We’re now twenty-seven months out from the original cancer surgery. We’ve quietly slipped by the 2nd anniversary for the start of the courses of radiation and chemotherapy.
This morning I had a CT scan of my neck and chest, complete with the dye injection, and a standard chest x-ray. This really doesn’t have that much to do with my cancer history directly, but rather it is a reaction to an ongoing problem that I seem to have developed. I am suffering from a form of gastroesophageal reflux, which is when the contents of your stomach rise back up your esophagus at inconvenient times, like when you burp, or when you lay down, or when you’re eating; the esophagus suddenly spasms, hiccup-like. Well, it is not so much ‘suffering’ from it as being inconvenienced by it. I am using a generic version of the drug Previcid (lansoprazole) to slow or control the production of stomach acid, so I really don’t feel the burning sensation that the stomach acids should be causing. And, for the most part, the ‘events’ are happening while I sleep. I keep a little book of all of my physical idiosyncracies and have documented several reflux events where it woke me from my sleep. But the real indicator that made the doctor suggest the CT scan is an on-again, off-again cough, a little throat clearing sort of cough: annoying because it is not quite a hearty phlegm clearing hack, but too much to be a tickle that can be placated with a drink or a lozenge.
To his credit, the good doctor didn’t try to bombard this symptom with another type of drug to try to make it go away.
Dr. William’s main concern is that the overnight backup may be damaging the epiglottis. It’s time to just have a look to see what’s happening in that area.
He has suggested that results of the CT will either put the subject to rest and we’ll just keep using the Pervacid/lansoprazole, or have me scurrying off to a pulmonary specialist. I still don’t understand why this is in the realm of the pulmonary docs, but apparently it is.
Now the unspoken stuff that goes along with gastroesophageal reflux is that it can be a precursor to a laundry list of ailments which is topped off with esophageal carcinoma. And, of course, now that I have a demonstrated predisposition to the squamous cell variety, I really think that he’s being quietly prudent in his investigation: he didn’t come right out and say what he’s looking for. The other unspoken correlation is between celiac disease and esophageal cancers.
Oh, aren’t we just having so much fun!
The actual appointment went brilliantly… a little bit of a delay, but it wasn’t really significant enough to mention. The ladies who looked after me were stellar examples of nursing and radiological staff; buoyant, chatty, fun, and generally happy. I was complimented on my glasses, and on my cologne. It wasn’t quite flirting, but the interest in me, rather than the affliction, felt good.