What a great idea!
Wrapped Club Successes!
It is true that as people make their way through recovery, it can sound as if the majority of them don't have successful results, which couldn't be further from the truth.
Most people don't even post online at all...just have the surgery, make their way through recovery, and go off on their merry way. Those who post are either very internet savvy and spend lots of time researching online, or are having trouble with their recovery.
Surgeons almost universally fail to prepare their patients for the recovery, and honestly, I don't really think they truly know what it's like. They are unlikely to have had the surgery themselves, and tend to see their patient maybe once or twice post-op. That's the beauty of this forum! It's amazing to hear member after member share their misconceptions about
the recovery--many times perpetrated by their surgeon's advice. Perhaps Nissen surgeons ought to visit this forum to see what people really go through.
The first two weeks of recovery are extremely challenging, as they should be! This is MAJOR SURGERY, and six months for most of the healing and a year for the rest. I found improvements even into the second year. Therefore, in the first weeks and months, recovery is just beginning. As Bill says, this recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. There can be two steps forward, and a step backward.
Recovery isn't a straight line experience. Often someone will get a little too frisky with their eating, and cause wrap pain, and irritation. This will not be forever. Just move back to earlier eating patterns...slow down, baby your wrap/stomach, and given a week or so, you'll be back to normal. Even after several months of recovery, you can overdo it, and irritate your wrap/stomach.
Surgeons will provide a wide range of eating protocols. Some require liquids only for up to six weeks. Others, like mine, trust their patients to make smart eating choices,and give them a lot more freedom. The first few weeks, soups and soft foods feel the best, but crispy things like saltines, can be chewed to a liquid. At Day 6 post-op, my surgeon set me free to eat anything that could be chewed to a liquid. That made my recovery much more enjoyable. My mouth/teeth were my blender, and I took small bites, chew, chew, chewed my food thoroughly, and swallowed ONLY things that had chewed to a complete liquid/creamy consistency. Here is an eating protocol you can check out:www.oregonsurgical.com/pdfs/Nissen_Fundoplication_Diet.pdf
Another surprising side effect of the surgery is shoulder/collar bone pain. This really puzzled me, as I couldn't understand what possible connection the shoulder could have to stomach surgery! In fact, the pain is mainly due to referred pain from diaphragm irritation (with the hiatus hernia repair) as well as gas that is used to blow up the inside of the body to make it possible to see the surgical field more clearly during laproscopic surgery. A very smart night nurse suggested that I get up and walk each time I went to the bathroom, which I did...all night. I continued walking at home, and I found that the more I walked the less of this painful shoulder pain I felt, and visa-versa.
Those are a few tips I can think of. While I know that this is off topic, I assume those who are reading these positive experiences are seeking information about
the surgery, and perhaps this bit of information might be helpful.
A positive attitude is the key to making it through this recovery. If you can surrender and accept what is
, you'll find your recovery much easier. Those who struggle against the reality of the experience have a very tough time of it. You can't rush this. Your body needs time and permission to heal in its own sweet time. Once you've had surgery, you don't have a choice. You have to go through recovery, and you can either relax into it, and go with the flow, or you can stress over it and be miserable. It'll be your choice!
Now to my experience...
I had my Nissen fundoplication in February 2009 (at age 57). I had atypical syptoms...the main reason I had the surgery was an attempt to improve the health of my lungs. My asthma had gotten increasingly worse over many years. I'd been on Prilosec, Nexium, and after a hospitalization with GERD exacerbated uncontrollable asthma, I was switched to Protonix. While much of my reflux was silent/LPR-type, I did get breakthrough heartburn.
My GI doc didn't think my asthma was caused by reflux, because my 24hr PH monitor/DeMeester score was never high. GI docs tend to be more focused on high levels of reflux that can cause esophageal damage, and aren't really knowledgeable about
how very small amounts of reflux can cause severe lung effects.
During the six years prior to my surgery, my lungs were in terrible shape. I was using a nebulizer several times a day, and coughing up large amounts of mucous. I also had repeated lung infections. My asthma doc and PCP were certain that the reflux was creating my uncontrollable asthma.
I didn't push for surgery, either. I saw so many scary posts online that I was fearful that the surgical "cure" was very likely to make me even worse, with all kinds of GI issues. Now I realize that most of the things I read were written by people in the throes of recovery, who were fearful that they'd have these symptoms forever (again, I blame this on surgeons not preparing their patients for the reality of recovery, and providing them with helpful guidance). Of course there will be patients who, unfortunately, had inexperienced, unqualified surgeons, and had poor results, but I believe this is the minority.
Anyway, finally, with lots of pressure from my PCP, my GI doc finally decided that perhaps I might want to see a surgeon ("no rush", and "I could just continue on medications as treatment"). I saw the surgeon, and had surgery three weeks later. I had to try surgery...my PCP said my lungs were in life-threatening condition. I figured if it didn't help my lungs, at least I could rule out reflux as the cause.
It took 3 months for my lungs to heal post-op. I had a lung infection and coughed my way through recovery. I was always fearful that I'd cough my wrap/stitches out, but fortunately they held strong. I'd been on lots of steroids, and my internal tissue was so fragile that my surgeon put in extra sutures to help hold it.
It was amazing. In May, when my pollen allergies were in full-swing, I suddenly found myself much, much better, and no longer in need of a nebulizer and high doses of steroids. It was miraculous. I knew my odds weren't as good as those with typical heartburn/GERD symptoms. Atypical symptoms have about
a 75-80% success rate, which in my book were pretty good odds. Fortunately, I was one of the success stories! While I still have asthma due to pollen, my lungs have remained healthy and normal.
I found this forum shortly before my surgery, and in fact, Bill was one of my heroes! Although he was struggling through a wrap surgery (his first) that caused him a lot of swallowing issues, he was still extremely positive. I figured if someone who needed a redo was that happy with the surgery, it must be worth the effort. There were many very positive people who helped me through my recovery, and it made all the difference. That's the reason I stuck around long after my surgery to help others the way I was helped. I love that some of our happily recovered members are still sticking around to post and provide support and share their positive outcomes. That makes this forum so helpful!
Thanks again, Pat, for thinking of this thread. I agree that people need to read positive stories, as so many threads are all about
the problems experienced during recovery. People living through the first months of recovery can fear that they'll never improve, and hearing from others who have completed their recoveries with positive results is extremely important. You provide so much help and support, and it is appreciated!Happy healing to one and all, and good luck to those contemplating surgery! It's definitely worth the effort!