Friday, September 15, 2006

Scoping things out

I have the weirdest choking sensation going on in my throat.

It's been bothering me for about a week now. The feeling that there's something stuck back there. A vitamin? A piece of a nut? What?! I have no idea and I can't see a darned thing (neither can my personal stand-in physician, Eric) and it's driving me batty. So I went to the doctor to see if something was going on because my paranoia flared up and started whispering horrors in my head.

What if you're getting strep? Don't give it to the family!
What if it's cancer?
What if something really is stuck back there?

I don't feel sick. No fever, no pain, no enlarged lymph nodes, just a weird food-stuck-in-back-of-throat feeling. So I went to get poked at, looked at funny and be told by my regular doc that they couldn't see a thing. Then they referred me to an eye, ear, nose and throat dude. I'm not a hypochondriac (No, really!) and I've waited a week for this thing to stop. It totally feels like there's something back there that just needs to be swallowed. Kind of the same way that my neck just feels like it needs to be cracked right before I get a migraine. It always feels like if I could only crack my neck, the imminent migraine sensation would go away.

Never works, though.

So I go to the specialist and he takes a look and then decides that in order to see better he has to scope my throat.

"Ooh! A scope? How does this work?" You say delightedly.

Well, my friend, let me tell you.

They spray a combination decongestant/anesthetic up your nose. You have to inhale while they do it. Mine? Tasted like cinnamon. Burned the edges of my nostrils, too. Ow! Right after the taste faded, the coughing started. Bleah! Then the edges of my mouth started to go numb. You know when you go to the dentist and they numb your mouth and you feel like you're sitting there with your lower lip in your lap, talking like Mushmouth from the Fat Albert show? Yeah, it felt like that. Only my lip was only down to about my jawline. After the anesthetic was working the doctor came back and took me off to the throne room to be scoped.

No, I didn't make that one up. There's this big blue chair that looked rather throne-like, dominating the center of the room, that the doc called The Throne and had me sit in. It's surrounded by all manner of heavy, unrecognizable equipment that they weren't going to put up my nose. Just the scope, thanks. The doctor warned my that it would be a weird sensation - not really painful, just extremely weird and sneeze inducing - and then he put the scope in. At first, it was no problem. I even commented on what a strange job it would be to look up people's noses with a scope and he said that he liked it. As a matter of fact, he felt privileged to do so.

Uh...OK! I'll just sit here, then.

Then he went in deeper and that's when it all got weird/painful. Imagine, if you will, what it would feel like to have someone trying to make you sneeze. There's that weird tickly, almost but-not-quite pain sensation and a burning need to grab a tissue. Your eyes water. Then, zip!, he pulls the scope out and it's all over.

I'm happy to announce that there are no foreign objects in the back of my throat. No food, no vitamins, no stray Calico Critter toys, or anything else small and easily swallowed. Instead, it looks like I may have a bit of inflammation and possibly a swollen uvula.

Uvula is a funny word, isn't it? And it's a funny part of your anatomy, too. The kind you can ignore until something goes wrong with it. I may be having this sensation because my uvula is now sitting on the back of my tongue. I may have uvulitis:
At times, the mucous membrane around the uvula may swell, causing the uvula to expand 3-5 times its normal size. When the uvula touches the throat or tongue, it can cause sensations like gagging or choking, even though there is no foreign matter present. This can cause problems breathing, talking, and eating.

Isn't Wikipedia cool?

To treat the sensation I was given the choice between a) wait it out, b) take steroids for a week or c) take anti-acid reflux medication for 2 weeks. I've decided to wait it out and see what happens. Maybe it's the giant pre-natal vitamins I'm taking?


I'll explain that in a different post. Read on, my intrepid friends!

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