First time surgery for Hiatal Hernia big problems. (long read)

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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 4/20/2014 12:05 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all! I had been diagnosed with the hiatal hernia after seeing the GI doc for an attack that brought the ambulance out when it felt like my throat was being ripped out. Not knowing the nature of the incident it was a prudent call to rule out a heart attack. The following endoscopy revealed this hernia plus chronic esophagitis and gastritis. I was not recommended a surgery but instead more acid reduction meds and eating lifestyle changes. The surgery only came about after seeing a surgeon about another hernia and he offered to fix that at the same time. I timidly agreed.
I unfortunately, for me, began to research this surgery not being well informed on what type of procedure I was having.
Now what happened next may or may not be something readers may have had happen to them. I did not find out it was going to be simple stitching with a Nissen wrap until I thoroughly scared myself with all kinds of different operations and complications detailed on the good ol' interweb. That included watching YouTube videos of frightening things only meant for doctors to see. Eventually I called the surgeon a and he explained the procedure. I went forward with a huge amount of anxiety and agitation. On the 16th of April I showed up after having b prepared myself as well as possible with a complete and somewhat lengthy medication list and order for my Bipap machine to be used post operation. The hospital and doctors where well informed and and instructed on everything particular to my other health conditions. This was the very best I could do to alleviate my mental condition. I am bipolar 2 and given the right situation I can work myself up pretty good even with medication.
As it turned out my worst fears in about some things came to pass anyway. Following a messy and difficult procedure for the Surgeon my Bipap was not used because the post op Nurse thought oxygen was sufficient even though an order was made regarding my chronic Apnea. My medication list was ignored and they went standard operating procedure with typical pain medication even though another type and amount was required.

nono I woke up hardly able to breathe crying out from incredible pain from the incisions and bruising. They managed to get me stabilized and moved to a room. Then over the next 24 hours my other medical conditions created complications with the worst being increased blood pressure to 240/180 and more incredible pain because my med list was ignored thanks to the Surgeons NPO order or nothing by mouth. I had assumed they would use alternate IV medication or whatever. The damage was being done on several fronts I won't even get into. After several calls to my GP doctors and one to the surgeon where he said, "I will only deal with the pain issue" a hodge podge of medicines where applied to remedy the problems with little effect. By noon the next day I was a mess and thankfully my wife the RN showed up and started getting providers informed and working together. It only took a few hours to stabilize me and stop the impending train wreck. After a few good days of treatment I was released today feeling pretty good and with what seems to be a great Nissen wrap with little discomfort. Wow!
Here is what I learned.
1.) Don't search the internet for weeks before a surgery trying to be overly informed and scaring the heck out of yourself with what can go wrong. In my case that hypermanic state increased my pain levels when things went south after surgery and I panicked.
2.) If you have health issues that may cause problems with your Post operative healing make sure you have those doctors write orders to provide treatments compatible with post surgical conditions. Like having all your medications in IV or other non oral forms. And leave no room for Nurses to second guess things like mandatory COPD treatment.
3.) And finally, realize that medical professionals may not listen to, agree with, or take seriously your input about 1.) And 2.) So bring an advocate with both the credentials and authority to make sure your orders for medical treatments alongside the surgery are followed through with.

At this point I'm probably going to assume all the bad things that can happen to so many here are not going to happen to me because the great truth is that people with good medical treatment experiences do not publish them on the internet.
If something does start to happen that feels bad I may read and post questions here, but I'm going to see my doctor first.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 1118
   Posted 4/20/2014 2:08 AM (GMT -6)   
Glad you are feeling a bit better!

