Tuesday, March 1, 2011

3-month Anniversary! and Uh-oh...I Shouldn't Have Done THAT! #fundoplication

Things have been going so well, and so smoothly for me these last few weeks, that I often forget that I've even HAD the surgery! Occasionally something will get stuck where my esophagus now narrows, but, once I can swallow again, a few very warm sips of tea usually help things pass; I don't think I've ever felt "stuck" for more than 10 minutes, thank God! To those of you who've been-there-done-that, it's an awful feeling, isn't it???

It was 3 months ago today that I had the surgery that changed my life. I still consider it nothing short of a miracle, given the hell that I was living with 24/7 for the last few years. (Although the GERD and hiatal hernia started 19 years before, symptoms were controlled with meds and diet until probably 4 years ago.) It hasn't been so long that those memories have faded much, and I thank God for using others to make this possible many times a day!

It is 2nd nature to drink my water in a restaurant without a straw now, and to order decaf tea instead of coffee or diet cola...not to say that I haven't wanted a good swig of a cold cola once or twice. But since I've never been much of a pop drinker to begin with, it quickly passes. And those have really been my only limitations. Of all the things that my surgeon warned me about, at least. I'm eating bread without issues, especially toasted but also "raw"; I make a low carb bread in my bread maker that is just about as close to the real thing as I've ever tasted, and it's moist and chewy - if anything were going to get stuck it would be that! And, in fact, it has gotten stuck in my wrap but just once. Again, as is typical for sticking incidents, they happen when I'm not paying attention - conversing or watching TV as I eat - and I swallow too much at a time.

The last "hurdle" will be raw vegetables. I've been eating a few, like salads and cole slaw, tomatoes (yes, I know they are really fruits), but that's about it. I've eaten a lot of cooked vegetables, almost everything I ever did, but I do avoid cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli due to their "gassiness". I have had a bite here and there of each when they are cooked, but for the most part I avoid them.

My surgeon warned me, though, that raw veggies will be something I probably won't be able to tolerate for a very long time, if ever. Still, I've had the occasional lettuce salad...so I thought nothing of ordering the house salad at Shaker's in Prudenville earlier today. It is lovely, with various greens, water chestnuts, tomato, onion, bacon, croutons, and their own secret dressing. I have always loved it. And tonight I ate 3 dishes of it. (Yes, friends, a free refill - AND homemade bread to boot! But I didn't eat the bread.) Then I ordered a hamburger patty with mushrooms and melted swiss, a thick slab of raw onion, and some mustard...Even though I couldn't eat it all (not even close, after all that salad!), I truly enjoyed what I was able to eat...until a few minutes after I finished.

God help me (literally, that was my prayer!), the pain in my gut...my left shoulder...it took my breath away. Every movement was agony. It hurt as much as right after the surgery, I haven't had pain like that since, until tonight. Was it the 3 dishes of salad? the slab of raw onion? or all of it together? I don't know but I thought I was going down, right there in the restaurant. The only thing that made it tolerable was that I've read reports of others with a wrap who ate the wrong thing, and the pain lasted about 30 minutes, and I could stand anything for 30 minutes...and I did, in the end, and of course lived to write about it :).

But I think Doc was right about the raw vegetables. A little here or there hasn't bothered me...but tonight I wasn't even thinking about my wrap, or limitations, only about the wonderful food...until it was too late.

So, overall, the last 3 months have been great healing and more enjoyable eating, a total absence of reflux or acid in my mouth, nose, and ear canals, no more waking up to projectile vomiting...I sleep laying down for the first time in years, and between being able to sleep in bed with my husband again, or getting so much more enjoyment from food, I'm not sure which I'm happier about! But those, as well as a normal life - bending down to tie my shoes, or pick up my grandson, without that awful pain and acid coming up...those are just things that I never thought I'd be able to do!

Yes, it was a great decision, it was worth the pain and the disruption to my life - but mostly to the lives of others who helped me and even made it possible - and it is even worth the pain when I forget about it and eat the wrong things :).

I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat!

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