When I was in my late twenties I started to have occasional bouts of heartburn. I was able to deal with these bouts using Rolaids and Tums and occasionally Alka-Seltzer or Pepto-Bismo. By my mid-30's, I was using Maalox and baking soda to control my heartburn which was getting to be a more regular occurrence. I discovered I could only drink 2 or 3 alcoholic beverages without upsetting my stomach. I quit drinking in 1991. I was forty-two years old and drinking wasn't worth the heartburn. That only gave me a brief reprieve. In the next year or two the heartburn came back with a vengeance. I had my first real incidents of reflux with the acid coming up at night and going down into my lungs. I woke up gagging and staying awake for a couple of hours until my stomach settled down. After several incidents like this I went to my Doctor. The day I went to the Doctor I was belching constantly and suffering from reflux. He thought the belching was caused from swallowing air. Funny, I never had that problem before. 

From 1994 until 1997 I was on Cimetidine and Ranitidine with limited success. I was taking very high doses of Cimetidine and the reflux was as bad as ever. I started to do my own research on the disease on the Internet and learned there were more powerful medications available. I went back to my "family physician" and requested a referral to a specialist.

In November 1997 I went to see a GI Doctor. I had my first endoscopy and the Doctor put me on Prevacid. At that time I was diagnosed with Barretts Esophagus. The Prevacid, which I supplemented with Cimetidine, finally put out the fires. I still had heartburn symptoms all of the time but the belching and reflux were for the most part under control. Before referring me for surgery the Doctor wanted to wait two years. In November 1999 I had another Endoscopy which showed the esophagus was still inflamed from reflux. The GI Doctor thought I might be a candidate for surgery.

In January 2000 I went in for the Manometry test and the 24 hour pH monitor. The week leading up to the tests and the day of the tests were probably worst than the actual surgery. For a week prior to the test I had to quit the Prevacid. Finally 12 hours before the 24 hour pH test you have to stop taking all heartburn relief medications. The tests themselves involve putting tubes through your nose and down into your stomach. You will not be sedated when this procedure is done. In addition the during the 24 hour pH test you will probably have heartburn and reflux like you have never experienced it before because you cannot take anything to relieve the pain.

After the tests the GI Doc said I was an excellent candidate for surgery. He said I had good motility in the stomach and a weak LES (lower esophageal sphincter). He said my LES test was at seven pounds of pressure and normal was 12 to 22 pounds. He referred me to a surgeon but said the choice was mine. After I thought about it for a month I decided to go ahead with the surgery.

On April 4th, 2000 I had a full wrap Nissen Fundoplication surgery. My surgeon also repaired a moderate sized hiatal hernia. He estimated that 25% of the stomach was in the chest cavity. After two weeks I am on a soft food diet. The heartburn and reflux are completely gone. It is like a miracle. I haven't felt this good in 15 years. I wake up and feel like 28, instead of 50. Food hangs up in my throat if I am not careful and I have to sip water and other beverages. As far as burping and belching, I have done that but its not like before. I can't belch on command anymore. The gas which was coming out my mouth is going the other way, finally. I also expect it will be easier to diet and lose a few pounds in the future, as I have no urge to eat something in order to relieve the heartburn.