Sunday, October 28, 2007

The dangers of Gerd

I am just getting to my banner from Mary at Isabellascloset and I just love it. Thanks Mary for your sweet and kind giveaway.

I want to give some advice about people having stomach problems because her dear friend Ronnie has cancer. I just finished reading Robin McGraw's book "From my Heart" and it was very profound. She talks about mothers and women having "gut" feelings when things go wrong and doctors ignore us as being "over dramtic". I am here to tell you, like she did, to follow your gut instincts because more than often, they are correct.

In 1982, it was found that I suffered from peptic ucler disease and had a hiatal hernia, which many women get after having a natural birth. I didn't have the hernia fixed, just listened to the doctor and took meds that were supposed to keep the acid down. People, the acid that is in your stomach is supposed to stay there. It's the only organ, equipped to handle "hydrochloric acid". Yes, that's the stuff they put on cement to clean it. If you want to see what it does, you can buy it and experiment with it. It bubbles and literally peels paint off of it. This acid is very important to your stomach but can be a death sentence when it backs up into your esphogus, which can lead to Barrett's Esphogus, the preclude to esphogial cancer.

We come to 1987, after we moved back to my home town and I had to be taken to the emergency room with a swollen and very tender stomach. Tests could not be performed at this time, because there was danger of my stomach rupturing. Again, I listened to the doctor and took meds for it, but it just got worse over the years. I changed my diet, quit smoking, gave up my favorite foods, no carbonated drinks, but it never got better.

In 1998, I had enough and went to a gastrologist to find out what was going on. It turns out that my stomach produced more acid than an average person and it was backing up into my esphogus. Again, I listened to the doctor and took meds to keep the acid production down. Nothing seemed to help and I knew in my gut that something was not right. So in 2000, I asked my gastro doctor to please find out what is going on. After many tests, we finally got some answers---the LEC was not working. This is a little flap that when you eat, it closes to keep your food down and acid out of your esphogus. The only way to fix it was to have a surgery called a Nissan Fundoplication, where they take the fundo of your stomach and wrap it around your esphogus to make a new one. There is one good thing about this surgery, besides keeping your acid down-----your stomach is smaller, so I lost weight that I had been trying for years to take off. It's not the best way to lose, but eating lots of tiny meals is all you can do for the first few months. Mine last a year, the second time it was done.----the rest is history that I wrote about, including getting a Staphollocus Aerious (sic) which is not a good thing. Lately there has been lots of news about the death of a little boy who died from it and the school never told the parents of the other children. WASH your hands after every thing.

The point of my story is to tell you, DON'T wait until it's too late. We asked my doctor if he could guarantee that I would not get cancer from the acid. I knew what his answer would be, because I had researched everything before my surgery and I knew if left untreated, it could lead to esphogial cancer. Also if you wait too long, and you lose motilety (the muscle that moves your food into your stomach), then you can't have the surgery. Having the surgery is a drastic measure but one I had to have done twice. In all, I have had 14 surgeries and still face the prospect of having more. If you want to watch a very moving movie, rent 2 Weeks with Sally Field, it's about a women who had stomach cancer that caused blockages. I had many illiuems (kinks in your intestines) and one led to a partial obstruction that caused every thing I ate to come up. I lost some intestines, but with all the surgeries I had, I have adhesions (scar tissue) that pulls on every nerve in my adbomen. And if that wasn't enough, it has attached itself to my muscle wall, so my muscles are constantly inflamed and I can't take oral meds because of the ulcer disease, so I have to resort to shots every week. Just so you know, I am not on my "pitty pot". I just want to let people know what can happen if you leave Gerd progress. Gerd is totally different from every day "heartburn", which only comes from foods you eat or going to bed too early after eating. I had my first coke in over 25 years and it tasted so good, but I paid a dear price, so it's just not worth it. If you have a hiatal hernia, have it fixed---that could be the chest pain you feel after eating, when part of your stomach becomes lodged into the hernia.

If you feel a burning, along with acid saliva in your mouth, have it checked and refuse to be ignored by your doctor---it can eat the enamel off of your teeth, back up into your lungs and cause pneumonia---which I had a few times. My doctor nicknamed me "Murphy" because what ever could go wrong---did---with me, but I would do it all again and did in 2005 when the fundoplication came undone. There are no guarantees with the surgery that it won't slip and I knew that and some don't last for more than 5 or 10 years. I am not the norm of this surgery. I have met people who had it done and were fine. By all accounts, I should be in the medical journals and who knows, I may be-lol. So don't let my history scare you. I would prefer to go through this again, instead of waiting and have a feeding tube for the rest of my life. About 3 months after my first surgery, I swole up and looked like I was 8 months pregnant---I had 5 hernias (many more to come later) and one was so big that it was my intestines pushing through a huge hole in my abdominal wall.

Mary's friend underwent surgery for stomach cancer and had to have his stomach removed and part of his esphogus and some intestines. My heart goes out to them, because this could have been me. I will forever keep them in my prayers, because I know from experience, the power of prayer. My dad had the same disease and lost part of his stomach also.

I hope and pray that anyone with symptoms of acid reflux, have it checked. Don't wait until it's too late. With our stressful lives, there is a lot of people who suffer from GERD and many will succumb to a dreadful cancer because they refuse to take their care into their own hands. Become your own advocate and research any thing that you feel is not right with your body. If any of you suffer from this, I will be more than happy to tell your more, if you e-mail me. If I can save just one person, it will all be worth it. This will be my last post about my surgeries, because I choose to live, but I would like to help people and I guess this is my way of doing it. I do not feel sorry for myself----if God takes you to it, He will bring you through it and He has many times. I still let stress get to me, but most days, I try to live like it's my last. As Tim McGraw's song goes---"Live like you were dying"---it makes every day a wonderous day. I now use every thing I was saving for a "special" day, because every day is special to me.

Through all this, I had the wonderful support of a craft group and like Amy, it kept me going. I am so glad that I found the world of blogging, because there are days when I would like to just say "enough is enough", but Amy's strong spirit has touched me like an angel. Amy if you are reading this, God has a purpose for everything and when you start feeling better, you will understand why "things" happen to good people.

I hope that I haven't scared you away from visiting my blog. I soon hope to get back into some more giveaways, because I love giving and I was given the gift of life that I want to share with anyone I can. Sorry I didn't get to my "Halloween" giveaway, but as you know, my siter is opening her boutique next Saturday and things have been very fast and busy, so keep an eye out for good things to come. May God protect you from harm and Bless you every day---it's wonderful gift that He has given us, so share it with the world. Hugs, Pat


IsabellaCloset said...

Pat, The banner looks great! So glad you like it.
Thanks so much for all this information..You have been a huge help. What both you and my friend Ronnie have gone through. It's just so sad. I wish you the very best.. Hang in there! ~Mary~ :-}

The Urban Chic said...

Mary, thanks so much. I haven't gone through what Ronnie will be facing right now and I know that things will be better for them. I have been hanging on for more than 7 years and I don't intend to let go. Hugs, Pat

Julie said...

I am back, so please stop by my blog and vote for something I need help on! Thanks.

PS - I am a BIG believer in my gut feelings!