Esophageal Cancer – You Know You’re In Trouble When…

March 14, 2011

Did I mention that Ted was proud of the fact that he had not been to see a doctor for 20 years? No check-ups, no emergencies, no walk-in clinics because he was an incredibly well person – other than acid reflux.

Because he didn’t have a doctor, my doctor agreed to see him and I went with him for the appointment. It was Friday and the office was packed with the usual cross-section of sickies, general check-ups, and crying babies and I, as an experienced visitor to the office, had brought my own book, a Sudoku puzzle book, and a bottle of water. Ted spent the time observing the other office visitors.

Eventually Ted’s name was called and we picked our way through the waiting room to the inner sanctum of the office. This was a ‘Twenty Questions’ visit rather than an exam visit so no clothes had to be removed and I went with him to the inner office.

As a nervous ‘sickie’ he felt he should take the upper hand from the start, and immediately told the doctor that he was pretty sure it was an ulcer. Thus started the ‘Twenty Questions’: What are the symptoms? Why do you think it’s an ulcer? How long? What do you eat? How often? How much? When does it happen? How often? With different foods?…..

After 15 minutes she informed him that she was pretty sure he didn’t have an ulcer, but she felt he should have some tests done to check it out. I had a creepy feeling, especially when she mentioned she would schedule the testing for early the following week.

Monday morning the office called with an appointment for the test on  Thursday. Since Thursdays were my ‘Farm Days’ and were his ‘work days’, he decided to go to the 10:00 am appointment alone.

You know you’re in trouble when the doctor’s office calls less than 30 minutes after your test and the conversation goes like this:

Receptionist: Is Ted home?
Me: No, He’s supposed to be having a test. Did he miss the appointment?
Receptionist: Oh, no. The doctor would like to see him tomorrow at 4:30.
Me: Why?
Receptionist: The doctor would like to go over the test results. (Her voice sounded funny)
Me: Should I come with him? (Testing the raging female intuition that’s got me sitting down and having trouble catching my breath.)
Receptionist: Um…..Yes, I think that would be a good idea. (My heart started slamming my chest like it was fighting to get out.)

I waited until my heart stopped pounding so hard I couldn’t hear, then I called Ted.

When he got home that night we cuddled and talked. All the while I had a rock in my stomach and my heart was fluttering. I asked what the test was and he explained that they gave him some stuff to drink in a cup with a straw, then tilted him back on the machine to watch as it went down his throat. He said the technician came in twice to make sure he was actually drinking the stuff, and finally stood there watching him drink as the test was done.

Next week we find out the verdict. Tune in.

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2 Responses to “Esophageal Cancer – You Know You’re In Trouble When…”

  1. kayuk said

    I know. Most of us don’t want to be ‘wusses’ or have the lable ‘hypochondriac’, but the truth is that the nagging messages we get from our bodies are pleas for help. Years of masking acid reflux with a bottle of Tums…a lifetime of drinking Coke even when it causes acid reflux…a nagging headach that just won’t go away…shortness of breath after climbing the stairs each night…

    Our bodies speak to us constantly but we are so busy we deliberately tune them out. After a while we are so much in the habit of ignoring the messages that it’s more convenient to live in pain than to make an appointment with a doctor.

    And, all the while, our bodies are feeling more and more stress from the pain, they are reacting by dumping more acid into our stomachs, increasing our heart rate, keeping us awake at night so we can’t heal.

    Then…when something breaks and can’t be fixed we say such things as, “I haven’t been to the doctor in 30 years! Never been sick a day in my life! How could this happen to me???” It would be mor truthful to say, “I’ve been on the verge of breaking for 20 years but have not taken the time to look after these things. I guess I brought this all on myself.”

    The funny think is, we take out pets to the vet if they don’t eat right for a few days, their stool is bloody or odd for a few days, they mope around like they don’t feel well for a few days. But we never consider the owner of the pet. What will happen if we can’t get up and feed them or take them out?

    We know maintenance is necessary for other things fo we take our cars to the shop if the engine sounds funny or the brakes don’t work, or the windshield wipers make noise. But we never consider the driver of the car. How much will repairs cost when we have a stroke while driving?

    Why do we always feel that we are invincible and naturally immune?

  2. Mark Valcour said

    I’m finding this account emotionally challenging to follow – but I think I’m up for it. I sure hope it is helping you (versus draining you) to tell everyone so clearly and completely what you and Ted endured with this form of cancer.
    Your opening paragraph of this blog really hits home. I, like far too many males (and I’m sure some females) am happy with the fact that I (we) have had no need (or compulsion) to visit a doctor. Excluding one injury related visit to an emergency ward some 15 years ago, I haven’t willingly visited a doctor for 30 years. I’m not necessarily proud of that and occasionally feel a bit sheepish about it. Are we cowards? Do we prefer to ‘keep our head in the sand’ about our actual medical condition? Maybe… As I think about it though, I realize that my happiness about the fact that ‘I have my health’ (as they say) overrides my occasional thoughts of going to a doctor. Dummy us…

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