Posted 10/4/2021 12:55 AM (GMT -6)
In April of 2020, I ended up in bed for 2 weeks in a really bad state of fear that I had something seriously wrong. I had a weird pain along my ribcage and some tingling numbness just below my sternum. Eating food almost always caused discomfort. My GP has been watching this for about a decade, and had prescribed PPIs, specifically Omeprazole. Off and on during that decade, I had minor heartburn with a few times being severe to the point I had to get up and move around. My biggest concern was a new diagnosis of IBS. I passionately fought to find a balance of foods that agreed with me, as the symptoms were weighing heavily on my mind and my quality of life plummetted. I nearly totally stopped leaving the house. I tried a low fodmap diet, seeking to make life tolerable. No matter what I ate, the battle continued...I was never able to find something that made me comfortable enough.
I didn't take Omeprazole too consistently due to mental health issues, and a lot of responsibilities that overwhelmed me.
In May 2020 I was referred to a Gastroenterologist who I saw for a handful of tests.
Test 1 - Upper GI Endoscopy.
Test 2 - Barium Swallow
Test 3 - Colonoscopy with Repeat Endoscopy
After these tests, my GE asked me to come in for a consult. He stated that I had a large hiatal hernia which was complicated by my GERD. Lucky for me, in July of 2021, my local hospital and surgery unit had just started one of the newest GERD repairs available called a TIF. Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication. He explained the procedure a bit to me, including the key details it was less invasive and faster recovery than Nissen Fundoplication.
In a mental state of fear and frustration, I decided to go ahead with the surgery. I tried to do my own research but I think anyone reading this forum understands a few problems with that. Dr Google is not licensed. And even on these forums a lot of the posts are people who decided to post because they had a negative reaction. Negative reactions on this forum trended heavily negative on the TIF procedure. I talked to GE again and my family kept supporting that most of the medical sources showed 80% success at eventually eating right, and losing the GERD symptoms.
My surgery was scheduled for October 1st. A few things happened that really pushed my decision to get it done and not back out. A few things hovered in the back of my head that had me terrified and worried about the aftermath.
Thought One: Coronavirus was inundating hospitals with patients, and some elective surgeries in our state were being pushed back.
Thought Two: The GE knows best. I trusted my GE's thought process on what the most likely scenario was.
Thought Three: Why am I rushing into this and not getting more education or a second opinion?
Since my QoL was already depressingly low I decided to man-up and just get it done. Everything I had listened to from the professionals stated that recovery could be bumpy but fairly quick, and then I would more than likely be able to go back to normal eating with little discomfort.
I'm here to describe that journey and vow that I will update this post with a daily diary. I will keep it brief but detailed.
I'll start with the first few days here, and keep up until the projected 2-month magical mark. There is no magical mark, this is what was disclosed as the most likely full-recovery time, save for a few nuances to how your body might react.
Day 1 SURGERY OCTOBER 1st, 2021
At 6am I went in for the procedure. Since the TIF uses a robotic arm, my first tough part was an IV in each arm, and of course since we are still in a pandemic a Coronavirus test. Shortly after I was anesthetized and the procedures began.
The surgery took about 3 hours and I woke up in pain. I immediately got morphine and some pain relief.
The first day in the hospital my pain scaled between 7 & 10 and of the three pain meds suggested, none really took much of an edge off.
At night I got a very brief walk in, but shortly after exiting the room with a nurse assisting me, I returned to my room.
After my wife left at about 7 pm, I tried to sleep off what I could overnight. I put on the TV as a noise distraction and tried to get comfortable. My first mistake was going from 7 pm to 4 am without any pain meds. They were available, I just tried to tough it out. I would be surprised if I got more than 2 hours of sleep. At 4 am I asked for morphine.
I felt alright on day 2. I was able to get some good walks in, and my stomach was relatively quiet. All I had to drink the day before was water, and I sucked on some ice chips. On day 2 I was able to get in jello. I had no appetite and all I could think of was the pain and my stomach. The pain was a bit less on day 2 though. Between 4 and 7. The GE came in around 9 am and told me that the entire process had gone off without a hitch and that he was recommending discharge around noon.
At noon I was home and the pain was the most difficult part. My wife went to get 4 different meds prescribed for pain management and one in case constipation became an issue.
Minor Pain: Acetominophen 1000mg every 6 hours
Moderate Pain: Tramadol 50mg every 6 hours
Major Pain: Oxycodone 5mg every 6 hours
Constipation: Docusate 100mg 2x daily
I was very disappointed to not get any nausea meds as that is my biggest fear. Severe nausea causes me to go into panic attacks, and I had requested the meds, but the nurse denied me on exit from hospital and I didn't get to talk to the GE again.
I continued my prescribed treatment, practicing deep breathing and walking as much or as long as I felt comfortable. I felt pain and occasionally had a belch, but burping really didn't give much relief from the bloating and gas from the procedure. They pump you full of gas, and for the first few days that was very difficult to get rid of.
That night I slept for 2 hours and woke up in pain and discomfort. Just prior to bed I had taken Oxycodone. My stomach noises and discomfort were so much I just chose not to go back to bed. Also only being able to sleep in one position made it difficult to feel comfortable or relaxed. I do use a wedge pillow so that was nice to have.
The next morning, October 3rd, the pain was subsiding some. Quite a bit more manageable and I got some nice walks in. My wounds were healing nicely, of which I ended up with 6 stab marks on my stomach and chest. I was frustrated by the diet as the strict clear liquid diet does not support much nutritional value. I watched TV all day with the wife between walks, and then evening dropped.
At about 7 pm I went downstairs and noticed my tongue was pretty white. This isn't a symptom I had been able to discuss with the GEs as I was focused on my stomach, and expected it may happen due to dehydration or the start of malnutrition. This really got me worried, and I've decided to call the GE today and see what they want me to do about it.
I went to bed around 9 pm and slept until around 1 am. My stomach was non-stop gurgling with lots of movement. I got up again and decided to stay up permanently as it seems like laying down fires up the gas buildup.
As I write this I am frustrated, depressed, but willing to accept this is day 3. I start a full liquid diet, which includes Vanilla Boost, and hope for instruction and support from the GE. I just hope this is part of the journey as my fears are really starting to take root because, at the moment, I'm significantly worse off than I was before surgery. Keep an eye out for an update on October 5th, as soon as I wake up.
Final Note on first post: If today was the final result for me, and all of the pain, frustration, gas, discomfort, and severe loss of sleep, I would not have gotten this surgery. I will try to keep my head up as I'm still obviously in the recovery period, but I currently feel like I'm in Hell. My QoL is 2 out of 10.