What a rough couple of days.
In addition to feeling like crap I’ve now learned, or so I think, that my son has a messed up esophagus. You see, he’s been complaining about it for quite a while now. I don’t know why, but I thought he was overreacting to common heartburn. Being a mother of boys (husband and children variety) teaches you that the male being does not handle an eighth of the pain or sickness that females can endure and still function.
His father, who I’m no longer married to; was diagnosed with achalasia and had to have surgery a little over a year ago. Achalasia is hereditary. I assumed my son just thought he had this because his father did. It wasn’t until he started getting food lodged until he vomited all over the school lunchroom that I knew there really was something wrong. But even the doctor at children’s thought it was something much simpler. He’s had asthma and severe allergies his entire life. We’ve finally reached a point where we’ve had no significant asthma exacerbation requiring hospitalization for over a year and now this.
We went for a barium swallow test yesterday. We weren’t there to speak to a doctor. Only to have the upper GI x-ray with the contrast in which you swallow. It went down like this: they position him on a table lying flat on his back. The x-ray tech is obviously the one taking the pictures and another nurse is standing at his head with a large cup of this Pepto Bismol looking drink which contains the barium. After everything is adjusted he begins drinking around two small sips at a time while the pictures are being taken. In a perfect world, this stuff should visibly be moving down his esophagus and into his stomach at a normal pace while the pictures are being taken at each stage. This was not the case for us. I know x-ray techs can’t give you their opinion on images they take, but I could sense their concern. I could see them making eyeballs at each other.
She asks me if we have any other appointments there today. The main tech asks me if he’s ever been scoped before. I reply with a no, but he’s supposed to have one Wednesday.
She starts moving him from laying on his back to laying on his side, then another side. We’re still not moving very rapidly. I could see the images being taken and as best as I can describe, it looked like link sausages zig-zagging. At that time, I didn’t know what a normal scan would look like.
When it was finally over she printed off some of the scans and said, “I’m gonna walk these straight over to the doctor and he’s probably going to want to speak with you so I need y’all to hang tight in here.” I’m thinking to myself, holy hell this must be bad. I immediately start a conversation with God in my head. Dear God, please. Please let my child be okay. I’ll take whatever you want to put my body through multiplied by 1,000 or more, just don’t let him be sick as well. He deserves so much more. And then the nurse comes back in and says, “the doctor is going to review the scans and he’ll see y’all Wednesday”. So now I’m left to my own devices to figure out what it was that went down in that x-ray room.
I Googled “normal esophagus x-ray” and went to images and it didn’t take me long to see what resembled his. And it was achalasia. There was another view of my son’s esophagus which I can’t find anywhere on Google images. His looked almost blocked in one area. I read up a little on achalasia and decided to just wait until Wednesday. Anyone who’s ever been sick with anything significant knows that waiting is one of the hardest things in the world. Add to it the fact that it’s for your son and you’ve got a recipe for sheer misery. I’ve been here before. I’ve been here with myself very recently in fact. Waiting on results from blood test after blood test to try to get answers for my own self.
You know what’s even harder? Keeping it together. Managing your reaction to your own pain to save your loved ones from being concerned about you is one thing. Managing your worry when you sense something serious is wrong with your child, that’s a horse of a different color. But as to not alarm him, I avoid the conversation altogether.
I’ve gotten pretty good at my poker face over the years. Every single asthma attack he’s had would’ve been made worse if he caught the slightest hint of nervousness or worry from me. It’s like if he feels the person making decisions and taking care of him doesn’t have things under control, then he’s in big trouble.
The ability to keep your cool in bad situations proves useful in other areas and times of your life. I helped take care of my grandmother in the last two months of her beautiful life. My grandmother was a very classy lady. I admired her so much.
When I first moved to the town where she was from, not long after my parents divorced, every older person that saw me in the small town would say, “you must be Mary’s granddaughter.” They would say I looked just like her when she was my age, that I had her same wit and laugh. I’ve seen pictures of her when she was my age and I honestly don’t see any resemblance.
But when it comes to our view of things and our bs tolerance level I think we were one in the same. I’m so mad at myself for not spending more time with her throughout the years.
But I was there at the end. My cool keeping ability would be tested during this time. She was heavily medicated and sometimes living in a different reality from everyone else. She didn’t like to be laughed at and was somehow aware that she was talking about crazy stuff. So instead of giggling, I would just go along with her. And she was very unsteady and a fall risk, but she didn’t like to be helped. She couldn’t stand it if she went to get up or do something and we made sudden abrupt moves to help her. So I had to perfect a new set of skills. Ones that made you move fast but not appear to be.
Now I need to do some more Google work on achalasia and prepare myself for his endoscopy tomorrow. Everyone, please send some prayers, positive thoughts, or whatever you think is necessary for wishing us a good outcome.