So after the rough experience with the Esophageal Manometry in my previous post, I followed the nurse down the hall to the next test. I would be sedated for this one, so I was looking forward to a little drug induced shut-eye.
While I was waiting for the doctor, they attached several sensors to my chest, hooked up the IV to the spigot in the back of my hand, and put a blood pressure cuff on my arm. They explained that I would be sedated, still responsive to the doctor's instructions, but that I probably wouldn't remember much of the procedure. Since I would be sedated, I had to wear a mouthpiece to keep my mouth open. This was to protect both my teeth and the instruments.
The doctor was running late, and the nurse stepped out for a while. I spent the time watching the my EKG and heart rate on the monitor. I tried to relax and get my heart rate in the 50s. Every few minutes or so, the blood pressure cuff would automatically inflate, ensuring I wouldn't drift off before they had a chance to sedate me.
The doctor and nurse arrived to start the test and turned on the IV drip. I was pretty sure I would pass out, and I was right. I think I was awake for all of three minutes while the doctor was in the room. There was actually two procedures going on at the same time. The first one was an upper endoscopy. A flexible tube with a light and video camera is passed through the mouth into the esophagus. This test would give the doctor a more direct view of the situation than the other tests. If necessary, he could also take a biopsy while he was at it.
The second procedure was something called a Bravo Probe. The Bravo Probe is a wireless capsule that is temporarily attached to the inside of the esophagus. It takes pH readings regularly and sends the data to a device the size of large pager.
I woke up in the recovery room an hour or so later. I didn't have the opportunity to speak with the doctor, so I'm not sure what all he found out. I have an appointment with him next week to go over the results. As the sedation wore off and I came around, the nurses gave me some apple juice and went over my marching orders.
For the next day and a half the Bravo Probe would be taking readings so I had to keep the pager within three feet of my body at all times. I had to keep a diary of every time I ate or drank anything, record when I lay down, and press a button on the pager if I felt any pain. The food restrictions were gone, and in fact my doctor encouraged me to eat and drink things that would set off my acid reflux. Plenty of coffee and sugar for breakfast; Mexican food, chips and salsa and a margarita for lunch; and wine and garlic laced food for dinner. Doctors orders!
The pager had a readout so I could watch the pH readings go up and down. I had to jump on the interweb to see if high or low pH was acidic (its low). Around 7 is neutral. After my Mexican lunch I was burping up acid breath and watched the readings plunge down to 2. I wasn't allowed to take any antacids, so it was a day of stirring up the pot and living with the consequences.
I dropped off the pager at the hospital this morning. I'm sure someone will plug all the readings into some nifty database/spreadsheet and match it up with my diary notes. My doctor should have plenty of information for our appointment next week. Hopefully the news will be good.