Monday, October 1, 2012

It's been 22 Months! And Some Things to Consider...

Hard to believe! Seems like just recently I was wringing my hands and praying about the whole NF decision and upcoming surgery, unsure of what I was getting myself into, and if I'd have regrets. At least my misery was a KNOWN misery...

Anyway, not much has changed recently. I still have to eat carefully of course - slowly, chewing thoroughly, and taking small bites. Still, there is occasional sticking of food, but not so bad. And I am able to eat everything I did before, with the exception of carbonated beverages.

For those considering this surgery, there are just a few things I want to bring up, based upon things I see mentioned and discussed in the Facebook NF group:
1 - When considering this surgery, remember that for most people it is a wonderful thing! But when it fails, it is awful. Truly awful. People who've had bad outcomes are often left wishing they had their former GERD issues back instead. That's how bad it is.
2 - Every experience will be different. Sure, we all have similarities in our NF experiences, but there are plenty of differences as well. Add to that, that doctors often give vastly varying sets of instructions, and there is no way to predict your future. In the end, you will often have to advocate for yourself, figure out for yourself what foods you can and can't eat, how soon you can resume activity, etc...but one MAJOR THING TO REMEMBER...
3 - ...You only get ONE CHANCE to heal properly! If you are in doubt - DON'T! If it is uncomfortable to lift something - DON'T LIFT! If you are in pain or exhausted from going to work too soon - GO HOME! If you have pain after starting to eat solid foods, go back to soft! I can't emphasize this enough: This procedure has a high enough rate of failure without impatience entering into the equation. SERIOUSLY! Don't stress your new wrap, use common sense, don't ignore pain or discomfort, listen to your body's advice, you have nothing to prove. It doesn't matter what anyone else's experience was or how soon they did things, or what anyone thinks of you taking "too much" time to heal properly, or how impatient you are. Just do it right. Because this is the only chance you have.
4 - Your body will take up to a year to heal and adapt. It has undergone a brutal assault, it has to relearn how to do digestion, and there are things that don't even seem related that it has to deal with (hair loss, depression, etc.) - AND all on a limited diet! You will start to feel better, even normal, long before that. But just cut yourself a break if you feel the need during that first year post-op :).
5 - There are other types of procedures to deal with HH and/or GERD. The NF is the most severe, but there are various kinds of partial wraps, the new LINX procedure, etc. Do your homework and discuss the options with your surgeon (who, BTW, will probably recommend the NF right off the bat!). But if a partial wrap can restore the Angle of His and support your LES, you can ask about that option.
6 - If you choose to join a forum or support group online re: the NF procedure, remember that these groups don't statistically represent successful vs failed ops. It is easy to read a lot of people's woes online - just remember that the vast majority of people who have had an NF do really well afterward and have a normal happy life. These are not the people who join support groups. People who have failures and problems join support groups. So naturally the populations of these groups are heavily skewed to the negative. Don't let that be your guide as to what Life After NF is really about :).

Definitely do your homework. Be prepared. Go into it in th best health you can. Be nutritionally stoked going in, and concentrate on nutritionally dense foods afterward. Use a surgeon with lots of experience, and with whom you feel comfortable; if you have doubts or unresolved questions about him/her, find someone with whom you can relate.

Hopefully these suggestions can help give you things to consider if you are looking into a Nissen Fundoplication :).

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