That's me. Or at least that's the back of my head. I needed a photo for this post and had no ideas so I thought I'd just use the most recent picture of me. Voila! The most recent photo of me. And why would a photo of me be pertinent to this particular post? Well because, let's face it, like everything else on this blog, it's about me. Wow! Egocentric much?
Todays' post is, ostensibly, about a recent experience. Just for health maintenance purposes, a few weeks ago I had an Endoscopy. I have long standing (nearly life-long) issues with indigestion and heartburn due to something called, "Barrett's Esophagus". With the aid of medications and dietary adjustments, it's mostly under control but it does require occasional checks. This was one of them.
Ok to begin with, the surgical center where I had the procedure done now requires a COVID test be done within a week of the scheduled event. How Exciting! I had never had a COVID test so, while I have heard of other people's experiences, it would be new to me. If you have already had the test then you already know about this. If you haven't had the test, here you go. The surgical center actually did the test so that was handy. We arrived at the appointed time and didn't even have to get out of the car. They were outside waiting for me! When the very nice lady all garbed up in protective everything approached the car, I handed over the necessary ID . Once I was "checked in", the nurse who was even more garbed up, came over and explained exactly what they were going to do, then she unwrapped with swab, reached through the car window, gentle positioned my head better, even more gently stuck the swab up my rose and wiggled it around.
All of that I sort of anticipated. The part I did not expect was how much it tickled. Oh me oh my! It didn't hurt at all. It was an odd sensation but the temptation to try to stop the tickling was BIG. I had to tuck my hands under my legs to stop myself. Honestly! I am SUPER ticklish so the instinct to stop the source of tickling is really hard wired in me. But whew! I made it through without embarrassing myself, thanked her and off we went back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Of course the test proved negative (yay!) and on the anticipated day of the procedure I showed up on time back at the center. Now in the olden days (pre-COVID) Tim would go in with me. For every other procedure like this, I can remember him keeping me company right up until they took me back into the actual room for the endoscopy and then of course he would be there when I woke back up. But not anymore. Nowadays I must fly solo.
This time he dropped me off in front and I told him that I would text him when I was ready to be picked back up. (It's only about a ten minute drive from home) I took a deep breath before moving forward. I even remember wondering how different this pandemic era process was going to prove to be.
Now I have to interrupt myself here to explain that they way this building is set up, there is a wide set of automatic doors that allow you to step into an anteroom and then a second set of doors that go into the actual waiting room. It sounds redundant but in the summer when it's really hot and humid it's wonderful to not constantly have the hot air wafting in and the AC trying to do battle with it. OK stage is set.
After a moment, I approached the center and the automatic doors opened (as automatic doors do). I began to step in only to be asked to wait outside because that nurse was with a patient. I blinked and realized that yes, right there in the area between two sets of automatic doors, that nurse really and truly was meeting with a patient. Holy cats. So ok, I walked back outside. That's when I noticed that there was one chair. One lonely little plastic chair outside. Obviously waiting for me to sit my butt down. So I did. I remained sitting for perhaps three minutes when another car pulled up and a lady got out, the car drove off and, just like me, this lady went right in the automatic doors. She was also told to wait outside. She appeared to be older than me (although there comes a point when it's kind of moot and I'm teetering on that brink) so I offered her my chair. She took is happily. We continued to wait. Silently. Outside. Masked. Two strangers, one standing and one sitting. Silently. Awkwardly sharing the same rather small space. Hum dilly hum.
Luckily, eventually, my name was called and I got to talk with the nurse in the anteroom. It was just a pre-check in thing. Name, Address, Birthdate, ID that sort of thing. It only took a few very short minutes. I'm not sure why the fellow ahead of me took so long. Perhaps he was having a moment and couldn't remember his address? I've had days like that. At any rate, I was then allowed to go into the actual waiting room.
