Diagnosis, part 1

Yesterday, I had both an endoscopy and an colonoscopy. I will spare you the details of the lead-up and prep.

I woke after the procedure very confused by the nurse who urgently wanted me to relinquish the bed I was occupying. Since the recent blizzard and the resulting bad traffic, the clinic was running behind and open beds were at a premium, as they needed to catch up on the backlog of late arrivals. If you ask me, the scope rooms are sort of a slap-em-and-dash-em kind of an affair anyways. After all, after a certain age, we all need the scope, so it’s a problem of scale. But yesterday was more hectic for them than usual, I’m sure.

The nurse handed me two discharge reports and my coat, and told me that it will take two weeks for the results of the biopsies, and that I’ll need to come back for another colonoscopic appointment. That’s pretty much all my brain could handle – nothing else she told me registered, other than “get dressed.”

The results, working from the top down:

The endoscope showed that I have Barrett’s esophagus, and apparently a hiatus hernia. The doctor took a biopsy, and I will hear from him in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, some pertinent facts and treatment indications stand out:

  • There is no treatment to reverse Barrett’s Esophagus.
  • Refrain from eating three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
  • Reduce intake of fatty foods, milk, chocolate, mints, caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, peppers, seasoning and alcohol (again) – especially red wine.
  • Reduce meal size.
  • Raise the head of my head 6-8 inches. Pillows alone are not helpful.
  • Weight reduction.

Here are a few other bits of information culled from the internet that give me pause:

The medical significance of Barrett esophagus is its strong association with esophageal adenocarcinoma, a particularly lethal cancer. Barrett esophagus is a premalignant condition. It seems from my reading that 0.5 % of people diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus develop adenocarcinoma. Still, it’s enough of a fact to provoke some anxiety.

I will wait the two weeks and see which category my cells fall in to: non-dysplastic, low-grade dysplasia, high-grade dysplasia, or frank carcinoma. Anything other than non-dysplastic will require further intervention.


Colonoscopy findings were: colon polyps, lipoma, and diverticulosis. Biopsy samples were taken, and I should have the results in 2 weeks.

I looked up lipoma, and it seems to be pretty much a benign growth, if it’s small enough. The question I need to ask my doctor is: how big was it? If it was over 4 cm in size (a “giant lipoma”) I might need a section to remove it.

The treatment for diverticular disease is to increase fiber in my diet and get more exercise. According to the handy chart in my orders, I am to seek 30 grams of fiber daily. Suggested sources:

  • Cereals: they don’t mean Frosted Flakes. They mean All-Bran Extra Fiber – one cup of which would net me the whole 30 grams. Oat bran. Wheat germ. Etc.
  • Fruits: pear, blueberry, fig, prune, apple, strawberry, banana, orange, peach are listed – but I should avoid orange because of the Barrett’s.
  • Veg: corn, green peas, carrots, potato WITH SKIN (thank you, thank you!!!), aparagus, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, raw cucumber
  • Legumes: beans, peas, lentils
  • Grains: barley, bulgur, brown rice, couscous, pasta – and I’m guessing I can have quinoa too.
  • Breads: basically answer “whole wheat” anytime I’m asked.
    1. The scary part about all of this is waiting two weeks to hear if they’ve found anything nasty in the biopsies.

      I’ve been hearing pretty much this same advice for the last few times I’ve been to the doctor: cut down on the fats, ramp up on the fiber, get more exercise. It’s been hard this last year, I’ve been very indulgent and careless in the way I’ve been eating since Simone died, not paying any heed to the warnings. I’ve put on weight when I should have been taking it off. I’ve been allowing myself to backslide, telling myself that my grief was a good reason to eat crap food and drink more alcohol than I should.

      Time to get back on the right track.

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