Hard Pill to Swallow

Have I mentioned how much I despise 2020? Yes? Well, let me just do it again. This past Wednesday, I ended up driving Mark (my wonderful husband) to the ER with a tablet lodged in his esophagus. That was NOT what I meant when I said we needed a night out!

From the time he was around 10 years old, he has gotten choked fairly easily. He has always just dealt with it on his own when he feels something lodge and has always been able to free his esophagus of whatever was lingering by washing it down with water. SOMEONE has been telling him for years he needed to have that checked because that is NOT normal. I’ll let you all decide who that might have been. Though I love him and he’s one of the best men I have ever met, he is still a man. So he never had it checked out.

This past Wednesday, we were at a friends house, he went to take a small enteric coated 200mg ibuprofen and it got stuck. When I say got stuck, I mean the man couldn’t even swallow his own saliva. So he began his usual water, gag, repeat phase and I didn’t think too much of it… until an hour passed and we were still there with him trying his best to get rid of the tablet intended to decrease his pain that now had him in misery.

We tried every home remedy that exists to help dislodge something and none of them worked. We even attempted the Heimlich even though he knew it wouldn’t work because that is intended for something lodged in your wind pipe morse so than your esophagus. After another hour, I finally convinced him that he was going to have to go to the ER.

We get to the ER and they kept questioning if we were sure it was just a single tablet. I figured out later that was because a single tablet should not cause a person to not even be able to swallow their own saliva because the normal esophagus is not that small. After assuring them that we were completely sure and that we had already tried all the home remedies, they bypassed the normal efforts to dislodge the tablet, nitroglycerin slurry or a glucagon IV, and went straight for an endoscopy. I am not a fan of our local hospital group so I was hesitant to go there, in fact, we almost drove 45 minutes further just to go somewhere else, but I was worried he wouldn’t make it that far on the road for having to stop and retch out his own spit. So I told my friend, God will put the people there that will be able to care for him and take the right steps. Have faith. He did! The doctor that was sitting at the entry station just happened to have some esophageal issues himself, so he was very sympathetic to Mark’s situation and knew that after all we had already tried, the usual protocol wasn’t going to cut it. The gastroenterologist that came to do the endoscopy has the same condition as Mark was diagnosed with during his procedure.

Quick side note: another protocol is having to have a COVID test before such procedure. He had the one that basically nuzzles your frontal lobe and I am telling you… he just sat there and didn’t even flinch! I was grimacing just watching it. I literally almost slapped the girl who did my flu test a couple years ago on instinct.

The procedure didn’t take long at all and when the doctor came to talk to me, he said he had the worst case of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE for short and the sake of my brain cells) he has ever seen. He had to downsize his scope to a neonatal scope just to get into his esophagus! The fact that he has been dealing with this for over 20 years without treatment means that his esophagus has been so remodeled at this point, it is a miracle that it hasn’t ruptured. His doctor prescribed a corticosteroid slurry to help reduce the inflammation in his esophagus and he’s to eat puréed food only for at least 8 weeks. His risk of rupture was high before this incident, but the irritation and increased inflammation from it and the procedure have increased that even more.

When I got to see him, he was still so woozy from anesthesia he was hilarious. One of the nurses said he hadn’t shut up from the moment he woke up. Which is even funnier because he’s normally relatively reserved and quiet around people he doesn’t know.

He will revisit the doctor in 4 to 6 weeks and likely have another endoscopy to see if the medication has helped. Given the severity of his condition, he will probably have to have his esophagus stretched at some point.

He’s always hated when I come to him and say, so I’ve been reading… and I think that’s getting worse! haha I already know from my own issues that certain foods cause and/or increase inflammation, and after reading up on EoE, those foods can make him much worse. So now, not only am I feeding him basically baby food, but I am converting him to my mostly dairy, soy, and wheat free diet. Me and the kids actually had fun at the grocery store finding things that looked yummy but met our rigid nutritional criteria.

He is so optimistic and seems perfectly fine with all of this. It wouldn’t do any good to be otherwise, but I am still impressed with his resolve. Even though we didn’t get into bed until about 4:00AM, he was up and dressed for me to drive him around to work the next morning. I did remind him that pumpkin pie is a soft food as long as he doesn’t eat the crust, so that alone is pretty exciting.

If you have any helpful information on EoE, feel free to share. We are also very open to soft food suggestions or recipes. I love Arbonne and I have already been drinking their protein shakes, so he will be doing those as well now.

Also, a reminder to get those little oddities checked. If you have trouble swallowing tablets, find yourself choking easily on foods, or think you have reflux but reflux medications don’t seem to help, talk to your doctor about EoE. Those of you who know me, are well aware that I am a big fan of dealing with things that I can at home, but I also think it’s important to have someone a lot smarter than me weigh in on things at least once a year. If I hadn’t gone for my yearly check-up at the beginning of this year, I would be sitting here with active cancer growing inside my body. If Mark had gone to the doctor with this years ago and actually told them about this issue, he wouldn’t be on a soft food diet right here during the holidays. His doctor would not have suspected anything without him speaking up because normally a person with EoE, especially severe EoE, is malnourished and often weak because they aren’t able to get the proper nutrition they need. SO SPEAK UP! Your doctor isn’t telepathic, no matter how good they are.

Thanks so much to everyone who has already reached out! The love and support means so much to us.

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