I feel much better since having the operation
Gordon, 63 years old
"I worked shifts for many years, was pretty stressed out, and think my stomach suffered as a result. I developed ulcers in my duodenum. So I changed jobs to avoid the stress. Although that meant I no longer worked shifts, I was then stressed out for other reasons instead."
I often had stomach ache and kept on getting heartburn. I had acupuncture, did the rolling movements that were typically recommended in those days (ed. note: this used to be a common treatment approach, in which you took medication and then turned onto your front, back and side at frequent intervals) and took a lot of different medicines.
The burning feeling in my food pipe was really unpleasant. Especially when the acid comes up out of your stomach. It pretty much burns your food pipe. The heartburn was particularly bad when I lay down. But I sometimes had it when I was standing or sitting too. It depended on what I had eaten. I reacted quickly to certain things: alcohol was an absolute no-go, as well as raw fish such as herring. That really affected my quality of life.
I was done with alcohol
Other people wondered why I didn’t drink any alcohol after work. Whenever I drank alcohol I couldn’t sleep afterwards. I would then wander around during the night, and had to go to work the next morning. That was a real problem for me.
At one point things got so bad that I could only sleep if I was sitting upright. We bought beds with adjustable bed frames. This meant that I could sleep in a sitting position, because my stomach acid couldn’t move up my food pipe that way.
They then looked at my stomach using a camera. It turned out that the muscle between my stomach and food pipe wasn’t closing properly, and that I had gastro-esophageal reflux disease. The doctors advised me to have an operation called fundoplication. This involves lifting the stomach and folding part of it around the food pipe. Back then that was a big operation: they cut my belly open. Nowadays it’s done by keyhole surgery, with only a very small cut. And these days treatment with medication seems to be more common than surgery.
I no longer had trouble with spicy food
Shortly after the operation my wife and I travelled abroad. I had no trouble with the food there! I ate spicy foods and everything else I felt like. Without any problems. It was great, like a fresh start in life! I feel much better since having the operation, even now.
I still notice when I eat the wrong foods. But then I take a tablet and things soon get better again.
The reflux made me change a few things in my life: I don’t eat things that are bad for me. I watch a lot of health programs on TV, read a lot, and learn a lot. Before I retired I didn’t have any time for sports. But I’m now in a sports club, do some strength training to build up muscles, and also endurance training. I generally try to eat a healthy diet, with a lot of fruit and vegetables. Now that I’m retired I also have more time, and I pay a lot more attention to my health than I used to.
Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.
The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.
Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.