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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fighting October and Barium Swallow TMI UPDATE

October 1991 was costly for me. I was taking 15 Semester hours at UAB and driving 100+ miles four days each week; one week it was six days. I became very ill, dropped one class and failed another, took antibiotics for 25 days of October. One week I was taking two antibiotics. I believe my new glasses were part of the problem.

The optometrist became angry because I would not get my lenses made there. She wanted me to leave my present glasses for four days. Before the exam, she assured me she could have the glasses made while I waited or just drop them off and come back a few hours later. After the exam, she said, "Give me your glasses." I asked how long she would need them. "For three or four days." I could not afford not to read for four days. So, she took the prescription pad and gave me a second prescription and told me to use that one, not the first one she gave me. It took me a month to figure out that I had filled a prescription that was not what I needed. The stress made me susceptible to illness.

I struggled to read, to breathe, to swallow, not to cough. My allergies bothered me more than they ever had. My ears hurt. I could not hear lectures. My throat was so sore I could not talk in class. I struggled to drive and not have a wreck. Sleep did not come. I was feverish for about 27 days. My eyes felt hot and watery. My sinuses were so congested  that my teeth hurt.

The next October, I had more of the same, just not quite so bad. Every October since, I have started getting sick. This year is not a bit different! I intend to just self-medicate and stave it off best I can. Only one other October since the one recounted have I needed antibiotics. But, regularly for over 20 years, October has been a rotten month because I struggle with allergies and fighting off illness.

Falling leaves, mold, and the window spreading them about are the culprits. It does  not help that October is also the month where the world closes in on itself, becoming dark sooner, and the chill causes my allergies to bother me. Patsy Cline and Thelma were out of their pen up to 8 pm this summer. Now, at 4:30 p.m., they are ready to settle down for the night. So, that is almost a four-hour difference in the prevailing hen mood.

As the world folds up early, I feel the need for company. Yet, there is not much to do in this town. Not only is it difficult to go since my back and knee need surgery, I just don't want to be bothered most days or nights. October is not my favorite month.

I don't hate October. It is such a hard month for me to get through.

Back to my feeling unwell and what I am doing for it.
So far:
Chicken broth in a cup
Hall's Mentholyptus cough drops
hot cloth on my face (don't do steam)
Ruffles (crispy ridged potato chips)
one aspirin each day
Vicks salve on soles of my feet

If you are eating breakfast or have a weak stomach, STOP here.

Barium Swallow
Right now, I need something for my worsening sinus/ear/throat/chest condition, but I am fasting for a test at the hospital The endoscopy a few weeks ago showed no narrowing of my esophagus. Yet, I continue to have food not enter my stomach. Well, that is my perception. When I try to drink after something seems "stuck," I have whatever I am drinking come out my nose, go into my sinuses, and as I try to breathe, the liquid goes down the wrong way. It is horrendous because I feel as though I am drowning. Well, I cannot breathe. I tried to tell my friend on the phone what was happening, but I could not speak.

My perception--food "gets stuck" and will not leave my stomach. When it comes back up, there is no stomach bile. I don't throw up. I just bend over the commode and open my mouth and pretend I am throwing up and do. There is no finger down the throat, nothing.

The first time this happened, I was eating the remainders of a casserole that had chicken, rice, and mushroom soup. There was no chicken in the leftovers I was eating, just soup and rice.

The last time it happened, I was eating cheese and bread. I was not drinking as I knew I should. I had nothing at all even though I knew I should, and that is a recipe for disaster for me. When water just kept gurgling back up and out as I drank, I gave up. I do choke on the water returning!  I went to the bathroom and once again bent over the commode. Up came what appeared to be a long hot dog shape, at least five inches long and one-inch or more in diameter. It was just a mishmash of well-chewed bread and cheese. Five minutes later when I flushed the commode, the shape was still very firm.

My solution--drink copious amounts of water as I eat. In the past, if I didn't drink lots of water every two or three bites, I got hiccups. Well, that condition has changed. I don't get the hiccups, I get no food going into my stomach and horrid pain.

I finally was able to make the Nurse Practitioner understand that I had no problem getting the food past my throat, that it was just seemingly not entering my stomach. She just assumed it was my throat. It would help if medical professionals would listen to the last half of the sentence before making a diagnosis or scheduling tests.

And, I still have pain that doctors say is gall bladder, yet, once again, none of the tests show anything wrong...sigh.

Since I could not sleep last night, when I get home, I am letting the hens out and going to bed.

My best friend said I am a hypochondriac, that I stay up all night reading the Internet and googling symptoms. We do not talk at all. She threw away a 30 year friendship with that remark. I will not call her or talk to her if she calls. She won't.

It is 6:30 am and I have to be at the hospital at 7:30 am, so I need to get ready to go. I hope this barium is not nasty or minty. Is it ever chocolate?

Update: dismotility is the diagnosis. The doctor who administered the exam explained my esophagus is not as strong DUE TO AGE! Talk to my doctor about it. Kristine Barr, I will be in touch.

blankety blank! This is the second thing that is going wrong that is due to age. #1 thing--cataracts.

Your turn
Is October a downer month for you? Have you ever had this happen to you when food did not leave your esophagus?


  1. I hope they find out what exactly is going on. I knew someone who had to have their esophagus stretched. It was found with the barium swallow, but missed with the endoscopy.
    So far, this October takes the cake with sickness. everyone has been sick, including me. Usually we don't have problems like this until January.

    1. JandM,
      Oh, January is a doozy, too. I will put update in blog.

  2. Check motility problems and bezoars on google. Are you diabetic? Diabetics have these problems Write me if you have more questions.

    1. Kristine,
      You got it right. I will check out bezoars. Update on blog.

    2. Kristine,
      I don't find an email address for you. Do I have it?

  3. My sister kept saying the same thing, and getting the same test and diagnosis. FINALLY someone with a brain ordered a different type of esophageal test: She had to eat a few scrambled eggs at the hospital with radium in them. Then they took xrays every hour, waiting for the eggs to enter her stomach. EIGHT HOURS LATER, they stopped the xrays because the eggs were still in her esophagus. It is the ONLY test to show that you KNOW what you are talking about.

    1. Eight hours? Wow! I had to keep interrupting the Nurse Practitioner and say, "NO, I am not...whatever. I can swallow just fine, it is not passing into my stomach." She told me to tell the doctor today exactly what I told her. He listened without interruption and only had questons, not answers. He was still questioning me after the test.

      Now, we have to solve the gall bladder problem! My obgyn gave me some clues.

  4. Aaargh. I feel for you. We are in Spring here, and my body tends to behave badly at the change of seasons. Can't cope with big temperature swings.
    I have some problems swallowing. It can take multiple attempts and several glasses of water to get medication down.
    And I am tired (so very tired) of doctors who listen to a few words and make up their minds. And then tell you you don't have what they decided you did - and ignore that the problem you presented with is STILL THERE.

    1. You said it! I keep saying "Tests don't fix anything and doctors pay no attention to them if it's not "what they expected". And I leave with the same problem I arrived with.

    2. EC,
      It used to be that Spring was the problem. Now, it is Fall that makes me more ill. Of course, this is all allergy based for me. However, my allergy problems are decreasing overall.


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