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I had suffered with stomach problems for what felt like forever but was probably just a year or two before I finally insisted on seeing a specialist (Nov 13). I have previously been taking Esmaprazole, Domperidone and copious amounts of Gaviscon to no real avail. I suffered acid problems and a constant burning sensation in my upper abdomen. I had Laparscopic Nissen Fundoplication and Hiatal Hernia repair surgery in June 2014 and could feel the improvements from the moment I came round from Anaesthetic.
I thoroughly researched the surgery, recovery and surgeon’s available and even considered paying privately if the need required. By request I was referred to Mr Viswanath (James Cook University Hospital & Nuffield Hospital – North East England). After reading some of the blogs and information available on the Internet regarding this type of surgery I was under no illusions that the recovery would be very tough, Indeed my own GP advised me against this type of operation as did most of my family and friends however the pain and suffering was to such an extent that I knew I had little option but to undergo surgery.
I am very pleased to say that for me, the recovery has been less difficult/painful than I was advised, I put this down to two factors; firstly and most importantly the skill of the surgeon, secondly by being mentally prepared (remember that any discomfort and dietary restrictions after the operation are a temporary measure in order to fix your stomach, and by comparing that to the constant discomfort I was suffering Pre-Operation encouraged me to be positive each and every day).
I had never before experienced a hospital stay or surgery or anaesthetic and was very nervous however I can honestly say (to date) the hardest part for me was the thorough testing carried out to check if I was suitable for surgery and also the 24 hour fasting/dietary restrictions pre-op (an empty stomach for me was a truly painful thing - the acid was unbearable).
My surgery was first of the day and I was given the anaesthetic at 07:50, When I awoke from anaesthetic at 10:50 I was asked how I was feeling etc and if I was in any pain/discomfort, I wasn’t and asked for some water which I was given at hourly intervals on an incremental basis. After my first sip of water I managed a small burp (for me this was a major sign of the surgery’s success, I had read many blogs in which people were never able to burp again and therefore suffered from gas). I wasn’t in any pain/discomfort nor felt groggy in any way, in fact the constant nagging pain that I had felt pre op was gone. I managed to visit the ladies without any assistance walking and was discharged shortly after 17:30pm the same day. Amazing!! Unfortunatly another lady in for surgery the same day as me was not so lucky, when she awoke she asked for pain medication and when I left she was still struggling to swallow even the smallest amount of fluid. (I put this down to the pain medication but I’m not medically trained and am not qualified to say).
I was discharged with Tramadol pain killers to be taken as required alongside paracetamol, anti-sickness medication and Lanzaprazol (all dispersible). I took half of the Tramadol on the second day thinking it would help me sleep as I was finding it difficult to get comfortable lying down because of the wounds, but it didn’t and so I didn’t take any more. The first few days I took paracetamol every four hours along with the anti-sickness and Lanzaprazol but around day 5 I didn’t feel the need and only kept taking the antacid at doctors instructions (so the stomach has time to heal without acid causing any problem).
Food was limited to liquid only and I admit to following the dietary information very comprehensively (My advice if you want it - this is your chance to fix your stomach – don’t waste it by trying to run before you can walk). I kept a daily log of my food intake and although the first few days I managed very little, a small amount of yoghurt, ice cream and soup this soon increased as the week/weeks went on and the food diary helped me to monitor the improvement easily – which also helped boost my moral/positive attitude. Although a liquid diet sounds very restrictive, a little preparation can go a long way to making this diet easier and more acceptable. I made several batches of soup pre op, different flavours and thickness and froze them in different quantity pots – labelling them clearly, I bought several types/flavours of ice cream, and yoghurt’s and also drinks e.g Bovril, Hot Chocolate, Ovaltine and Horlicks and used full fat milk. I bought various tins of deserts e.g Custard, Semolina, Tapioca, rice pudding and thinned these down with full fat milk. By week 3 I was managing small amounts of soup with small bits and also a rusk with a cup of tea. After week 6 I stopped recording my food intake and continue to increase my intake on a slow and steady basis.
I’m not saying the recovery has been easy and there were/are times when it is difficult to swallow food and I know I still have a way to go, it’s still early days and as my intake is reduced so is my energy levels but in all I would say this was not as difficult and unpleasant as I had thought, and for me it was a big success and my life is much better for it. I am thrilled with the results to date (11 weeks on).
I would like to mention that I am pleased with the service received from the National Health Service, from the point of referral, through consultations and thorough testing to the date of my surgery took under 7 months. I couldn't fault the care received. Again I would mention the skills of Mr Viswanath and his team in helping to give me back my health.
My advice to anyone suffering - If surgery is a viable option for you then do your research & choose your surgeon, remain positive and follow the instructions given to aid your recovery. Don't be put off by the information available, there are success stories too. Best Wishes, Julie.
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