New hope for an end to my oesophageal woes

Had a CT (CAT) scan last night. My first ever. I liked beingaround such expensive technology; it made me feel like I was in the future. Butthe preparation was a bit of an issue. The technician had me drink half a litreof barium solution. Needless to say, it’s difficult for me to drink half a litreof anything, let alone a thick, tasteless milky substance. Still, I managed todo it over the course of about half an hour.

The reason for the scan was to establish a baseline for mycancer-free torso. I’ll be the recipient of some sort of upper-body diagnosticsannually from now on, and they’ll compare what they see in future images tothis initial one. That way they won’t jump the gun on any suspicious lookingspots that are benign or simply a natural part of my anatomy.

More interesting than the scan, though, was news I receivedon Saturday from a fellow total gastrectomy patient I’ve been in touch with whohas been suffering oesophageal problems very similar to mine. He had anendoscopy last week, and his doctors determined that he had a stricture; anarrowing (due to excessive scar tissue) of the oesophagus at the point itjoins with the intestine. Most people have a gap of two- to three-centimetresall the way down their throat, but his had been reduced to just 9 millimetresat the scarring point.

What’s more, they were able to take immediate action torectify the issue. They slid a balloon down the scope and inflated it to threeatmospheres of pressure at the stricture point, which effectively tore the scartissue apart to widen the gap. He went home that day. At the time he wrote me,two days later, he hadn’t experienced any more of his throat issues, despitehaving eaten a couple of sizable meals.

The last time I saw my doctors, they suggested that I mighthave a stricture as well, and said that if I did that the balloon trick couldsolve my problem. I’m not scheduled to see them again until July, but in lightof this news I might try to bump that up a bit. If I could conquer this one lastproblem I’d feel like my life would be pretty much back to normal. Here’s hoping.


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