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My EsophyX procedure..9 days post-op

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  • My EsophyX procedure..9 days post-op

    Hello to all on the board. I, like most of you, have been a long time sufferer from gerd. After many long nights of weighing my options, I chose to have the EsophyX procedure done, and am now 9 days post-op. Much of the information that went into making my decision came from the internet, and in particular these forums. I figured the least that I could do was relay my experience to possibly help others forced to make a similar choice.

    I was diagnosed roughly 15 years ago with a faulty LES valve, and had been on Prilosec 20 ever since. My GI doctor at the time told me surgery would eventually be necessary. After starting the "purple pill" therapy, my reflux was kept largely in check for the majority of those years. About 8 months ago, however, the pills began to stop working for me. My meds were changed to 40mg Protonix twice a day combined with 1gm Sucralfate twice a day. This helped some, but I was still getting chest pain, shortness of breath and acid in my mouth every morning.

    After finding a doctor in Pittsburgh that I was comfortable with, I went through the standard testing (bravo, barium swallow, upper GI, manometry). My doctors and I decided that it was time to have surgery done. After much deliberation, I decided on the EsophyX over the standard Nissen. I had a lot of reasons for making this choice that I won't bore you with, but the bottom line was that I just felt more comfortable trying it.

    Up to this point, and it is still very early, I am extremely happy with my decision. The surgery was much easier than I had anticipated. Other than feeling like I swallowed a chainsaw right after I woke up, it really wasn't too bad. For the first few hours after I continuously had air trying to force its way into my throat. It was very uncomfortable because of the combo from the new valve and lots of swelling in my throat. They did a thin liquid barium swallow right afterwards, and could see plenty of swelling. I was given a shot of painkillers along with one for nausea, and I felt better right away. I felt good enough to walk around my hospital floor with my wife later that evening. I was definitely aware that a procedure was done, but was in no real pain. I would describe it as just being uncomfortable.

    I spent the night in the hospital to be monitored, and was released the next day. My surgeon told me that I could stop taking my ppi's if I wanted. I chose to take one crushed up over-the-counter Tagamet HB each day for the first week based on some of the things I had read on here. I had some mild gerd symptoms for the first few days that had me worried. I was worried even thought they told me that it took time for the valve to begin working. The more things begin to heal...the more they begin to work. The last two days are the first in 15+ years that I have had no meds and no reflux. Obviously it is still very early, but I am extremely encouraged so far. I am being overly cautious with my diet. Even though I am cleared to eat a few other things, I am staying with baby food, Boost, muscle milk, pudding, jello, chicken broth and jello for now. I am also avoiding lifting anything of weight like the plague. The doctors told me the biggest reason people have trouble with their results is from compromising the surgery by straining to lift things. My only real issue as of now is the occasional belch that wants to come up. I can feel gas come up to the valve and get stuck which is uncomfortable. Sometimes it ends up in a small belch and other times it disappears after a few seconds. Other than that, I am totally pain free at this point and feeling very positive.

    I will leave some updates over the next few months on how things are going. I figure that if it ends up not working, I can always go back for the Nissen. If it continues to work as it has so far, then I feel very fortunate to have given the procedure a try.

    I also wanted to thank everyone that contributes to these forums. When I needed information the most, this site helped me out in a big way.

  • #2
    So nice to hear! It can only get better with time as the sutures heal or so they say. I will be having this surgery next monday.. it's a pretty logic and advanced procedure, so hopefully more people will have their condition improved by it! You stopped getting acid in your mouth in the morning, right? I have the same problem, my mouth and upper throat feel like a sore wound.. ugh! All the best to you!


    • #3
      The unpleasant acid in my mouth every morning has been progressively better each day. Today was the first morning that I felt like it was almost completely gone. I no longer have the white coating on my tongue that used to greet me every morning. That is the positive news. The not so positive news is that I did have a pretty series heartburn episode earlier today. The doctors told me to expect this for a few weeks, but it is still alarming when it happens. I was told that normal people have heartburn not expect some and do not worry. It is tough not to worry, however, when you are so hopeful for a fix.

      Good luck with your procedure Monday. I think that you will be surprised at how easy the whole thing is, I was. I was definitely anxious in the days leading up to the surgery. All of the worry was unwarranted because it really was no big deal. My only worries now are hoping more than anything that I will continue to see improvements. Wish you the best!


