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My Esophagus Is Better Than Yours…

“You have the esophagus of a much younger woman.”

Well, there’s a thought. Here I am, tormented by wrinkles making daily debuts, and it’s my esophagus I should be showing off to the world. How does one get that designation to show on the outside?

Seems radiation, the cancer gift that never stops giving, can leave calcium deposits in its wake. In my case, the throat and surrounding matter. Doc decides a radiologist should take a look at my esophagus to see whether it could be the culprit.

In my particular cancer, you know, the kind old men who chew tobacco and are alcoholics get when they’re over sixty-five–the kind that makes perfect sense for a girl like me to get–chemo flushes the body but radiation is targeted toward the head and neck for 36 days. One may think after 36 days the damage is done but no. Part of the fun includes learning to swallow and talk all over again. I’ve advised parents of toddlers never to underestimate the tough work of learning to eat and speak. That was five years ago.

Evidently, the body doesn’t really care for radiation’s side effects and, sometimes, well most times, acts up in the future. So, when I visit my favorite Dr. H., he says there’s a reason for my sudden difficulty in swallowing again. Which leads me to the radiologist, swallowing barium globs and a marshmallow to demonstrate what a big girl I am when it comes to moving things down my gullet.

Afterward, he pronounces my esophagus healthy, and, in fact, worthy of the younger-than-my-age status. “I believe the problem is actually in your throat, not in the esophagus, which is what pushes food down.”

Well, sir, thank you for that. At least there’s one thing that defies my age. If only we could plaster some of that esophageal youth on my face, we’d be good to go, non?

Meantime, salad will not make its journey past my mouth. Not that that’s a giant loss, but there are times a girl wants to look all girl-like and less hungry man and a salad would be a wise choice. Out with my boss, I order a chicken sandwich in the name of safety. It lodges and so does its arugula enhanced bun, between my swallower and esophagus so that younger than average esophagus is not really serving me all that well, is it? Luckily, I have a cancer survivor boss who seems non-plussed when I tell him the food is just not going down.

You have to inform your boss when you’re having things like marshmallow tests ‘cuz radiologists don’t have after hours and you’re advised your throat might be raspy after you’ve had to swallow all manner of chemicals and half-melted sugar masses to measure how things move to your tummy on an x-ray.

There are days you’re glad for a boy boss. Women with perfectly polished nails, the latest hairstyles, Prada bags, and tiny waists would be horrified not only that food is stuck in your gullet at a business lunch but that you ordered fries with that. Pfft.

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