Achalasia – Hellers Myotomy recovery | 12 Months on

Last week I went for the 12 month checkup to see how my Hellers Myotomy recovery was progressing after the surgery I had in February 2017. Since my last post at the end of March 2017, I have been largely symptom free and have regained most of the weight I had lost when my achalasia was at its worst. I am now 88kg, which is up from 77.5kg one month after the operation. Probably half of the weight gain is down to me regaining muscle mass, but the other half of the weight gain is purely down to me enjoying my food!  

Repeat gastroscopy

During the checkup for Hellers Myotomy recovery at the Basingstoke & North Hampshire Hospital the surgeon, who also did the original operation, performed a repeat gastroscopy to check that everything was still in place and working optimally. Thankfully he reported that my oesophagus is normal (at least for an achalasia sufferer) with no oesophagitis (reflux) or pooling. He also said that the fundoplication looks perfect and there is no need to repeat the gastroscopy routinely if I remain symptom-free. He did say, however, that I need to watch my weight, particular around my middle. Any excess weight there could stretch the fundoplication and affect the long term success of the surgery.

Sedation or no sedation?

As with the original gastroscopy I had in April 2016, as part of my achalasia diagnosis, I elected not to have sedation. Instead I was given a throat spray, a banana flavour anaesthetic that deadens the throat, which acts within about a minute. The gastroscopy is not a very pleasant experience and I completely sympathise with anyone who prefers to be sedated during the procedure. You essentially have to swallow a long tube with a camera on the end of it that is used by the surgeon to inspect, and take digital pictures of, the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. The procedure lasts approximately 5 minutes and it was a relief when the tube was removed.

Getting back to normal after the gastroscopy

As I wasn’t sedated I was fully conscious throughput the procedure and once done I was able to walk to the discharge lounge and wait to be given a copy of the gastroscopy report. After 15 minutes, or so,  I was discharged by one of the nurses and able to drive myself home. Once home, I had to wait until 60 mins after the procedure had started before sipping some water and making sure that the anaesthetic had worn off. For obvious reasons you are warned not to try hot drinks until your swallowing has fully returned! I then continued my day by going out to lunch with my wife and some friends and trying to forget about what had happened in the morning!

So how did my Hellers Myotomy recovery go and what am I able to do now that I couldn’t do before surgery?

Since the operation my eating has largely returned to normal apart from the following: 

  • I don’t eat bread (I had to promise my surgeon that before he agreed to operate on me)
  • I eat more slowly
  • I chew everything thoroughly before swallowing
  • I always have a glass of water to accompany food

Within a couple of weeks of the operation I started to have so much more energy and was getting less tired from doing everyday tasks including going for walks. I also felt more able to concentrate and started to read books again for pleasure. I put this down to better nutrition and the fact that I was sleeping better and not worrying about aspirating my food.

Around about the same time, as I was recovering from my Hellers Myotomy operation, my mother was returning home from an 6 week stay in a nursing home. As I’m an hour’s drive away from her, I starting thinking about what things I could do to help maintain her in her own home that didn’t involve me having to visit her more often than I was physically able to do. That’s when the idea for Smart Life Solutions was formed – a company that helps people with technology and that provides technology for people who need help.

Anyone who regularly visits this blog will see the types of technical things I’ve been up to. The Hellers Myotomy has not only saved my life but it has also given me the impetus and energy to start a business to help others.

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