Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Have I Gotten Us Into?!

For the last 2 and a half years Jimmy has had reoccurring stomach ulcers and acid reflux so bad that often he is up pacing and vomiting all night long. A life changing event happened 2 and a half years ago. Now I'm not saying twins cause ulcers, but there was a lot going on in our lives at that time... medical bills, being dropped by our insurance, going into labor 2 months early, being kicked out of our first work... and so on. He tested positive twice for the H. pylori bacteria here in Petén and was able to get the medication to treat it both times. He also found some medication that has made a big difference with the acid reflux, but I wanted him to get things checked out anyway just to be sure everything was ok and there wasn't some more serious underlying problem. 

Finally Jimmy made an appointment to get an endoscopy while we were in the capital getting Eden's paperwork. It worked out great because Jimmy's parents were here, so we spent the last 4 days with them in the city. They were able to watch the boys, so Eden and I went with Jimmy to his appointment. 

We arrived at our appointment only to find the office door locked. We waited awhile and then some guy in jeans and a collared shirt showed up... he was the doctor. Have I mentioned before that I really like my medical professionals to be wearing scrubs, or at least a white coat, it just makes me feel better! Anyway the secretary was sick that day, so he was a little disheveled. He walked us back to his desk which was on the other side of the shelf in the photo below. He was a very nice doctor and explained what he was looking for very clearly to us beforehand. The procedure had already been scheduled a week before this, but the anesthesiologist was still over an hour late.

I had to use the restroom, but no one could find the key since the secretary was gone, so I used the doctors' personal bathroom. I saw something hanging on the filing cabinet next to the toilet and I thought, "man, I hope that's not the scope going down Jimmy's throat."
Once the anesthesiologist arrived it seemed like only seconds before Jimmy was out, or at least I couldn't hear him talking anymore from my seat in the waiting room. Then the doctor came and asked if Eden and I wanted to come back and watch the procedure. I thought it was only fair since Jimmy had watched my first cesarian, so I eagerly said yes. I walked back to where Jimmy was and sure enough it WAS the scope that was down his throat! (I'm sure it was sterile... pretty sure.) The procedure was very interesting especially since he explained to me what we were looking at while we both watched the little television playing scenes from the inside of Jimmy's stomach! I was a little distracted though because soon after the procedure began Jimmy started flopping around. Maybe it was post traumatic stress from my recently botched epidural, but I started to get kind of panicky. The anesthesiologist told me when I went back there that Jimmy was completely out and wouldn't be able to feel a thing. But the more that big man flopped around on that itty bitty table, the more concerned I guess I started to look because the anesthesiologist started telling me, "this is normal". Then he gave Jimmy more drugs. 
Soon Jimmy began to flop around even more than before. It was like he was trying to cough. Then he would try to pull the tube out of his mouth. They both held him down at times. The anesthesiologist reassured me again, "this is normal... does he do this at night in his sleep?" Noooo he doesn't do this at night and WHY are you asking me that if this is "normal"?! He kept propping Jimmy's head back too, like he was having a hard time breathing. His face was all red. At that point I thought, "We don't know anything about this doctor or anyone who has used him before... what are we doing?!! What if Jimmy CAN feel this tube down his throat, what if it hurts and he is trying to tell me that... what if he can't breath... I cannot believe we survived all the craziness that goes on in Petén only to have Jimmy die right here on this abnormally small table during some exploratory procedure that I wanted him to have done... dumb!" Meanwhile they are asking me all about our life in Petén. STOP asking me questions and make sure my husband survives!!!

Finally it was over! Jimmy was still out, but I could see him breathing. Once he woke up the doctor explained to us what he had found. I didn't google the English for any of the medical terms, but this is what I took away from it:
 The valve on Jimmy's esophagus that is supposed to be closed unless you are swallowing food doesn't ever fully close, thus the acid is coming back up into his throat. You can have surgery to close it, but I don't think it is all that successful. Anyway this can lead to some bad things if you don't stay on top of it. Jimmy has to take some medications temporarily and change his diet, especially what he eats for supper. On the list of things he is not supposed to eat is greasy caldo. He was served 2 lunches of Kekchi caldo just yesterday. (Everyone wants to feed that man!) He also was diagnosed with gastritis, which is what we have sort of joked around about for years, since during the medical clinics everyone who comes claims to have gastritis. That's what we get for making fun of it! Jimmy also had some biopsies done and there is no longer a trace of the H. pylori bacteria, yay!

So we are both very thankful that it is nothing too serious. I'm very glad he went ahead and got the procedure done so that he knows what the problem is and can stay on top of it so that it will not lead to other things. Supposedly if you have this valve issue you need to get an endoscopy done every year to make sure it hasn't caused other more serious problems, but we probably won't be doing that unless he doesn't obey his doctor and the symptoms get worse. (I'm the cook, so that helps!)

Both the doctor and the anesthesiologist were very nice, maybe a little more laid back than I'd prefer. And I might not recommend this as your first experience with a medical procedure outside your home country, but it got the job done.

Now do I ever want to watch any medical procedures ever again?    NO!


  1. My dad has the same problem and there is a very effective medication for it. I will see if I can find the name of it in case you want to ask your dr. Glad he came out of it all ok!

  2. I can't believe you watched!

    Ryan had the surgery and a lady in our church had it a couple months ago...she is the only other person Id ever heard of besides Ryan.

    1. Yes it helped Ryan. Is was done a little too tight so he is pretty miserable anytime he gets sick and needs to vomit...he can't. I talked with a pediatric surgeon back when my boys were infants...they had bad reflux... and he told me that it shouldn't be that way and that they had done it too tight, but it is still worth it to him. I'm not sure about the lady in our church. She had just tried everything else. I will ask her how she is doing now. She had it done at the end of February.

  3. That sounds like GERD, which our Xander has had since he was a baby. Is that the term that they used? Or a Spanish equivalent to gastroesophageal reflux disease/disorder? Going to a restaurant with him for the first few years was always exciting, because there was at least a 75% chance that dinner would make a reappearance.


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