Inspirational Patient Story: Post-Reflux Surgery Recovery
I wanted to highlight a patient’s story as she has been such an inspiration to me:
Dr Bell and I have known Jill since 2012 when she came to see us after having a fundoplication in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2009. She had terrible regurgitation and heartburn and was diagnosed with scleroderma that same year. This is a connective tissue disease that can affect all areas of the body. She has suffered a lot of complications from this terrible disease. It can be terribly painful at times. Surgery can be difficult in this situation as people with scleroderma have a valve that doesn’t work, so they have considerable reflux. They also have an esophagus that doesn’t push well, so there are some who say they shouldn’t have surgery for reflux as they can have difficulty swallowing because the esophagus does not push. If done properly, the surgery can offer tremendous relief from reflux with minimal impact on swallowing. This has been true in our practice.
Jill decided to proceed with surgery. She did great for a few years with significant improvement of her quality of life and no issues swallowing.
Over the last few years, she developed some recurrent heartburn and regurgitation and was found to have a recurrent hiatal hernia and recurrent reflux. She managed her symptoms with medications until she was found to have anemia. This was related to pressure on her stomach from the hernia. Dr Bell discussed revisional surgery and she wanted to proceed.
One of her concerns at her preoperative appointment (her surgery was on July 7th) was that she would be cleared to hike a 14er on Labor Day weekend (Not just any 14er – Long’s Peak). Given her issues with her connective tissue disease, I did not think she would be able to heal in time for such a workout.
Her before surgery workout was Ptarmigan Glacier:
Her surgery went very well and she was back on her feet quickly. She progressed her diet as instructed and has relief from her heartburn and regurgitation. She doesn’t have any significant swallowing issues. And best of all:
Here she is on Long’s Peak the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. I don’t know that I could climb Long’s Peak, let alone after having surgery a month prior:
Kudos to Jill for her accomplishments in the face of adversity!