Last weekend was a nice sunny Easter. My wife and I drove up to my mom's cabin in Tulalip to have an early dinner with her, my brother and his son. All was going well and we were having a great time as we sat down for dinner. I had about four or five bites of food when I started to feel my throat cramping up a little bit. I have had this on and off for a while so this isn't a total shock to me anymore. I usually just take a sip of water and then after one relatively painful swallow my throat relaxes and I can then swallow normally again. I have had two times where that didn't fix it and it took a couple of minutes before it finally relaxed. I didn't have any water at dinner so I excused myself and went into the kitchen to get a glass. After pouring myself some water I took a sip and felt my throat full on cramp and get much worse instead of better. Suddenly I couldn't swallow at all anymore. I could breath but the bottom of my throat was cramped and really hurting. My heart started beating very quickly but I have experienced this before so I kept reminding myself to calm down and that I could still breath. After about 10 minutes it didn't get better though and I started to think that maybe something was really wrong. I was outside at this point at the other side of the house. Since I couldn't swallow I kept spitting and burping and dry heaving. My wife came to see why I had been gone from the table for so long after about 20 minutes. I told her I couldn't swallow and that my throat was really hurting. She then told my mom and brother who came to see what was happening. I then said, "I need to go to the hospital." My wife and I got in our car and headed out to the nearest emergency room in Everett. It was about a 15-20 minute drive and when we got there it turned out that emergency room was closed and we had to go to another emergency room on the other side of the city. 10 minutes later we got and I stood outside the hospital dry heaving and spitting until I could check in. The wait wasn't too long and I was finally taken back into the hospital by one of the nurses. One doctor saw me and then saw that my situation was more than a quick fix and I got taken to the more intense section of the ER. There I was seen by another doctor and hooked up to an IV. The doctor said that something is probably stuck in my throat and I can't swallow it or get it back up. They took x-rays to make sure I don't have any tumors or anything like that. Those came back fine so then they were really convinced there must be some food stuck in my esophagus. The doctor tried giving me Glucagon which can open up the throat in hopes that the food would then be swallowed. After the Glucagon I felt much better but when I tried to take a sip of whatever it all came back, but in a much more painful way. At this point they made a call to the on call GI specialist to come in and do an endoscopy. What to do while the GI doctor comes? Oh, just dry heave, spit, burp, cramp, cold sweat, and shake. My body was running on adrenaline for a long time and I couldn't stop shaking. My body was also getting very exhausted and the pain started to come and go in waves. The doctor said this was probably because my brain would tell my throat and body to freak out because something was stuck and everything in my body would try to get it up. After doing that for a while my body would get so tired that everything would just relax and I would start to feel a bit better. Once my body recovered some energy however, the process would start over. This cycle started repeating itself every 15-20 minutes. In the times that my body was calm I would be left exhausted and would fall asleep for a couple of minutes for it to start all over again. Now the time that this cramping started was around 4:30pm. The GI specialist didn't get there until 9:15pm so I had not been able to swallow for almost 5 hours at this point. Before the doctor came I was given some pretty intense pain medication that made my whole body feel really uncomfortable. My whole body got really warm and tingly, not a feeling I like. Anyways, the doctor and her team came and put me under and did the endoscopy. I got home around 11:30pm. They told me before that often people come back around after these things and seem totally fine but they will keep repeating the same question over and over. Apparently I kept asking my wife how my procedure went and if they found anything. I guess I asked her about 7 times and in the morning I still didn't remember exactly what they found. It turned out I did have some food stuck in my lower esophagus and also a lot of scar tissue that has narrowed my esophagus. They also took a biopsy and have since learned that I am allergic to something. Apparently I have a combination of suffering from heart burn at the bottom of my esophagus where I can't feel it which has left scar tissue that has narrowed my throat a bit. When I eat whatever it is that I am allergic to by throat gets even tighter and even if it is a small bite it can get stuck. I meet with the allergist in about two weeks. I am now being careful with what I eat and have been racking my brain for what it could possibly be that I am allergic to. My current theory? Potatoes. There were potatoes at the Easter meal and the times that it has happened before I was either eating fries or potato chips. I really like potatoes so it would suck to be allergic to that but that would be better than something like olive oil or pepper.
During my time in the hospital I knew that I was going to live because I could keep breathing and the doctors seemed to have good ideas of what it could possibly be. I even had my wife take a picture of me in my gown on the hospital bed because I knew even then that this would eventually be kind of funny. I did have one moment when I was exhausted and spitting up that I realized I had not once made some desperate prayer to God for help. I never did make one. I hesitate to say that I am atheist because I find that too harsh but I struggle with the idea that there is a God. For elementary school I attended a very Christian school and had Bible study every morning. At that time, yeah, I had no doubt there was a God but I was also 10 years old and didn't want to get in trouble at school. As I have grown older my views on God has certainly changed where I'm not sure if there is one. I don't think people who believe in God are wrong, it gives many people peace but I often do find it a convenient way of taking away personal responsibility at times. I also recognize that there is a big difference between God and religion. Religion is a whole different animal. So no real resolution here, just I need to pay attention to what I eat right now until this gets figured out.