I had an endoscopy today. I will spare you any stress you might feel right now in fearing for my health. They did find some things in there, but nothing at all serious.
I went to get the test because I have had mild stomach pain on and off since October or November, and another pain down my right leg. I've mentioned these pains several times in my posts. The pain in my leg has been pretty severe at times and figuring out what is causing it is my main concern, but my acupuncturist, Yamaguchi sensei, says that the leg pain is due to the stomach area, and I believe him.
Like I've said before, Yamaguchi sensei is amazing. He really knows what he is doing, and every time I go he tells me things about me that he has no discernible way of knowing. He feels my pulse and knows everything. This week I didn't have a translator, but last time he said that I tend to over think things and hang back, while Peter jumps right into things. Completely true. Now that Peter is going to acupuncture as well, I feel like Yamaguchi sensei knows everything about me, which is fine with me. All the more knowledge to heal me with.
Yamaguchi sensei has been telling me for months that my duodenum is sluggish. He felt my pulse one day and then pointed exactly to the spot that has been hurting. He seems to think that whatever is wrong there is what causes my leg pain. So, based on my trust in him, I went to the doctor today for my stomach. Guess what? He was exactly right. My duodenum looks funny and has been biopsied.
Let me back up, because you have to hear about this day.
It's 3pm and all I've had up to now is a 7am cup of tea. I managed to sign in at the hospital (you go to the hospital in Japan like you would go to a walk in clinic in the states) on my own. I even understood enough to say that no, I didn't have an appointment, and I told them in Japanese that my hospital registration card was lost. I told them it was lost because I don't know how to say that it's being used as a bookmark and is in my dining room. I went to the gastrointestinal department, with which I am already familiar because I had a sonogram in January, and told them why I was there and that I was waiting for a translator. I was really proud to be able to make it that far on my own!
I found my translator. She was so cute that I was self conscious of my 1000￥ shoes from HI Hirose and she made me want to buy a new bag. She also smelled like Abercrombie, which I didn't realize I liked so much. She was so great, and we talked about lots of things while we waited on various cushioned benches over a period of 4-plus hours. She even inspired a lesson plan concerning motivating students to learn English. I really liked her and I'm going to see if she wants to come over sometime. Anyway, I talked to the doctor and they seemed to think my only option was getting the endoscopy. I was upset because I could tell that they weren't confident that I needed it. I'm not someone who undergoes unnecessary medical exams. She told me that they thought I was too young to have any serious problem and that the sonogram was totally clean, but she also said that since I was having pain, they supported my decision to go through with it, so I did it. I have had pain for so long and I want to finally do what I can do to heal it.
For the test, I swallowed something gross to highlight my stomach for the camera. Then I held an anesthetic in my mouth for two minutes before I was instructed to swallow it, after which I almost ralphed. Then they sprayed a liquid anesthetic into my throat that felt like liquid fire and again, I almost ralphed. They put a round plastic thing into my mouth and taped it to my face to hold my teeth open. Then came the tube. The end had a really bright light and I assume that's where the camera was, and they proceeded to feed a tube down my throat, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. It was really terrible. I felt like an animal. I remember several times seeing my pets rendered helpless on a table with tubes coming out of them. I remember the feeling in the room and the look in their eyes, the poor miserable things. That's how I felt. Saliva was pouring out of my mouth into a bowl and tears were running out of my tortured eyes. Thank god it only lasted 10 minutes.
My translator, who used to be a nurse, rubbed my arm and comforted me. She helped so much. When it was over, I just needed a minute to collect myself, they had me wash my mouth out, and I was fine. They found a little redness in my esophagus from when I was sick two weeks ago with a stomach bug, and they found a strange looking business in my duodenum. It is supposed to look smooth, but it looked bumpy. They took a biopsy during the endoscopy and I will get the story on that next Thursday. They had no guesses at to what it is, but they seemed very sure that it isn't serious.
I felt really good after, and I feel like I did the right thing in having the test. I feel like I'm not just sitting around doing nothing about my health. I really hope that they have an answer or two for me, and if not, I will be off to get some x-rays for my leg. I am not a fan of x-rays, but I'm coming to the point where I think they beat chronic pain.
I know my family reads this, and others who care about me. Don't feel bad for me, if you do, and don't think that I'm having a rough time. These issues suck, but they are primarily peripheral. There was a time in September and October when the leg pain was truly incapacitating and having big effects on my life, but now the acupuncture keeps it in check. Sometimes I think that if I can just make it through to when I go back to the US, whatever environmental aspect that is causing it will be eliminated, the pain will go away, and I won't have to take any tests. I don't think that is the way to go, though. After my test, when I was talking with my translator, a nurse came to see how I was doing. I think she was close to shocked at how at ease I was and told my translator how happy I looked. So, really, don't be too concerned for me, if you are.
That's about it for today. And I think that's enough.