Laparascopic Nissen Fundoplication?

This article is very, very much off topic from my usual tips & tricks, but I thought it would be at least informative and hopefully helpful to some to relay a solution to a health problem I’ve been having. For years, I was suffering from severe GERD and Reflux which led to complications and severe damage in my esophagis. After discussions with doctors and surgeons, I decided to have a surgical procedure called a “Laparascopic Nissen Fundoplication.” Though it is still very soon after the operation, the results have been excellent. Read on for more information on this procedure…

I’m 39 years old, and I have suffered from GERD AND REFLUX for many years. I had been taking GAVISCON like it was candy, and carried it with me wherever I went “just to be sure.” About six years ago, the reflux was getting worse and worse, keeping me up at night. On occasion, I would bolt up in bed choking and coughing after having reflux that would choke me. It felt like the back of my throat was burning, and it hurt to breathe. I scheduled an endoscopy that revealed that I had a HIATAL HERNIA and severe BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS. Biopsies came back clean, but I had to change my eating habits, have an endoscopy every two years, and the doctor put me on PRILOSEC. What a relief. Prilosec was truly a miracle pill. My life literally changed being able to eat and sleep with practically zero ill effects.

Unfortunately, over time, the medication became very slowly less and less effective. My doctor switched me to NEXIUM, and again, life was good. After a number of “good” months, the doctor recommended that I try weaning myself off of the Nexium. Our goal was for me to not have to take medication for the rest of my life. Well it seemed that after several days of “backing off” I would have reflux in some form or another.

In 2004, we moved from the Chicago area to South Carolina. I was trying to wean myself off of Nexium, but I still had occasional reflux. I saw a local Gastroenterologist, and after my scheduled two-year endoscopy, he said that my lower esophageal sphincter muscle wasn’t working properly. In other words, the valve that goes between my esophagus and my stomach didn’t work, thus the reflux. He said that while medication could and did control the acid, I still suffered reflux, and it was medically unclear as to what kind of damage non-acidic reflux could be doing.

We discussed a LAPARASCOPIC NISSEN FUNDOPLICATION, and my wife and I decided that it would be a good solution to attempt to “fix” the problem. So I went into the hospital on a Tuesday in January, 2005, they fixed my hiatal hernia and did the fundoplication. I was discharged the following day. The week following, they removed my staples from my incisions, and now I’m healing nicely. Five small abdominal scars, and just a bit of discomfort. (Note to self: Don’t ever shave your chest!)

Eating has been interesting. In the hospital, I was on a “full liquid” diet, and the day I was discharged, the doctor said that I could immediately start on “soft” foods, avoiding certain foods like meats, breads, etc. I have been very faithful to his instructions, and only had a few “incidents” where food got “stuck” while eating. Each time, it was either because I was eating too fast or wasn’t chewing thoroughly. Fortunately, they are “behaviors” that can be modified. I am able to belch slightly, but sometimes it’s difficult. The surgeon said he did a “floppy wrap” meaning it’s not as tight as it could be. THe upside of this is that I should have less problems swallowing, and limited belching is possible. The down side is that it may or may not actually “fix” all the symptoms I was having. But so far, here’s the great news: since my surgery, I have not taken any Nexium nor have I had any reflux! Something I haven’t been able to proclaim for years!

Now, two weeks later, I’m still eating soft foods, but it’s going down very well. I have a followup appointment with the surgeon this week, so I’ll let you know what happens. My immediate goal: Get to a recovery point where I can finally eat sushi–I miss sushi!

Note of disclaimer: Please understand that this procedure is not for everyone. Consult with your physician or specialist to see what other options you have.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions!

Oh, and by all means, do some research on the Internet to better understand your problems. I found a neat “support” site that has a number of personal “stories” from a number of people who have had a fundoplication operation. The site is:

http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Spa/1632/index.html

Thanks to “Gene” for maintaining that site!

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