I have received so much help and information on HealingWell I thought
that now, tomorrow being 4 weeks after NF I should post my Recovery Journal.
This was not my first surgery, I have snapped both Achilles tendons and
had to have them repaired, had a lymph node that went bad removed, and a toe
cut off and re-attached, but this is definitely the most intense.
A month before the surgery I first heard of this procedure after an
endoscopy showed substantial damage to my esophagus due to GERD.
My doctor had requested an endoscopy done since I had been on PPI’s–
Prilosec for years and they were not working. I was still taking antacids as
well as baking soda (Yuck but it works really well) to deal with the heartburn.
It was to the point where if I bent over I could feel the acid moving up my
throat (along with lunch and anything including water that I drank.
The surgeon met with me after the results were in and we talked for an
hour about what he saw, options, and recommendations. The surgeon said I was a
great candidate for surgery and strongly recommended a Nissen fundoplication.
After reading about NF’s on the internet I was convinced that the
surgery was a bad idea. I had already changed to a bland stomach friendly diet
a month before the endoscopy but the reflux and nausea issues hadn’t decreased.
This is major surgery. Surgery that would change me for the rest of my life,
for the better or worse!
I stewed over this for a couple weeks before deciding to talk to a
doctor who I trusted. He reviewed the Endoscopy and asked me a bunch of
questions. Then he told me that the surgeon that I had was one of the best and
he had witnessed several of his surgeries. He let me talk myself into it, but
once I came to the decision he told me that if it were him he wouldn’t
Before the surgery:
I had to go to the pre-op where I talked to several of the people that
were going to assist with the surgery. I was weighed in at 245lbs, which at
6’1” is a little more than I would like but not obese. I have severe sleep apnea so I talked with the
respiratory therapist there about setting up my machine. They strongly
encourage use of their machines (probably get $$$ for that), but I have my
machine set up just how I like it, and they finely agreed to let me bring my
own. I had a quick EKG and was given some soap to wash myself with the night
before and the morning of surgery. (I had to be at the hospital at 6:15am)
That night before surgery I didn’t sleep well. I was scared. I kept
thinking WHAT AM I DOING! I kept rethinking my decision. What would I do if I
could never eat again? What would I do if…. I had read so many horror stories
on the internet and even mainstream places were calling it a surgery of last
resort and definitely not recommending it until everything else fails. Was I at
that point? Could I do something different to avoid this? Then the big
question; If I don’t do this surgery, how long do I have until these sores in
my esophagus get to the point where I will need more than the NF to treat them.
Surgery morning, Thursday Feb 13:
5am woke, showered, put on
sweats, tee shirt, and slip on shoes. Packed my CPAP machine and mask. I
decided on a simple nasal pillow mask that would be easy for them to put on.
At 6am we left for the hospital.
6:30 I was put in a room and given some stuff to prevent asthma. All
the people involved in the surgery came in and talked for a few minutes. By 8am
I had a drip going into my arm and the realization of what was going to happen was
8:00 I was wheeled into the surgery room. This is a big room with large
lights and a huge table of tools etc. (I was thinking of the inquisition). I
was moved to the surgical table and then they strapped me down. (Good thing, I
was about to run!) The anesthesia doctor came in and told me that I would feel
like I just had three stiff drinks. I was starting to get dizzy, then he
started adding a bunch of whatever and said count to 2. I wanted to say
something like STOP! but then I woke up in a recovery room with my CPAP machine
on and I was drifting in and out of sleep.
11:30 I was moved to the hospital room and given some wonderful crushed ice for
my dry mouth! Then I got a glass of water
and a shot of morphine. I drifted in and out of sleep for a couple hours then
had to pee. What happened! Who put the hot peppers up there!
I kept drinking under the assumption that I would dilute things and
help the pain. I don’t know if that helped, but by 10pm the pain was greatly
diminished and by the next morning there was no pain going pee. Overall, that
was the worst pain of the whole operation.
Another issue: My left shoulder hurt! Why? I asked and was told it was
the C02 gas they filled me with during surgery. I was also told that the
diaphragm nerves go with the same bundle of nerves from the left shoulder so
the diaphragm pain is felt as shoulder pain. This pain was worse than the pain
in my stomach area.
I was given this plastic breathing thing that records how much air you
breath in. I had to breath in deeply 10
times every hour using this thing until it hit a mark. I was told it was to
open up parts of my lungs that had collapsed during surgery. This was
uncomfortable since I was expanding my diaphragm, but not bad.
Lunch: I was given tomato soup, black tea, water with a straw, and
tapioca pudding. (Wait, I was told I could only have a liquid diet!) I asked
the nurse and was told that I was given a “FULL liquid diet” which means I
could have all on my plate. I passed on it, asked for some herb tea. (I found
out later that the straw should not be there either since it introduces air
into the stomach, but it worked ok for me).
Dinner: I was given cream of chicken soup and more pudding. I was
hungry and it went down fine.
