health, sunshine, Uncategorized

Have You Ever Had An — ENDOSCOPY???


Dearest Readers:

Today, I would like to share a medical procedure I had just after New Year’s Day. January 19, 2016 – to be exact.

A few years ago, I started having a bit of difficulty when swallowing. Suddenly, my throat would tighten; I could feel a bit of a spasm. I slowed down the eating process, hoping my husband would not notice. He did.

One afternoon while we were eating at a restaurant, the spasm returned. I attempted swallowing a bit. I could not. I got the hiccups – something I never get. I cleared my throat only to realize I needed to rush to the ladies room. I covered my mouth with my hands in hopes nothing regurgitated. I’m pleased to report; I made it to the ladies room. About ten minutes later, I returned to the table, requesting a ‘doggie bag’ for my salad.

My mind drifted to my father. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December 1997. I lost him from that dreadful, debilitating disease on July 6, 1999. I knew the symptoms of this cancer well:

  • Inability to swallow without regurgitating
  • Coughing
  • Hiccups
  • Weight loss, due to the inability to eat food
  • Reflux
  • Pain or burning in the throat
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Choking while eating

Of these symptoms, I experienced five. I procrastinated, hoping and praying that I was simply overreacting, or maybe my mind was imagining them because I was still grieving over the loss of my father. I kept telling myself that “this too shall pass,” and I refused to go to the doctor.

Since I’ve increased my exercise routines, power walking and the treadmill, I noticed at times I would get an upset stomach, resulting in a quick rush to the restrooms during my exercise. This was quite embarrassing to me. Later, I would taste a strange bitterness in my mouth and throat. Researching, as I always do, I discovered I was suffering with some ‘GI issues.’ I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist, Dr. Jeffrey R. Joyner, http://www.lowcountrygi.com/ since he is such a respected gastroenterologist; I had to wait two months to see him even though he was the doctor performing another procedure a few years ago. When I visited his office, I shared what was happening inside of my body. He made a few suggestions, and I am happy to say, his suggestions worked. I needed to take a daily dosage of Fiber Con, and I needed to make certain I ate something before exercising.

Since I was at the office, I cleared my throat and whispered, “I am having a problem with swallowing sometimes.” I paused. “Let me explain. I lost my dad in 1999 due to esophageal cancer. I think I might have it.”

I really thought I was under control with these grief emotions, especially after 16 years, but I wasn’t. Tears rushed down my face. I apologized. Dr. Joyner handed me a tissue.

“You have no reason to apologize. Grief is a difficult emotion. Incidentally, I do not believe you have esophageal cancer.”

“But – I have the same symptoms.”

“Let’s not worry about that now. I am almost positive you do not have esophageal cancer, but I would like to schedule an endoscopy.” He asked me additional questions.

My response to each was a soft, emotional “No.”

I wiped tears, cleared my throat and attempted to smile.

The endoscopy was scheduled. I was sad that it couldn’t be done before the holidays and then I remembered the holidays of 1997 – early July 1999. Maybe I didn’t want to go through the holidays knowing something was wrong.

Arriving home, I researched endoscopy again. According to the Mayo Clinic, “upper endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube. A specialist in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist) uses an endoscopy to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum). http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/endoscopy/basics/definition/PRC-20020363

 

So, during the Christmas holidays of 2015, I kept myself busy. My sister and other family members were coming for Thanksgiving this year. I was certain I could manage a smile while knowing and appreciating the little things in life. I didn’t mention how frightened I was. I did not want sympathy or pity from anyone.

Nevertheless, when I was alone, I found myself worrying. While eating tilapia and yellow rice, I choked and then I remembered, almost every time I ate rice, I would choke. No more rice for me!

Thanksgiving and Christmas slowly passed by. I counted the days until my endoscopy and I prayed. And prayed…AND PRAYED. “Please God. Please don’t let me have esophageal cancer.”

The morning of Tuesday, January 19 arrived. My procedure was scheduled for 8 am. We arrived at 7:20.

