I was in my late 20s when I first started to have GERD issues. Took medication on and off until I was 35 and then I managed it through diet, raising the top of my bed. Anytime my symptoms increased, I would take Tums and back off on certain foods - chocolate, higher fat foods, liquor, etc. I was 51 (probably 50 pounds overweight) when I suddenly had extreme pain and nausea while eating. It went away after a bit. It felt like my food was getting stuck. I ignored it (I know! Go figure!) 1 1/2 years later I was lifting some very heavy boxes and furniture. After that I felt an ache in my chest. I found I was always rubbing my chest and I felt anxious about it. My GP sent me for a treadmill test and a barium swallow. Diagnosed with a hiatus hernia. 1/3 of my stomach had pushed through and the stomach was twisted. Food seemed to be getting through though.
Surgeon started me on Rabeprazole. Originally was told it may take 1 year for surgery to be scheduled but after a CT scan and an endoscopy was upgraded to urgent. My esophagus was 2 inches shorter. I thought I would manage fine with the meds but by 6 months later I was ready.
These were all the symptoms I recognized. Some of them I didn't recognize until after I was diagnosed:
• Sometimes I felt like I was choking when I tried to eat pasta.
• My singing voice was failing. I cleared my voice constantly
• Acid coming up whenever I bent over - especially gardening.
• Aching chest - really noticed the cold. Liked to wear a scarf especially in airconditioning,
• Cold a lot
• Ankles and legs would swell up especially during summer until I started Rabeprazole
• Waking up with scratchy throat
• Pain when food would get stuck
• Short of breath (Makes it difficult to hike hills)
• Very tired/No Energy - would drop asleep in the middle of a sentence. Every time I sat down to watch TV I fell asleep. It increased the last 8 months before my surgery. Very frustrating for me and for my family. Had to pace myself.
• Slept sitting up with 2 pillows.
I knew the surgery needed to be done. The surgeon assured me that the condition would not fix itself without surgery (Nissen Fundoplication, hiatus repair and Collis Gastroplasty). My quality of life was failing. I felt like I wasn't able to make plans with my life and I was missing out on things.
Very frightened to have surgery. Did my research so was well aware of the post-operative pain and diet. More frightened of not waking up from surgery even though research showed low mortality and I'm strong otherwise.
Day 1 - October 14, 2014. Surgery was in the morning (3 hours long). I was 2 hours in recovery. Intravenous, catheter and gastro tube. Was standing with help the first afternoon. Wore compression boots the first night. Given dilaudid for pain, antinausea drugs intraveously.
Catheter came out on Day 2 and then I was mobile. I walked around the ward a few times a day. Gastro tube is very uncomfortable. Very sore shoulder that night. Given dilaudid. Very nauseous, especially first thing in the mornings. Better once I'm up walking. Can't take deep breaths but keep practising. So weak that I can't raise up on my toes.
Went for a swallow test on Day 3 to ensure I didn't have any leaks. They wanted me to use a straw. I had to explain about the no straw rule several times during my stay. All was good. Gastro tube came out in the pm (thank goodness!) and I was able to have clear fluids for the first time. No pain meds. Very sore but not unmanageable. I think the meds are making me feel sick. My deep breathing is getting better but it hurts in my shoulder when I take a deep breath
Was very nauseous Day 4. They gave me Tylenol pills to take. I think the pills made me nauseous. Walked a lot. Intravenous taken out. Given regular fluid meal at dinner and for breakfast before I left. Very nervous about nausea.
Came home. Didn't take any medication after coming home. Tired and sore but felt so good to be home. Had a little bit of nausea on Day 5 in the morning but it's been good since then. Have to hold stomach to stand up and sit down. Can't bend over to pick up anything.
2nd Week: Walked about 10 minutes a few times per day. Slow walk and have to hold my stomach. Eating blenderized foods. Didn't like Boost but did try to drink it once in a while. Had one day where I felt weak. Not enough food in me, I think. Able to sleep flat again. Still can't breathe deeply.
By 3rd week. Started soft food diet. Must have eaten too much one meal. Won't do that again. Yikes! Instant nausea and panic. Walked and it passed in about 10 minutes. Awful! Walking at a good clip for about 20 minutes straight and without holding my stomach. Can reach most things on the floor if I haven't just eaten. Am trying not to lift anything heavy. Sore if I do too much but pretty comfortable. Can drive our standard care comfortably. Still get tired pretty easily. I'm able to breathe more easily now.
4th Week: Must have pushed the food too much. By the end of this week I was having heartburn attacks. I backed off on the food and went back to really soft food for a bit and that seems to be better.
Week 5: I will be going back to work (desk job) this week.
I've kept very positive during my recovery. I expect to have setbacks and I'm just learning from them and carrying on. I can't have any of the things I've learned are healthier - salads, nuts, broccoli, etc. Potatoes and yoghurt have been my friends. I drink a lot of warm water. I've lost about 13 pounds. I don't get a lot of gas. I do get the burps once in a while and I get killer hiccups at times. I haven't figured out what causes them yet.
My surgeon is very experienced in the Nissen and has been doing the Collis gastoplasty for 9 years. He's exceptional and his bedside manner is incredible. I live in British Columbia, Canada. My care in the hospital was outstanding.
Thank you for all of the great advice on your forum. I've been researching for awhile and it has been so helpful. I did get a lot of information from my surgeon and the hospital dietician but it makes more sense to get recovery information and suggestions from patients. Thanks.