At RefluxMD we love it when one of our members takes a moment to share their story with us. When we recently received an email from Ron in Colorado, we knew we had to talk with him and learn more. We started RefluxMD with the goal to help GERD sufferers design their personal plan to relief and good health. We believed that if we provided high-quality online information, assessment tools, resources, and access to the top GERD experts, the millions suffering from reflux disease could then make the right treatment decision that is in their best interest. Ron’s story re-energizes us to stay the course as he learned how to treat acid reflux without PPI medications. We hope you agree and that you enjoy this account of Ron’s journey.
A few weeks ago Laura Cox received the following email from one of RefluxMD’s members:
Laura…through your encouragement, I just had Nissen Fundoplication to correct my GERD. I am doing great thus far. Your weekly newsletter kept me informed as to what was happening and when I went through the tests and was told my acid reflux was 45 (normal is about 15), I went for the surgery as recommended by the specialist that was referred by your website. Thanks so much for the newsletter and encouragement, and if I can give back in anyway, please let know. God Bless.
This is Ron’s story:
Ron, an active and healthy owner of a small business in Colorado, told us that he first began to notice symptoms when he was 61. For many like Ron, GERD can be present without any symptoms until the disease progresses. According to Ron, his initial symptoms were very minor. “My symptoms started about 2 ½ years ago. I would start to eat lunch and then I would get the hiccups. Not a big deal at first, but then it took me a little longer each time to get rid of them. One day a few months later, I had some regurgitation, and then I knew something was getting worse. I did not have any heartburn or other symptoms. I talked to my doctor and he told me that I had acid reflux and to take some Prilosec or Nexium to get rid of the symptoms. He just light-heartedly said ‘Its not a big deal. A lot of people live on Prilosec.’ I just thought to myself, I’m one of those people.” For Ron, the PPIs worked and his regurgitation seemed to be gone along with the hiccups. According to Ron, “I was feeling great after that, so it was back to normal life.”
Ron gets a wake-up call about his GERD symptoms
“Last year we went to the State Fair and I was eating chicken, and then all of the sudden regurgitation hit me and I couldn’t get rid of it. It went on for an hour and a half at the fair and then we finally went home. It took me three hours to get rid of it (regurgitation). That really woke me up and knew I had to do something at that point. I discovered RefluxMD and started to follow the suggestions on the website, like waiting three hours after you eat before you go to bed, and to stay away from things that trigger foods such as chocolate and soda pop, and it helped.”
Ron had a colonoscopy scheduled and when he mentioned his symptoms to his gastroenterologist, the doctor suggested that he have an endoscope examination of his esophagus at the same time. According to Ron, the results were not good. “Sure enough, he said my esophagus was irritated and showed narrowing with a hiatal hernia and my ‘flapper’ not closing after eating. The doctor told me ‘You need to take something to take care of that right away.’ He was pretty serious, and that woke me up a little bit more. He put me on 60 mg Dexilant, which I think is a more powerful dose. I followed up with another endoscopy about six months later and my esophagus was much improved, so I continued the Dexilant.”
Taking responsibility for his acid reflux
According to Ron, it was RefluxMD’s weekly emails that kept nagging him to become more proactive with his disease. “I was reading a newsletter from Laura that PPIs will take care of it (symptoms), but they don’t heal the problem. I was thinking, at this point, I don’t want to go through the rest of my life taking PPIs. I don’t want to worry that I didn’t take my PPI one day or something. I want to take care of this while I’m still relatively young, so I had to learn how to treat acid reflux without medications.”
“On RefluxMD’s website it says if you need help or if you need to set up an appointment, just let the website know. I just emailed RefluxMD this message, ‘Set me up an appointment’. After three days someone from your website sent me an email asking if anyone had contacted me. I replied not yet, and the very next day a surgeon from the SurgOne office called and we set up the appointment. I’m glad you guys were so persistent.”
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The SurgOne Forgut Institute in Englewood, CO has several GERD experts, including Reginald C.W. Bell, M.D., F.A.C.S. Working closely with these GERD experts, Ron had a complete workup, which confirmed Ron’s GERD diagnosis and that his esophagus was again narrowing. “After these tests, my SurgOne specialist thought it best that I have the Nissen Fundoplication procedure. After much thought and meditation, plus talking to two different people who had had this same procedure and were extremely happy with it, I decided to have the surgery.”
Ron undergoes GERD surgery to repair his LES
The surgery was performed at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, CO, a three-hour drive from Ron’s home. “I came in on a Thursday afternoon for a 3 o’clock surgery, and I was back in the room by 6 PM, and I slept pretty well that night. By Friday afternoon I was discharged, but they wanted me to stay close to the hospital the next night, so we stayed at a hotel near the hospital. Saturday I woke up feeling pretty good and with my wife, we decided to recuperate at the house.”
Today Ron is taking his daily 2-mile walk with his golden retriever and feeling much better. “I was a little bit tired after that (surgery). However, after three weeks I’m about 90%. I feel so much better after losing a little weight and have had no episodes of hiccups, regurgitation, etc. since the procedure — plus peace of mind. That’s number one – peace of mind. Thank goodness for doctors and websites like yours to help us out and give us an idea about what we should be doing if we start having symptoms.”
Learn more: GERD Treatment Procedures At-A-Glance
The lesson: Educate yourself so you can make the best choice for you
I asked Ron if he had any thoughts for others with similar symptoms: “Everyone is in a different situation, but I would say go talk to your doctor and do some research on your own. The doctor wants to help you, but it is up the individual to determine what is best for them. Many people think that as long as they are on this medicine (PPIs) they are going to be OK. But if you start reading about the long-term effects, you really have to consider that. Everyone wants to live longer and see their grandkids, so everyone one needs to take that to heart. Don’t put it off. If you have any regurgitation or swallowing problems, get to your doctor right away.”
We really don’t have anything to add to Ron’s recommendation – simply perfect! Our thanks to Ron for sharing his story, and to Dr. Bell and his team at SurgOne for all that they do for those seeking long-term relief and peace of mind.