My experience with GERD began about two years ago when I developed the feeling of a lump in my throat after I had something to eat or drink. As this symptom continued to worsen, my mouth started to fill with something very unpleasant when I bent down. I often had to vomit in order to get rid of it. Next came bad chest pain which I believed was the result of a heart attack. It was time to see a doctor!

My family practitioner ran some tests and prescribed 150 mg. of Zantac per day. The medication really did not help me. After 6 months of feeling constant throat irritation and wondering "What do I have?" I was referred to a gastroenterologist. He performed an endoscopy, a pH test, and informed me that I had very bad acid reflux. At that time an appointment with a surgeon was set up.

The surgeon told me that he could help me by performing a laporoscopic Nissen Fundoplication, which was performed on January 9, 1998. In the hospital three days later, I was excited when I was allowed to eat three spoonfuls of broth. However, within five minutes I had severe heartburn. The doctor told me that this was not unusual because of the swelling of my esophagus as it recovered from the surgery. Six hours later I experienced terrible pain and the feeling of massive pressure. Some tests were performed which indicated that the healing process was progressing normally. An injection of Demerol made me feel more comfortable.

The following day I felt better and I was discharged from the hospital. As each day passed, the pain of healing eased. But, I still had heartburn. The doctor continued to tell me that this was normal after surgery for some people. He prescribed 40 mg of Prilosec per day. It wasn't long before I was also taking large doses of Maalox, Rolaids and whatever else I felt I needed, because once again I was experiencing severe heartburn. My stomach became so large that people started to ask me when my baby was due. I was not pregnant. In addition, what seemed to feel like a hard tennis ball appeared in the center of my stomach.

Thirteen months after my first surgery I was referred to a new gastroenterologist and then to a surgeon. Testing confirmed that my wrap had indeed come apart. In addition, there appeared to be problems with my gallbladder and the possibility of tumors. Because of the complexity of my problems, the surgeon informed me that the second surgery could not be performed laporoscopically. On August 31, 1999, I underwent this surgery to help my GERD. At this time my gallbladder was also removed and the "ball," which turned out to be a large hernia, was repaired.

So far things are going well. I have only had mild heartburn a few times. For me, the recovery time from the open surgery was shorter and easier than my experience with the lap Nissen. I also had less pain immediately after surgery this time. Perhaps this was due to the pain medication I was given. I thought that sharing my experiences might help some of you. I wish you all well.

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