That’s the day Shannon got her life back after atypical GERD symptoms caused a series of unfortunate events.
My name is Shannon, I’m 38 and from Indiana. I have suffered from reflux since I was a young child. When I got really sick, my son was 6 and my daughter 9 and I missed four years of their lives.
[In 2009], I maxed out on reflux meds. My symptoms got worse as time went on. I had a persistent cough that kept me from eating and sleeping. People often looked at me as if I were a smoker even though I had never smoked a day in my life. My voice became hoarse and I soon forgot what my normal voice sounded like. I also developed asthma. I continued to develop bronchitis and pneumonia. I had yellow eyes. I was hospitalized seven times.
They started out saying it was sinuses, so I had sinus surgery. My doctors at the time refused to believe that reflux could be the cause of my problems. I saw an ENT, gastro doctor, pulmonologist, and a neurologist.
I was constantly being forced to complete various tests—upper GIs [EGD], scopes, broncs, swallow test, neurological testing, over and over and over again.
I was actually asphyxiating because my reflux was so bad. At my worse I was so weak that I was forced into a wheelchair. I had given up and was ready to die.
[In 2012] they found me unconscious after a bronchoscopy. I was rushed back to the hospital and still nothing changed until March. My old pulmonologist knew of your Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication procedure and a surgeon who performed it. He encouraged me to go even though it meant I’d leave his network.
After a near death experience from sepsis and a week in the hospital, my husband and I decided to leave the hospital and see Dr. Heise.
That decision saved my life. The surgeon took one look at me, ordered another scope. Within two days he recommended surgery. I remember sitting in his office crying because someone was finally going to help me.
Agreeing to this procedure was a no brainer for me. I do not regret my decision. The day I had my surgery—March 8, 2013—is now more significant than my birthday.
Within two weeks of my TIF procedure I was off all of my medications, at my worst I was on 14. My voice returned to normal. My cough was 100% gone. The vomiting ceased. Every symptom that I had faced in the last four years had disappeared. I could breathe. I could walk from room to room. My energy levels returned. It’s funny, I almost feel normal. My body was sick for so long, it’s taking me longer to get back on par. Patience isn’t a virtue I have.
I remember 2 days after surgery my husband looking at me and saying that I looked healthy again. I began eating again and not dreading another meal.
Words can’t describe what my family and I went through—the financial and emotional toll. My medical bills are a nightmare. I had all but disappeared from my children’s lives. This surgery gave me my life back.
Recently I had a call from a lady who was contemplating this surgery. After listening to all I had been through she responded that the exact same thing was occurring to her. She didn’t want it to get to the extremes mine did. She decided to have the procedure.
The proper diagnosis and procedure fixed me within a week, whereas previous tests and treatments took four years and almost my life. The surgeon’s ability to see what was happening and fix it changed my life forever. I only wish I would have been advised to see a TIF surgeon sooner.
I still see a pulmonologist and my surgeon but now only for checkups. Every day people are still commenting on how amazing I look and they thought they would be attending my funeral.
Shannon’s new lease on life
Here are some pictures… before and after.
They aren’t flattering, but they get the point across.
Believe it or not, the Disney pictures aren’t my worst.
I just refused to have my pictures taken… I lost more weight after that.
Yeah, prednisone was what they kept me on. It’s evil. I guess it makes normal people gain weight but the opposite for me.
I couldn’t do anything and my parents insisted on [the Disneyland trip] because they were afraid I wouldn’t be around much longer.
Shannon, your story is an inspiration for the employees of EndoGastric Solutions and TIF-trained physicians. This is why we are GERD nerds and hope other patients with atypical symptoms consider the TIF procedure. We wish you a speedy recovery and a full return to a healthy normal life!
To find a TIF-trained physician in your area enter your zip code into the search function on the right-side of this page.
Important Notice: While clinical studies support the effectiveness of TIF (Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication) in treating chronic GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of successful outcome. The TIF surgery may not be appropriate for every individual, and it may not be applicable to your condition. The individual opinions of previous TIF surgery patients presented on this page do not reflect the opinions of EndoGastric Solutions, Inc., and should not be considered as medical advice. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine whether the TIF surgery is appropriate for your situation.
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.