That news out of the way, all I can say is: I don't want to drink barium! (Just so you know how upset I am about this, I almost put three exclamation marks at the end of the previous sentence.) I've never liked my husband's company for all sorts of reasons, but I've, as much as possible, withheld my opinions because he gets rather sensitive when I defame that hallowed establishment. Well, this time they go too far. I honestly do not understand why--since I sure as hell am not one of theirs--but they are insisting that I get a full health check before we move, and this health check includes a Barium Swallow. Without knowing much at all about the procedure, all my life, I've felt this is something that I would avoid at all costs. Now that I have to do it (tomorrow), I've of course tortured myself by reading everything I can find on the ordeal.
My husband--and probably many of you, upon reading this post--thinks I'm being a sniveling, wussy cocktail wiener. What he doesn't realize is that this isn't me being what he categorizes as typically contrary, noisy, and difficult. This is me trying my best to tamp down full-blown terror.
I can, in fact, quietly and calmly withstand a fair amount, in terms of medical tests: needles, invasive procedures, all that good stuff. I'm also unfussy where food is concerned. But what I cannot handle is drinking thick, creamy substances. It isn't just the gag factor, the roiling nausea; the thought of it actually makes my innards squidge and my throat close up in a serious panic. Insects, animal entrails, heads, hoofs, claws--fine, serve me up a plate. But mayonnaise, banana smoothies, creamy yogurt--*shudder*. And still, if I took it a teaspoon at a time, I could manage to down those things.
But tomorrow's x-ray is going to require fast gulping of large quantities (two to three cups) of barium mixed with water to a dense, "milkshake-like consistency," some of it done while lying down.
I can't do it! All of a sudden, I'm recalling those fluoride treatments at the dentist that used to make me all but hyperventilate with fear as a child. The dentist would insist that I bite down "harder" on the trays filled with creamy, sweet fluoride, and when I obeyed, the fluoride would gush over the sides and start filling my mouth, flowing toward the back of my throat. Breathe. Deep breaths.
This must be a phobia, right? I mean, if I step back from the situation, I can see that my reaction is verging on extreme. But, A phobia of what?, you might be wondering with some derision: Too much sour cream with my borscht? Strawberry malts? As unappealing as such things are to me, it's more... a fear of being choked, of drowing in viscous substances. It's a phobia--it's not supposed to be logical.
Why, why do I have to have a health check, I ask you? If the company is worried about liability, I'll happily sign a release form, promising I won't cause them any trouble if I fall sick and/or die while overseas. Why am I even their responsibility? I'm just a wife, and a non-Japanese one at that. Who gives a damn about my esophagus and intestines? If I start screaming when the nurse advances on me with a large tumbler of barium, will the doctor put a big red X on my report, deny me permission to leave Japan? For the love of god, this seems so antiquated--surely they could come up with less-crude methods. Well, obviously not in time to save me from tomorrow.