Getting new lungs is wondrous. It feels like you’ve been driving an overloaded semi truck in need of maintenance, up a steep hill… When suddenly you’re given the keys to an old muscle car and a flat open highway to cut loose on.
Sure the muscle car isn’t in perfect condition. Its got its quirks. It needs pretty regular maintenance. But boy is it a world of difference from that sputtering semi.
You hit a rough patch in the proverbial road that requires some corrective steering.
At my six month lungiversary my docs had me do a series of test to see how everything was functioning.
One of those test was a 24 hour esophageal ph prob.
I’d had one before transplant as part of the pre-transplant testing and haaaaated it. A wire the thickness of a pencil lead goes through your nose, down your throat and into your stomach. And it stays there for exactly 24 hours, monitoring and recording what alls going on in there.
Despite my disdain for the procedure… I am glad that I had it done.
The test came back “wonky” according to my transplant coordinator. Leading to more trips to the hospital and more test.
Apparently one of the possible aftereffects of a lung transplant is a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter. Which is what keeps all those acids and digestive juices from escaping up your throat and damaging stuff.
I wasn’t feeling any re-flux or heartburn so had no idea that I had developed this issue.
Thankfully there hadn’t been any damage done to my new lungs, but given enough time it was a real and likely possibility.
(Yet another reason to be thankful for modern medicine and the awesome team of professionals looking out for my well being.)
Sooooo… A meeting with a surgeon was scheduled, a plan was developed, and I made a foolish mistake…
The plan… which was carried out last Tuesday. Was to have a Nissen fundoplication performed on me. Basically what they do is make you get up really, really, early…
Okay, that part might not be required, but its how mine was scheduled. (4am wake up… ugh to the maximum.)
Anyway… the idea is you get the fun sleepy juice that sends you to la la land. Then while you are napping five incisions are made to the abdomen. One for a camera and four for the tools going inside to perform the tune up.
The top of the stomach is wrapped around the bottom of the esophagus to tighten up the lower sphincter. Preventing the random escape of the corrosive stomach fluids and helping protect those preciously gifted lungs.
Which lead to my mistake…
I told my medical posse I’d like to get the procedure done as soon as possible. No sense in dragging my feet.
They asked me about November 20th. I said November 20th is fine. So it was scheduled for November 20th.
Thanksgiving was November 22…
Following a Nissen is a 6 week liquid diet requirement.
In the immortal words of Charlie Brown… “AAaaaarrrgh!”
But thankfully all the symptoms they suggested I prepare for, I’ve not experienced or only felt for the first couple days. I’m recovering super fast and even managed to make it to pulmonary rehab to day.
I admittedly was walking and pedaling slower then normal, but I was there.
Its not always fun, but the roads much smoother now then it was just eight months ago. I’d don’t know how many miles I’ll be able to travel before my trips over or how many more bumps and detours are ahead, but I plan to keep moving as long as I can.
I’ve got a world to see, adventures to experience, and memories to make before I pull off the road for good.