      • #4
        dtanna, thank you for keeping us updated. this is still a relatively new procedure so any and all experiences that you are willing to share are greatly appreciated!


        • #5
          No problem missJ...after dealing with my gerd for so many years, I truly view it as an enemy. Really the only way for people to chose for, or against, new procedures is to get as much unbiased information as possible. Like I said earlier, reading forums online really helped me, so I figured returning the favor would be appropriate.

          The heartburn that I had yesterday did have me a bit rattled. In fact, I would say that yesterday was negative in general. Along with the "burn" I had some mild chest pain as well. It was not severe, but I thought most of that was behind me by now. I ended up taking a Tagamet HB with dinner. The bad news is that I had to take some medication..good news is that Tagamet was never enough to help my symptoms before surgery, and did this time.

          Today has been back to where I was previously. I have no pain and no heartburn. One thing I have realized is when you undertake a procedure that has no guarantees, any small setback can be demoralizing. So today was a healthy PPI free day, and I will stay focused on that.


          • #6
            Did you have a hitala hernia that was repaired as well? Did u lose a lot of weight these past days since you had to change your diet? I have the utter need to drink a lot of water to clean my throat, wonder if that's a common thing for others too? It's going fine overall, I say ignore the bad day.. keep us updated, thx!


            • #7
              Funny that you say that about drinking water to clear your throat. In the months leading up to my surgery, I was clearing my throat hundreds of times a day. I constantly felt like there was something small stuck in my throat below my adam's apple. It must have just been because of the acid irritation at night because I had the doctors to look hard for any issues and there were none to be found. They even did a esophageal ultrasound in a few spots but found nothing...big relief!

              I know that I have lost some weight, but nothing extreme. I have a very low body fat percentage so that may explain why there hasn't been much loss. I have also been drinking plenty of meal supplement drinks. They are between 250-350 calories for the most part, so my normal intake is pretty much the same. I am growing restless on the lack of physical activity, however. I didn't think I could miss going to the gym like I do now.

              Today has been just like yesterday...have had no heartburn or chest pains. The one issue two days ago has been the only one to date. My fingers are crossed that this is a good sign of things to come. My doctor called today to schedule a follow up. Depending on any issues that I am having, it may be done over the phone since I live several states away from where I had the procedure done. If I have ANY issue they want me to travel back, which I totally understand. As of now, I am suppossed to call them at the beginning of next week to let them know where I stand.


              • #8
                Oh...I forgot to answer...I did not have any sort of hiatal hernia. Good luck on Monday Nevermind. I very much hope that you have a great result and find some relief!


                • #9
                  Hey DTanna! I got home from the hospital and my throat feels so much ligher and cleaner! But I do have some temporary pain in the spot of the stiches.. I am sure it's gas trying to escape, I feel a bit bloated and I retched one time which hurt a little but eased me. Did you have the same problem with retching? Do you take any medication for the bloating? I have no hungry sensation and I love that since I'd like to drop some weight as well. The new valve seems to be working good, not letting anything go up ^_^
                  Oh btw.. they said they put like 14 (or 16, can't remember) fasteners in my stomach, wow, do you know how many you got?


                  • #10
                    Hey there Nevermind! It sounds like you are having a pretty good time with things so far. I did not have any problems with retching. I was given anti-nausea meds in the hospital so I assume that was why. I never had a problem with it at home. As far as bloating goes, I did buy the Gas-X strips that you place on the tongue and then they dissolve. They definitely helped. I am not sure how mant fasteners that I had placed..but that's a good question. I am having a phone consultation with my surgeon tomorrow and, will ask.

                    I am also having a follow up barium swallow done tomorrow morning to see where the swelling that I had/have stands. This past Saturday I began to have some pain in my chest and some light reflux. What they believe it is from is the swelling not being gone yet. The evening before I started to have some problems, was the first that I began to introduce semi-solid food. My surgeon believes solid food is not passing through the new valve area well because of the inflammation at the valve site. He thinks this is causing the discomfort and some reflux. We will see on Thursday when he looks at the results. I really, really hope that I did not do something in the way of lifting to mess anything up. It is so amazingly hard to avoid lifting anything over 5 pounds during the first two weeks. Small things like adjusting my body on the couch, closing heavy doors or grabbing a few groceries all can create 5+ pounds of force.

