As a cancer survivor and financial counselor for an Indiana Hospital, Christine is especially aware maintaining a high quality of life. That’s why in 2009 when crackers and milk couldn’t alleviate the burning in her throat she experienced when sleeping, it was time for a doctor visit. After an examination of her esophagus and stomach with a flexible scope, Christine was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
After the initial diagnosis, Christine was advised to make lifestyle modifications, including changing her diet to avoid “trigger foods,” including caffeine, chocolate and licorice. She adjusted her diet and tried sleeping in an upright position on the couch. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get relief from her burning throat. And the lack of sleep was having a huge impact on her day-to-day life. Soon she added a regimen of acid reducing proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications, eventually increasing her dosage from a single daily pill to three. While the medications improved some of her reflux symptoms enough to tolerate, Christine was still experiencing trouble sleeping comfortably and wanted to find a better solution.
Medical mystery: is this really allergies, or maybe atypical reflux symptoms?
Following a routine annual examination, Christine was referred to of the surgical group in the hospital to discuss additional treatment options. The TIF® (transoral incisionless fundoplication) procedure was an obvious choice. “My doctor was the first person to explain that GERD was caused by an anatomical problem, and not a chemical one. This really made sense to me,” she explains. After understanding this distinction, other things began to click for Christine as well. This was why all the diet and lifestyle changes she had made didn’t work—they were addressing the wrong problem. Now she wondered if the nagging cough, raspy voice and chronic upper respiratory infections she was told were due to allergies might actually be connected to a malfunctioning valve, the mechanical issue her doctor described. She’d been taking time out of her life to be on the rigorous allergy shot schedule.
After reviewing the information provided by her doctor, and doing her own research on the procedure, Christine felt ready for a more permanent treatment solution. She was anxious to get off of the high dosages of PPIs. She realized they were just “putting a bandage” on her acid reflux symptoms. Having undergone radiation for her cancer, Christine was all too aware of the impact of medication side effects. She’d read about bone issues related to long-term PPI use, and after fracturing a rib, was even more motivated to undergo the procedure.
In August 2015 Christine underwent the TIF Procedure. She welcomed a new addition to her life – a rescue golden-doodle puppy named Bailey. Christine filled her recovery time by training and walking Bailey. The extra bonding time allowed her new family member to settle in his new home. She also put her creativity to use in the kitchen. She found she could easily stick to the post-procedure diet of liquid and soft foods by draining the meat out of her favorite soups. This technique retained the soup’s meaty flavor; they were satisfying and compliant with the post-procedure diet soft texture instruction. “What surprised me the most was the speed and ease of my recovery,” she says. “I had no trouble with the procedure, and I only wish that I’d known about it sooner!”
No more cough so no more shots for allergies
Christine knew she had made the right decision when she immediately began sleeping well following her procedure. Family members noticed a change in her energy, which she attributes to no more trouble sleeping. After returning to work, a colleague commented that the rasp in her voice was gone. Importantly, her intuition about the allergies was spot on, her chronic cough was atypical GERD, no more time consuming allergy shots! In the year since having the TIF procedure, Christine is no longer plagued with chronic upper repository infections. She can hold a conversation without coughing or sounding ill. Most of all she is thrilled to be off of the PPI medications. Ever the financial counselor, she estimates she’s already saved $800 in prescription costs and doctor visits.
Getting back to herself—Christine gets to live a normal life again
When asked what she most enjoys about acid reflux-free life after the procedure, Christine says that she can now socialize with friends, enjoy wine and food without worrying about being up all night or “paying for it” the next day. “I want anyone who is considering the procedure to know what success I’ve had with it,” Christine says. “It’s completely changed my life.”
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