Heartburn is more than inconvenient.
If heartburn symptoms are preventing you from doing your favorite form of exercise and holding you back from eating vegetables, read Ryan’s story; it might sound familiar.
When did you first start feeling acid reflux symptoms?
Age 16 (1990)
How soon did you go to see a doctor?
Age 17 (1991)
Was your GERD hard to diagnose?
What tests were performed?
EGD & Upper GI series
What was the biggest complaint from your significant other?
Friends and family were sick of hearing me complain about it, so I stopped. Then they felt bad when they saw how many meds I was taking.
How did GERD affect your social life?
I was a competitive swimmer; the horizontal swimming movements made GERD a constant problem, in and out of pool. Had a bottle of water and Rolaids on side of the pool at all times
How has GERD affected your work-life?
Was a student at the time, but it was hard to keep meds accessible and hold a schedule with hectic school/athletic schedule
How did GERD affect your lifestyle and quality of life?
It was a major part of my daily and nightly routine. I had to take the stronger meds (PPI’s) each day, and had H2 blockers and calcium carbonates to supplement when needed. Every few months the PPI side effects became worse than the GERD so I’d stop and just take more H2’s and CC’s.
Did you have to sleep in a different position or in a different place because of GERD?
I had a raised bed but relied on Rolaids on the night stand more than trying to find a position.
Did you ever have a socially awkward or embarrassing moment caused by GERD symptoms and/or PPIs?
Rare cases of vomiting, otherwise it didn’t bother me much. I didn’t pay attention if it bothered others.
What was the final straw that made you decide you needed more than medication?
I always knew surgery was an option, but did not want an invasive solution. A co-worker recommended a newer procedure that was minimally invasive and it actually worked. I called my doctor for a referral the same day.
Passion To Resolve
How did you learn about the TIF procedure?
Co-worker’s wife had it done 6 months prior and highly recommended it
What attracted you to the TIF procedure?
Minimally invasive, low risk and testimonial
Who encouraged you to choose the TIF procedure? Why?
I discussed with my wife and we agreed to go forward.
What was your favorite post-procedure food in the first 2 weeks, 4 weeks?
I didn’t get crazy on any new or risky foods for at least 2 months. Once that settled, I treated myself to some tasty red wine.
What guilty pleasure did you enjoy because you had to “take it easy” post procedure?
Ate baby food – Strawberry banana Gerber food, I actually love that stuff.
What surprised you the most after the procedure?
I didn’t have ANY heartburn! I kept on a strict diet for about 60 days, and then gradually started testing how resistant I was to heartburn and went almost 90 days before I could give myself heartburn, and that took a bunch of wine and pizza to make it happen.
Was it worth doing?
And now, 1 year later
Post-recovery period, how soon did you get back to your normal lifestyle?
What do you not miss about having GERD now that it’s GONE!
Having a bottle of Rolaids everywhere – night stand, car, wife’s car, suitcase, travel bag, wife’s purse, desk drawer at work, my friends used to keep a stock for me in case I ran out or forgot mine. I still get heartburn from time to time, but just when I deserve it (wine, taco’s, etc.)
Would you recommend this procedure to other GERD sufferers?
Estimate how much money and time you’ve saved not going to the drug store to purchase meds?
At least $50/month
How do you feel about your risk of Barrett’s/esophageal cancer and risks associated with prescription medications?
I constantly experienced short term side effects of all the meds I was taking and so I switched them up every 6 months, but my major fear was long term side effects like cancer and God-knows-what when you eat a bottle of Rolaids every week for 23 years.
Do you see your physician less often?
I stopped seeing physicians about GERD over 10 years ago after they ran every test they could and said to take meds or get surgery. I’ve managed it myself – which is probably why I did not hear about TIF sooner.
Returning to Life
Words of wisdom to others suffering from GERD.
Look into a TIF.
How has your life changed?
I do not plan my life around GERD anymore.
What are you inspired to do now?
Swim more, I’ve always loved it, but it was so painful with reflux I moved to other activities.
What activity and/or food do you most enjoy now that you couldn’t with GERD.
Swimming regularly and wine.
We are excited that Ryan is getting back into the water and not suffering from heartburn symptoms. Regular physical activity is recommended for good health and swimming is always at the top of the list. The horizontal nature of the activity seems to have been a trigger–there’s a reason gravity is a law.
Note that Ryan even suffered from heartburn symptoms from eating salad–raw veggies are another common recommendation for maintaining good health.
Ryan’s tip about eating baby food post-TIF procedure is a great idea. You want to gradually increase the texture of your foods from liquids to normal bite sizes and this is a clever and convenient interim step. If rebuilding the gastroesophageal valve can help you stay active with your favorite exercise and allow you to eat healthy food, then the TIF procedure is “absolutely” worth doing.
Debbie Donovan is in the marketing department and is editor of this blog. She’s also managing the GERDHelp social media channels where we post hot stories on heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. Deb ice skates and likes routines with fancy footwork and spins.