Oh my. You are only on Day 6 of recovery! Yikes...any eating at this point can be dicey. Just think...the top of your stomach was stretched and wrapped around your esophagus and stitched to stay there just 6 days ago!
Asparagus is very stringy, no matter how mushy it is, and will be difficult to swallow. Do you take tiny, tiny bites? That's really the key. You can't take a normal spoonful at this point in your recovery. Tiny bites of food that can be chewed to a liquid.
At this point, things can be getting hung up at the wrap site. Your swallowing isn't as organized as it will be once the healing has more time. The swelling makes it that much more difficult.
What you're experiencing is normal. Yes, it can be frustrating and scary, but it's normal, and as you heal it will get better.
I don't know if this will be helpful or not, but I'll post a few of my own recovery posts from 2 years ago. Disregard the lung issues, as they're obviously specific to me, but maybe you'll get an idea of my recovery from the other topics. I wish I'd written more, as I've forgotten a lot of the recovery over time.
Check it out and see what you think.
Keep venting here...that's what we're here for. Still, try to be realistic...your outsides will heal much more quickly than your insides. You are in for weeks of recovery. Right now you are getting the worst of it. Things will improve.
Surrender...let it happen!
I'm here to listen and support.
1. Lung Issues
As I've shared, I have asthma issues, so my lungs are more problematic than in other cases. Do other (non asthmatic) recovering patients experience mucous in their lungs as well?
I made the mistake of trying the Unisom Melts, and they worked great in getting me to drift off to sleep again, but I ended up paying for a few extra hours of sleep with dried out mucous in my lungs, and a wheeze that won't quit. So--to anyone reading this who has asthma, I would recommend against the Unisom. (They're just Benadryl--which is an antihistimine/drying agent, that makes you sleepy) Lucky non-asthmatics, it works great for snoozing, and is definitely non habit forming.
I've been coughing way too much today, which hurts and worries me a bit. I'm also tapering off prednosone, so that could be part of the problem as well. I've emailed my doctor for advice. I'm sure this too will pass. Just one of those little bumps in the road.
My surgeon told me that I wouldn't be able to burp, but burps are slipping out here and there. I'm not purposely burping, but every so often a burp is allowed--which is actually very nice, since it allows the bloating to dissipate.
The surgeon (another in the practice) who discharged me, said that I MAY be able to burp. I guess he was right!
Do I need to worry that because I can burp it will mean that reflux will also be allowed to pass out of the stomach? The resident said that the flap can allow a bit of air to escape without letting stomach contents out.
What has been the experience of others who've been through this? Are burps okay?
3. Wrap swelling over the first two weeks.
I noticed today that "lump" feeling--the feeling that I'm swallowing a big gulp of air--when I swallow food. I figure it's the beginning of the swelling, and expect that it will probably become progressively more challenging to get things swallowed, until the swelling begins to subside. So far, though, swallowing has been fairly easy. Better than I had hoped. Very "do-able", and much less scary than I expected.
Is it common to have this experience? Do the wraps always swell?
I'm determined to go with the flow of the recovery process. I wish my lungs weren't giving me fits, but oh well...that's why I'm here to begin with. The surgery isn't a magic wand! It's so important to maintain a positive attitude, and be patient, patient, patient!
Anyway...in case it helps anyone, I'm sharing my experience. If anyone has anything to add, or can help me through some of these issues, I'd appreciate it! Best wishes to all!Day 5:
Another day, another adventure.
I went to the doc today regarding my lung issues. I'm back on an antibiotic for a suspected lung infection--I was being treated for one before surgery, and I guess it didn't totally resolve. I never really got a full course of antibiotics. I'm also continuing on 20mg prednosone twice a day to protect my lungs as well.
Because of those meds, my doctor put me back on Protonix for a while, to protect my stomach, which is very sensitive.
I knew this was coming, but it's not too much fun. I've got that lump in my throat that doesn't want to cooperate in getting food to my stomach. No complaints, though. I knew this was coming before I made the decision to go forward. I was a lucky one. After the surgery, and before the swelling, I had no difficulty at all, swallowing liquids or soft foods. Now it's definitely a challenge.
It will probably get worse before it gets better. I am determined to go with the flow. This too will pass.
When I eat, I feel like I'm getting (non-painful) throat spasms, as things move at the unmovable wrap.
