Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Bravo! Bravo!

You've heard that before, right? Well, I'm not shouting it in excitement, or to express my positive opinion on a performance I've just seen.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was freaking out about having an endoscopy done? Well, the doctor was able to rule out esophageal cancer (Thank you, God!) but among the few things found in my esophagus, it was suspected based on my symptoms that I have Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, or LPR. If you read the symptoms listed on that link, I have every single one of them, the most bothersome being chronic throat clearing. I'm talking about every 50-90 seconds...twenty four hours a day. It even wakes me from a sound sleep. Many nights I've been sleeping in the recliner because 1) I wake up choking when I'm laying down and 2) Dean needs his sleep too! Needless to say, neither Dean nor I are sleeping very well, and living life in general is not very fun right now. The thought of sitting in a classroom in a couple weeks is really making me nervous. Because I can't do it. I can't not clear my throat because of all the crud that builds up in there every few seconds.

So yesterday was my follow-up visit from my endoscopy. The doctor told me, "based on your level of throat clearing (since I did it 4, 238 times during the visit) you have one of the more severe cases of LPR that I've seen, but lets get the Bravo testing done to verify that's what's going on."

So what's the Bravo business? Well, in Thursday I'll have a Bravo ph monitoring device placed in my esophagus. Now, with an endoscopy they sedate you. I had initially been freaked out that they wouldn't be able to relax me enough and I'd remember everything, but those doctors just happen to know what they're doing, and all went well. In fact, I'd do it again tomorrow since it gives me license to nap the rest of the afternoon. LOL But yesterday at my doctor appointment he told me they don't sedate for this test.

 Ummm...did you watch that video? First of all, I won't be able to NOT clear my throat long enough for them to put it in and secondly, HELLO! Anyone ever heard of a gag reflex????

So that's on Thursday.

Then on Friday I have a video swallow test done, along with an esophagram, both tests that Angela has had done about a thousand times. They're pretty simple, painless tests, that involve just drinking some barium, and swallowing some cracker also laced with barium. These tests are being done because of the difficulty I've been having swallowing the past few months, including food getting caught near my larynx on the way down. (similar to what happens with Angela's achalasia as seen during esophageal manometry testing which was done at Boston Children's. )

So what will we find out from all of this? Well, since my esophagus shows only a few changes indicative of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), yet I have chronic throat clearing and a feeling of constant phlegm in my throat, the Bravo testing will give a definitive answer.  With LPR, it's pretty common to not have symptoms of heartburn, so it's often referred to as "silent reflux". Funny...Angela had horrible silent reflux as an infant which, along with repeated bouts of aspiration pneumonia which are what led to her having a nissen fundoplycation when she was 11 months old.

I'm anxious to get this testing done. This problem has gotten so bad that it's hard to even carry on phone conversations, much less sit in a meeting or a class.


Scarehaircare said...

I actually went through an esophageal stretch thinking that was why I kept feeling like I was choking and had to swallow hard (lump in my throat constantly). a few weeks later I attended a voice disorders conference and they had a fill out chart to determine reflux. A score of 10 was considered positive. I scored 27. Add my symptoms to that score and it was determined I had LPR (without all of the testing you are going thru). Meds are working but I do need another follow up with my ENT since it has been 6 months and things aren't back to normal yet. {{{hugs}}} to you.

Barbara said...

Just curious if you have had your thyroid checked? I get that swallowing flemy thing and 1 it was the thyroid.

Leah S. said...

SHC- yes, I took one of those screening things and got the top score. (yay me!) but my insurance won't pay for anything further unless I have the testing done. I did 2 months of PPI's last spring and they did NOTHING.

Barbara- yes, the first thing they did was rule out thyroid with blood work, and I've had an endoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound done to make sure there weren't nodules or anything missed.