Hello Belly – My First Endoscopy

| 1 Comment »

Yesterday was a big day for me. It started with my first endoscopy procedure at CPMC followed by recovery, then Oktoberfest at Fort Mason. I’ll tell you about the endoscopy here and Oktoberfest in a later post.

Endoscopy Scope - picture from Barrettsinfo.comSome background: If you have had the pleasure of eating with me sometime over the past year, there is a 20% chance I complained about my stomach hurting shortly after. Not really bad, but definitely noticeable. Since Danielle works in gastrointestinal research, there was no way I was going to get away with not seeing someone about it. As it turned out, her hospital is in the process of conducting a study on PPI’s so Danielle got me into the study, a part of which includes a thorough health examination using ultrasound imaging, an endoscopy procedure (yesterday), and a 48-hour esophageal pH monitoring test via a high-tech wireless monitoring system. (More about this scientific wonder later.)

Danielle picked me up at 10:15 am and drove me to the hospital for the endoscopy procedure. After expertly admitting me and completing my paperwork, I was given the obligatory ugly hospital gown to change into and was soon met by Dr. Snape and his team who would perform my endoscopy.

After receiving an IV and waiting for the conscious sedation to hit, I noticed that one of the computers in the room was running Windows. (Yikes! I sure hope my vitals were not in the hands of Redmond. All I could think about was the dreaded BSoD.) I jokingly made a comment to Dr. Snape that the computer made me nervous to which he said, “It’s Windows 2000, no less.” We started talking about the history of operating systems and I was hoping to tell him about the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley when everything went black.

Now if you found and are reading this post because you are scheduled to have an endoscopy done, please do not worry or be alarmed by what I say next. I assure you that the whole procedure was painless, lasted only fifteen minutes and was only modestly uncomfortable. You’ll be fine.

The only thing I remember from that point on is gagging a bit and someone telling me to breathe through my nose. This gave me a flashback to a grade school P.E. teacher, Mr. Stephens, who once told me I needed to breathe through my nose while running. Motivated to stop gagging and hoping to make Mr. Stephens proud and to be a good endoscopy patient, I solely focused on breathing through my nose and attempted to inhale the entire room through it. At that point the sedatives must have taken a stronger hold because I do not remember the rest.

Once it was over, Danielle showed me pictures taken of my esophagus and stomach but to me it looked like any other esophagus or stomach you might see in a text book. I can assure you that if I passed my own esophagus on the street I wouldn’t recognize it from the next. Perhaps I thought my esophagus would look a bit more unique, like Elvis in a cape or something, so I found the average looking pictures in my hand a bit of a letdown.

As part of the procedure, Dr. Snape also placed a small radio chip in my esophagus to monitor possible acid reflux. The chip measures the pH balance in the esophagus and wirelessly transmits data to a pager which I keep nearby for the next 48-hours. The system is called the Medtronic Bravo Catheter-free pH Monitoring System. You can read about this small scientific wonder and see a video here of how the Bravo system is implanted and works.

After the procedure, I recovered for a bit in the hospital then Danielle drove me home. On the way, perhaps a throwback to early childhood hospital experiences, I insisted that we stop at McDonalds for lunch. It sounded good at the time, but as soon as I had the food in front of me I couldn’t eat it. After a bit more recovery time at home I was finally able to finish off my McHappy meal and give the Bravo system it’s first big test at Oktoberfest at Fort Mason in San Francisco. (More about this in my next post.) In the meantime…

I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Danielle, Dr. Snape, and all of the people at CPMC Interventional Endoscopy for taking such good care of me yesterday.

If you need endoscopy done, these are the people to see. Hopefully, CPMC will upgrade that Windows computer to Linux soon. 😉