New to all this, worried, and hopeful about surgery

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pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/7/2014 2:40 PM (GMT -6)   
I have so much to learn. I just left my doctors office, after he told me that I have an almost totally obstructed esophagus, and that I need to have a dilation done in three days, and surgery scheduled right thereafter. He told me over a year ago that I had a hiatal hernia, but it didn't seem to bother me then. Now is a totally different story. I have heartburn all the time. I wake up with it, I go to sleep with it. I can get heartburn from drinking water. And just recently I cant swallow food. There is a constant knot in my chest. And it hurts. Its even hard to breath sometimes. This has all hit me like a brick. I know that some people deal with the issues of hiatal hernias and GERD for years. And try everything they can to help the symptoms, and i just walk in and get this thrown at me.. Anyway. Doctor gave me some literature about the hernia fix, and the wrap of the stomach around the esophagus. He said I'd be in the hospital for a day or two, down for a week, then back to work, and all will be well. I have browsed through this forum a bit (I am still at work, grateful for an understanding boss). And some things are reassuring, others just plain scary. I am hopeful that the surgery will fix it, and I can eat without pain again. But I am scared that it will make things worse. I am still learning all the terms. All I know about the surgery is that he will do laparoscopic. What am I really getting into?

TonyG
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 254
   Posted 1/7/2014 4:35 PM (GMT -6)   
Pumukl,

First, I'm so sorry to hear of your swallowing issues. I had those too, along with incredible reflux for many many years and finally had the nissen procedure done in April. As slow as the recovery was, I'm glad I had the surgery. My quality of life is better than ever and I'm eating anything and everything now as if I never had reflux/swallowing issues.

Second, I'm not going to sugar-coat any of this because I don't believe it's helpful. That said, even laparoscopic, this is major abdominal surgery. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. As someone that has had the surgery done, I will respectfully disagree with your surgeon (as I'm sure others will) that you will be comfortable enough and ready to go back to work after one week. In my opinion, that's downright silly. Due to a couple complications, my surgery was almost 5 hours long and I was in the hospital for a full three days following the surgery. Once I was home, I continued with the liquid pain meds I was discharged with. I don't think I was off of the liquid vicodin for at least 4-5 days once I was home. I was out of work for almost 6 weeks and happy to have all of that time to recover. Even with that, I found my energy to be completely zapped for the first few days before the lunch hour.

The key to a smooth recovery is to plan ahead. Read many of the posts on this forum and get as many of your questions answered as you can. As your surgery approaches, it would be wise to have meals planned and to have a caregiver (family or friend that can stay with you) go over everything with you so that they can help you while you're recovering. You'll find some food easier than others...we are all different. You HAVE to eat and you HAVE to keep hydrated. Not doing either will make your recovery much more complicated than it needs to be. Even if you aren't hungry or thirsty, you NEED to eat and drink. Yes, you will have pain, but it's manageable with medications and plenty of rest. Bottom line, follow your doctors orders, get lots of rest, and don't rush your recovery. Just because your surgeon says you'll be ready to go back to work in a week doesn't mean you will. 99% sure he/she hasn't had the procedure done and doesn't know what the recovery is like outside of what he/she has read the recovery "should" be like. You'll have both good days and bad days, for sure.

Hopefully as others respond you'll get more "good experience" responses versus "bad experience" responses. Mine was one of the "good experiences" and I know that not all of us that have had the procedure have been in the same boat. Everyone will have their own reasons as to why. Nine months later, all I have to show for my surgery is 8 scars on my belly. I hope that your recovery is just as smooth and uneventful as mine was/has been.

Please ask as many questions as you want!

Be well,
-TonyG-
-TonyG-
Nissen Fundoplication April 30, 2013
Pain-Free, Reflux-Free, Sleeping on my back!

ldrunner
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2013
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 1/7/2014 5:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi, I'm 4.5 weeks post op and I also (not very respectfully) disagree with your surgeon.

I was told pretty much the same; 1 night in hospital, recovering within a few days, possibly back to work the next week, lifting weights at the gym within 2 weeks.

In my case that is absolute rubbish, and everyone I speak to seems to go through the same as me. Some surgeons appear to tell their patients that "keyhole" surgery is a walk in the park when it's not. As above, it is major abdominal surgery. I was as weak as a kitten for 10 days, woozy, I could barely eat or drink to recover, and it took two weeks before I felt myself again - and this is mentally, not physically. My first day at work three weeks later was a nightmare as I was forced to move at someone else's pace and not sit down whenever I wanted.

