Saturday, February 09, 2019


It's now a pretty fast moving train, so try to keep up. Before making a consultation appointment, the surgeon wanted me to have a barium swallow test, just to have as much information as possible to confirm the achalasia diagnosis. Always a fan of new pictures and more data, I was happy to comply. It was also a test I'd already experienced at the rehab -- maybe three weeks after my stroke -- so I knew it wasn't terribly unpleasant. Basically, you just drink a mixture of water and Barium and trace the path of descent via X-Ray. Unfortunately, I don't have my own scan yet, but the picture below is a pretty good representation of what they showed me on the live display (though less twisty and without any release into the stomach: just a tower of backed-up liquid):

I'd be the Abby Normal on the left.

I met with the surgeon the next day, and he confirmed that I'm a perfect candidate for the Heller Myotomy but probably not the Fundoplication. While reflux is a fairly common result of the procedure (i.e. opening the esophagus up so everything can get down to the stomach also opens the gate for acid coming back up), he feels that adding restriction back to the lower esophagus can encourage recurrence of the achalasia. Heartburn in exchange for being able to eat again feels like a fair enough trade to me, as does the hopeful prevention of additional surgery down the road.

So I'm scheduled for the laparoscopic Heller Myotomy (4-5 small abdominal incisions) on February 25, with a planned overnight in the hospital, another swallow test the next morning to check for leaks, a return home, and about a week off work. Of course, while hopeful, I don't put a ton of stock in expected recovery times. After all, when you "expect," you cross your Pee and See Tea. Yeah, I know that's a stretch. Point is, the only things that are certain in life are death, taxes, and change. And I'm okay with that.

This latest chapter has been a good test of acceptance for me, in all its forms:

  • There's acceptance as resignation;
  • Acceptance as the relatively peaceful state at the end of the five stages of Kubler-Ross grief;
  • And acceptance as grin-and-bear-it tolerance.

As long as we're on that topic, why is The Museum of Tolerance about anti-Semitism and racism, as if putting up with minorities is something special that needs to be taught? Isn't it actually a Museum of the History of Intolerance, in which case the goal is to foster inherent Acceptance and Inclusion, not begrudging Tolerance?

Sorry. I know I digress. But over the past six months or so, I've been told a number of times that my situation was "unacceptable." And while I respect that what I've experienced is unpleasant for others to witness, I have to make peace with it on my own terms. That's the kind of Acceptance I'm aiming to achieve.

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