By 7:30 I was in the procedure room, ready to get this procedure over. I slid on the bed, curious and anxious to get this morning going. I said another prayer while speculating if God ever got tired from hearing my prayers. Maybe I needed to pray in a different manner. Dr. Joyner came to see me, telling me everything would be fine and for me not to worry. Easier said than done.

Just what would I do IF I did have esophageal cancer? What would I say to my husband? Who would take care of me?

I admit it. I never had these discussions with Phil. I was hopeful he would be my rock – again.

The anesthesiologist welcomed me, telling me I needed to lie on the left side of my body. She told me I would be given the drugs so I could be asleep during the procedure. In a few minutes, she returned. She smiled. “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. This takes maybe 20 seconds. You’ll be asleep soon.”

I remember counting. One…two…three… I don’t remember four!

I was out, almost as quickly as turning a light off.

When I awoke, I heard music. The nurse welcomed me.

“I heard music. Did the song – for the life of me I cannot recall the title – play?”

“You heard it?” The nurse said.

“Yes. I am a music person and a singer.”

“What would you like to drink? Dr. Joyner will be here in a few minutes.”

And that is when I looked at her, asking her the dreaded question “Do I have esophageal cancer?”

“No.” She said. “You are fine.”

Dr. Joyner entered the room. “I understand you were a bit worried,” he said.

“Do I have esophageal cancer?” I repeated. Tears filled my eyes.

“No. You have a hiatal hernia. Nothing more. No cancer and no pre cancer cells. I did a biopsy just to be sure.”

I sighed, wiping my tears.

I looked up at the ceiling. Thank you, God.

Before I had the endoscopy, I knew what to expect from it. I was prepared, or as prepared as one can be, for the dreaded six letter word – cancer.

My husband entered the room. I reached for his hand. “No cancer,” I said.

“Thank God,” he said, kissing my hand. “When you’re dressed we can go home.”

“Good,” I said. “My fresh pot of coffee awaits and you can go to work.”

“Only if you promise to rest the rest of the day.”

I crossed my hands over my chest. “Scouts Honor,” I said.

“Yeah, and you were not a girl scout.”

“I was a den mother for the Cub Scouts. That should count.”

Phil tossed his head back and forth, rolling his eyes at me. His body language says so much! The nurse arrived with a wheelchair.

“Ah..I don’t need that. I can walk.”

“Not today,” she smiled. I hopped into the wheelchair and slid in the car. It was 8:15 am. “In and out surgery, just like drive thru windows for fast food,” I said. The nurse laughed and wished me a good day.

I return to the doctor in March. Since the procedure I haven’t had any symptoms, or difficulty swallowing. I think I have God, my family and friends and the doctor to thank. Looks like 2016 will be a good year.

 

Charleston, rain, sunshine

Rainy Days…Rainy Nights…Will Charleston, SC EVER See Sunshine Again?


Dearest Readers:

As I glance outside at the window by my desk, I see gray skies…Raindrops are dripping slowly to the ground. Trees are covered with so much moisture, they almost lose their color. The mimosa trees drip with a grayish color as if to say they are sick and tired of this rain and don’t want to see or feel anymore! Pine trees are leaning over a bit. These pine trees are the seeds I planted after Hurricane Hugo, so the two that grew are just a bit special for me. My husband gripes about them always saying he plans to cut them down. Pine trees are reminiscent to me, reminding me of my childhood in Georgia. How frightened I would become while laying on the grass, noting their height and strength. I always feared those pine trees might pop and fall on top of me. Nevertheless, pine trees are prevalent in Georgia. I remind my grumpy husband that we lost five trees in our yard after Hurricane Hugo. Again, he grunts knowing that IF he cuts those trees down, he will have to deal with me – an unhappy woman sad that her little children of trees are gone due to his selfishness. We have three mimosa trees in the back yard now – planted from seeds from the hands of Mother Nature. How I love those mimosa trees, although today the branches are leaning down. Perhaps they weigh a bit too much now from all of this monsoon rain. Perhaps later, I will slide my rain boots on and walk outside, just to touch the tree branches I’ve watched growing from a tiny seedling to the height of 20′ – maybe a bit less. I’m much too short to measure them! I want those precious trees soaked and probably curious from the hands and moisture of Mother Sunshine to understand I still love them, and I want them to flourish. All in time. I am hopeful this monsoon rain will end soon…and just when I think I might see a bit of relief, I glance outside again to see sheets of rain. My yards are so wet I would not dare to walk outside in my stiletto or pump high heels. No doubt if I made the attempt, my feet would stick in the sandy moisture and pull me downwards. I don’t want to get soaked or dirty. I have a thing about dirt under my nails, but enough about that.

