Discussions By Condition: Gastrointestinal conditions

Achalasia(possible help thread)

Posted In: Gastrointestinal conditions 0 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • February 4, 2007
  • 08:43 AM

Hey guys, my name is Ryan and I'm 19 years old. Last July I was diagnosed with having Achalasia. It's a rare disease where the muscles in your esophogus don't work correctly and your LES(lower esophogeal sphincter) tightens and possibly closes. I first started getting symptoms when I was 17, although I didn't know what was going on. When I ate, it felt like food would get stuck in my throat and I would have severe chest pain. It got worse and worse as time went by and eventually I couldn't eat at all. When I tried to eat, food would literally get stuck in my esophogus and would not pass to my stomach because my LES was so tight. I finally let my mom know what was going on with me and we obviously went to the doctor. After explaining to the DR what I was going through, he ordered me a Berrium test. You drink this stuff called Berrium while a doctor films it going down your esophogus, so they can see if there is any problem. They found that my LES was only open 5 mm, which you all know is a very small opening. I then went to a gastro specialist to try to find out what was causing this.

The next step was for my specialist to give me an endoscopy. He put this tube with a camera on it down my mouth, through my esophogus and pushed his way into my stomach. When I woke, he told me that my LES was very tiny and it instantly tightened back up after he pulled the camera out. My next test was a Mynomotry. During a mynomotry, a small pressure sensitive tube is inserted through the nose, through the esophogus and into the stomach. I lay there, taking tiny sips of water in intervals while the specialist slowly removed the tube cm by cm while watching the readings. The mobility of my esophogus was terrible and the results of the mynomotry told the doctors that I had Achalasia.

Now I was to go meet an Upper GI surgeon at IU Medical Center. He performed the same the endoscopy and the mynomotry again, so he knew what exactly was going on. I sat and talked with him and he told me that there were a few options I had about how to take care of my problem. Treatments of this disease are stretching of the esophogus with balloons or a major surgery called a Heller Myotomy. My surgeon told me that the balloon stretch wasnt going to work for me since my LES was only 5mm in diameter, so I was left with no other option but to go through with the surgery.

In August of '06 I went under the knife at IU Medical Center. The Heller Myotomy is a chest procedure, where the LES of my esophogus was cut on one side to open it up some and allow food to pass. The lung has to be collapsed for the surger. I woke up with a chest tube in my lung and barely able to breathe. I sat in the hospital for 6 days before I was released. Recovery for me was a couple months, but I'm young. Everything was going good again, I was able to eat normal after nearly 2 years of eating and regurgitating my food. I don't refer to it as vomitting because the food never made it to my stomach. All was well for awhile, but about 2 1/2 to 3 months after I just had the Heller Myotomy, I felt my problems coming back again. Again I was unable to eat properly and was regurgitating my food and drink. I went back to my surgeon at IU and he performed yet another endoscopy. He found that indeed my LES was tight again. He said that it probably tightened back up due to excessive scar tissue from the surgery. Now I was left with 2 options.

1. Try to live with it.
2. Re-do the Heller Myotomy and possibly remove the lower 1/3 of my esophogus.

Of course I was going to do the surgery again, because without it I wouldn't be eating. So on November 6, 2006 I yet again went under the knife. Before the surgery I told my doctor to do what he thought best(cut the other side of the esophogus or remove the lower 1/3) because I trusted him. After waking up from the surgery, I was again in severe pain(mostly in the lung). This time I had the chest tube again, and another tube going through my nose to stomach, sucking out all the stomach contents. I was released 4 days later.

Since that 2nd surgery I've been completely fine with eating and drinking. My only problems now are extreme acid reflux from having a cut open LES that constantly stays open. I have a footlong scar extending from under my shoulderblade to the front/side of my ribs, along with 4 other tiny scars and one where the chest tube was at. I hate the fact that I just turned 19 two months ago and I'm going to have to deal with this disease and possible repracussions for the rest of my life, but thats how it goes I guess.

If anyone has any questions about Achalasia or anything in my post, go ahead and ask away. I'd like to help other people get through the ***t because I never had anyone to relate to about it.

P.S. Sorry the post was so long.

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