Barium Swallow; School Dance; Daylight Saving Time Printout

I had two letters to write today, and I have written them. I love that moment when they are in the mailbox and out of my hands.

I have been having some weird trouble with tightness in my throat and a light cough. It started in November and felt like symptoms of anxiety, so naturally I thought it was president-related—but it finally persisted to the point where I was having trouble swallowing pills, and I started to imagine being asked later why I hadn’t gone to the doctor, so I went to the doctor. Now I have to have a barium swallow test on Monday. The only thing I know about a barium swallow test is that when Edward was drinking the icky stuff he has to drink before an MRI, the technician said, “Just be glad it’s not barium—that stuff is so much worse!”

Elizabeth is going to a school dance soon, and has been practicing putting glitter on her face and hair. She has also been mentioning a particular boy Quite Often. Very casually—but his name comes up multiple times per day. This is a pretty fun stage.

It’s Daylight Saving Time this weekend, so if you need The Printout that Prevents One Million Discussions of the “Wait, So Normally Right Now it Would Be SEVEN O’Clock…No, FIVE O’Clock…Wait…” variety, it is here: Spring Ahead Printout.

26 thoughts on “Barium Swallow; School Dance; Daylight Saving Time Printout

  1. Suzanne

    Well, bright-siding a bit — and for *me* rather than you, so perhaps I should just start this whole sentence again —

    Perhaps you will distract yourself from the barium-ness of the swallow by taking extensive notes for a How to Do a Barium Swallow Test blog post? I found your mammogram post so interesting when I first read it, and then read it AGAIN before my own first mammogram. And I find if I am enduring something for OTHERS, then it is sometimes less awful.

    Still sounds aggressively and SELFISHLY bright-sidey. :-/

    The school dance stuff and the boy stuff sound delightful. I cannot wait (I mean, I CAN — stay a baby!) until my daughter is at the age of Crushes and Dances.

    Thank you for the printout. I am not looking forward to the daylight saving time fallout.

    1. Swistle Post author

      I think this is a very good way to think of it. I’m a RESEARCHER, that’s all. Swallowing barium for JOURNALISM.

      1. Alexa

        You would be SHOCKED to know how often I employ this particular tactic. (Or maybe you would not.)

        (Anyway, I hope it goes well. And I highly recommend asking a nurse to be straight with you about how much they actually NEED you to drink. I found out when I had to have a lot of medical tests during a very pukey pregnancy that usually they ask for more than they need when it comes to basically everything–contrast for imaging studies, glucose drink, etc. For instance, I spent years fretting about my shy bladder when giving urine samples only to find out they actually need only a tiny bit.)

  2. lillowen

    I’ve had to do a barium swallow (plus a shot glass of what was basically Pop Rocks to fill up my stomach with air) and it was gross, but not traumatizing. It wasn’t a huge amount to drink either, so there wasn’t the added pressure of having to chug large quantities. So I would assign this one a Fret Level of yellow.

  3. Monica

    I’ve done the barium thing. It was several years ago but if I remember right it was only one small styrofoam coffee cup amount, so it wasn’t a LOT of crap to drink like the colonoscopy prep is. However it was thick and very chalky, so it was unpleasant and I felt nauseated. I think I only wound up getting 2/3 of it down and it turned out to be enough which was a relief.

    It wasn’t painful though and the flavor actually isn’t that bad – kind of a nothing flavor. The fun(?) part is the next day or two when you’re pooping white. SO WEIRD but kind of cool because it’s different lol. Good luck! And enjoy those silly white poos.

  4. Jenny

    Early March is the worst time in the whole world to lose an hour of sleep. Unless they had put it toward the end of February, I guess. I would take a long bath with a glass of wine and go to sleep an hour early IF I WERE A PERSON IN A MAGICAL GLITTER TIME TRAVEL FAIRY STORY.

  5. Corinne

    10 YO daughter and I were JUST having this conversation this morning. “Wait, so it’s DARKER in the morning? No, lighter? Wait what?” And I was seriously thinking, “I don’t know! I have to dig through Swistle’s blog to find that cheat sheet.”
    Et voila!
    Thanks :)

  6. Melissa

    I have a lap band, so I have to do a barium swallow every so often and it is really no big deal. It’s normally only about a dixie cup size and the stuff is similar to Mylanta. It’s thick and chalky, but doesn’t really taste too bad.

  7. Leeann

    I wonder if you have reflux. Your description of your symptoms makes me think it could be that.

    1. Swistle Post author

      Yes! That is her guess, too. She didn’t go into a lot of detail (she’s a “let’s see what the results ARE, instead of talking now about what the results COULD BE”-type of doc), but one of her concerns is that maybe I let it go on a long time (even longer than the last few months) without realizing it, and that there could be scarring/damage. She started discussing this and then said, “You know what, let’s see what the test shows and then we’ll talk more.”