And even that is so strange nowadays. Half the number of chairs, all spaced well part, and a new maze of walls that were part wood and part frosted glass in a very cold (it's always so dang cold in there) and empty space. I was the only person in there was I had my choice of any chair in the room. My fanny had barely touched my chair of choice, when I heard my name called. It was kind of a disembodied voice from above since I could see anyone. So I called back, "where are you?" (seriously I did) I heard an amused voice in return say, "I'm back here behind the glass". I looked for, and after one false start, found the way around the maze wall and of course there she was behind the plexi glass. I sat down, as instructed, and handed over (again) my ID but this time also my insurance card and in return received my little paper ID bracelet. I signed a whole lot of paperwork and assured them that I had eaten nothing that day.
Once through that step of the gauntlet I was ushered behind the heavy door, the big door, the important door, the door to the back of the factory. That's what it felt like. Don't get me wrong. I was treated with tremendous kindness and professionalism. It was clean and as comfortable as those sorts of places ever could be but I felt very much like a tomato ready to be canned in a factory.
An absolute swarm of people in medical scrubs introduced themselves, gave their titles and pretty much all at the same time, very nicely instructed me, guided me, directed me and more! I was shown to a little curtained cubical that held a gurney and some machinery and absolutely no room for anything else. I was given a large plastic bag and told to take off my shirt and my shoes, given a hospital gown to put on. I don't even remember getting onto the gurney before yet another person passing by tucked a toasty warm blanket over me.
I answered the same questions over and Over and OVER by different people while I was hooked up to various machines by yet other people and someone else put a needle into the back of my hand. It went like clockwork. I mean zoom! The doctor stopped by, reviewed everything, invited me to ask questions (I had none) and then the next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the procedure room. Immediately other people, who also introduced themselves, began their to do whatever it is that they do. I was positioned and prepped and the last thing I remember was someone telling me to have a nice nap. Boom. Gone. Out like a light.
Now it must be said here that I am a real lightweight when it comes to anesthesia. It doesn't make me sick or anything like that, I just have a real hard time shaking it off. So I guess it took me awhile longer than anticipated to wake up. I was urged awake back in the old cubicle. My foggy brain barely registered that my doctor was talking to me. I have no idea what he said. I mean that literally. And then I fell back asleep. I was urged awake once more and handed my bag-o-personal belongings and told to get dressed. so I did. But in a dream, not part of the real world. I did everytihng very very slowly and with some difficulty. I wisely chose to wear clothes that were easy to put on, no buttons, no zippers, nothing tricky like velcro. This is where having Tim with me comes in super handy. He would have remembered what the doctor said. He would have helped me find the arm holes in my shirt and which shoes go on which feet. Really it's that bad!
But somehow I muzzled my way through and then the nurse came by and helped me stand up and put my shoes on (she saw that I was struggling) and told me that Tim had been called already (thank goodness because I wasn't sure I could operate my phone at that point). They wheel-chaired me to the car and helped me in and we headed home. I fell asleep again in the car.
Tim guided me into the house and onto the sofa in the family room when I spent the rest of the day, alternately watching TV and napping. It honestly took me hours to completely wake up. And then once I was fully awake I still felt so amazingly relaxed. It was wonderful to feel that complete surrender to being a sofa blob.
It was at that time, early evening, Tim was out picking up dinner for us and I had turned off the television so the house was absolutely silent. I was very comfortable. In fact, I was so comfortable on the sofa with the pillows behind me just right and snuggied unmoving, under the sofa blanket, that I had nearly become part of the furniture itself. If angry tigers had come into the room at that moment, I still don't think I would have moved. I was just so. very. relaxed. And it occurred to me how rare a moment that was for me. It was kind of a revelation. I think I don't know how to fully relax. I sometimes think that I'm relaxed but I guess I'm not. Because the feeling was not familiar at all. And it was glorious. So I reveled in it's uniqueness and enjoyed it fully. Because I knew, that it would be a long time before I got to experience it again.
So I guess that's it. The message here is never fear the endoscopy. It's nothin'. Instead, look forward to the wonderful sensation of total relaxation that follows.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.