                    What did they tell you to do about taking the medication you were on? I am assuming that you were on some sort of PPI. Did the tell you to keep taking it and, if so, how since you are not suppose to swallow solids. This was a subject that I could have used more clarification on from the hospital.

                    I am glad to hear things went as well as could be expected for you, and truly hope that you have a great result.


                    • #11
                      I stopped taking any medication long time before the procedure because I didn't felt any relief (I had a non-erosive gerd).. but yeah, the doctor prescribed Nexium to me, just because the wounds would heal better in a non-acidic environment in the stomach. So I crush the pill and take it with water :-) I am also taking Gasex now and yeah, they told me not to eat solid for the first 4 days and after, for 2 weeks I can introduce yoghurt and soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, etc the first 2 weeks, then introduce solids, but as far as it goes I have no appetite, I only drank water these 3 days and will start eating soup for some energy, oh and fruit compote.
                      Do you still wake up with your tongue clear and clean? Wow, I can now breathe so much lighter! And the fact that food doesn't pass through your valve yet means it's tight and working awesomely!
                      Oh, another interesting detail the doctor gave me, he said that the new valve had 3 cm in diameter and 1 cm thickness..
                      They told me my procedure went the smoothest of all they done, yey, maybe because I was the youngest one and had a normal body type.
                      Keep me updated ^_^ we are special! hehe


                      • #12
                        Hey there Nevermind....I have a funny recovery story for you. You have asked a couple of times about having gerd symptoms that deal with the mouth and especially with the white tongue in the mornings. I definitely had all of those symptoms for many, many months leading up to surgery. You must have had it particularly bad because you have mentioned it a few times. Well, in the immediate week or two following my surgery I had no more white tongue or acid taste in my mouth every morning. That all changed a few days ago.

                        About four days ago, I woke up with the most horrible acid-like taste in my mouth. I looked in the mirror, and sure enough the white tongue was back. It was actually worse than it ever was before the surgery. I had two canker sores and was extremely hoarse as well. I totally felt like I was gargling stomach acid in my mouth every night while asleep. It was so discouraging because I thought for sure that the surgery must not be working. I didn't even want to post on here about it, because I know how worried you are about your mouth getting better. I didn't want to discourage you.

                        I called my surgeon and told him about what was going on, and much to my surprise he wasn't worried one bit! He told me that what was happening was not stomach acid at all, but that I had Thrush from the pre-surgery antibiotics. The symptoms are almost indentical to what I used to experience every morning, so I was sure it was from acid. He gave me a prescription...diflucan I think...and it started to get better almost immediately! The whole thing was very scary, because I thought for sure that the surgery was failing. Luckily that was not the case at all.

                        I really hope that you are healing up well. Today was 3 weeks for me and so far, so good! Let me know how things are going for you.


                        • #13
                          Oh I appreciate so much you telling me! I think I have a little thrush myself (I couldn't find the exact word in my language, it's called Candidiasis too?), cause I have to scrape my tonguie, BUT the throat is so amazingly clean, I am so happy about that. Is Diflucat what you took for sure? Sorry to ask, but I would take it myself and write to my doctor about it. ^_^ Are you ok, free from every evil? I am going on vacation now, reflux-free! Have a great week DTanna!


                          • #14
                            Yeah, I went and checked the prescription...what I was given is called fluconazole which is the generic for diflucan. And yes, Candidiasis and Thrush are the same thing. I was told that the pre-surgery antibiotics cause your good bacteria in the mouth to diminish which leaves you vulnerable to infection.

                            Everything else has been going just fine so far. I am still very cautious about eating solids. The most solid thing that I have eaten yet has been a bit of pasta. I find myself chewing and chewing and chewing to make sure that it goes down as easily as possible. It takes me a half hour to eat less than a cup full...not really worth it. I stopped taking the Gas-X for a few days, and would recommend against it for awhile. As soon as I started trying to eat more solid food, I needed it again. If I don't take it, I have an uncomfortable feeling where gas tries to get up through the new valve but doesn't do so easily. I am now going to keep taking it until my diet is back to normal, which the EsophyX information book says is 12 weeks. I have not been having any issues with gerd, so that is very encouraging. My biggest problem still has been avoiding any lifting. So hard to always keep that in the back of my mind. What lifting restrictions did your doctors give you?

                            Have fun on vacation....and keep feeling better!


                            • #15
                              dtanna and nevermind, thank you both so much for sharing your experiences! would you also be willing to share the name of your doctor and location as well? thanks again.