Posted 8/20/2015 7:19 PM (GMT -6)
Pat - Here's some of my story. I am happy to be celebrating 6 months post-op.
My surgery was March 9, 2015. I was 66 (67 now). Female. My Thoracic Surgeon performed a Robotic-Assisted Giant Hiatal Hernia Repair with Partial Fundoplication.
The internal state of affairs was such that my food had nowhere to go, as my stomach had migrated up to the point of the carina, which is above the heart. I didn't know anything about the fundo until afterwards, reading the 'Surgeon's Report' after my 2-week check-up. I was told at the time of initial consult, that the surgery would 'put everything back where it belongs.' In retrospect, that's somewhat vague...
I have to say, I was SO excited at the prospect of no more stomach pain after eating, every time, that I just wanted to be scheduled for surgery as soon as possible! There was a long gap in time between appointments with my Gastro-Guy; he said 'it didn't look that bad.' Then of course, testing to make sure I could tolerate the surgery.
So, finally, the week is nearing. A set-back. My surgeon had to rush off to the East Coast on an emergency. So four days later, it's my turn. By this time I was beside myself with excitement. No fear or thoughts of what could go wrong.
I checked in at 10:30 am, did the paper-work, then off to prep. I counted 8 people in my in my cubicle at the same time, at one point. There were several surprises at that point; doc wanted to do a spinal block. Discussion ensued; I gave in. Forgot what the other items were.... By 11:20 or so I don't know anything, then off down the hall on a gurney. Next thing I know someone is asking me questions, to which I can only whisper: "I don't know!" Then someone slipped an oxygen noose (?) into my nose, and as I open my eyes I'm headed for a room in ICU. The procedure took about 2 1/2 hours. about 2 hours in PACU.
So, a very uncomfortable 24 hours later, not allowed to swallow any water yet, and still covered with touch-pads, oxygen, and three needle-lines in place, plus Foley catheter, plus tube down my throat through my nose, I'm informed off to swallow test and then go home! What!? I had been told 3-4 days in hospital, so this news was a bit upsetting. My 24 hours in ICU came with morphine, which pretty much obscured any pain except an ache in my neck and a stiff left shoulder. So off come all the sticky pads, out comes the Foley, out come the three pic lines (that hurt!) and I was told to get dressed, and if I wanted the bathroom was right there.... My night nurse was a darling, and the day-time one was an absolute wench!
The hospital had just changed ownership, and I think staff was in some state of confusion. Anyhow, off I went to our RV to spend a nite and then home. My thoughts on the first few days are pretty foggy. I was glad to be able to have water, but could only sip it gingerly. Lactose-intolerance found me consuming cream soups made with lactaid. Normally I shy away from cream soups; not an option at that point.
The main challenges for me were the pain in neck and shoulder from phrenic nerve disturbance (side-issue with that kind of surgery), having trouble swallowing, and a growing knot in the mid-back left side of spine. ( I still feel this knot, and it goes from ignorable to painful. Good relief can be had by lying down on my back for an hour or so.)
After one week I quit taking the oxycodone, as I wanted to be able to drive. Ibuprophen didn't do much for alleviating pain, but 3 at a time helped. Sleep was helped with melotonin, when needed. Irregularity continued for a long time. Milk of Magnesia helped with that, when needed. I take two kinds of fiber caps twice a day, and have finally become regular; 5 months on that!
Regarding how I feel about the surgery and whether I would do it again: Doctor told us I could have died under his care; I would have died if a General Surgeon had attempted a fix, and that I am lucky to be alive. So, yes, I had no hesitation to have the surgery. On the other hand, I would not want to go through all that again. Once was enough!
My surgeon is very skilled, and unfortunately moved on to other pastures. I've been looking for him, but he hasn't popped up yet. My procedure took place at Banner-University Medical in Tucson AZ. The surgical team was all top-notch. Didn't care for Admin personnel I dealt with. But they hardly count in the bigger picture. If I locate doc eventually, I will post his info. He's very pleasant to deal with, and has a good 'bed-side manner.'
I'll post again as time passes, I'm still trying to regain my vim and vigor. Seem to have lost it somewhere along the line.... but my temper has improved immensely, for what that's worth.
Best to all - the answers are out there!