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Chriscas
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/14/2012 2:20 PM (GMT -6)   
First off, thanks to Healing Well for providing this resource. I’ve been reading some of the postings here and have gotten some comfort from them. My Nissen surgery was on July 11th and the surgeon said it was a success. Thanks to these forums I see that recovery takes longer than I expected! I had an excellent surgeon, but he’s a little laid back about recovery, just saying I can be back on a regular diet after I graduate from a soft food diet, which takes about 4-6 weeks from surgery.

Still, I've had moderate to severe pain at times during the day, in the area where I normally get heartburn, about 4-5 days per week for the past few weeks. (I’m assuming that’s where the wrap is.) I can feel it especially when I wakeup in the morning. The only painkiller that works, sometimes, is Percoset. (I've also tried Tylenol, Tums, Motrin, and Pepto Bismol and none of them work very well.)

I've been eating a fairly smooth diet of oatmeal, farina, mashed potatoes, vanilla pudding, jello, peanut butter, vanilla instant breakfast, and cream soup for the most part. (I was drinking tea as well but I've cut that out along with all other caffeine as a precaution. I think the caffeine might have been aggravating my wrap, I don’t know.) I'm still having some difficulty swallowing, although that's getting better. (I was able to eat some chicken last Sunday, although very slowly.)

When I saw my surgeon for a post-op visit on July 26th he said this pain wasn’t acid rebound, but just a natural condition post-surgery and that it would fade away over time.

I've been off PPI's (Nexium 40 mg/day) and Zantac (300mg/day) since the surgery and don't wish to go back on them if I can avoid it (although I've been wondering if Sulcrafate might help, I don't know. It seemed to help with my frequent reflux problems before surgery. Or maybe there's something else I should take besides Percoset to lessen the pain when it comes? I don’t want to get dependent on that drug.)

I just want to make sure that this is all just a natural part of healing and that I might just be having a slow recovery and might have to grin and bear it for a few more weeks; or is there a problem here? I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have. I'll be seeing my surgeon again a week from Friday.

Thanks for your time,

Chris

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7181
   Posted 8/15/2012 7:45 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Chris,
Welcome to the Healing Well yeah yeah yeah Wrapped Club! yeah yeah yeah Glad you've joined us, and happy that our posts have been helpful.
 
First...you're just a little over a month post-op, which is still very early in the healing process.  You may have read us reminding each other that it takes a full 6 months for most of the healing, and a year for the rest. I even found improvements into the second year!
 
I was told by my surgeon and others that the esophagus is a "dumb" organ, and it interprets all pain as reflux.  That's why you're worried that what you're feeling is reflux.  If that area was the most painful for you pre-surgery, it's likely that it's quite inflamed still, and will take time to fully heal.  It didn't take us a month to injure our upper GI tracts with reflux, and it'll take longer than a month to get things healed and feeling better.
 
In addition to the inflamed tissue that was there prior to your surgery, remember that your upper GI tract has been assaulted with surgical tools, and it has a right to be angry with you!  You have been stretched and wrapped and stitched--not to mention the endoscopy tube, probably bougie to space the wrap, anesthesia, and on and on. 
 
Sulcrafate might be a big help.  I have a very reactive stomach and take the liquid form, Carafate suspension when my wrap gets irritated (remember...your wrap is made out of your stomach!).  It coats it and definitely makes it feel better.  While it's not quite as efficient, if you take a sulcrafate tablet and put it into a small medicine cup or shot glass, then add a little water and stir, you can make a liquid formulation that can do some coating of the area.  Once it's mixed as well as possible, throw it back (to bypass your mouth as much as possible) and swallow it down.  The idea is to coat the area and help protect it.  Once it is coated, try not to drink much water for 10 minutes or so until it's attached to the tissue.  Just a thought.  I do think it may help.
 
Keep up with the careful chewing to a smooth consistency.  That way your food isn't adding to the onslaught of irritation.
 
Unfortunately, your surgeon is not alone in underplaying the difficulty and length of this recovery.  I hear about it all the time.  I've wondered if they fear that their patients will back out if they let them in on the truth, or that they just don't know!  They don't follow their patients all that long, and probably go by the eating protocols they were taught during their training and reading.
 
Again, glad you've joined us!  This is a great place for people who've had Nissens!
Hang in there.  It WILL get better, but it just takes time and patience. If you can surrender to the path your recovery takes and follow its lead your recovery wil be much easier.  Everybody is different, and our bodies react in different ways.  In the end, you'll do fine.
Very best wishes,
Denise
Words of wisdom by Eckhart Tolle:
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”

“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

Chriscas
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/18/2012 2:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Dear Dencha,

Sorry for not replying sooner, but I want to thank you for your response. It cheered me up quite a bit! I had a couple of good days, but today (Saturday) has been a lot more painful in the heartburn area. I hope this settles down before too long. I'm trying to eat carefully, but I still have problems in the heartburn area. I don't think it could be reflux. I'm just hoping the wrap is still sensitive and I just have to allow for a bit more time until I can eat and live normally. Thanks again!

Chris

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7181
   Posted 8/19/2012 6:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Chris,
You're very welcome.  Hang in there...it gets better!
Stick around, ask questions, and request support. 
We're here for you!
Denise

Dave234
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 338
   Posted 8/20/2012 7:00 AM (GMT -6)   
It'll get better, Chris. You'll see. Just hang in there. It takes more patience than you might imagine you could possibly muster, but it will get much better.
 
As an FYI, I know they say you should eat peanut butter, which I did for a long time, but a few months after the surgery I found that it (and INSTANT OATMEAL) were causing me significant irritation (probably reflux, which is not out of the realm of possibility as if you didn't have ANY reflux your food would never be able to pass into your stomach).
 
Who would have thought it -- instant oatmeal causing reflux?  I was eating that every single morning because I thought it was good for me.  Also some medications can cause some significant reflux.  Ice cream -- I was eating a LOT of ice cream.  I found out that that was causing me significant irritation.
 
You'll learn to avoid the triggers, and if you are anything like me, you will not mind because you will feel so much better.
 
But I can eat tomatos now without any problems.  I'm still trying to determine what I can and can't eat, but I can tell you that the constant feeling of lung-suffocating reflux that I once felt (no matter what I ate, or especially if I didn't eat) are gone.  I'm a couple days past 9 months out from surgery.

Post Edited (Dave234) : 8/20/2012 7:08:03 AM (GMT-6)


Chriscas
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/20/2012 2:53 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Dave and Denise! I appreciate the replies. I've had some bad "heartburn" pain off and on all weekend and today as well. I think today's problem is that last night I had some chicken and other food that went down OK but gave me much nausea and burping, gas, etc. a couple of hours later. I probably irritated the wrap, I'm guessing. Also, Dave, I think I have the same problem with peanut butter you did. and the funny thing about all this is that my condition feels like it did before the Nissen on July 11th. I can eat "trigger' foods one day (such as tea and peanut butter and tomato or apple sauce) and not feel anything bad then, but I pay for it sometime in the next couple of days! And Tylenol is no help, nor are other pain relievers except the occasional Percoset. Go figure. At any rate, I'm glad for this forum. I know there will be more light at the end of this tunnel, I just don't know when. I don't want to go back on PPI's at any rate. In the meantime I'll guess eat very carefully, trying to avoid any of the traditional GERD trigger foods and hope for the best. I'm seeing my surgeon for a follow-up on Friday. He was top notch and has done lots of these procedures but I don't expect he'll be of much help. According to his plan He gave me when I was discharged, I should be able to eat steak by now. That's not happening any time before Christmas I get the feeling! Thanks again for your replies!

Chris
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