“You might feel some mild soreness for the rest of the day. Resume your normal activities tomorrow.”
That’s what I was told on Wednesday, after having my Endoscopy with multiple biopsies and double dilation of my throat. Before the procedure, I wasn’t told anything – I just assumed that surely such a procedure would make me sore and planned accordingly for “mild soreness.”
I did not, however, plan for such extreme throat and chest pain as to leave me speechless, breathless, and trying all the old labor positions to find some relief for pain.
(Note: I’ve had a tonsillectomy, well known as the most painful surgery for an adult on the planet, and found it to be not as bad as I’d been told. So when I say this pain was bad, know I’m saying it was worse than my tonsillectomy and bordering on Noah’s adventurous labor and delivery.)
Apparently they left an extra special amount of air in my stomach, air that they were supposed to suck out when they finished the procedure. Somebody forgot to suck on that straw. So I had an intensely bursting chest full of air – that pain was a 9.
And then there was my throat, which felt like it had been ravaged by killer wasps, and was burning and swollen beyond belief – to the point that I could not swallow my own spit, let alone water or medicine. I did attempt to swallow half a lortab, but it got stuck in my throat and just had to dissolve there.
Furthermore, due to the extreme swelling and narrowing of my throat (ironic since I had this procedure because my throat was too narrow and I choked a lot), the air trapped in my chest could not find any way out. I could feel giant painful bubbles make their way up, knock heavily on the door, then turn around and go back down, elbowing and grumbling as they reversed course. Every time I felt one of those bubbles approaching the doorbell, I braced myself for the worst pain of all.
So here I was, for hours, a spit spitting, doubled over, full of unwanted air, in horrific pain mess of a human.
I texted Chris at 12:30 and told him of my extreme pain (he’d dropped me off at home after the procedure and had gone to work, as I was only supposed to experience a little discomfort.) I told him I couldn’t talk to call the doctor. I needed him to do it.
He called, he left a message. He got irate and called again, then left another message. He got more irate and called and pressed all the buttons until he got the wrong human, explained my emergency situation to her, and she promised to contact the right human for him and tell her to call. Three hours in, no one had called back and he was sure his wife was dying.
So he called back, got the wrong human again, and said “I’m bringing my wife back right now.”
“Um, hold on sir. Let me see if I can get Right Human on the phone.”
She found Right Human.
Right Human told him in no uncertain terms that you can’t go back. If you have a problem, go to the ER. Once you leave the Endoscopy center, you are dead to them. (Which was nearly true in my case.)
So my steamingly furious husband came and got me and took me to the ER.
We got to the waiting room, noting the four police cars surrounding it (comforting), and entered into a quiet place of moroseness.
One lady was holding her chest to make sure the front desk realized she was having chest pains.
Another woman had a big nasty looking bandage covering up part of her leg, but not the entirety of the purple swelling.
They shortly wheeled a wheelchair from the back with a hoarsely, phlegmily, and continuously hacking woman in it – and parked it directly across from me.
The Chest Pain woman’s husband inquired as to how long it would be.
“Well, they have an emergency back there, so it may be a while.”
The entire room murmured at the same time… “Of course they do because this is the…emergency room.”
An officer came through the door. His hat said SBI – assumably State Bureau of Investigation. He had a gun on his hip and rubber gloves and an empty paper sack in his hands. She nodded him back.
I whispered to Chris between air bubbles, “What do you think he’s going to put in the sack??”
“A gun? A hand? Lunch?”
They came to get Chest Pains lady. She tried to stand up.
“Do you need a wheelchair?”
“Well yes, I’ve been having chest pains for two hours.”
“Oh. Hmm. I’m not sure if we have one available.”
Phlegmy lady offered, “You can have mine, honey.”
She hacked a few more times and removed herself to the chair six inches away from me. I wouldn’t have sat in her wheelchair without a thorough Lysol dousing, but Chest Pains Lady must have been desperate because she gladly plopped in her sweet new ride, a late model Germ10x 4WD. I could feel the phlegm definitely reaching my airspace now.
Chris whispered, “I’m sorry. I know this is miserable. But it was our only option.”
They called me back to triage. Asked me what was going on. I explained that I couldn’t even swallow my own spit. The observant nurse chuckled and said “Sounds like exactly what you went in to get help for.”
We walked down the hallway. SBI Guy was headed back our way – except that now, his sack was decidedly not empty. The room on the end of the hall was being guarded by three policemen. But I was still processing what all could be housed inside that paper sack.
At least it wasn’t dripping.
They put me in a room. I got all the usual visits. Questions. Repeating of my information to half a dozen people. Finally, their biggest shot of morphine mixed with Zofran, because morphine and I don’t get along. Then a CT scan to make sure I hadn’t had a perforation that allowed air into my chest cavity. They wheeled me and my gurney out of the scan room, down a hallway, and into a dark, abandoned hallway and put on the brakes.
“They’ll come back and get you when they’re ready for you.”
I hope the police are guarding that doorway well.
The morphine was really starting to kick in and the room definitely had an eerie horror movie glow. The lights were surely flickering. I expected the paper bag to come tip-toeing toward me at any minute, a dismembered thumb looking for its body.
A few minutes and/or a morphine nightmare nap later, someone was asking me, “Do you belong in the ER?”
“Then I’ll get you back to your room.”
Thankfully, it wasn’t the murdurous criminal posing as a nurse.
…I didn’t have a perforation. I stayed in significant pain for the next 72 hours. My doctor said that my throat was the narrowest ever, and was narrow all the way down (the pain taught me how long esophoguses actually are), so he’d had to use some heavy duty tools on me. (Read: It’s all my fault. #ThroatShaming)
…My diagnosis is EoE, an allergic sensitivity that creates a rigid and constantly narrowing throat due to food allergies that I didn’t know I have. So now I get to do food allergy testing and eliminate all the things from my diet.
…After I finally quit hurting, I of course got an infection from all the medications he put me on post-procedure. Ironically, as that happened on Sunday, I called the office, got the after-hours answering service, and they guaranteed me a callback from a *doctor* within 20 minutes. If only Wednesday’s issues had been after hours, they might have actually called us back.
…It is now Monday, 6 days post-procedure, and I am starting to feel nearly normal. Which means it’s time to get my back pricked with 80 allergens to see what my problem is.
…And finally, somebody always asks if they should or says they feel guilty for doing so, so let me clarify: if there is anything humorously worthwhile in this post, please laugh. It makes it have some value, and makes me happy.