We are officially 3 months post total gastrectomy! For the most part the past month has been good, but we have each had a few bumps in the road.
Nicole has had a lot of problems with her incision. It would never fully close at the bottom and was leaking a lot. A few weeks ago she went to our Birmingham doctor to get it checked out and they found a few inches of knotted sutures that her body had not absorbed. They cleaned it out and packed it with the hope it would heal and close. Thursday the area opened back up and tissue was visible in the opening. Nicole spent all day Friday at the UAB ER and there was some fear that an abscess had formed. Luckily a CT and blood work ruled out an abscess, but they did have to open up the area, clean out what was there and pack it tightly. She will have to keep it packed for the next two weeks and then go back to Dr. Heslin to have it evaluated.
I had finally gotten over my bad nausea spell and was rocking along and then I started having trouble eating. Whenever I would start to eat the food would get stuck and I'd have to bring it up. I was also having chest pain in the general area where the esophagus and small intestine were sewn together. A swallow test confirmed that I had a stricture, a narrowing at the anastomoses. Yesterday I had a procedure called esophageal dilation performed. It's basically an endoscopy where they use a ballon to open up the narrow area. Dr. Ahmed showed us some images after and it was definitely very narrow and my internal sutures had trapped food in the anastomoses. The bad news is that strictures tend to return several times before the area finally stays permanently open, so they want to aggressively treat me. In two weeks I will have the dilation performed again and based on the narrowing over the two week span they will determine how often this should be done. There is also a possibility of them having to place a short term stent at some point to hold the area open.
With a surgery of this magnitude I think some complications are to be expected, so we are really trying to not let these issues get us down. They are small bumps in the road and we have a great medical team working to resolve them and get us back on track.