Last week, the rains began – at least I think it was last week. On Wednesday, Tammy, Sara, Chris and I walked the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. It was a humid, gray morning with only a slight breath of wind. Walking up the first incline, I struggled with my breath, stopping several times to use my inhaler. I encouraged the girls to go ahead.
My asthma is leaving me a bit short-winded today. Go ahead, I’ll be fine.”

I stopped several times, just to catch my breath. I counted the lamp posts, telling myself that If I made it to the last lamppost at the first twin towers, I would rest, and I did. Still, I pushed myself, anticipating the approaching rains. I am proud to say, I accomplished my walk – but it appeared to take me forever. Thank you so much, silly asthma. How I wish I did not have asthma, although it is something I have battled all of my life.

For me, there is something magical I feel while walking the bridge. DSC_0033

While walking — sometimes it appears I am crawling, up the first incline, I feel as if God is pushing me, guiding me, telling me – take just one more step. You can do this! And so I do. I believe it doesn’t matter how long it takes. All that does matter is I am taking baby steps to my health. I am accomplishing something I’ve always said I would do “One Day,” after the bridge opened in 2005. I see walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and I’ve seen a few walkers walking dogs (you do realize dogs are not permitted on the bridge – don’t you?) On one morning, a dog left a calling card. I missed stepping on it by just a few baby steps. Honestly, some people love to break the rules, don’t they!

I suppose you could say I believe in breaking rules – sometimes; however, I am considerate of others. I do not take my dogs on my walk. Accomplishing that bridge walk is something I take extremely seriously. I don’t want interruptions. Now that we have about three to five women walking with us, we all move at our pace. We don’t compete. We encourage, and If one of us gets behind like “slow poke Barbie” a nickname I’ve given myself — we text to make certain all is ok. These women are the greatest! Did I mention one of them is a high school friend from — let’s say — a few years ago in another town? Her name is Melanie. In high school, we were not close friends, and that is all my fault. When I was in high school, the only thing I wanted was to graduate and leave my childhood home. I failed to make close friends, only wanting to get out of Bibb City and the traumas of my youth.

Now, a different place. A different time. A different woman. I am proud of the woman I have grown into in my adult life. Gone is the wallflower. Gone is the child afraid to speak up. Replaced by someone who speaks her mind, believes in herself and is proud for the small accomplishments I have achieved. Finally, I can smile, look in the mirror and say, “Hey woman…You’ve got this! You is smart. You is determined, and you Is a better person for breaking that mold!” Thank you, God!

So today, I suppose is a day to reminisce…to ease the gloominess of all of this rain. A day to erase all of the past, or should I say — a day to WASH the past away!

Glancing out my window again, the rain has stopped. I am confident it will start again. I’ve lost count as to how much rain we’ve had, but I imagine it is close to 15 inches, possibly more.

I imagine the mosquitoes will be increasing now, along with the disgusting mold, mildew and ragweed. Wouldn’t it be nice IF the ragweed was washed away. I think I’m looking forward to a day where I awaken to the sunshine peeping thru the windows. I am so sick of all of this rain.

It is time for all of us to smell the flowers…inhale the scent of fresh rain…and to move on with our lives.