I'm pretty angry to be honest. I'm glad I had the surgery and I'm grateful to the surgeon for doing it, but I've had to cancel events, meetings, lost a client and neglected my kids all because the hospital and the surgeon didn't warn me about the after effects of the surgery and allow me to prepare.

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/7/2014 5:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you so much for your reply! It was good to hear a non-sugar coated answer. Planning is not that big of a deal for me. my children are grown and in college, I don't have to worry about them or care for them physically. My husband will help as much as possible, and is pretty supportive. He had lapband surgery, so he knows some of the things I will be going trough. I just had a hysterectomy, and recovered much faster than anticipated. Right now I am starving, have not been able to swallow anything for almost three days. Tiny sips go down, and I am hoping that I can at least eat after the balloon down my throat procedure, maybe it will help that.
I am a paralegal, and sit at my desk most of the day, I think that did influence my surgeon to suggest a week. Good thing that my boss is very understanding, and just wants me to get better. Either way, if I need more time, I will be able to take it, and I thank you for suggesting it. That way I can prepare my office much better.
The burning is awful, as I am sure yours was, too. Feeling like my insides are on fire all the time. How soon after surgery will that stop? Am I really going to live on liquid and mush for weeks? And I have read some about weight loss after. I am assuming that this correlates with the liquid diet and not eating much? Were you able to get around and moving good after you got home?
Sorry if some of those questions are silly, I am still learning a lot.....

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/7/2014 5:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Wow, now that I posted the reply, I saw your post, Idrunner, and I am glad I did. I better schedule a bit more time off, and prepare my office better. I am glad my husband is self employed, and can be at home whenever needed, that at least I can rest there. Even the brochure that my doctor gave me talked the same time line. My surgeon said that he would contact me next week to schedule the surgery, that he needed this test 3 days from now to determine what he is going to do. Well, that leaves me enough time to plan. And plan a lot....

TonyG
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 254
   Posted 1/7/2014 5:37 PM (GMT -6)   
When I say planning, I mean ensuring you and your husband know what to expect, how to deal with any setbacks that might arise, and what to shop for in preparation for your limited diet once you're home. My surgeon had me on a full liquid diet from the moment I left the hospital up until I saw him for my follow-up appointment two weeks after the surgery. Loose oatmeal, pureed cream soups, yogurt, pudding, broth, Ensure/Boost, applesauce, and the like. The closer I got to the follow-up appointment I added loose scrambled eggs into my diet as well as toast (chewed very well and very buttery!) and didn't have any problems getting those down.

Funny thing about that burning. It may in fact persist for a bit after your surgery and this is why. Your esophagus is a foolish organ. Its only way of communicating discomfort or pain is to make it feel like the burning and pain of reflux/GERD. I can assure you that your wrap isn't failing and that it is working as it should. This is just how it is going to be until the swelling goes down (which will take a good 3-6 weeks post-op, honestly). The more active you can be, the faster you will heal and the faster the swelling will subside. I started with short walks everyday to the corner and back. The easier that got, I added 5 minutes to the length of the walk until I had made it around the block. Some days I was too tired to walk, so I puttered around the garden with the watering can for a little bit just to get fresh air and not sit all day.

After the dilation you should be able to eat a little more. The scar tissue from all the reflux has created a stricture in your esophagus that has closed it up. The dilation will open that up and you'll feel relief almost immediately (absent of a little soreness). In the meantime, since you take small sips, perhaps try an Ensure or Boost? Those have a bit of protein and nutrition in them and will help you feel full.

I have a desk job as well yet was happy to have the time away to rest. I can honestly not imagine being back at work after a week. I barely had enough energy to take a proper shower each day and get up out of a chair to use the bathroom.

All the best!
-TonyG-
-TonyG-
Nissen Fundoplication April 30, 2013
Pain-Free, Reflux-Free, Sleeping on my back!

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/7/2014 5:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you again. I just had a conversation with one of our clients, and warned him that I would not be able to help him in court, due to my surgery. He had the guts to call me a whimp, and that I should be up and around in no time. I dont think I will be speaking with him much from now on....
Thank you for the tip, I will stop on my way home to get some boos or ensure. I think at this point I would eat dirt off the ground, if it would go down....

ldrunner
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2013
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 1/7/2014 6:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey, all the best. You won't regret the surgery. Now between meals I feel GREAT! I'm just suffering for a short time after meals.

Sorry to sound down about it but I just wish I had been given good information. The last time I checked I was a responsible adult who could make my own decisions. There was a price to be paid for the bad information and I certainly paid it!