Drugs: I was given Morphine every two hours that evening, but went to
just hydro-codeine by the next morning. I didn’t hurt that bad, but I also
didn’t want to start hurting. I was given several doses of nausea
The nurse told me to walk as much as possible. Said it would help.
Day 1, Feb 14: had drifted in and out of sleep all night and continued
this through the morning.
My shoulder still hurts. The pain going pee has pretty much stopped. My
stomach hurts a little. I have 5 band aids over the 5 incisions. The center incision is a little bigger and
has some gauze on it. The pain in my stomach area was surprisingly less than I
expected. I was sore, but more like after being punched in the stomach.
They gave me cream of wheat for breakfast.
Surgeon stopped by that morning. I was told everything went well.
I asked why I can burp? Did it fail? I was told I was not really
burping it was just air caught in my esophagus. I still believe I can burp, not
voluntarily, but occasionally I think some air sneaks out.
The dietician stopped by and I asked her about what I can and can’t
eat. I was told “full liquid” which evidently includes Cream of wheat and cream
of chicken or cream of mushroom soup. I am still unsure of what else is
considered liquid. It may have been the drugs but I have no idea what is ok and
what is not. I am making assumptions that if it is small and slippery it is ok.
Went home before 2pm, took a shower, removed the band-aids and watched
TV for awhile before going to bed early. Had some beef broth not very hungry.
Day 2, Saturday: Had to walk
around some. Felt good to stand. My shoulder still hurts, especially when I hiccup.
It seems that I hiccup once or twice after eating and it is a little painful I
feel the pain mostly in my shoulder. Some pain in the stomach area today,
especially on the left side and in the very center. Still taking pain meds, but
not as often.
Feeling a little bloated. Constipated.
Ate: Mashed sweet potato, beef broth, cream of wheat. I was told to
take extra vitamin B12. I have sublingual tablets.
Day 3, Sunday: Stopped pain meds. I was Sore but not bad. Very
constipated Stool softeners have not kicked in yet. Note: don’t take fiber
laxatives, they add to the problem for a number of reasons.
Found Prune Juice! Tastes bad, but wow does it work. By afternoon I had
gone from bloated and constipated to completely cleaned out.
Walked about 15 minutes casually on the treadmill.
Day 4, Monday: Some runs. Not bad though. Still nagging pain in
shoulder. Gets bad when I hiccup. Also
found if I eat a little too much the shoulder is a little canary letting me
know I did wrong.
Amazing how little amounts of food fill me up. I use to eat a full
plate of food and be able to go back for seconds. Now two scoops of something
and I am staring at it wondering if I should eat it all.
It has been 4 days with no zero heartburn! Although my mid section is
still sore, it is actually less sore than when I was having bad reflux.
Walked about 15 minutes casually on the treadmill.
Day 5, Tuesday: Got out of the house today. Went to the store and
walked around a bit. I had to get out. Pain is much less today Even the nagging
shoulder has eased up. It still hurt a few times when I breathed deeply and
when I coughed. (That hurt!)
Stitches: The tape over the stitches fell off in the shower today. Tiny
slits. Even the large one in the center is small. It looks like they drew a
line ½ way between my belly button and ribs and cut 3, ½” cuts along that line.
2 on one side and one on the other. Then they drew a line from my belly button
straight up. Where the two lines crossed is the vertical 1” cut and right below
my ribs is another ½” horizontal cut. (Actually they look smaller than that). I
can’t see the actual stitches. No train tracks like with my leg surgeries.
Also, these stitches will absorb so I won’t have to pick them out. (I hate that
part of stitches)
I have been trying to walk as much as possible. Even in the hospital I
didn’t spend more than an hour at a time without walking around. Weight: 235
Day 6, Wednesday: Don’t sleep on your side! It is much better for my
OSA if I am on my side, so last night I tried it for the first time since the
surgery. Big mistake! Woke up at 5am very sore. My stomach hurt, my side hurt,
my shoulder hurt. Feel a little tired today.
I had a bad time with some yams that got stuck. This is the first time
I have really had something stuck. That was a terrible feeling. I started to
hiccup and took a drink of water, but that didn’t go down either. Now I had a
throat full of yam mush and water. I thought it was all going to come back up
so I got up and walked towards the sink, but by the time I got there I guess it
mixed itself up enough with the water to go down. I use to have this feeling
when I ate, things would get stalled in my throat due to the damaged area, so I
always drank something while eating and a drink after each couple bites allowed
things to slide down easily.
In the evening I tried some mashed potato in very small bites with tea
and that seemed to do ok. It feels like
there is a lump in my throat.
Walked 20 minutes casually on the treadmill. My walking does not cause
any pain and actually feels good. It also gives me something to do.
Oh, I still can burp. Not normal burps, but some air just slips out
periodically. I can’t control it.
My lungs are not as sore today. Forgot that above, but my lungs hurt a
little on deep breaths. Inhale, involuntary pause, inhale, exhale. Normal
breaths were fine. Weight 240
Day 7, Thursday: Found I could sleep for a little while on my right
side, just not my left. Most of the night was on my back though.
