How can I tell if food is stuck above or below the wrap?

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 9/22/2014 8:21 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, I'm on day 17 after a HH repair and Nissen fundoplication. Had been doing marvelously on my full liquids, and then last Friday I got the go-ahead to start soft foods. Woo hoo!

My happiness was short-lived. That evening I had 2 Tbsp of mashed potatoes with gravy, and everything worked fine. On Saturday I tried 3 oz of mashed potatoes with lots of gravy. Felt like it just sat in my stomach. Yesterday, I ate a little soft avocado with lemon juice. (Both of these things are on my doctor's list of approved foods). Same thing. By yesterday evening I was miserable, with bloating and gas pains . Simethecone has helped a little, but I'm still uncomfortable. Put myself back on liquids until everything feels good again.

My question - how can I tell if this is food sitting on top of the wrap vs my intestines just unhappy that they have to work again? If the former, will everything pass through eventually, or is there a point I should be concerned? It's frustrating to wind up in this spot when I've tried to be so disciplined. The Dr office said I'm already doing all the things they tell people to do when struggling in this transition, so perhaps it's unavoidable.

Muchas gracias for any help/encouragement/etc

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 254
   Posted 9/22/2014 10:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Nissen_Journey!

If food is stuck above the wrap, you'll feel it mostly behind your sternum and in your chest. If the heaviness is in your stomach, you may have just had more to eat than your stomach was willing to handle for that moment. Drinking room temperature liquids (luke warm tea, water, etc) helps the wrap site relax and open up a bit to allow food to get through. When I first moved off of the full liquid diet, I found that sitting up straight and pushing my shoulders way back to open up my chest helped things travel easier.

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

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 9/22/2014 10:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Nissen_Journey,

At Day 17 your wrap is probably pretty near peak swelling. When I saw my surgeon at six days post op, he informed me that my swallowing would get worse before it got better. Your decision to move back to easier to swallow liquids is a good one. This isn't forever. Once peak swelling is reached, the swelling will gradually decrease, and things will begin to improve. It's just something that you have to deal with for now. Everyone is different...some have even more severe swelling issues than you're dealing with, and others don't seem to be bothered by it.

Actually, my surgeon told me that I could eat anything that could be chewed to a liquid starting on Day 6, (though he warned me off untoasted bread--well-toasted was no problem--and steak) and I really did well with that protocol. Strangely, he mentioned mashed potatoes. "A bolus of mashed potato can get stuck",he told me. He said that some solid foods, when taken in small bites and chewed until it is a liquid/creamy consistency will be easier to swallow that some mashed foods, like potatoes.

Most do better with things like mashed potato if it's made very runny. It's likely that the mashed potato you ate is not stuck either place, but that your wrap is uncomfortable, swollen, and irritated. It's like when something is in your eye, and you get it out, but it feels like it's still there.

If it is stuck, I'd bet on above the wrap, as swelling makes the wrap extra tight. Whenever something feels stuck, try sipping room temperature water or hot/but not too hot, tea. These sips help push the food/medication through the wrap.

The bloating is also caused by the swollen, tight wrap. Once the swelling decreases and you heal further, the bloating will improve. It'll take a while, but keep in mind that this recovery takes a lot of patience! It take six months for most of the healing and a year for the rest. Over the next three months or so, you'll make good progress, but don't expect it to be smooth sailing. There will be some problems along the way, but that's natural. A few steps forward, and a few steps backward. In the end you'll do fine!

Be sure you're not drinking from a straw, as that introduces more air in your stomach and increases bloating. Of course no carbonation. I don't know what you're eating, but try to see if some foods cause you to develop more gas, and try to avoid those. Also, a nurse told me not to eat while talking, as that makes you swallow air as well.

Hang in'll do fine! Just remember to take small bites, and chew, chew, chew, your food to oblivion. It's trial and error...some things chew to a creamy/liquid consistency, and some just don't. I used to keep a paper napkin handy, and discreetly deposited anything that didn't chew completely. Your mouth/teeth are your blender. It's great to eat solid foods, but be sure to take small bites, chew, chew, chew, and eat very slowly. Also, avoid overfilling your stomach. Many small meals are best.

Remember that your stomach has been through a lot, and it's normal for it to complain loudly!

Hang in gets better!
Happy healing,

GERD/Heartburn Moderator
Nissen Fundoplication 2/09

"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

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 9/23/2014 12:04 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, both Tony and Denise, for your speedy and thoughtful replies. My chest/sternum feel fine, but am sipping little bits of room temp water anyway. Also trying a little massage of my abdomen, may try a hot pack too (not too hot).

At least now I don't feel panicked that I've screwed up so bàdly I'll have to visit the ER. Time, time, patience, time.

My nurse practitioner said that every day past the surgery the swelling goes down. I know people in this forum think otherwise...
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