Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This process might have worked for Szell, "Die Weisse Engel"

Yesterday evening, I took a night bus to Seoul, arriving at the Express terminal around 2:30am. I spent the rest of the night thinking about sleeping at the Dae Jung Sauna*. In the morning, I went to Myeongji Hospital for a complete physical. I am mostly in good health (well, there should be a long line of "except for....") but have had terrible heart burn for the past few weeks.

I am still awaiting the results of most of the tests (X-rays, pulmonary tests, bloodflow to brain, eye tests and photos and more**) but I was mostly interested in what the scope shoved down my throat would find.

First, the process itself - and if I were able to talk during it, I would have answered any of Szell's questions -"Is it safe?" or any other. Depending upon careful timing, I was given a pill, a liquid to swallow, an injection, another liquid and a liquid spray before I faced the snake (I suppose it literally was a "one-eyed snake").

The second liquid paralyzed my throat so I could swallow - it was soon after taking this that I almost choked on my own saliva. Nurses came running and I was given strict instruction in broken English on how to breathe - slowly and deeply - and to spit up the saliva in my mouth.

Oh, don't worry about the injection. It was just a standard shot in the bum, not some Tarentino-esque needle to the chest or stomach.

Finally came the tube. It went down my throat, into and through my stomach and into the top of my small intestine, nearly one metre total.

Probably the worst part was seeing the numbers on the tube as they disappeared into my mouth. No, the worst part was seeing them come back out and then go back in as the doctor saw something he missed. Yeah, that may beat out the near-drowning event before the scope started.

Alright - good news time.
Probably the best part was hearing that the polyps in my stomach wall had shrank and the pain I had felt was not from spreading cancer. I have to admit some difficult nights thinking about how my father died (from cancer) when I had recurring stomach pain. Oh, I should explain that I had the same test done at the same location a year ago. The physical checkup is a gift from the university.
Also good news was finding that the acid reflux was from a treatable problem - some bleeding in the lower esophagus. Two months of pills and I should be okay. I do hope though, that the doctor wasn't making that up and that the bleeding wasn't from his damn 'scope.
*on one of my first trips to Seoul, ten years ago, my girlfriend (now wife) explained that "Dae Jung" wasn't named after the president but meant "The people's". This was "The people's sauna". I was so proud of my, clearer and more evocative translation; "For the great unwashed". - Good stuff, huh?
**Most of the tests are done by (skilled) technicians rather than doctors so realtime analysis is infrequent and brief. This was a good, and terrifying, example from my 2008 visit: "Fat is infiltrating your liver. Next station, please."
Oh, in the title, of course I am referencing one of the best movies of all time, Marathon Man.

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