Almost a year after Nissen Fundoplication....

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TonyG
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 254
   Posted 4/21/2014 3:12 PM (GMT -6)   
....and I feel amazing!

April 30th will be one-year since I was wheeled into the OR and had my stomach wrapped around my esophagus in what is commonly known as the Nissen Fundoplication.

Prior to having surgery, I had been on PPI's for over 15 years. At the time of surgery, I was on Protonix 4x's a day and getting little to no relief. I was sleeping sitting up. I would get horrible bouts of reflux from brushing my teeth. Anything I ate or drank would cause me to reflux and would give me incredible heartburn. My pre-surgery endoscopy showed I had 4cm of Barretts dysplasia from the GE junction up the esophagus that wrapped around the entire esophagus.

In surgery, there was a marked amount of inflammation and extracellular ooze around my esophagus (my surgeons words!) that made it difficult to see and work. As such, I had one torn gastric vessel that required two extra ports to repair, and accidental intrusion into my right lung space causing it to collapse. When I woke up, I had a total of 7 surgical ports stitched closed and a chest tube for the collapsed lung.

I spent three days in the hospital, not including the day of the surgery. I LOVE DILAUDID! The magic PCA button they gave me allowed me to self-medicate every 10 minutes. With the exception of one bout of horrible diaphragm spasms as I was walking around the ward, I was in absolutely no pain.

Once home, all the preparation I had done in advance worked wonderfully. I had meal plans worked out and I was never dehydrated or hungry. I forced myself to eat and drink and made sure to keep active. I only used the liquid vicodin for a couple days once I was home. After that I wasn't in any pain at all and was able to take strolls around my house and eventually down the block and back. Six weeks later I was back at work. 3 months later my diet was back to it's pre-operative state (including a beer here and there), albeit in smaller quantities.

I just had my one-year follow up endoscopy and am happy to report that the chronic esophagitis and gastritis has healed. My wrap is fully intact and most importantly, all the Barretts cells have disappeared (confirmed via biopsy). The only annoying residual effect I have from the surgery is that I still can't get out a good, satisfying burp. I have small bubbles escape here and there, but certainly nothing I would consider a burp. Bloating is minimal and if I overeat I definitely experience the "30-minute meal syndrome". In-and-out in 30 minutes. No fun, but it's a lifestyle change at this point and something that one needs to be wary of post-surgery. That said, I'll take any and all of it in exchange for the pain and discomfort I had before surgery.

The recovery process was difficult and long. The key, for me anyway, was to plan ahead and organize myself and my family to be able to assist me in the best possible way so that I wouldn't run into any complications during a time when I wouldn't be able to do much about them. Ask LOTS of questions before-hand and grill your surgeon about their success rate.

In the end, your recovery will only be as successful as you make it. Take it easy and don't rush things. As you heal, let your body drive what you are comfortable doing. ESPECIALLY with your diet. Above all, managing your diet and hydration is the most important piece of the healing process. You HAVE to eat and you HAVE to drink. You'll be more miserable if your body doesn't have the appropriate nourishment to keep healing. Activity is important, too. Get up and go for a walk. Even if it's down the hallway and back three or four times. Do something to stay active. Being sedentary will lengthen your healing time. Give in to the healing process and relax!

Okay, that's about enough of that! Bottom line, I would have this surgery over and over again if it meant I didn't have the horrible pain from GERD/reflux. I haven't taken a single pill since the day before my surgery and I feel amazing. I hope that if you go down the fundoplication path that you have a similar experience.

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

1039smooth
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2040
   Posted 4/21/2014 5:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for sharing. I don't think I'm doing as well. I did have some hydration issues for a while and didn't eat for a few months post-surgery. I could also exercise more.

As of right now, I'm slated for a barium swallow to see how we're doing. Around the nine month mark, did you feel great or still kind of blah?

All that aside, I'm glad to hear you're such a success story. :)

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7181
   Posted 4/21/2014 6:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi TonyG,

Thanks for sharing your story! turn I'm glad to hear you're doing well. You had a rougher than usual start, and it all turned out well in the end!

I still had occasional "30 minute meal syndrome" (dumping) at one year post op, and thought it would be a quirk I'd live with forever. Even with that quirk, it was well worth having the surgery. However, sometime midway through my second year, I noticed it wasn't happening any more. You never know...you might find the same thing happens to you.

