Monday, April 18, 2011

Frog in the Throat

It was bound to happen, when you stop and think about it. Over the last six months or so, I've noticed some unsettling signs - sudden shortness of breath, wheezing, the feeling of something being stuck in my throat, nasty hacking - all of these are bad signs for anybody, but when you make your living teaching people effective means of communication, well . . . it's really not fun.

I had a pretty good idea of what was going on and I didn't like it much. See, somewhere long ago and far away, I was diagnosed with a "idiopathic subglottic stenosis." (This was after a year of being misdiagnosed as having adult onset asthma, but that's another tale.) In short, I have scar tissue in my windpipe, cause unknown. (Aside: Doesn't "idiopathic" sound so much better and more elevated than "darned if we know"? I keep wanting to use that in class - "Dr. Mockingbird, why are we all here? I mean, what's the meaning of life? So many philosophers and religious leaders have wrestled with those questions - tell me, what's it all mean?" "It's idiopathic." Maybe one day . . .)

Treatment requires check-ups and those involve a medical device that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the proboscis of an anteater being inserted in the nose and down the throat. Said device is equipped with (oh, joy!) a camera, so we can then watch my larynx in action (or inaction, as the case may be). Anyway, I had a scheduled check up with my surgeon today and - let's just say I hit the trifecta. Narrowing in the trachea, allergies kicking up the symptoms, and a nasal polyp. Well, at least it's not all in my head. My head has been scanned, I have an appointment with a "sinus surgeon" about the polyp and surgery has been tentatively scheduled for July. (It's only mid-April now so clearly, it's nothing urgent, but seriously - this coughing and hacking and feeling stressed about coughing and hacking is very old by now.)

On the plus side, my doctors are top-notch. I was diagnosed when I was in school in Winston-Salem, which houses one of the top ear, nose, and throat research departments in the country, so I trust these guys. (Given a choice, always pick surgeons who write the books, instead of the the ones who read them.) Even so, not being able to quite catch my breath has noticeably increased my overall stress level which is already red-lining here at the end of the semester.

Then again, the marquee outside a gas station reminded me today that "Stressed spelled backwards is desserts" and that's knowledge that makes me feel better.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I think that knowledge makes us all feel a little better :-). Hope you're up and running in full force soon.