I have some Cinnamon Dulce de Leche HD waiting for later. 8^9
14th-May-2007 05:46 pm (UTC)


15th-May-2007 01:23 am (UTC)


I'm okay, really. Just belching a little more than usual this morning.
14th-May-2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
Reading this makes me swallow compulsively, just to reassure myself that it works... :o/

I've never heard of that one before, meaning it has probably never been covered by ER. Nasty!

So in the time between six years ago and now you didn't have any problems?! Good luck that you'll have AT LEAST 6 further years until the next trip to the ER...!
15th-May-2007 01:29 am (UTC)
*chuckle* ER probably never covered it because, as medical emergencies go, it's just not that dramatic.

I'll be seeing Dr. Wang for a follow-up in a couple of weeks. She should have advice to keep me out of ER; I just hope I can afford to follow it. :P
(Deleted comment)
15th-May-2007 01:33 am (UTC)
As I told Kim, no need to cross steak off the menu, so you can stop looking sad. :)

And Bill's crotch *always* helps. 8^9
14th-May-2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
*snarffles* Emergency rooms are no fun. Hope you're feeling better. *hands over more ice cream*
15th-May-2007 01:34 am (UTC)
*skoosh* Much better, thank you. *slurps ice cream and giggles at Eddie-in-the-Hat*
14th-May-2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
Ook and Ack!


Hope you are feeling better already.
No more family dinners for you.
Just too frakkin' unhealthy.
(Not to mention interfering with Art)
(and my delectation

15th-May-2007 01:38 am (UTC)

*pictures family members carting her upstairs with wrists and ankles strapped to a carrying pole*

Amusing, but ... no. ;)

14th-May-2007 07:48 pm (UTC) - Gah!
Wow, it's good to know that you're ok. I mean, the scientific part of me is all like 'ohhh, that's a cool new thing to learn about...' but it really must be a pain in the ass for you. But mmm dude. A diet of ice cream, pudding, and... softness. *blinks* Man, you don't need steak anyway. It's bad for you. And it's bad for the cows. *says the vegetarian* Ice cream's more healthy anyway ;)
15th-May-2007 01:49 am (UTC) - Re: Gah!
It is pretty interesting ... I wish they'd been able to videotape the procedure so that I could *see* what was causing the problem. But alas no.

*chuckle* I'm a confirmed omnivore, myself. I think in a past life I was the first person to look at a lobster and say, "You know what? I'm gonna eat that!" (Thank you, Chris Stevens. ;)
(Deleted comment)
15th-May-2007 02:22 am (UTC)
*huggles* Hope you're feeling better too. Your procedure was *much* more invasive than mine.

*knocks on wood for cooperative insurance*
14th-May-2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
*hugs you* Yeesh, that sounds hideous (both the condition & the endoscopy.) But at least they put you in la-la land before the procedure.

How 'bout some Billceps for your troubles? ;-D
15th-May-2007 02:24 am (UTC)
*hugs back and chuckles* Not too hideous, really. No incisions to heal for one thing.

Mmmmmmm ... Billceps ... 8^9~~~~~
(Deleted comment)
15th-May-2007 02:34 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm fine. Just need to take my meds like a good girl for a couple of months.

I wish it was ... I *wanted* that time last night to work on it. *frustrated snarl* But nevertheless ... *typity*
14th-May-2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
Awwwwww! That sucks. :( I hope you're feeling better and that you don't have to go through another one of those episodes again. I totally understand the worries about not having health insurance. I went for several years without health insurance and only just recently got it. *sympathetic hug*

*sending helpful vibes your way*
15th-May-2007 02:43 am (UTC)
I'm feeling just fine. *hugsback* Clearing the obstruction took care of almost all of the discomfort. This morning my throat just felt a little odd, like it had stuff stuck down it, which of course it had.

Yeah, the insurance situation is the biggest headache. Even when I've had full-time jobs, I've rarely had the money to spare to pay for my portion of the insurance premiums. I hope I can change that soon.
15th-May-2007 01:58 am (UTC)
*so glad you're okay and the medics took care of you quickly*

15th-May-2007 02:35 am (UTC)
I am A-okay, and Mom made me macaroni and cheese for dinner. :9

15th-May-2007 04:09 am (UTC)
Oh dear. I am glad you are OK. But sorry you had to go through such an ordeal.

No more steak for you. Would it help to chew little tiny pieces? Hm.
15th-May-2007 05:17 am (UTC)
As ordeals go, 'tweren't all that bad, really. :) And yes, I do need to be careful to chew my steak thoroughly in the future.
(Deleted comment)
15th-May-2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks. *skwish* I *should* be fine as long as there's not some insane minimum residency requirement or something.
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