…my wife had to stay awake through all this to take care of my sorry ass:
It really started on my lunch break at work. I was having some really yummy turkey from Pete’s Deli across the street and I got the feeling of it being “stuck” somewhere deep in my esophagus. I ran to the bathroom and threw up. Thinking I was alright after that, I went back to my meal, but after one bite had to throw up again. I finished the Diet 7up that I’d bought with lunch in hopes of calming my stomach, but that came up immediately too. At the end of my break, I went back to work, but couldn’t manage to do my job more than five or ten minutes at a time between vomiting sessions. I was sent home for the day.
At home, I tried some Alka Selzer, which immediately came back up. I tried some cold water; same result. Eventually, I drove myself to the nearest hospital with an ER. After checking in, I seated myself in the waiting room as near to the restroom as possible, making trips every few minutes to vomit. Meanwhile, I texted my wife to let her know where I was. She was out to dinner with friends and I didn’t want to unnecessarily worry her, but she showed up at the ER in pretty short order herself, just as I was taken into the exam room.
The first thing the ER doc tried was Glucagon, thinking its being a smooth muscle relaxant might cause my esophagus to stop the spasm fit it was apparently having. If felt better, but it wasn’t a cure. Shortly after that, they followed up with Reglan. That stuff sucked. One of the side effects is akathisia, described as a syndrome characterized by unpleasant sensations of restlessness that manifests itself with an inability to sit still or remain motionless and a sense of discomfort, motor restlessness, and marked anxiety and panic and labile affect (weepiness). Yep, that was me. I was jumping off and on the gurney. I was waving my arms, shaking my legs, shivering, and Carolina said I was making weird faces. I also remember almost crying and telling Carolina several times I was terrified. I had thought of ripping out my IV and leaving the ER against medical advice. If I weren’t a nurse, I might have done that, but I held onto enough common sense to realize from my nursing experience that I’d likely be in deep shit physically if I did that.
The ER doc came in to check on me and found me leaning over the gurney with my IV tubing wrapped around my body and chuckled a bit, “You got some bad akathisa there… I’m writing in your chart that no-one should ever give you Reglan again.” She then instructed the nurse to give me 20mg of Benadryl IV, which knocked me out like Marlin Perkins hit me with a gorilla dart.
When I woke up from my short Benadryl nap, the doc had brought me a Diet Coke and instructed me to try drinking it. I took small sips, all of which pretty much came back up immediately. I tried kidding myself that if I worked at it long enough it would eventually go down. When the nurse came in and asked if I was having any luck, I said “Some of it has stayed down.” After which my wife immediately said “No it hasn’t!” The doc came in right then, overhearing this, and said, “If you can’t swallow anything we can’t send you home. I’m admitting you and calling the GI doc.” Shit.
I knew what was coming. In my line of work, I’d seen the same story unfold for other people so many times. A doctor was going to shove a huge plastic snake with a camera on the end down my throat to have a look. It never looked fun. I was actually a little worried that they were going to find some reason I would need a surgery, but that was overshadowed by the immediate notion that they were going to shove that huge camera thing down there!
By the time the GI doc got there I was a frightened little bitch. I tried to talk them into letting Carolina stay there while they scoped me. No dice. I asked questions for which I already knew the answers. The docs and nurses were trying to allay my fears with their answers. I finally just said, “You know… I’m going to be freaking out and asking questions as long as I can so we’d probably just get on with it.” They told me they’d give me Fentanyl and Versed, and the nurse told me I had the option of Propofol, but I passed. I don’t like the “not in control” feelings drugs can give, plus I’m a big time lightweight, so the two drugs were going to be enough.
I watched the nurse push two syringes into my IV, I saw Carolina say goodbye and walk out, I laid on my side, a nurse strapped a mouth guard on, and out I went. I remember waking up once, choking, and trying to reach up to my face. The doc said “Give him another 100 mics of Fentanyl” and out I went again. The next time I remember waking up, the GI doc and his team had gone and I was in a room with Carolina and a recovery nurse. Carolina told me the procedure took well over an hour and the doc had said it was one of the hardest food impactions he’d seen. She said he showed her photos of my esophagus vs. photos of a normal esophagus and he told her he was afraid to biopsy me as irritated as everything was and that I’d have to see him in three weeks for another esophagoscopy. She told me more stuff too, but it wasn’t all sinking in. I was still groggy.
The nurse read me a bunch of stuff from her discharge paperwork that went over my head. I signed something that could have been a declaration of war for all I know. I got dressed and Carolina led me to the car. We drove home and after letting work know I’d not be in, I went to bed. All day I only went outside for the sake of my dog’s potty breaks. I’ve eaten several popsicles, three bowls of broth, a really soupy bowl of oatmeal, and a container of yogurt all day. As I type, my wife is snoring away. She pretty much passed out right after she got home from work (yep, she went to work on no sleep).
So now I’ve got this diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis. Well, OK, then. Things could be worse.