Shelly Palma Shelly's Road Back

First post: Aug 27, 2017 Latest post: Oct 24, 2017
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This is a long story, but here goes. You may or may not know that I have struggled with hiatal hernias since late 2010. A hiatal hernia is when part of your stomach moves up next to your esophagus and gets  stuck above the diaphragm. Many people have hiatal hernias & do not need them repaired because they are not symptomatic. I had my first one repaired laparoscopically in May of 2010 and thought, "Ok, problem solved." In early 2013 I had a return of symptoms & went in September for a "redo" attributing the return to poor lifestyle choices and thought, "Ok, this time we're golden."

In 2015 I was diagnosed with hernia #3. I was not symptomatic at the time and my doctor said it is fine to just carry on & be aware. In late 2016 I started having symptoms again. Not wanting to get the same results I had gotten the first two times I started doing my research. My gastroenterologist suggested the thoracic surgery department at University of Michigan. He remembered they were doing great things with hiatal hernias when he was at med school there. He got me a referral and on June 7th Jay & I met with Dr. Jules Lin. We were very comfortable with him & he was very thorough in explaining the process they use to repair this condition and also indicated that since I had 2 previous repairs I would still have a 50% chance of recurrence. I was not having symptoms at the time & he suggested we take some time to think it over. Fast forward to August 7. We had gone out to dinner as a family to celebrate Jay's birthday & at dinner I experienced a sudden loss of appetite & nausea. Thinking it was just a bug I didn't give it much thought. My symptoms continued for a few days & got a bit better, but not great. By August 14 I was unable to eat or drink much more than soup, pudding & liquids. On August 21 I finally called the gastro & he scheduled me for an upper endoscopy on Tuesday the 22nd...and so it began. They were not able to see much with the scope due to inflammation & obstruction. They sent me to the ER in Grand Rapids for IV fluids & a chest CT. They didn't quite know what to do with us in GR so we requested they contact Dr. Lin. He asked that we be transferred to Ann Arbor. We arrived at U of M at 4:00am. I had a few more tests & by 12:30 was informed I would be having surgery around 4:00 to do the repair. I went in at 5:30 for a 4-5 hour procedure. At 10:00 Dr. Lin paged Jay to the consult room (Jay was assuming he would  tell him they were done). Instead he told him they had encountered many complications & the traditional repair was no longer an option. Jay needed to decide if he wanted them to remove my esophagus or put a stent in to connect my esophagus to my stomach because the tissue in that area was damaged.  The stent procedure also has only a 50% success rate & a lengthy recovery, but the esophagecctomy is, as you can imagine, life changing. Jay & I had talked many times about what an esophagecctomy would be like & how I would like to avoid that if at all possible. So...Jay chose the stent procedure.  I was finally out of the OR at 3:00am and woke up very confused in the ICU about 7:00am.  Now we wait and see. Today, Saturday, I was moved out of ICU and they are saying I will be here at least another week. It's going to be a long haul my friends, but I have a great support system. Jay or I will try to update the page regularly.  We ask for your thoughts, prayers & good vibes. Healing thoughts! We continue to pray we made the right decision & ask God for his healing touch. Planning to spend the next several months getting healthy & then getting back to all the awesome plans we have for the future. Thank you for sticking it out until the end😊 Much love to you all❤️

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