Posted 3/20/2011 3:23 PM (GMT -7)
I definitely think age is a big factor. I had mine at 57. I felt my recovery was much easier than I had expected. I had planned to go back to work half days at 2 weeks, but due to a lung condition that started prior to my surgery, I was out 6 weeks--mainly to avoid illness. I'm a second grade teacher, and a classroom is a petri dish for germs.
I guess it depends on what you call "back to normal". Normal what? I was back to work, eating regular food (albeit well chewed--no raw veggies, etc yet) at 6 weeks. Would I say I was completely healed? Absolutely not. I was still eating smaller amounts and being careful with my chewing and swallowing. I was choosing my food carefully--things that could be chewed to a liquid.
Unlike many here, my surgeon started me on solid foods at Day 5. That made all the difference for me. I guess he trusted that his patients could make good eating choices. His rule was no bread, no sandwiches, no steak. I asked him when his patients were eating those foods, he estimated about 8 weeks. He also said that only a couple patients had eaten incorrectly and gotten something stuck that needed to be pulled out via an endoscopy. I wasn't one of them. Absolutely no problems with that protocol, and a very happy recovery to boot.
So...how long? I can't tell you exactly. I was eating at restaurants all along...careful selection...crepe manicotti, soup, etc. My first vacation was a milestone. That was at four months.
It's an individual thing. Someone who was posting here when I first started before my surgery had biked 20 miles during the early weeks of recovery. It is really something that depends on the individual.
Good luck with your surgery!