This is probably terrible to say, but I was actually looking forward to my husband’s endoscopy today. In fact, he was, too.
“It’s sort of like our vacation,” Jeff said as we discussed the upcoming procedure. “I hope they knock me out.”
“I hope it takes at least several hours,” I added.
Clearly, we were desperate for escape. Between our 2-year-old’s potty training, our twins' extended kindergarten holiday, and a Christmas Eve smash-and-grab that left my identity and our Honda Pilot a wreck, we’ve been feeling a bit ragged—and cold. Last night, it dipped into the 20s. And after the stress of the past couple weeks, I would’ve gladly traded places with my husband and undergone the invasive though routine medical procedure, myself, just to exit reality for an hour or two.
But as the wife of the patient with eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE, an allergic inflammatory disease that causes food impactions and requires annual monitoring—a condition that nearly ruined our only summer getaway—I settled for a break from our children and our household troubles in the Gringlas Greenberg Family Waiting Room of the Endoscopy Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
I had loaded up a bag with this week's “New Yorker,” a copy of “Us Weekly” and my laptop—with plans to catch up not only on my back reading but also on my blog—while my husband submitted to a scope being snaked down his throat. Almost immediately, however, annoyances and disappointments interrupted my waiting room “vacation.”
First of all, my husband needed help recalling his medical history. Then the admissions' clerk asked if he had a living will. “Yes, but not with me,” Jeff said.
“That’s ok,” the woman answered.
But I started wondering if it might not be.
And then Jeff had to fill out a form that queried, “During the last month, have you felt down, depressed or hopeless? Are you experiencing any abuse or violence at home or in any personal relationship?” Luckily, he didn’t have room to write, “Yes, my wife is a huge pain in my ass.” But my husband did dash my hopes of taking his picture. “That’s where I draw the line,” he said, after I awkwardly tied up the strings at the back of his gown.
While a nurse pushed a giant IV into Jeff's arm—noting, “This is a big syringe”—I sat listening to a neighboring patient and his daughter talk to the doctor.
“We would give you an oral prep for a colonoscopy,” the physician explained. “We use MiraLAX with Gatorade.”
“He hasn’t eaten in three days,” the daughter said. “He’s a little irritable.”
Jeff was irritable enough after just 16 hours of fasting, and I was reminded of that tired maxim about how things can always get worse. They did.
“How long will the procedure take?” I asked one of the nurses.
“About an hour,” she replied, much to my disappointment.
Then the doctor divulged that Jeff was only going to float in a sort of “twilight” during the scope, instead of getting knocked out cold. “Is that ok?” the doctor asked, seeing Jeff’s crestfallen expression.
In the waiting room, a sign instructed me to “refrain from eating or drinking” as a “courtesy to patients who are fasting.” CNN blared, a fitness expert commanding me to “turn [my] body into a fat burning machine,” a talking head pontificating about “Fixing A Broken Congress,” the scroll alerting that “Three Other Fiscal Cliffs Loom.” A woman with a smoker’s hack sat near the elevators, chatting up unsuspecting victims in between her fits. A white-haired fellow in a suit, whose wife was also undergoing a procedure, kept trying to swipe a card to regain access to the treatment area. “Can anybody help me?” he bellowed. “I’m a doctor!”
All I wanted was some peace, but this vestibule was telegraphing more Grand Central Station than quiet nook. And when the appointed hour came and went with no word, I thought again about my husband’s living will—about the doctor’s pre-op listing of risks, such as puncture and infection—and began to fret just a little bit. I couldn’t concentrate on why former “Real Housewife of New York City” Bethenny Frankel split from Jason Hoppy or on why “Scandinavian TV has so many fans.”
“Family for Bond,” a woman called out, tapping her shoe as I gathered up our parkas, my laptop and reading materials. Walking to the recovery area, I saw my husband’s gastroenterologist checking his iPhone and munching on crackers.
“Are you lucid?” I asked Jeff.
“Semi-lucid,” he said, handing me gruesome pictures of his esophagus.
“I was out,” Jeff added before wobbling toward the elevators and settling in, once home, for a two-hour nap.
So I guess my husband got his break after all. However, although we're still awaiting some results, his doctor's initial assessment suggests that Jeff will have to hang in at least one more year before getting another such “twilight” vacation.