Surprise during the Visit to the Gastroenterologist
So I went in to see my gastroenterologist to review everything, and to see if maybe I needed a different prescription medication other than Ranitidine – since lately I had been taking them by the handful. Okay, maybe not by the handful – but I was consuming at least two each day, sometimes four … compared to one per day as recently as one year prior. The gastroenterologist told me during the appointment that he wanted to do two things. First he wanted to switch me over to a different medication – one that I would take one pill every single morning. This medication is called Aciphex. The second thing he told me scared the daylights out of me. He said that it is possible that I may be developing esophageal cancer – and that the ONLY way to know is for me to undergo an EGD (aka an “esophagogastroduodenoscopy” or “upper GI endoscopy”). He said he wanted to do this right away, but he need to wait roughly six weeks after I stopped taking the Ranitidine. We scheduled the procedure, and out the door I went.
Esophageal cancer is very scary. I didn’t know anything about it previously so I read up on it, and found that it has an 80% fatality rate. This might be due to early diagnoses being difficult – as many of the acid reflux medications basically mask the symptoms. Or at least that is what it sounds like to me – since those types of meds stop the pain of acid reflux/bad heartburn … which can be the early indicator of esophageal cancer.
By the Way, I’m Having Some Rectal Bleeding Issues
Now purely coincidentally, I had my appointment with my family doctor for my regular annual physical exam just a few weeks after the visit to my gastroenterologist. During the physical, I, of course, endured the dreaded prostate exam. I also mentioned to my family doctor that I had lately noticed some blood in my stool – but that I have had hemorhoids many times in past, and this is what I attributed the appearance of this bright red blood to. The doctor did not see any external hemorhoids during my exam – which means if I do or did have hemorhoids, then they would have to be internal. He recommended that I undergo a sigmoidoscopy right away – just to be sure that all I am dealing with are internal hemorhoids. He wanted to do one in a few weeks, and I then told him that my gastroenterologist was going to be doing the EGD in a few weeks. My family doctor thought it might be better to have both procedures done at once … since I would already be sedated for the EGD, that would make the sigmoidoscopy easier for me. Plus I would be getting two nasty procedures done at once. All we needed was the consent of the gastroenterologist to do both procedures – which he did give.
The time passed quickly in terms of waiting the several more weeks for this dreaded day. In terms of preparation, I was told not to have anything to eat for twelve hours prior to the procedure – only water. No aspirin or ibuprofin for five days prior. And I had to give myself a series of enemas (three to be precise) at one-hour intervals immediately prior to coming in for the dual procedures. If you have never given yourself an enema, they are pretty uncomfortable. You purchase these enemas at your local drug store, and they are basically a tube filled with some type of laxative liquid. Think of something that looks like a tube of toothpaste, but with a two-inch rigid hollow plastic tube on the end … which you insert into your rectum, and squeeze the contents into yourself. You then try your best to HOLD IT IN as long as you possibly can … but within a minute or so, you absolutely feel like you are going to burst if you don’t expel it. And so you do expel it … really liquidy diarrhea. This is definitely no fun, and not anything I would recommend. I’ve heard of people getting something called a “colonic” or “high colonic” at a spa – and I believe that amounts to some kind of foo-foo enema … but I’m sorry, I just don’t understand why someone would voluntarily do that for any non-medical necessity.