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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cheating the Reaper

I haven't been on for a while. You may have noticed. Possibly. On the off chance that you visited the echoing halls. First I had my extremely fantastic ANWA writer's conference to go to, and then I came up against a life-chunking roadblock.

I've felt something growing in my throat for two weeks or so. It was like phlegm that wouldn't go away. Ever. I can't say how annoying the experience is. Try swallowing a few lbs of chewing gum and having it clench onto the side of your esophagus like a Super Glue-cemented barnacle. 

I wasn't going to deal with it before ANWA, though. I'd prepaid and looked forward to the conference all year. It's my birthday present, for crying out loud. So I went and had a magnificent time learning to hone my craft better, and playing with my friends, and meeting outstanding, insightful, interesting people. (More about that later.)

Then came last Saturday. I ate a breakfast burrito full of scrambled eggs that morning. It didn't go down my throat until late that night. It stuck there like a hippopotamus trying to squeeze through a New York subway turnstile. It ached to swallow. I could just hear my dad repeating over and over in my head, "Then don't swallow." I finally had to order him out of my head.

I tried everything--hot peppermint tea, water, swallowing convulsively, lying down, sitting up, viscous chicken noodle soup, and a hot fudge sundae. Finally during the middle of the night, the log-jam loosened and went on down the river, leaving my throat raw and still full of shreds of something. While the breakfast had finally pushed through, there was still something growing in my throat that wouldn't go away. I was petrified that it was the horrific 'C' word.

I nearly suggested we go to the ER about twenty-nine times that day and night.

But I had one last thing that had to happen before I went to find my fate. Sunday was Conference for church. I was to sing in the choir for it. I was one of four tenors (two of which I can't even hear standing right next to them) and they needed me. More than that, I needed them. If that was possibly going to be the last time I ever got to sing, I was taking that chance. I put everything I had into the first number, COME UNTO ME. The song became a prayer that I could accept my possibly shortened earth life if it was God's will.

I lay in bed that night thinking of all the things I hadn't done yet, or finished--so many of the things I hadn't repented, the good words I hadn't said or written or thought, and the bad ones I had. I wasn't ready for a date with the Reaper. But then I remembered that song, and the prayers I'd said all day and night--indeed, all through the time when the mass in my throat had become obnoxious.

Suddenly everything clicked--the things I'd heard in church, the prayers, even the book I'd read the last part of the week all wove together into a soft, warm blanket. I knew I could handle at least the part before I found out what the doctor had to say.

My friend Christine went with me, to stand as my sentinel and my rock and my advocate and the asker of all questions I'd been too freaked out to ask or remember. Bless her for being there and keeping me from dwelling on...It. And she was there when the doctor said it was most likely not the 'C' word, but a mass of scar tissue that developed from stomach acids. 

I still have to go see a GI doc today to talk about what needs to be done, and make certain the diagnosis was right. But the relief is already pulsing through my veins, making me heady with life. 

There might even be dancing and singing.

So it turns out that I didn't find out today. I saw the GI man (who could barely speak any English) and spent $125 only for him to tell me the same crap the other doctor did for $65. He also didn't bother to even look down my gaping maw. That's for a week from now where I have to fork over a whopping $700-$800 so they can spend ten minutes feeding a camera down my gizzard. 

Oh, and I have to take one of those drugs they push on TV--you know--the one that says in tiny letters on the bottom as a visual afterthought, "You may experience explosive diarrhea, hives, psychological breaks, cranial bleeding, anal lesions, diverticulosis, Braxton-Hicks, Plantar warts, or death. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, see your physician." And then you see ads from lawyers that state that if you've taken medicines like this and had symptoms like hang nails, dandruff, death, colitis, diabetes 59, or shingles, you may have a case. 

(I'm kidding in that last paragraph. I don't remember the symptoms of this particular drug. I just hate taking any of them.) 

I think I'll go have a blessing and THEN make my decision.


  1. So scary. I hope they can figure out what's going on and get it taken care of. Prayers are with you.

  2. Oh, my freakin' heck. You scared me there, Heidi! My husband has had issues with some of this--though is wasn't scar tissue. It was an actual narrowing of the throat. They've had to go in twice to use a balloon to stretch it all out. He's supposed to stay away from things like caffeine (which he uses for energy with his Fibromyalgia and for headaches) because it can cause the swelling.

    If they see anything in your throat that can be fixed at the moment, will they be able to take care of it then? Or will another procedure be required?

    *hugs* It was so awesome to get to meet and hang out with you in person at the conference.

  3. Endoscopy is coming next week. They said if I needed it they'd do the balloony thing. I'm guessing that'll be another cabillion bux. And, yes, they said stay away from caffeine. Easy for me except for one thing. CHOCOLATE! Oh my gosh that's going to SUCK! I also have to sleep with my head elevated. I'm dog tired from trying to sleep like that. Not fun, but better than being post-mortal.

    I had a blast hanging with you, Donna. You're like the sister who actually makes time to communicate...:o) So blast-ful.