When I drink or eat, and start having spasms, etc., my mouth begins making huge amounts of thick, "mucousy" saliva. I can't even stand to swallow it. It only happens during eating or drinking, and subsides shortly afterward. Has anyone experienced that?
I haven't used pain meds in 3 days (even Tylenol)...I've been icing. The only incision that hurt is in the left rib area. OUCH. Ice takes care of it. Actually, lately it hasn't even hurt enough to ice. Coughing does flare it up.
I've been walking for 10-15 minute intervals on my treadmill...all day long. A nurse told me to walk whenever I get up to go to the bathroom, so I try to follow that advice. I had a blood clot after my last surgery, so it's important to keep my legs moving...it's also good for my lungs. I also think it has help my shoulder/neck referred pain/loose gas pain.
FEELING REMARKABLY GOOD
I'm amazed at how quickly you can bounce back from laprascopic surgery. Nobody should fear the surgical pain aspect of this surgery. Day 6:
Just a quick update:
1. VISIT TO SURGEON
All was well with incisions. He assured me that I don't have to worry about
healing on prednosone. I'll heal. He's not worried that the tissue/sutures won't hold through coughing. He put extra sutures in the hernia repair (it was a small hernia). He's confident that all is fine with the repairs.
BURPS--he thinks I'm fortunate that burps are escaping, and that it's very normal, and a bonus for me. Burping does not mean reflux.
From my perspective, burps have been a lifesaver. When my stomach starts feeling bloated (after drinking or eating), the pressure shifts around, until a little bit of air escapes. This may repeat several times. I don't "belch"...the burps just happen on their own.
SWELLING OF WRAP--My surgeon reinforced the fact that the wrap will continue to swell over the next two weeks. He said I could eat anything I can manage--things that can be chewed thoroughly. He said that if the wrap makes it hard to get food through, (being sure to take small bites), just sip water/tea until it goes down. It will get through.
Surrender to the recovery process...it makes it lots easier.
I'll be going back for a follow up with him in a month.
I do have some fluid in my lungs. Hopefully the antibiotic I'm taking will take care of any residual infection from my pre-surgery lung issue.
Patience is a virtue!
I did have a bout of loose stool/diarrhea...I have a tendency to react to GI issues (even my endoscopy) with that problem. Also, being on the antibiotic...
3. OUT TO DINNER
Before coming home, we stopped at Friendly's for supper. I ordered a cup of decaf tea and a bowl of clam chowder. I just worked around the clams and enjoyed the broth, potatoes, and vegetables. Of course I didn't eat a whole bowl. I get stuffed before I eat much. I was also able to eat saltines...they chew up to total mush. YUM. It was a treat to have crackers and soup ! I brought the rest of my soup home to enjoy later.
All in All...
I'm keeping active...walk daily on my treadmill--10-15 minutes at a time...no incline...1.9mph. SLOW. It feels great, though.
Things going as well as to be expected...I was prepared for pretty much anything.
Heal well! Days 9-13
First of all...to anyone who is agonizing over this surgery, stop. It is nothing to be afraid of, provided that you do your homework, take the required tests, and find an experienced surgeon.
I was very frightened, and struggled against the decision for four years. Granted, at 13 days, the jury is still out as to it's effectiveness in my case, but I can speak to the surgical experience.
I was ready to be tortured in recovery. I expected my stomach to shut down, and that I may not be able to swallow anything but liquids, and that I would have unbearable bloating and gas. I didn't know what to expect, and prepared myself for a horrific experience.
This fear was totally unwarranted. Once the anesthesia wore off, I had no trouble swallowing liquids. I went home after just one night in the hospital, on a soft diet. Within 6 days post surgery the surgeon told me I could eat anything that could be chewed thoroughly--warning me against sandwiches/bread/steak.
I have had a few moments of swallowing spasms during the 9-13 days post op, but very few. Actually Days 4-5 seem to have been my most difficult hurdle, swallowing-wise.
Throughout this time, I was having difficulty with my lungs, and coughing did hurt the incision at my left rib area. Over time, that incision has healed, and although I still have some coughing (better, but still mucous to raise), my rib area is much more comfortable. I don't even need to ice any more, and can just hold my arm there when I cough. Much improved on that front.
I'm now walking on my treadmill--no incline--2.5mph. I truly believe that my emphasis on walking and getting up and around right after surgery has made a huge difference with the shoulder/neck pain gas issue. It has resolved quite quickly, and is only occasionally felt--and then, very mildly. I would recommend getting right up and walking as much as possible throughout the recovery process.