  8. heidi

    My oldest had a barium swallow when he was almost 2. Luckily they made it first thing in the morning and suggested not feeding him. (He is a BIG breakfast eater.) We put the stuff in his sippy cup and he drank it all and then asked for more. So… well, I don’t know if that’s helpful, but I imagine it can’t be all that bad. (He was diagnosed with reflux.) The more traumatic part for a small toddler is lying on the table and having an x-ray machine come down toward you. Also trying to keep them still long enough to get the x-ray. I’m guessing both these things won’t be a problem for you.

  9. el-e-e

    At least it’s on a Monday which is sucky already (at least for me), so it doesn’t ruin a weekend day. I look forward to your report!

  10. jill

    Well, sending you good thoughts and prayers that it is a gentle test and you get helpful results.

  11. Gigi

    I know nothing about this test – so I’m sending good thoughts your way for both the test and the results.

    And I loved your response to Suzanne!

  12. Kate

    I’m a speech and swallowing therapist and I regularly do the type of barium swallow test that is used to diagnose swallowing problems — what is usually called a modified barium swallow. You sit in front of an x-ray machine and eat/drink foods/liquids that we either smear barium on (consistency of toothpaste) or mix liquid barium into (pudding, applesauce, etc). It takes about five-ten minutes total and doesn’t taste great, but isn’t terrible.

    There’s another type of barium swallow (without the “modified”) that is usually used to diagnose GI issues or people with lap bands regularly get, but I know a lot less about what goes on with that.

    Hope this was helpful! I have to say it is VERY RARE for my knowledge of, uh, arcane swallowing facts and tests to come up on a Friday evening, but I guess there’s a first time for everything!

  13. Claire

    I am especially sensitive to swallowing anything remotely liquid medicine-like; I threw up liquid medicine often as a child, and I’ve never gotten past that association. I was swallowing barium for intestinal imaging, which I think requires more liquid. My portion was not the size of a dixie cup, but more like one of those large hospital lidded cups. I found the barium swallow about as unpleasant as getting a dental crown: pretty unpleasant but not agony. Like others have said, I wasn’t able to finish the drink, but I had swallowed enough to get the x-rays. I found it helpful to think very hard about happy/relaxing things while drinking it. It didn’t distract from the taste, but it decreased the “I am nauseous and I am going to barf” anxiety between sips.

  14. Katie

    I had a very similar set of symptoms and also did a barium swallow that helped diagnose reflux. It’s interesting because, outside of pregnancy, I have never once had heartburn. But I do sometimes have trouble swallowing. I would agree with earlier commenters who likened the barium to Mylanta (super chalky, but not super gross), who said that you don’t have to drink every last ounce they give you, and assigned a Fret Level of Yellow.

    Thank you for linking us to the oh-so-helpful daylight saving time printouts. You probably don’t realize what a service you’ve done for all of us in making them!!!!

  15. Emily

    I’m a radiographer in the UK who performs barium swallows pretty regularly. The way we do it is you’re given something which is essentially bicarbonate of soda and then essentially lemon juice which creates gas in your stomach. You’ll then be given a cup of barium sulfate (ours tastes kinda like cream soda) which is the size of a small take away coffee cup and you’ll be asked to take a normal sized sip of the barium and swallow it on command as we follow where it goes using the X-rays. You’ll be asked to do this in 7 or 8 different positions both standing up and lying down.
    We make sure that our patients are nil by mouth from midnight the night before (so no breakfast, no coffee, only sips of water).
    But after the exam you can eat and drink as normal, just up your fluid intake a bit to help flush the barium through your system

  16. vanessa

    i flat out refused to do the barium thing because it sounds so gross so i am hoping they will do a scope instead. but yeah it sounds like reflux.

  17. L

    It sounds like silent reflux to me, too. I have done extensive reading lately on lifestyle changes my reflux-related condition of gastritis. There is a lot that can be done in addition to medication to promote healing so if it is reflux I encourage you to look into lifestyle changes. I found the book Dropping Acid to be a great resource.

  18. Anne

    “I recommend changing the clocks late afternoon on Saturday, so that the lost hour comes from the kids’ pre-bedtime time, rather than their post-bedtime time.” I WISH I had taken (or had) this advice when the kids were younger. One of the highlights of your sheet. Thank you!

  19. Alice

    Oh my, I had been solely on the fret-side of One Day Having A Daughter Who Will Go To Dances and May Like Boys, but this does indeed sound rather delightful now.

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