In my first gastrointestinal disorders post, I talked about my disorders and learning to live with them. Today I wanted to share the surgeries that I have had and other things that I do to help ease symptoms of these disorders. Basically, I have slow digestive motility through my entire digestive tract. These disorders include gastroparesis and achalasia.
To treat the gastroparesis, I tried several different medications like Reglan and azithromycin. Reglan is a medication that reduces acid reflux and assists with gastroparesis by facilitating the emptying of the stomach. Azithromycin in some studies has been shown to help with gastroparesis. I did take the liquid form in small doses everyday for several weeks to see the effects, if any. Both medications helped a bit, but neither had benefits that made it worth taking extra medication everyday.
On top of having achalasia causing slowness in my esophagus, we found out that my esophagus narrows. The combination causes food to stay in my esophagus, and is really uncomfortable. While eating, food would sit in my esophagus and I was unable to get it to move down.
In agreement with my doctor, I decided to have an esophageal dilation procedure done. An esophageal dilation is an endoscopy where the doctor inserts a balloon into the esophagus and and stretches it open where it is constricting. This surgery didn’t have too many complications, but it didn’t work for me either.
A few months later, my doctor suggested I should have a nissen fundoplicaton with a heller myotomy. Say that five times fast! I had to see a gastroesophageal surgeon who performed the procedure. We went over my history and determined that the surgery would be a good fit for me. This surgery is a laparoscopic procedure in which muscles were cut in the esophagus to help with getting food down. Then the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus to help with acid reflux and help prevent the vomitting and regurgitation issues I was having..
There was a lot to this surgery and it was very painful. I had complications after surgery that were not related to the surgery itself. So my recovery was a lot more frustrating and longer than expected. It has helped with a lot of my issues, but I still have some pain and difficulty stretching my abdomen fully because of the wrapping of my stomach.
Living Life with Gastrointestinal Disorders
I mentioned this in my first post, but one of the main things I have had to do is learn to listen to my body. i have to eat slowly and carefully. When I have a flare up, which ironically I’ve had the week of writing this post, I will stick to a more full liquid diet. Protein shakes have helped as well as a product called Zeal. (With this link, I have to tell you I am a consultant, but mainly to save money because this is a product my husband and I use everyday.) Zeal is a powder that you can drink with water or juice that is packed full of vitamins and nutrients. I have found over the past two years of drinking my vitamins that I have less deficiencies. My body can absorb the nutrients this way better than food or a tablet vitamin supplement. Zeal also helps with my nausea. I have to take phenergan for it, which makes me sleepy. If I catch the nausea early enough, I can drink a Zeal as a replacement for the phenergan.
I try to stay away from heavy breads, and also have to be careful of potatoes to avoid issues with my esophagus. Cutting high fat foods and foods that are harder and take longer to digest has also helped. i spoke previously about eating gluten free which has been great for my digestive system. Its all a balance, and its definitely not easy, but making these decisions has helped me live my life better.
Overall my best advice for any disorder, may it be like mine or not, is learn to listen to your body. It will thank you!
Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have. I’ll happily answer them the best I can!