I had occasional heartburn as a teen, and it worsened in my mid-20s. Over the last 4 years it has severely affected my quality of life at times, and even in the good weeks was definitely a daily experience. I'm a classical singer, and the combination of reflux and constant belching made me slow down a lot in my (now amateur) career on that front, and occasionally stop altogether. Reflux is just plain discouraging as many of you know, and I often felt despair at ever being free of it, let alone think about things like starting a family (weak LES+pregnancy: not a good combo!). During a good month, I would get excited about the new energy I had for doing the things I loved, but then things would dip again and I'd lose focus, interest, and passion for those things.
Pre-LINX, my symptoms were fairly typical of GERD - reflux especially of
fluids (cold ones very noticeably traveling back up throat), pressure
in esophagus, dyspepsia, belching, gastritis, heartburn, occasional
regurgitation into mouth, occasional hoarseness, feeling full after a
small meal, bloating etc. It worsened when bending over and sitting
down, and I often felt it when getting out of bed (i.e. from lying to
standing). I was lucky never to wake up in the night from it, however. Many GERD-sufferers have it much worse. That said, some weeks were atrocious; others were bearable, still others almost normal.
I tried everything - change of diet (including 6 weeks of gluten-free, which was an entertaining adventure), kefir/probiotics, ACV with mother, calcium citrate powder, L-glutamine, ginger, licorice, and of course a steady flow of PPIs. The omeprazole really helped my heartburn but didn't really improve the reflux much. I have been taking between 20mg and 40mg over the last 4 years. I also tried domperidone (a motility drug that also helps close the LES) to no effect.
I looked into partial Nissen fundoplication, but the surgeon I saw said that although I was eligible to receive it, he wouldn't advise it as I was young and it sometimes needs to be re-done after a decade.
I found out about the LINX on Healing Well, which is a great resource for those of you with the time and energy to scroll through many pages of user-experiences. While I found some major drawbacks (including inability to have an MRI, some users not seeing sustained improvement, and more significantly, the lack of long-term data), when I compared it to the Nissen, I was won over. The LINX is reversible whereas the Nissen is generally not; it has a quicker recovery time; there are fewer side effects (like the inability to belch or vomit, for which the Nissen is infamous); and it seems to me to augment the body's natural function, rather than alter the anatomy.
I had somewhat atypical test results from the 24 hour pH monitoring which I should mention -- my acid levels were within normal range (DeMeester of 12), although the diagnostic physician could tell that I was very sensitive to the pain as I pressed the 'pain!' button quite a bit. He could also see that I had "significant" non-acidic reflux. There was some debate as to whether the LINX would be effective for me, but the three doctors who examined my results all agreed that it would likely be an good fit. In fact, because my heartburn (though not reflux) responded so well to PPIs, that was a positive indicator for a good outcome according to one study.
I underwent the procedure on 27 June 2013, a date which I hope to be able to say marked a turning point in my life. I'm looking forward to getting off PPIs soon as well, especially as osteoporosis is probably on the cards for me in any case, even without the malabsorption effect of the PPIs.
I hope this journal of my recovery will be helpful to those of you considering the LINX or undergoing it. I welcome your comments and questions about the LINX. Good luck in your journey fighting for a reflux solution. I'm cheering for you!
*I should say that I am not in any way compensated by Torax, nor should the medical info here be taken as absolute or representative of Torax surgeons. What you read are my honest thoughts and experiences - and mine alone.
LINX surgery - antireflux surgery - LINX procedure - heartburn - LINX