This recovery is definitely long term. 1039smooth Have faith. 9 months seems like a long time, but it definitely takes a LONG time for your body to adjust to the changes made in this surgery. You are likely to improve throughout the next few months. Hang in there!

Best wishes,
Denise

GERD/Heartburn Moderator
Nissen Fundoplication 2/09
Allergy/Asthma

"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.”
Eckhart Tolle

1039smooth
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2040
   Posted 4/21/2014 8:30 PM (GMT -6)   
I feel a little bad for taking away from all of Tony's glory, but thanks, Denise. Even Bill is a little worried for me at the moment. I was doing great, but it just didn't last. Heartburn, possible issues with stool... sigh.

I'm trying not to fear the worst, but I can't help it. Barium swallow is tentatively tomorrow.

TonyG
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 254
   Posted 4/22/2014 10:58 AM (GMT -6)   
1039smooth...it WILL get better at some point. At 9 months I was doing pretty well with the exception of lots of bloating and dumping syndrome. For me, I think I felt so good that I was pushing my diet TOO far at once and caused myself more headaches than good. Once I toned it back, things got better and I progressed to my current state much faster than I had anticipated. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. I know you're at a rough patch right now, but try to stay positive and look for answers everywhere. Do your research and grill your doctors until you get an answer. The worst thing to do would to become complacent and just let them run your recovery. Take control and go find your solution.

dencha...thanks so much! Much of the issue is me stopping to remember that I've had anatomy-altering surgery and that I can't just dive in to a meal like I used to. Someday I'll learn my lesson! ;)
-TonyG-
Nissen Fundoplication April 30, 2013
Pain-Free, Reflux-Free, Sleeping on my back!

1039smooth
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2040
   Posted 4/22/2014 12:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Tony, i did the same with my diet. I feel full but haven't eaten much today. Heartburn is back. Barium swallow is tomorrow. Fairly miserable at the moment. Positivity is tough.

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7181
   Posted 4/22/2014 8:33 PM (GMT -6)   
1039smooth,

Good luck with your barium swallow tomorrow! Let us know how it goes.

Hang in there!
Denise
GERD/Heartburn Moderator
Nissen Fundoplication 2/09
Allergy/Asthma

"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.”
Eckhart Tolle

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7181
   Posted 4/22/2014 8:33 PM (GMT -6)   
1039smooth,

Good luck with your barium swallow tomorrow! Let us know how it goes.

Hang in there!
Denise
GERD/Heartburn Moderator
Nissen Fundoplication 2/09
Allergy/Asthma

"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.”
Eckhart Tolle

DontStealMyBacon
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts : 186
   Posted 4/22/2014 10:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the post Tony. It is inspiring to see how much of a difference a few months can make in the recovery. I am just 4 months post op and I know I have a lot more waiting to do, but the waiting process can be painful when I don't see much changing from month to month. I have had zero heartburn but my throat still radiates the same amount of pain because of the amount of scar tissue I have. Nothing I can but wait I guess, and keep living my life while I wait.
Right Temporal Lobectomy 4/5/12
Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication 12/17/13

Diagnosed with GERD, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and Epilepsy.
Studying biomedical engineering to research a better fix to at least one of them.

Wendy Workout
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 173
   Posted 4/22/2014 11:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Tony. Your update was greatly appreciated. I am 7.5 weeks post op. I had a difficult 5 hr surgery and have had a bit of a problematic recovery. Things seem stabilized now but with a lot if limitations including not being able to eat. Dabbling in a few bites here and there. Overall I would still do this all over again. The benefits far out weigh my pre surgical state and risks of esophageal cancer. Some days I wonder, how will I go another month or another 6 months like this, but I get through every day now just fine. Some days involve more pain than others. It's just figuring out my new way of life. The main thing I miss is working out, not having the energy to do all I want (although I keep trying) and feeling winded going up stairs or dizzy standing from a squat or bend. BUT I have no reflux. My life was controlled by reux and it's horrible consequences. Now it's just my new way of life with a few bumps in it. Your story is inspiring.

1039smooth
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2040
   Posted 4/23/2014 4:33 AM (GMT -6)   
Denise,

Thanks. I'm headed there in a few minutes. I can't help but fear the worst. I'm told I'll hear from the doctor on Thursday or Friday.

I feel a little better today, but it doesn't usually last.

John
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