I totally agree with a lot of what you said. The internet can be a good source of into, but def not the best idea to go searching especially if you don't know things like which surgery you will be having, or if you are the type of person who gets too caught up in what you read, thinking that every tiny detail about possible negative reactions is going to happen to you. I know when I use the internet for health info, it's only to expand on what my doc tells me, I only look at certain fact-only informational sites, and use it as a sort of guide, knowing that anything concerning that I read, I can always talk to my doc about and get the real scoop on what to expect, risks, etc. I guess just don't overthink about what you read. You can even ask your doc to recommend sites/places to get reliable and accurate additional info. Of course, I also use the internet to find things like HealingWell, where after reading a bunch of the posts, I got the sense that it was "safe" and that the majority of the people on here are very supportive, help each other out, and the advice offered should generally be checked out w/ your doc. Wow, I didn't mean for that to get so long!!

Also, I agree that it's very important to have someone there, if at all possible, who knows you and your medical stuff very well, and can advocate for you when you aren't able to do it for yourself. I know for me, my mom has been at my bedside a lot when I've been hospitalized, making sure I'm getting correct meds, etc. One time when she wasn't there, a med student (or something like that, i don't know his title) screwed up and gave me one of my usual meds, but 10 times the dose I was supposed to get (put the decimal point in the wrong place). Luckily all it did was make me really really out of it, and when my mom got back to the hospital she questioned why I was acting so weird. They told her it was the pain meds. She told them "i don't think so" and asked to see what they had given me. She immediately found the error, and that med student was promptly removed from my case (and hopefully from all cases!)(I guess when my doc visited me that day, I wasn't at all concerned with my health, I just kept asking weird questions like "if I see you at the grocery store, will you say hi?" Doc was concerned about my mental state and had just begun looking into things when mom got back. She still teases me, 8 years later, about what I will do if I see my doc at the grocery store!! I was lucky though, had that happened with another med, it could have killed me. Always have a very clear med list typed up and include things like who prescribed each med, why it is used, and prescriber's contact info. And yes, work out med issues w/ your doc as much as possible ahead of time.

Once again, I have rambled on about things. Been doing that more and more lately. I blame it on the pain meds for my oral surgery!!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2114
   Posted 4/20/2014 8:46 AM (GMT -6)   
I did no research prior and kind of thought that maybe I should have. Medical professionals I know advise against this sort of thing, but part of me thinks it's to cover their own asses.

I've had literally hundreds of questions for four different doctors since my Nissen (GP, 2 GI, surgeon). GI Doctor #1 says the only thing he would have done differently would be to mentally prepare me for this. I'm not sure if they can list, "This patient suffers from hypochondria. Be prepared for many questions." In my defense, my post-op literature was poor at best, hence the hundreds of questions.

8 to 9 months out, I'm still having trouble and I don't really know where to turn. Everyone must be tired of me by now.

I admire you for being so prepared for going in, especially with what you require. It bugs me that they ignored it. I remember asking if I was a candidate for the DaVinci robot, and the surgeon said I wasn't. I get to pre-op prep, and I be informed the DaVinci will be used. My mom asked me if I wanted to get up and leave. I should have.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 1178
   Posted 4/20/2014 12:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Glad you are doing well afterwards and it turned out well in the end. Maybe you should sue the hospital for pain and suffering caused by negligence?
GERD, Anxiety, Depression, Rolling Hiatus Hernia, Esophageal Hypersensitivity

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 4/22/2014 5:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Andy, The hospital was not responsible for my medication and made a number of late night calls to the GP and Surgeon to remedy the problem. Those doctors are responsible for my issues and had they read and understood the meds I was on and my other medical issues my close call with fatal blood pressure and pain would of been a non-issue. So it goes that my advocate went to work on the pain and suffering without damage that is not a lawsuit type injury. I will ofcourse chide those doctors for not having made important changes for an NPO analog of the important meds that I needed. It came on day 2 that the doctors just said " crush the pills" when it was my life in jeopardy not side effects of the Nissen surgery. For future encounters I will issue that my meds will be in a NPO safe analog list and assurance my regular doctor will be on the schedule instead of uninformed on call staffers. I lived and learned!
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