CaryF
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 505
   Posted 1/7/2014 6:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Pumukl,

Just to offer you some hope, I am an NF success story.

I too had choking, swallowing & major breathing problems, I got reflux from water. I am 6 weeks post op. My surgery was performed outpatient, I was in hospital only 2 hours. I went back to work in 1 week and feel I am now almost totally recovered. My post op appt. was fine, I had no complications. I have been discharged back to GP for any more follow ups. My life is all the better for this surgery.

I still must watch my diet and remember to eat slowly and chew always. I am a very happy patient. My breathing, choking, swallowing and other reflux related problems are cured. This surgery did wonders for me.
My life is dramatically changed for the better. There is hope.

Its good to plan so you can be prepared if need be, but there are success stories out here.

Cary

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/8/2014 9:39 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you all so much for your answers. So many things the doctor said do not match up with how I am, and what I read. Anyway. I know I need to do something. And surgery seems to be the right thing. I am glad to see that you did have a success story, Cary, I am hoping to follow your example.

Diaas2
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 1/8/2014 11:15 AM (GMT -6)   
I also second that only one week off of work is absurd. Two at the bare minimum. I chose to take three. The surgery has been wonderful for me. If you decide to do the surgery, I highly suggest reading through some of our journals, which can be very helpful in showing good ways to prepare.

Here is my journal:

http://www.healingwell.com/community/default.aspx?f=45&m=2888732

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 1/8/2014 12:44 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with the wise members who have replied to you.  I am going to post a couple of journals from 2 of our moderators for you to read through.
 
Denise's Nissen Fundoplication Surgery:
My Forum Journal

 
 
Bill's "My journey through nissens and esophageal tear" 
 
 
Check out our resources at the top of the page and you will find other info to clarify some of your concerns.
 
Going back to work in a week after major surgery is not a good thing to recommend to anyone.
 
You may want to get a second opinion.
 
Kindly,
Kitt

~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety, Osteoarthritis,
GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.



"She Stood in the Storm & When the Wind Did Not Blow Her Away, She Adjusted Her Sails."

FlaCracker
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 235
   Posted 1/9/2014 4:33 PM (GMT -6)   
pumukl,

You mentioned you had a hysterectomy. Did the doctors check to see if your gallbladder was okay?

Michelle

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/10/2014 7:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Yes. They checked. And all was well there. today I'm going in for dilation. Hopefully I can eat afterwards. ...

Gondore
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 119
   Posted 1/10/2014 8:51 AM (GMT -6)   
CaryF, what kind of breathing issues did you have prior to your surgery?

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/14/2014 12:30 PM (GMT -6)   
Dilation worked, at least I can eat now. On to the next hurdle, some sort of study of the esophagus, then schedule Nissen surgery.

FlaCracker
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 235
   Posted 1/14/2014 2:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Pumukl,

Glad the dilation worked. It sounds like we had the same experience. Coincidentally, after my hysterectomy I got severe gastritis and was in severe pain. Recovery from the hysterectomy was easy. But 2 1/2 months later, the stomach pain started.

Did you have the Da Vinci procedure for the hysterectomy?

Michelle

pumukl
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 1/14/2014 3:36 PM (GMT -6)   
No. I had so many cysts and soblarge growths that my doctor had to open me all the way up for the hysterectomy

CaryF
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 505
   Posted 1/14/2014 5:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Gondore,

You asked about my breathing problems.

My breathing problems included shortness of breath, inability to take a deep breath, pain when trying to do so, shallow breathing & loss of diaphragm control. This was apparently caused by aspirating acid. I am a trained singer so loss of mid-section control plus a chronic sore throat & respiratory & sinus infections caused me much anxiety & discomfort.

Dr. said my voice & control would all return with time & he was right. 6 weeks post NF surgery I can almost forget about struggling with vocal control for the past couple years. For me this surgery was practically a miracle.

Hope this helps.

Cary

Gondore
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 119
   Posted 1/15/2014 12:15 PM (GMT -6)   
Cary:

Would you mind emailing me. I would like to speak with you more about what symptoms you had and what testing you had done prior to surgery. Thank you so much for your time.


Please add your email to your profile so only registered members cab see it.

7. Do not post offline personal contact information (ie. your home address, phone numbers etc.) and do not ask for personal information from others. This is to protect your security and identity.

Thanks,
Bill

Post Edited By Moderator (opnwhl4) : 1/15/2014 9:55:48 PM (GMT-7)

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