The concept of surgery is so complicated when you think of it in terms of the patient-body relationship. You sign consent forms- consenting to whatever measures are needed to keep your body as healthy and stable as possible- and go into it knowing you will not be aware at the time of what is happening to your own body. You consent to getting so incredibly ill, before you have to work as hard as you can to get better. It is an odd thought… Signing consent forms for surgery will never be something that is not emotional. Despite this, surgery always leads to an eventual recovery, an eventual return to some level of normalcy, and an eventual return to living life with more joy than pain. The sun shines brighter after the darkness.
Tomorrow I once again will listen to music as I drift off to sleep for another two abdominal surgeries. I will be having a hiatal hernia repair, and a fundoplication. Fundoplication surgery has been mentioned off and on since I was 16, and it became a large focus of ours for a year now. Surgery when you are chronically ill, when you know as of now there is no magical fix, is something you always try to avoid. We did that, and I find peace knowing we tried every non-surgical option before realizing we needed to take these steps now.
I remember when I first started having reflux it was a burning sensation, uncomfortable but tolerable. I never thought that issue could be something that requires surgery, that it was a mundane issue. My reflux is an issue that plagues me every day and night. I wake up coughing and gasping for air due to it. It causes constant sore throats, random coughing attacks, dental enamel damage and erosion, cavities, esophagus irritation, random needs to vomit. It has required trying every dosage of medications, the highest doses possible, and using medications until they no longer work. This year we maxed out on everything non-surgical to try and keep these issues at bay.
My last pH study showed that on average my reflux episodes are 77 minutes long in continuous duration. The junction between my esophagus and stomach is completely unresponsive and no longer blocks any of the reflux. Part of my stomach has decided to plan a little escape and has herniated through my diaphragm into my chest cavity. My reflux has become medically refractory and now is causing issues that are incredibly challenging to manage, especially regarding my dental health and my ability to sleep. Due to my underlying motility issues that are also in my esophagus, the more conservative surgical options are not possible which lead us to put a lot of thought and research into every decision we have made, leading to a fundoplication and hernia repair.
I am fortunate enough to have found a surgery team that is incredibly comprehensive, and always thinks of how to be as careful and thoughtful as possible with each decision they take in regards to my medical care. I trust them fully and completely. I know I am in the best hands possible.
Surgery will be long this time, around 3-4 hours long, and is scheduled to be from 7:30 am through 11:00 am. I will be admitted afterwards, and then we begin the road to recovery. Due to my underlying health issues, we are unsure what recovery will look like. I will be allowed nothing by mouth for a period of time, then cleared to drink clear liquids, and then will be on a liquid diet for an extended period of time.
I have had so many emotions regarding another surgery, especially one that is not simple and is as involved as this surgery is. I fully admit that I have had so many tears, nightmares, and fears/anxieties about these two surgeries. I struggled with knowing the upper portion of my abdomen, the last section of untouched skin, will now be cut into. A simple vanity thing, but something I struggled with as I have tried to process the things being done to my body that are needed to live the best life possible. I am beyond fortunate enough to have a support circle that has been there for me as I have prepared for this battle. I took the time to be quiet about these surgeries because I knew I needed to take care of my mind and my heart first.
I had not felt ready in prior days. But today- I am ready. I feel ready. I feel prepared. I feel brave. I feel beyond confident in our decisions and the preparation that has gone into these surgeries. I know this is the best chance of getting these problems under control and improving my quality of life. I know my body is strong and has done hard things before, and I can do hard things again. I know I have an entire support group behind me, and an incredible medical team that knows the best decisions needed for my body.
I am ready. Time to meet a new and cute tummy.
We can do hard things,