Thursday, November 3, 2011

11 Months! #fundoplication

This is a post that I made to the Facebook Nissen Fundoplication group (a closed group but FULL of helpful people!) in reply to someone who wondered if life is ever normal again after this procedure. It pretty much sums up my life now, so I am reposting it here as my 11-month update.

"It's been 11 months for me. I consider it a 'new normal' and certainly 100% better than my 'life' (if I could even consider it that) before. I take smaller bites. I chew more thoroughly. I keep a warm beverage handy especially when eating things that I know have a tendency to stick (breads - even my home-made low-carb breads - and roasted pork mostly). I don't drink anything with carbonation and avoid caffeine. I keep simethicone tablets for when I eat 'gassy' foods because I totally love vegetables and they are a huge part of my diet as a low-carber. I have to stop eating at the first sign of fullness, or expect PAIN which I'm sure is a sign that there is pressure or stretching at my wrap - not a good thing if I want my wrap not to fail! I think that's about it. But it's all 2nd nature now, and it's normal now and certainly MUCH less restrictive and easier than how I had to eat before the NF surgery. . Back then I not only had to worry about what I ingested would cause but how it would taste or feel coming back up."

Here, I would add that prior to the surgery I was very apprehensive about what life would be like afterward. I'm a lifelong foodie. I'm happiest when I'm dealing with food, creating recipes and cooking and planning meals and grocery-shopping...and I was sure that all of this would come to a screeching halt after such a major change to my gut. AND I WAS WRONG. With a few minor changes as listed above, the foodie part of me still lives, and lives well! Even better, in fact, because I no longer get sick every time I eat!

This is a surgery that is considered a last resort, after all else has been tried, and especially where Barrett's is involved. (As a side note: less than 1% of people with Barrett's develop esophageal cancer, which is the greatest fear of many who have it. I have it, but don't fear it. There is a separate procedure where a surgeon can ablate the damaged tissue.)

So I know that nobody goes into NF lightly. It dramatically alters our digestive tract, and there's no going back. It has a higher failure rate (especially over time) than most surgeries, according to most. There is a long recovery, and no, life is not ever the same afterward.

It is hard when people are where I was a year ago, with their fears and anxieties...and it is impossible to fully share my joy in life now, compared to before, because their fears get in the way. And it is true that this surgery doesn't always have such a positive outcome, certainly; nobody can guarantee that everyone who has this procedure will have the same great results that I did. But I can - and do - happily share my own, and hope that it helps them :).

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