09 November, 2015

Endoscopy in Japan

Last Thursday I finally had the endoscopy to try to figure out what's been going on to cause discomfort in my lower throat.

A shock
I had reassurances from friends in Australia that an endoscopy wasn't a big deal. But I was unsedated and it was a big deal. Despite the various sprays and liquids used to numb my nose and throat and the sensation of someone holding a hose down my throat for 20 minutes was hard to tolerate.

The doctor did initially try to do it through my nose, which, I've read, is the easier route. However my nose was too narrow and it was painful, so the doctor asked for permission to do it through my throat (as if I had many options at that point!).

I found this out later:
Sedation is rarely used in Japan or other Asian countries, the Middle East and South America. Unsedated endoscopy is also the norm in most European countries including Germany, Greece, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.[] In contrast, up to 98% of the American patients undergoing gastroscopy receive sedation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995089/)

I was offered sedation for this endoscopy, but that was two months ago when I was booking the date. I wasn't given information to help me decide whether that would be a good idea. Indeed the nurse was hovering by my side waiting for my decision, so it was a hurried, uninformed decision. Admittedly if I'd been more able in Japanese I might have asked more questions, but still they were pressuring me to make a quick decision.

After having a baby in Japan I know that things are done differently here, particularly in relation to patient comfort. After my caesarian in 2002 the doctor told me, as they wheeled me back to the ward, that he'd not given me any intravenous pain killers. He informed me that once my epidural wore off I would have to decide if I needed pain killers. 

I don't know what they eventually gave me after I nearly threw up from the pain but it wasn't very effective. That experience was the last straw in what was a culturally challenging pregnancy-birth experience (many more details than I haven't described here) we decided to try never to have a baby in Japan again (he was our second child, our third was born in Australia).

The Chinese medicine that I'm taking three times a day for three
weeks. I'm being a wimp and "decanting" it into capsules,
which is a bit time consuming but totally worth it!
The final result of the endoscopy, though, was good (and the Caesarian too). There is nothing to indicate a current problem in the area that I feel a strange sensation. Therefore it is a "wait for it to subside" situation. I think there probably was a problem back in July/August when I was stressed as a result of our transition back to Japan, but the sensation remains though the physical symptom has gone. Much like you can still feel an eyelash in your eye after it has been removed.

So now I have medication to reduce acid production in the stomach and some Chinese medicine that I think it for stress/throat, I'm not really sure.

I'm just thankful that it seems to be a resolving problem, not an ongoing one. Though I guess I'll have to keep an eye on this one next time there's a extra-large and lengthy stressful situation going on. Thankfully we're not going back to Australia for another home assignment until 2018!


MOM2_4 said...

Glad they didn't find anything major. Wish you could have gotten in for a check sooner when the problem was more present.

They gave me a liquid to drink that was to "help relieve the discomfort". It wasn't painful but it was uncomfortable. They also did a nasal scope which likely made it easier.

Wendy said...

Yes, it would have been good to have had this back in August. Pain isn't the right word. Seriously uncomfortable, I would say. My face was red at the end from all the coughing and half-dry retching. It's hard to disable our body's God-given protective reflexes!

Steve and Kathi Weemes said...

So sorry for your discomfort. I had the same situation over 15 years ago, was thinking it might be different now. The doctor kept saying, Nomu, nonde! but I couldn't swallow! Took so long and I was hurting, so I know your pain.

Wendy said...

Thanks Steve and Kathi. The nurse kept asking, "Daijobu?" (Okay?) How could I answer that with a big tube down my throat? But I am thankful for a good result in the end.