Friday, August 7, 2009

Esophageal Dilatation

Hi. I’ve talked at some length in past blog entries about my permanent disabilities and the drive to get back to what I consider a pre-cancer normal state. I’ve more than less given up on eating any solid foods. 95% of my nutrition comes from Boost and skim milk. I’ve maintained my weight for two years on this diet. It’s not that I can’t eat; it’s more that the discomfort of eating outweighs the pleasure of eating. I can chew and taste to some degree, what I can’t do is swallow. Food always gets stuck in the back of my throat and I no longer have the muscles within my throat to move the food down my esophagus. I have to eat and drink in a reclining position and let gravity do most of the work. This keeps most liquid (and the little bit of food that I try to consume) out of my airway.

A head & neck cancer survivor with a similar history as myself informed me yesterday that she was going to have an esophageal dilatation performed on her in two weeks. Having never heard of this, I looked it up. Here’s a link explaining the procedure… It looks like it may have some potential benefit to me. In a nutshell, it stretches your esophagus. I contacted my surgeon last night via email who responded about 15 minutes later. He referred me to my speech therapist to have a modified barium swallow test run on me to determine if this procedure would be helpful. I’ve had 2 modified barium tests, but they were about 3 years ago. Basically, they spike some soft food (e.g., apple sauce) with a small dose of radiation and then watch via a live x-ray how the food works it’s way down your esophagus. You can watch live while the test is in progress. It is actually a pretty cool test. My surgeon also said that the esophageal dilatation procedure was common and routinely performed by gastroenterologists at the cancer center.

I’ve now contacted my speech therapist to request a test and am waiting to hear back. I’ve asked that the test be scheduled for mid September to coincide with my next trip to the cancer center. Once again, this brings some measure of hope to getting back to a more normal life. Not being about to eat is at best awkward in any eating situation. Plus, I just plain miss eating. The thought of being able to eat gives me hope.

Take care everyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hope it works out, that'd be great, keep us posted,