I'm feeling much better--stronger--more comfortable, and I have lots more energy at this point.
I'm noticing that my stomach is beginning to accept more food without feeling so bloated and uncomfortable. I'm not getting as much gas, either. My surgeon said I wouldn't be able to burp, but my stomach does burp. I've never been one to force burps, and I don't now. My stomach burps itself whenever necessary, which really reduces the gas issues.
I took two weeks off from work (I'm a second grade teacher) after surgery. I've got enough sick time available that it wasn't a problem. I'm going to start back to work next week--mornings only--to give myself a chance to regain my strength before going full force. My family doctor, who is following my lung recovery, is very conservative in that way, and wants me to take it easy so as not to relapse.
My lungs are still far from perfect, but they're already better than they were pre-surgery. Also, everyone who sees me comments on the fact that my voice sounds so much better--I was very, very hoarse before the surgery.
I'll check in again as my recovery continues. Hopefully those who are seeking the information they need to make an informed decision will find these posts helpful.
Happy Healing!19 Days:
Once again, I'd like to begin by reassuring those people who are searching these forums for information as they try to decide whether or not to go forward with a Nissen Fundoplication surgery. I know how hard it is to find positive comments on the web. I found so many negative blogs and forums that I waited way too long to make the decision to go forward with the surgery.
This surgery isn't as difficult to recover from as I had expected. I've posted earlier reports, so I won't repeat that here.
1. For those who want to avoid or alleviate shoulder pain (due to gas forced into body during surgery)--walk,walk, walk. Mine improved greatly with walking. In fact, when I went a couple days without walking as much, the pain came back. Once I went back to walking a lot, it went away again. The more you walk, the less pain you'll have.
2. Rib/incision pain subsided by the end of the second week--I didn't even need to ice. I think it would have healed more quickly if I hadn't been coughing so much. (I had a lung infection that started before surgery.)
3. By day 15 or 16, my stomach began accepting more food. (Not a lot, mind you...but still more than before.) Be careful not to overdo it, though. You'll be sorry if you stuff your stomach. Several small meals are better than one larger one.
4. Bready foods--even when chewed well--still seem to challenge the wrap.
5. I was able to eat stew cooked in the crock pot (for hours). Even the meat was able to be chewed to liquid form. If you can handle soft foods, you can (carefully) experiment with the slow cooker.
6. Creamy Chicken Gnocchi soup at Olive Garden is a great choice. Actually small bites/careful chewing--
opens up a lot of options. Just don't swallow anything that you can't chew to a liquid/mush.
7. My doctor put me on Carafate to counteract stomach problems/acid/wrap irritation. It coats my stomach really well. I take it 4 times a day--1 hour before/2-3 hours after meals. I put the pill in a little medicine cup and add a bit of water to make a slurry that I can drink easily. It did work well to counteract the wrap irritation that was waking me up in the early morning (3AM and on).
8. Expect some irritation feelings around the wrap site. Expect some resistance at the wrap site. It's normal. Things get better, though. Just don't get too frisky with your eating. Your appetite gets better before your stomach can handle a lot. I found that when I became too frisky/eating too much, eating things that might be a bit too chewy, I paid dearly, with more wrap irritation, and stomach problems.
When that happened I backed off and started measuring my meals--a half to 2/3 of a cup is about
all I can tolerate comfortably.
9. I've lost about
14 pounds, which I'm glad about
. I can lose a little more without a problem. If I start losing more than I want to, I'll just pick my nutrition intake with some snacks in between meals.
10. I still have a persistent lung infection, and am now on injected antibiotics to get rid of it. I can't take antibiotics orally (except amoxicillin) without getting gastritis, which I don't need now. So I'll be going to the doc daily for some (ouchy) shots. I just want to get my lungs cleared. My asthma is the best it's been in years. So far so good there. My lung problem is the reason I finally had the surgery, and so far so good...once I get over the infection. I'm off prednosone as of tomorrow, so that's a happy development.
Hopefully this little journal helps someone who's looking for information and trying to imagine what the recovery will be like. It has been so much better that I had ever dreamed.
This is a great forum. There are many supportive and experienced members who will help you through.
Best of luck to anyone considering/or is scheduled for surgery.
Post Edited (dencha) : 5/15/2011 7:50:21 PM (GMT-6)