I am very thankful for this forum and have been truly encouraged reading everyone's experiences deciding to have the Fundoplication Surgery. Denise's Journal was especially comforting as I just recently had the surgery (Monday, March 5th) and would like to share my story. I have noticed many similarities amongst the group but would like to know if there are others out there who have had a few of the symptoms/problems that I have had with my GERD and now as I begin my road to recovery from the surgery.
Firstly, I would like to provide a little background about
myself. I am 43 years old and the mother of two 'tween' children. My symptoms of GERD/Acid Reflux began about
5 years ago. It was not that bad at first and just taking a prolisec or any other over the counter medication seemed to help control the symptoms which began very gradually.
After 2 years, my symptoms became worse and I was put on Nexium. If I missed one day of this pill, my night was HELL. Also, sleeping with pilllows propped up or in a recliner became my bedtime routine. This went on for another 1 and 1/2 years and began to disrupt my sleep severely. Little did I know at the time, but I would constantly have a perpetual 'cough' or 'cold' that I did not associate with the GERD at the time and my voice changed and was filled with so much mucus. I just thought that I always had a cold and could not shake it. I had no idea at the time that GERD had these types of side effects. I did not have 'insurance' at the time and visits to the doctor for routine check ups were infrequent.
I was constantly clearing my throat from the pleghm build up, my voice seemed to change as well and I was always tired or out of breath. Also during this last year and a half, I began to slowly put on weight and my diet had not changed at all. Over the course of this past year, I gained 45 lbs and the GERD became unbearable.
I was then told by my Dad that he was just diagnosed with Barrott's Esophogus (He is in his early 70's) and he felt it would be a good idea for me to have an Endoscopy done to 'rule this out'. I had just recently began working for a great company that had great medical benefits. I scheduled the Endoscopy one year ago in March of 2011.
When I awoke, I was completely surprised and blown away by what the doctor had to tell me. Firstly, he said that while I did not have Barrott's Esophogus, I did have a GRADE D rating which is the worst rating you can get when performing an Endoscopy. He said that we needed to discuss the medication I was on and if my Esophogus & GERD did not improve, I would most likely need the Fundoplication Surgery. In addition, he informed me that I also had a Hiatal Hernia which was also adding to the GERD pain I was experiencing.
We immediately changed the Nexium to twice per day. This did not do anything and after 2 months of taking this medication, they changed the medication to Dexilant; which was a new drug that truly only required one pill per day. After 2 months of taking this med, they increased it to two times per day and said that if my symptoms did not improve, Surgery was around the corner. Well, at this point; I was having so much pain at night, no matter what I ate or didn't eat, the REFLUX and BURPING would be an all night affair that I was literally running to have this surgery.
Even with all the 'bad experiences' that I did end up reading on the internet, for me...it was better than what I was experiencing. To have this excessive weight gain (5 ft 8 in tall and never weighed over 145 lbs to now be at 190 lbs) as well as to find out that my mucus build up was also associated with the GERD and that I had a HIATAL HERNIA for God knows how long? I wanted to know what did I need to do to get this moving.
Well, I was referred to a top notch specialist in Charleston, SC and then also needed to have an UPPER GI SERIES as well as the Mamometry done (which was the worst test I have ever experienced in my life). They wanted me to do the PH Monitor Test and I refused after I went through the Mamometry. I mean, can't they knock you out and surgically implant something in your esophogus to take these measurements? Apparently, they can because I saw a show on The Doctors about
a week after I took this HORRIFIC TEST and wondered why doctor's were still pushing these INVASIVE tests (Mamometry & 24 hour PH TEST) on patients who have already been suffering from GERD pain to know be AWAKE and have a SNAKE SHOVED UP THEIR NOSE DOWN THEIR THROAT? Worst PAIN EVER.
In any event, they were able to review all my Tests and I met with the surgeon last month who told me I was a perfect candidate for this surgery. She also proceeded to tell me that the
opening I had which allowed the hernia to slip up was quite large and she would be able to repair this as well. So, in my mind we are fixing all the problems - GERD/HIATAL HERNIA/ESOPHOGUS GRADE D will NOW have time to HEAL and be downgraded in the future.
I have to say after 4 days POST OP, I am extremely happy with this surgery. Here is what I have been experiencing that I have not noticed from anyone else on the forums. I do NOT have any stomach pain. Yes, my stomach is bloated but it doesn't look that much different than prior to surgery and because I have 50+ lbs that I want to loose, I am hoping that my stomach will 'go down' slowly. Yes, I have the Upper Left Shoulder Pain from the CO2 that was injected in my belly and I have been taking the advice of others on the forum and walking to try and have this pain subside. It is still painful and I was given liquid Oxicotin to take and I have only been taking this twice per day. It doesn't really help me much except 'sweat' and I could really use something that will KNOCK ME OUT and help me SLEEP.
I will be seeing my surgeon in two weeks and I will need to follow up with her on prescribing a good sleep aid because I have been extremely RESTLESS as a result of the surgery. I have been able to 'burp' here and there but nothing which causes any pain or alarm. The BIGGEST PAIN I have had since DAY 1 is CHEST PAIN in the middle of my diaphram and the INABILITY to take a FULL BREATH or YAWN. I can't speak too long because I feel the wind has been KNOCKED out of me.
When I mentioned about
this CHEST PAIN the next day in my hospital room, the surgeon did inform me that my surgery was a little more extensive then they had thought. Apparently, not only was my Hernia slipped up into my chest but part of my STOMACH was there too. So, they needed to put all these organs back into their original place and CLOSE UP this MASSIVE HOLE that I apparently HAD (genetics?? HOW??) and then wrap the FUNDUS around the ESOPHOGUS which is why my pain is centralized in my upper Chest cavity.
I have been following the Liquid Diet and having Yogurt and will be following the POST NISSEN DIET to a T. I feel full most of the time and agree with many who said that they don't need to eat as much because they feel full sooner. This is a blessings, for sure and I pray that all the excessive weight gain (which I would like to know if others experienced this too because from what I have read, most people LOST weight with GERD but I had the OPPOSITE effect as I couldn't loose weight when I tried??!!)
Thankfully, I was approved for a six week post surgery short term disability and will take one day at a time. I do not want to have ANY complications and I do feel very tired in the middle of the day. As someone else said on the forum, just because the surgery is done laproscopicly does NOT mean this surgery is a WALK IN THE PARK. There is alot going on in there and it needs to take its time to heal. Given the added issues I have had, I do NOT want to have a REPAIR OR TEAR happen because of this LARGE
openING that they needed to SEW UP because my
opening was larger than the average gal.
I would GREATLY appreciate any advice the wise sages of this forum has to offer as I truly believe KNOWLEDGE is POWER and it is better to be prepared and know what to EXPECT BEFORE something happens. This forum has been a blessing and I have added it to my daily TO DO List. Blessings to each and everyone and if you are contemplating this surgery, please find an experienced Surgeon and one that comes recommended by someone you know is even better and get it down. So far, after 4 days I have NOT had any REFLUX and that is worth its weight in GOLD in my book!!