Welcome to Healing Well! You'll soon be a new member of our Wrapped Club! I found this forum just before my surgery in February 2009, so I'm 3 and a half years post-op. Here is a link to my early recovery journal. It will give you an idea of one person's recovery experience. I had my surgery because of reflux effects on my lungs, so I coughed more than a little:
Multifundo is so right about shoulder pain being the worst. Before my surgery I couldn't understand how shoulder pain could be caused by a stomach surgery! Some is caused by gas that is pumped into the body to make it easier for the surgeon to see, but I've heard that most is from stitches in the diaphram area.
This pain will subside as healing progresses. I was told in the hospital to get up and walk whenever I got up to go to the bathroom, which I did. I was doing laps around the hospital floor in the middle of the night! I continued walking around the house as much as possible, and as it was winter, as soon as I could, (fairly early) I started on my treadmill--very slowly at first. The more I walked, the less shoulder pain I had. There was a definite correlation.
You won't need the pain medication they give you for long. Try your hardest to get a liquid formulation. Unfortunately many of us found this harder than you would think. While surgeons send their patients home on a liquid or soft diet, the seem to think swallowing a big pill isn't a problem. If you get a pill form, either open the capsule and mix it with some applesauce or yogut, or crush the pill and mix it. Be sure to have some liquid Tylenol, because you can switch to that very soon. Save the narcotic pain meds for nighttime, when you'll notice pain more.
I found continuing to sleep on a wedge or elevated bed was more comfortable during my healing time.
As Multifundo said, while you'll only have 5 little slits on the outside, you will be having MAJOR surgery, and need to understand that your insides have experienced much more trauma. Your upper GI tract will experience a very big revision, which will take a long time to heal. Your body will have a lot of healing to do, and it will have to adjust to the revisions.
It takes 6 months for the majority of healing, and a full year for the rest. It takes patience. If you can surrender to your recovery and follow it where it leads you, you'll find it much easier to deal with. You can't rush it. You can't worry or stress it away. It is as it is. You will experience gradual improvement as you move toward the 6 month mark.
At my 4 month mark, I was on vacation, and eating pretty much anything I wanted, although I took small bites, and chewed my food extremely carefully. Even now, I need to eat more slowly and chew my food more completely. The wrap that will be created to keep acid in your stomach, works both ways. It also creates more resistance as food moves into your stomach than your wide open LES.
Stick around the forum and ask any questions that come to mind. There is a lot of information and support here. I stuck around to pay forward the wonderful support I received when I was in need. I don't think there's another forum on the internet that is as helpful as this one.
Good luck with your surgery! We'll be waiting to hear how it went, and welcome you to the "Wrapped Club"!
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.”