I had my annual physical this past Friday. (insert groans here from every guy over 40) I stood on the medical scale that always seems to add 5-10 lbs, looked away as I was stuck with a syringe for blood work, and listened to the dreaded snap of the latex glove. Finally, after hearing from my doctor that I appear to be in excellent health, he asked me if there was anything that had been bothering me.
Most of the time, when I hear that question, I always say, “No, I’m feeling pretty good.”
However, this time I had a different answer. I sighed heavily and said, “Well, ok, in the last few months, I’ve had a few times when I’ve felt like my food wasn’t going all the way down to my stomach.”
This caught his attention. I could tell because he stopped writing on his clipboard.
So I continued.
“At first I thought I was just in a hurry and had taken too big of a bite, but there have been times when I was sure that I had chewed my food sufficiently. Whenever it happened, I usually stood, raised my hands over my head, and the food normally continued to my stomach.”
“Anything else?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “I cough a lot after I eat.”
After a few more questions, my doctor said, “I think we need to examine your esophagus.”
“Okay,” I replied. “How do we do that?”
“Well, you can either drink barium and we can x-ray you or we can perform an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.”
“Did you just make that up?”
“No,” he laughed. “It’s an endoscopic procedure where we scope the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes there’s a narrowing of the esophagus, but this will let us know for sure.”
“Why would I do that other than drink the cyanide?”
“You mean barium?” he asked.
“Yes, sorry. Hopefully there’s a difference.”
“If you drink the barium and have the x-ray and there’s a problem, then we still have to do the esophagogastroduodenoscopy.”
“Is it dangerous?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “I’ve had it myself.”
“Ok,” I said. “Let’s do it.”
So, I’m scheduled to have an esophagogastroduodenoscopy. I’ll let you know what happens. If you’ve had one, let me know. I’d like to hear your story.