Mama's Little Soldier Becomes Mama's Little Terrorist

When I was a kid, I was sick a lot with asthma.  Many nights my mother sat up with me as I coughed and wheezed my way through an attack.  When things grew particularly bad, she'd say "Come on, be mama's little soldier...You can battle through this".  For most of my grown-up years, I felt that I'd outgrown my asthma and was for the most part a very healthy individual.  Since I've turned 50 though, my health has taken a downward turn.

I have a hiatal hernia.  It's something very common and something many people live with easily, as did I, until last fall.  I began to have problems which seemed to grow progressively worse.  I began missing many days of work.  I decided action needed to be taken.  I went back to my gastroenterologist. 

Dr. SoWhat seemed less than impressed with what I had to tell him.  I have a horrible cough, but my lungs check out ok.  My otolaryngologist checked things out and determined the hernia was allowing acid to get up into my esophagus, causing the hacking cough.  The pulmonologist agreed.  This is why I ended up back in Dr. SoWhat's office.  "Oh yes," he said..."They're all very quick to blame a cough on acid reflux.  Despite his doubt, he scheduled me for a PH test along with another test I can't pronounce. 

The test involved running a tube up your nose and down your throat, into your stomach.  Once done, the tube recorded the amount of acidity in your stomach.  Being less than impressed with knowing I had to have a tube stuck up my nose (which I pretty much mangled going over a cliff on a dirt bike in high school), I tried my best to mentally prepare myself for the test.  My mother's words came back to me..."Come on, be mama's little soldier...You can battle through this".  This was my mantra all the way to the hospital.  I mentally prepared myself for this procedure and was prepared for battle when I arrived.

After waiting 2 hours (and I have NO patience), they called me into the room where the procedure was to be performed.  After hearing about how the individual who was to perform the procedure had just gotten back from vacation at 10:30 the night before and how she hadn't yet had lunch, the procedure began.  Out came the tube.  Out came the numbing medication for my nose.  She squirted and I gladly snorted.  Any help for the pain was welcome.  "Which nostril do you prefer we use?"  "YOURS", was my thought, but I told her my left nostril would probably be best.  And so we began.  She was able to get the tube to the top of my nostril, but couldn't seem to make the "curve" leading to my throat.  In, out.  In, out....Bend the tube.  In...Out.  In and out again.  "It's like there's a wall at the top of your nasal cavity".  "OH REALLY??  I THINK MOST PEOPLE REFER TO THAT AS MY BRAIN!!"  "Hmmm...", I said.  After 2 more tries, she announces that she's going to have to try the right nostril - she just can't get the left nostril to cooperate.  I snort more numbing solution.  My nose now feels about the size of Jimmy Durante's. Again with the tube...In and out....In and out.  "Wait a minute and I'll call Tammy".  She's an expert with NG tubes."   "Oh, goodie", I think.

After a few minutes, in waltzes Tammy.  Together, they start shoving and pushing, shoving and pushing.  I'm feeling pain I've never felt before in my life.  I try to tell them.  "I know honey, I know", is the response.  I begin to wonder if a person can lead a normal life with a ruptured brain.

Suddenly, I feel a strange sensation in my throat.  It's the tube!  They've gotten it into my throat!  Yea!!  Now we're making progress.  "Now take this glass of water and drink....Swallow, swallow, swallow".  I do as I'm told.  All at once, all the the water I swallow, swallow, swallowed is coming right back at'em.  I gag, and gag, and gag.  I gag some more.  I can't stop gagging!  I ask them to stop.  "Dawn, Dawn....DAWN!!"  At that point, I start to kick.  One shoe flies across the room. I can't breathe anymore.  I try to fight - they try to hold me down.  I can't BREATHE, DAMMIT!  "If you couldn't breathe, you couldn't talk", is the reply.  As I gulp for air and try to swallow more water, I hear "Oh....Did anyone ever tell you how large your hernia is?"  I reply, "At last estimate, I was told it was the size of an olympic pool!"   Now the talk in hushed voices...."I can't get it into her stomach...It keeps coiling up in her hernia....Well, let me look....Oh, yea...There it is!"  This while I'm gagging, gagging, gagging.  I understand now why they don't allow anything by mouth 4 hours prior to the procedure.  After 2 more tries, I hear, "Do you want to quit?  Just say STOP and it's all over".  I manage to croak out STOP, STOP.  They pull the tube out.  I am soaked with sweat and tears.  I am not impressed.  Apologies ensue all around.  The person who "performed" the procedure explains that sometimes this happens.  She'll call my doctor, who will contact me with alternative procedures.  I'm still awaiting a call.

MountainMuddah MountainMuddah
51-55, F
1 Response Aug 16, 2007

Oh man... that is horrific. Those two should have stopped long before they reached the point that they did. I'm sorry that happened to you. The second you started to kick that should have been that. <br />
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Part of their mistake, I think, was in telling you to drink water as you swallowed. When I put an NG tube in, i always have the person swallow, but it's a dry swallow. This reduces the amount of gagging going on. <br />
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I hope they are able to manage some alternative procedure that is not painful and scary like this one was. Good luck!