Shoulder still hurts. Ate top Ramon soup with an egg in it. That went
down well. Might become a favorite.
Still constipated. Becoming an issue. Stool softener and prune juice
did nothing, but I am not feeling bloated and full of gas like yesterday. Maybe
I’m not eating enough to go.
Had a big desire to eat something all day. Of course the desire was for
anything that I can’t have; Cheese, bread, crunchy cereal….
I only ate 2 meals today and obviously that was not enough.
Oh, tons of gas. I forgot to mention that, but with the CPAP it seems
to fill me up with air overnight and it all comes out in the morning. Weight: 236
Day 8, Friday: Felt very little pain in the morning.
Protein drink for breakfast and noodle soup with egg for lunch and
dinner. I am beginning to really like that meal. Easy to go down, salty, and
Still constipated, went once, but very little. Lot of gas.
Noticed there are some numb areas on my belly. Up by my ribs.
Need to come up with a list of questions to ask the doc when I have my
appointment next week.
Day 9, Saturday: Last night I was able to sleep on both sides without
Gas issues all day.
Shoulder only hurt once with a bout of hiccups this morning.
Protein drink for breakfast, Mushroom soup for lunch, Top Ramon with
egg for dinner.
Did have a couple hairball moments with the soup today. (It feels like
what I would assume a cat goes through when they have a hairball they need to
cough up, so they are “Hairball moments”
Day 10, Sunday:
Stomach feeling well. Walked 1.5 miles on the treadmill. Weight 238
Day 11, Monday:
Went back to work today. This afternoon I went to see the surgeon.
Everything is healing fine. Said the “burps” are air stuck in the esophagus and
not real burps from the stomach. I think he is correct.
I asked if he looked around while in there and if everything looked ok.
He said yes, he looks around and yes everything looked ok. I had about a 1cm
hiatal hernia that he took care of.
Ate Protein drink breakfast and lunch Top Ramon with egg for dinner. Weight 239
Day 12, Tuesday:
Vitamins got stuck this morning. Got very worried, but it did finally go
down with a drink of water. I am careful to take one at a time and I have been
chewing the big ones a couple times (Yuck).
Ate chicken and pasta today. Wonderful to have real food. Ate it for
Lunch and Dinner because I could only eat ½ portion that the restaurant served.
Even with only ½ I was very full and stomach hurt a little for awhile. Found I
need to take several minutes per bite.
Need to cut portions to about 1 cup or less. More than that hurts.
Walked 1.5 miles on the treadmill. Weight 239
Day 13, Wednesday:
Walked 1.5 miles on the treadmill.
Got the runs after walking, which were a relief tonight. It seems like
I have the runs or are constipated. Only a couple times have things been
normal. Weight 237
Day 14, Thursday
Ate Mexican enchilada Beans and rice. All went down fine. Chewed up
well. Brought ½ of it home.
Ate the other ½ for dinner. Heard rice and beans were no-no’s but had
no problem with either.
Still getting hiccups though. Come randomly. Walked 1.5 miles
Day 15, Friday
Ate a thin sliced ham sandwich for lunch. Took a long time but eating
it over an hour worked one bite, chew, drink, another bite. Did have a couple
hairball incidents eating it but water washed it down easily. I think I was able to eat it all because I
took so long doing it.
Might have to wait a couple more days for bread.
Walked 2.5 miles on the treadmill this evening.
Day 16, Saturday
Woke up with a really bad sore throat. Think I caught something. It got
better through the day.
Lots of gas issues all day. I have been feeling like things are
adjusting in there. Weird feeling.
Day 17, Sunday,
Definitely constipated again,
Noticed today that I had not been having shoulder pain It has been at
least a couple days without it. Can’t really remember the last day of shoulder
Still constipated. Drank more prune juice but nothing but gas is coming
out. Weight 238
Day 18, Monday.
Walked 2.5 miles on the treadmill.
The skin on my stomach is still numb in places but there is no pain at
all. Even the large cut has healed up with only a tiny scar.
The other cuts are strange. They are like little bumps. Can’t actually
see a scar, but I can see the bump. I have been putting vitamin E oil on them since day 3. I think that is
probably responsible for the scars virtually disappearing. (Used that on my
wife when she was pregnant all 3 times and she doesn’t have a single stretch
Day 19 -25
Stomach feeling ok. Some stomach pains at various times especially when
I eat a little too much, but nothing like hart burn was.
Seems like I can eat whatever I want as long as I pay attention and eat
it slowly and in limited amounts.
I am use to eating smaller bites and chewing everything well. I monitor
meals by figuring out what would fit in a cup and I know that is a full meal
So that brings us up to today.
It has been 4 weeks and I can definitely say I wish I had this surgery years ago. It would have saved years of pain and discomfort. What a wonderful difference. I eat something and go for the Tums and realize I don’t need them! Zero hart burn! I couldn’t have imagined my life without hart burn. I feel better than I have in years.
Thank you everyone on this site for the great information and help through this whole process!