Sunday, 30 June 2013

Day 3

Not sure if it's the tramadol, GA, or just plain old surgery trauma, but I woke up feeling pretty rough this morning. Had to lie down down twice when the world starting getting hazy! Food helped - had some oatmeal and tea. More discomfort after eating, specifically a painful upward push that sort of echoes all the way up the esophagus. No pain on the way down though. That painful upward feeling happened after every meal today, and sort of felt like a burp that wouldn't come, except I felt it high up in the esophagus at the throat too. I think that either something is pushing up against the LINX, in which case I'm happy it's working, or it's some kind of mild spasm that's related to the surgery. I'd be interested to know which it is, but it's too early on to be worried about any symptom really.

Managed more food today -- appetite returning slowly. Lunch was pre-made potato bake with veggies and small pieces of chicken (thank you, Tesco), and I decided to try more bread again for dinner with one of my trigger foods, peanut butter. Foods with high water content and density are easier, though one measly grape nearly got the better of me!

I managed a slow walk down the end of the street and back. Because my surgery was late in the evening, this is really day 2 rather than 3, so I'm happy with recovery still. Shoulder pain still there but not as insistent. I was able to lie down on my side for a nap in the afternoon (I'm a tummy sleeper, so side-sleeping is my best bet with 6 holes in the abdominal wall!), which I couldn't do last night.

I've spent the last two days solo in the house, and for those of you who are considering the LINX and live alone, I'd recommend getting a friend or family member to come and stay with you for the first day or so. Nothing is unmanageable, but mobility limitations (i.e. reaching for something off the shelf or on the floor), possible woozy patches, and the need for distraction from the pain would all be helped by having someone around.

Also, I would recommend taking a stool softener from day 1, as constipation makes bloating worse anyway - and I think the bloating is a big part of the pain I'm experiencing in my stomach, when taking a deep breath etc. 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Day 2

Shoulder pain back in full force in the morning. I'd heard from others that moving around/walking helped, but that made it much worse for me. If I lay down still the pain was tolerable. After breakfast a second dose of tramadol and paracetamol helped. Every 6 hours now I take tramadol (50mg) and paracetamol (500mg).

I had been drinking water through the night with no problems -- none of the typical cold water coming back up the throat as usual. My surgeon said it was too early to judge anything, but I was pleased nonetheless! It's so important to grasp the positive signs, because naturally the negatives weigh more heavily on us.

That said, I was pretty worried about breakfast. It was hard to believe that the LINX was actually implanted and that things could possibly feel the same. The nurse recommended starting with porridge and raisins. Nothing felt stuck, and I made sure to drink warm tea every few bites. The Torax rep I spoke to mentioned that drinking something before a meal can help prime the LINX, so I'll plan to do that - probably with warm water - until I feel more confident. I didn't experience any reflux afterwards but did have one very painful hiccup (short-lived, thankfully!) and several moments where I wanted to belch but didn't. I say didn't rather than couldn't because I didn't try very hard! No nausea.

I have six incisions (despite being told I'd only have 4) and like most people, the onsite pain isn't really that bad, just sort of insistent when the meds wear off, and it sure lets you know what mobility limitations there are! I've been able to sit up fine, squat to pick something up off the floor, and generally take a deep breath when I need to by bending forward slightly. Not really a big deal when on the meds...although I fear the meds allow me to overdo it a bit and by the end of today I was really feeling the pain everywhere.

Left the hospital at 11am and the car journey home was a little unpleasant on the incisions. Talking is definitely difficult and painful, and my voice is still hoarse. The nurse recommended walking around to prevent blood clots but at the moment I can't stand up straight due to the pain from the incisions and so walking is a little bit feeble too. Good reason to snuggle up in bed with a film...

Lunch of toast with cheese and avocado went down fine with water to help. Bread is always harder to swallow but I wanted to test it out. Delicious British strawberries were a treat as well. A few hiccup/spasms as in the morning but not nearly as painful.

Most people seem to experience the worst of the dysphagia between weeks 2 and 6, and describe a sort of W effect, where scar tissue will form and cause restriction and dysphagia, before the body readjusts and you feel better again. Then scar tissue reforms and causes issues, then readjustment...etc. I've been encouraged to eat regular food to help exercise the tissue, though was told, with a smile, that a steak and french bread might not be the easiest to manage for the the first few days.

It certainly seems true that after the first 5 or so swallows, things feel almost normal for the remainder of the meal. I'm taking one Gas-X with every meal as other LINX-ers have advised as preventive medicine. 

I've heard from others that pain improves around days 3-4 quite a bit...looking forward to that!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Day 1 - Surgery

My surgery was at 7.30pm, so I arrived at 5pm at the hospital and was very well taken care of by the excellent Circle Reading staff.

Before I was administered the GA, I mentioned to the anesthetist that I was having to miss a rehearsal for the Gilbert and Sullivan show I'm doing due to the surgery, and he insisted on me singing a few lines from Les Mis, one of his favorites. I happily obliged, though since I already had a hypodermic-full of relaxant in me, I'm not sure quite how melodious that rendition turned out to be!

I awoke around 9 - the surgery is about an hour long - and found it hard to catch my breath for a few minutes but was soon back in my room. No significant pain around the incisions, but before long my shoulders started aching terribly, due to the CO2 they inflate your stomach with during the procedure. Tramadol and good old-fashioned paracetemol did the trick and I was able to rest throughout the night, though I did not sleep (tramadol keeps me relaxed but alert). The nurse checked my vitals at regular intervals.

Sore throat from the intubation was also better than expected. This was my second experience with GA and I felt it was much easier this time round, which I completely owe to the fantastic anesthetist!

All in all, I was impressed at how little pain I felt. Having had shoulder surgery before which was painful despite various pain medications, this was a pleasant surprise. Also pleasant was the discovery that my room had the Food Network channel!