Patching clunkers:
The body as a ‘66 Mustang past its day

I got another repair job a couple weeks ago, this time on my leaky esophagus – leaky as in blood oozing out where it shouldn’t and going where it’s not supposed to, into my stomach. The problem is called varices if you care, and I’ve had many endoscopies over the last decade and repairs have been made, but there was always one leak, the docs warned me, “We can’t fix. It’s in the wrong spot.”

Wrong spot?

Of course I had to investigate. Turns out the “spot” is the gastroesophageal junction, and if that term doesn’t ring a bell, the spot itself’s likely crossed your mind when you were gagging on something or trying desperately not to puke. The junction’s where your throat meets your stomach, and like all junctions, traffic there can get pretty messy. The esophagus is one area of the body where some say God made a design mistake.

For this endoscopy I saw the best of the best gastroenterologists, a man with a stellar reputation and the only one willing to take on the difficult stuff. He was direct and confident and I liked him instantly. Memo to world, ”direct” does not equal “rude”, and as to confident, maybe you want a hesitant and humble doc poking around your innards but not me. During our pre-procedure visit he told me he wouldn’t know what was possible to fix until he took a look inside and when he did, he managed to fix the unfixable and for the first time in years I have no signs of leaks. Amazing, that.

Which got me thinking about duct-taped radiator hoses, exhaust pipes kept from dragging asphalt by coat hangers and all the other kludges we did when I was a teenager to keep our $500 cars on the road. Tape it, tear it apart, put it back together and don’t fret the leftover parts then see if it goes: that was how it was done. I learned how to pop the engine from a VW with a spare tire and one wrench, how to set timing with a wire and a cannibalized tail light bulb and how to disconnect antique smog devices called “gulp valves” which produced more smog than they prevented when they malfunctioned which was all the time. All this in the name of going a few more miles, lasting six more months in Southern California’s car culture, and yes, in total ignorance of the environmental costs.

Which seems to me exactly what the docs are doing these days with my body. One more layer of medical duct tape in my throat and I’m good to go again – for a while. Then comes  time to disassemble some organ or maybe top up leaky fluid levels. A blood test here, a scan there, and we wait to see what fails next. All in the name of  lasting six more months, traveling a few more miles on this wonderful, demented carnival ride we call life.

Strange, this path.

I should write something witty now about knowing when to junk a clunker, but that’s the spot where this ramble falls apart.

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One Response to “Patching clunkers:
The body as a ‘66 Mustang past its day”

  1. Lisa Paul Says:

    Yowch! Not fun. But just remember that a 66 Mustang is still a Classic!

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