Not Down My Throat

I was eating dinner one night, about two years ago, when I started to get the most unbelievable acid reflux in my stomach. This continued for several hours. Tums didn’t help, so off to Walgreens I went, in search of Malox. This is a great free advertisement for all the major drug corporations! Malox seemed to stem the tide of this acid issue, which by then was not such a tasty treat, as it barreled relentlessly from my stomach into my throat, bringing not only a sensation from Hell, but also a continual desire to cough and throw up. TMI? I hear you say? Well, after a few more weeks of intermittent bouts of much the same sensation, I decided that WebMD deserved another read. Acid reflux, according to many experts, required immediate treatment. If left alone for a period of time, it’s effect on the esophagus was very serious and could lead to cancer in the throat or permanent damage of the intestine and esophagus. “Oh Shit!”  I thought, ‘here we go again” So, it was off to see the doctor once again.

The purple pill! Boy do I hate that ad. For some reason I always believed they were selling sweeties and not drugs. It was such a happy ad: ‘Use Nexium, the Purple Pill!’ Of course it was always followed by the usual warning rattled off in a deep voice by some paid actor. “Don’t take Nexium if you are pregnant, blind, daft, stupid, crazy…” or any of the other 400 reasons they can mouth off at hyperspeed in 10 seconds, while they show minute script underneath a full on shot of this wonder drug, of which not a single word you can read, (unless you happened to have it TIVO’d, in which case you can pause it and then read it in your own time), while they hope they are covering their arse in the eventuality of any law suit. Not a chance! Bring on the big time lawyers with their ‘we don’t give a fuck ‘ attitude, and there can be a law suit served in 5 minutes only because Mrs. E  Jones in Cincinnati Ohio stuck a purple pill up her vagina instead of in her mouth, and it turned purple instead of pink! Oh how stupid we have become! Apologies Ohio!

My doctor suggested the purple pill and he also suggested an endoscopy.

“Listen Doc, 28 years ago, when I was a wee boy, I went for one of those endoscopy shmoscopy thingies, and I had a very bad experience. Any chance we can just do the Nexium and be done with it?”

He launched into a speech that lasted about three minutes, and that’s a long time in doctor speak, stating clearly how an endoscopy would be the only sure fire way to determine if there had been any damage caused by this acid reflux, and that if he was doing his job correctly, which he was, he must insist on my having one done ASAP. He assured me things had changed dramatically in the 28 years since I went for the last one, and that it would all be over and done with in 15 minutes. Right! I’ve heard that one a million times. The only one that bucked that trend was my wisdom teeth. They took 6 minutes, and no general anesthetic. I even flew to London the very same night I had them removed. Another time, another blog perhaps! Moving on.

“Come on Doc, give me a break here”

“Nope” was his swift reply, and out came the prescription for Nexium and a business card for the gastroenterolgist. I was doomed, dejected and decidedly down as I left his office with my future already determined. Oh, woe is me!

The Nexium cost a fortune, and even with insurance, I was surprised. $60 a month, and believe me, that’s cheap. My insurance covered most of the expense so the $60 was the residual and you can only imagine the total cost without. The gastro guy was very nice, even though I had to wait more than 30 minutes over my allotted appointment time. He explained the procedure and all my attempts to have this endoscopy cancelled were deflected by his very nice calm manner and insistence that I get the fuck out his office, man up, and face the consequence head on, rather than pussy foot around. He was right of course, but I hate doctors and I dislike anything where I have to be sedated.

“Can we do it without the drugs?” I asked him, politely of course.

“Nope” he replied. I was beginning to dislike all these one word responses from my ‘medical team’ and telling me ‘NO’ only fueled my desires to find an alternative for this scope that was about to be pushed down my mouth and into my stomach. Just the thought was enough to make me puke, but, so far, any alternative remedies had proven to be elusive.

“Can you do it without knocking me out at least?”

“Yes, but I won’t”.

“You won’t”?  He could probably see the sense of fear etched into every line on my screwed up facial expression.

“Nope, it won’t be comfortable for you. I can assure you it’s better if you’re asleep”

Bastard! Shit head! Fuck you! I never said any of these things, but that’s what I was thinking.

I made the appointment for December 30 2010 and immediately went into a morose and foreboding strop (again, Google it if you don’t know that word) for the rest of the day. It was November, so I had 4 weeks to find a better alternative to an endoscopy to determine the state of my medical condition.

It never happened. At midnight on the 29th, I stopped eating, drinking, and began shitting my pants with fear. Yes, fear. There is nothing like anxiety to relieve constipation! Nothing! I spent all night, awake and in a motivational mode. You know how that goes? You lie on the bed thinking, out loud of course, ‘this will be easy, no problem, simple, all done in 15 minutes’ But nothing ever takes away the feeling of impending doom that hangs over the great unknown. Only this wasn’t the great unknown. I’d had one of these done many years ago, and boy was that a disaster. So my thoughts became dreams that led to uncomfortable sleep and an alarm bell that went off at 6 30 am. ‘Shit, here we go’

The surgery was about 25 minutes drive from my home. It only took 15 because of holiday traffic. Everyone was on vacation for New Year, so why wasn’t this doctor? I was driven to the surgery by a friend of mine, and while we sat outside, me in panic mode, her in calming mode, my head started to turn in circles. “Why am I doing this” “I feel fine now I’m on the Nexium” “This is ridiculous Alan, you can leave, go home, eat, and never come back here” “You really don’t have to do this” Just some of the things I was thinking as the door to the surgery opened and we walked in. Maybe I was pulled in! I felt like I was on a leash at that point.

15 minutes later they took me into a room filled with buttons, knobs, dials, and tubes. This was it. No turning back!

The nurse placed me on the table, and told me that the doctor would be in promptly. I laid down and decided that this was stupid. Why did I need this procedure, why was I here? All the same crap kept coming into my head. I was wired up to many monitors and ready to go, but my head said,’fuck it, leave’ So, without warning and having been laid out on that table for ten minutes or more, I disconnected everything, from top to bottom, having made my mind up that I was OUTA HERE! I had just finished pulling out the last wire from my body when the doctor and nurse walked in together.

“What are you doing?” they asked simultaneously. Both looking extremely surprised and concerned.


“What? No way, get back on the table and we will knock you out and it’ll be all over before you know it”

“Fuck no, I am out of here. I don’t want to do this, I don’t need to do it, so fuck it, I am leaving”

And with that, a Keystone Cops scenario prevailed. They followed me, running, into the reception area, where by now there were three other patients waiting to go into surgery. My friend looked at me as if to say, ‘is it all over already?’ I looked at her as if to say, ‘get the fucking car keys out, we are leaving’, the doctor looked at me and at her, and he didn’t know what to say, and that, my friends, is as close as I came to having an endoscopy. Before I closed the door, I turned round to the doctor, who by the way, was very understanding, and I said, “Have you every had anyone walk out on you like this?” “No” he replied, “You are the first”

Without warning and with the joy of victory swilling around in my now quite relieved head, I turned to him and said, “Remember me, I will never be back!” And with that last defiant call, the door slammed shut behind me, I got in the car, went home and within 2 hours, was eating a cheeseburger as part of my victory breakfast tour!

As for the doctor? He never charged me, he took it well, and he is now going to do a colonoscopy on me in November. I lied, I did go back, but not to have a tube stuck down my throat, my bum can suffer gladly, my throat, well, my throat is now out of bounds!!

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