Tastes like progress … and radiation

I passed two more hurdles on my way to weight-loss surgery this morning — my abdomen ultrasound and a barium-swallow test. Both went well, and took much less time than expected.

First on the agenda was my ultrasound. My surgeon wants to make sure that my gallbladder is functioning perfectly. When a person loses a lot of weight, there’s an increased risk for gallstones, which can be painful and cause significant problems. It’s very common to remove the gallbladder during weight-loss surgery for this reason. The surgeon also wants to see how my liver and pancreas are doing. The liver is an important organ to consider in weight-loss surgery, as it sits right next to the stomach. Before surgery, I’ll have to go on a special all-liquid diet to shrink the size of the liver so it doesn’t get in the way of the procedure.

The ultrasound wasn’t as icky as I thought it would be. On teevee, when a pregnant woman receives an ultrasound, there’s always a liberal application of clear goop on the stomach. That’s all fine and well for someone without stomach hair, but I was worried about the gel sticking to my stomach all day and making my shirt cling to my gut. Fortunately, it only took two towels to wipe away all the residue. My chest hair looks resplendent and glorious now.

I had to lie on my back, then on one side, and then on another. Every time the technician took a picture, the machine made a sound that reminded me of a slot machine. Alas, I didn’t hear the jingle-jangle of a payout.

I asked the technician for a picture of the ultrasound, hoping to post a picture here. She said she’d burn me a CD. I didn’t see her again. I assumed she was joking anyway, as who uses CDs any more?

After the ultrasound, I was taken to a different waiting room. I was forced to watch about five minutes of Headline News or, as it is called now, HLN. Remember when Headline News covered actual news? It certainly doesn’t any more.

For the barium swallow, the next technician began with a quick chest X-ray, and then took me through a labyrinth of rooms to get to the giant barium-swallow-machine-thingy. I don’t know what this machine is called, so let’s just call it Tammy Faye. Tammy was horizontal when I arrived, but with a quick press of a button she stood upright. I wedged between the platform and the scanner, and the technician handed me some Alka-Seltzer to drink. Then she passed me a gritty, somewhat thick liquid that tasted somewhat, but not entirely, like Pepto-Bismol. She had me drink several sips: one facing forward, one to the right, and one to the left. Then she gave me a pill and did the same thing all over again, but scanning a little lower to make sure my stomach was OK. Finally, she returned Tammy Faye to her horizontal position, and I lied down for a few final scans.

I assume this is my throat and part of my stomach

After all this, I was done. No goop on stomach. Not a bad aftertaste. Everything took much less than an hour. It was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. I rewarded myself with an iced coffee at Starbucks and went directly to work.

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