RefluxMD connected with Terry, a RefluxMD member, on Facebook. She was considering LINX surgery for her acid reflux, and we were happy to provide some thoughts. When we asked her if she would consider sharing her story, she jumped at the chance. “If I can help others, you can count on me!” Here is Terry’s story in her own words.
My story is a little different from most. Over the last 15 years, I always thought I just had a mild case of heartburn with a lump in my throat. Most of the time I didn’t even use any medications. I didn’t battle with acid reflux all those years since it was more of an annoyance, but things changed in 2014.
It was then I kept noticing I was having acid backing up into my throat frequently. By 2015 it felt like food was getting stuck in my chest. I began to question myself: Was I not chewing my food adequately? Was I eating the wrong foods? What was changing? I was having some other issues as well, so I decided to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist (GI).
I was in for a shock
In November of 2015, I had my initial visit with my GI, and he immediately ordered an endoscopy. He diagnosed me with diverticulitis, a hiatal hernia, esophageal strictures, GERD, esophagitis, and gastritis! Needless to say, I was shocked to learn that! He also performed dilation during the endoscopy.
His treatment plan was pantoprazole, 40 mg., and he told me I would need to take it daily for the rest of my life. He also suggested that I watch my diet (whatever that was supposed to mean), and he never mentioned any risks or side effects associated with the drug.
Relief was short lived
The pantoprazole was effective in reducing some of my side effects for the first year, but after that, I began to notice some changes. The first issue was that acid was again coming up into my throat and fairly frequently. Also, I seemed to lack energy, and I felt tired all the time
I saw my family doctor who ordered blood tests that found I was deficient in two vitamins, B12 and D3. She recommended B12 shots monthly (difficult given my schedule) and daily vitamin D3 tablets.
Upon learning about these vitamin deficiencies, I started researching pantoprazole, and I realized that this medication was most likely the underlying cause.
In February 2017 the feeling that food was again getting stuck in my chest resulted in an office visit with my GI. He performed another endoscopy, with the second dilation of my esophagus. Later his GI nurse told me that some patients require monthly dilations, which was greatly disturbing.
It was time to take charge of my treatment
I started doing some research on the Internet, and that’s when I found RefluxMD. That website had everything I needed to know, and I was so grateful that I found it.
When I went for a follow-up exam with my GI, I started asking him several questions that I had written down. Here is our dialogue:
QUESTION: Can a hiatal hernia be fixed?
GI RESPONSE: No.
QUESTION: Can my LES be fixed surgically?
GI RESPONSE: No.
QUESTION: Can pantoprazole be responsible for depleting my B12 and D3? (By now I could tell he was a little agitated with me for asking so many questions.)
GI RESPONSE: I’ve never heard that pantoprazole causes those problems. Where are you reading all of this, it’s just not correct.
His next statement took me by surprise, and it was that moment I decided I would never go back to see him nor use pantoprazole again. He told me all my problems would go away if I lost 25 pounds. My BMI at the time was only 27. That was my last conversation with this GI.
A second opinion leads to new treatment
I also found a GERD expert with the help of RefluxMD. He is a surgeon, and he provided me with all of my treatment alternatives, including surgical options. More importantly, he told me my underlying issue, a damaged lower esophageal sphincter, could be repaired with a high potential for complete relief.
He suggested two procedures, the LINX surgery, and a Nissen fundoplication. We discussed each surgical procedure, surgical recovery, side effects, and results. For me, the Nissen just didn’t sound right.
After holding the LINX in the palm of my hand, I knew it was the right choice for me. It would shut off the volcano of acid I had constantly coming up my esophagus to my throat, but I would also still be able to belch and vomit, something you can’t do with the Nissen procedure.
LEARN MORE: GERD treatment procedures at a glance
Time for a permanent solution
I needed to avoid any more damage to my esophagus, and I knew I had thickening of the tissue around my voice box. After speaking with my insurance company, I scheduled a Bravo pH test and based on those results, my insurance approved the LINX surgery, and my procedure was scheduled.
When I woke up from surgery, I could tell that it was already working. After several days of eating a regular diet, I noticed acid was no longer reaching my throat. What a relief!!
Now, three weeks post op, I’m feeling great. The first week was a learning process and a challenge. I learned to take small bites, chew completely, and swallow small portions instead of everything at once. Small sips of warm tea following each bite helps as well.
Since then I’ve found that baked fish and seafood are very easy to eat. I haven’t had red meat, but I’ve eaten pork and chicken with no problems. A big “plus” is that I’m eating healthier and I’ve dropped nine pounds in the last three weeks! Sometimes I forget that I even had surgery.
LEARN MORE: RefluxMD articles on the LINX procedure
Terry’s advice for others seeking relief
I know everyone is different, so I can’t tell you that surgery is right or not. But it was the right decision for me, and if you are struggling with your GERD symptoms, please give surgery, especially LINX surgery, consideration.
If you want to get off of your medications; if you’re tired of feeling like you’re not getting any answers; if you just don’t feel better after trying for years, then do your research. Get a second opinion, especially with a GERD expert like I did. Don’t just accept the first treatment plan, get two or three, or whatever it takes to help you find your path to relief and feel better. Like me, you will be glad you did!
RefluxMD: Thank you, Terry!
Here at RefluxMD, we want to thank Terry for sharing her story with us. Surgery is an important and viable option that we hope others will consider if they are unable to find symptom relief. Our medical advisors first recommend the following natural and safe process as you develop your path to relief:
- Reach and maintain a healthy BMI of 24 or less
- Adopt a GERD-friendly diet
- Make all the necessary lifestyle changes
- Utilize less powerful medications such as H2 blockers and antacids
- Experiment with natural home remedies
GERD is due to one thing, a damaged or weak LES, and the only treatment that will restore the LES to stop acid from reaching the esophagus is antireflux surgery. Get started today and design your path to relief!
We are pleased that Terry chose a RefluxMD GERD expert, Dr. James G. Redmann, MD, FACS, FASMBS with Surgical Specialists of Louisiana. Dr. Redmann serves the residents of New Orleans and the surrounding area. Dr. Redmann is experienced in all antireflux surgical procedures, including LINX surgery.