March was a busy month for me both both work wise as well as medically.
It kicked off with a visit to the big city to follow up with my surgeon on March 9th. I hadn’t seen her since May of last year but I forgot that she likes to have annual follow ups and it was time to go back and see her for this year’s check-in. During this visit, I casually mentioned that I had been noticing increased difficulty swallowing food over the past month. It wasn’t that severe but I figured I should mention it just in case it was something to be concerned about since I was fine until recently.
She decided that it would be best to have an upper GI X-ray swallowing series (the same thing I did in July after surgery) to see if a stricture was present. It is less invasive than doing the endoscopy. Following the X-ray, I would return to see her a week later to determine the next steps.
So back to Toronto I went for the 2nd time in two weeks to have the X-ray taken. It was easier this time because I knew what to expect. The barium swallow was the easy part and then it happened, the gas pills. I’m sure I explained this once before but the gas pills are awful. I thought I’d get away with not having them because normally they are used to form gas in your stomach which helps expand and get a better view of your innards. No stomach = no gas pills, right? Wrong. The radiologist wanted to see what it looked like when he expanded my esophagus and to see how the join stretched out. Imagine taking a shot glass filled with dry pellets, then chasing it with water which causes them to fizz. But wait, you aren’t allowed to burp it back up and now you need to chase that water with more barium. Good times. I thought I was going to lose it all. Thankfully, I did not.
After the test was completed, I received good news from the radiologist. He showed me the pictures that were taken when I had the stricture and compared it to what my insides look like now. No stricture. Great news. When I did the barium swallow, you could see a small notch at the join and he was concerned it could be a stricture but once I took the gas pills and then swallowed the barium, it expanded. Again, no stricture. High fives all around.
My follow up with my surgeon occurred the week after. We are now at my 3rd visit to Toronto in three weeks. But wait, my mammogram and MRI for my annual high risk breast cancer screening also was booked on that same day! We can’t get any more CDH1 mutated then this day. The day started at a local hospital about a twenty minute drive from my home. Boob squishage followed by IV with contrast die and a nice meditation session in the MRI machine later – I was cleared proceed to the big city to go to hospital #2.
The results of my X-ray were explained to me again and we determined that I should just take it easy with not swallowing too much at one time. Easy solution. I will follow up with her again next year.
My visits to the big city were now completed. To top all these appointments off, during the 4th week, I had a follow up with my oncologist at the local cancer care centre. He explained to me that my MRI/Mammogram was clear and I updated him on all the positive changes over the past year. He wants to see me annually so I will return next year.
Mentally, I still struggle with taking time off work for all these medical appointments. March is a busy month for physiotherapists and the other physio at the clinic had booked off the last two weeks of March and I was carrying a larger caseload. Throw in a day off for Good Friday and another day off for a impromptu ice day -made for a even busier clinic. I considered postponing my mammogram/MRI next month to spread it out a bit but then was convinced that if it’s time to do it now, you should. My one friend said to me, “don’t worry about work so much because if you have a health issue, there will be no you to work!”. So true. I still don’t like taking time off for medical appointments.
This month was surely a reminder that CDH1 mutation is always with you even though you are stomach free. But I’m in good hands should anything go awry.