At 47 years of age, I finally realised that I had to do something about my acid reflux. My problems had been going on for many years and, as my gastroenterologist said, 'were multi-factorial' which may well be true, but doesn’t actually make anyone feel any better.
I initially approached a gastroenterologist some years previously, as I was encountering numerous problems from extensive bloating on an almost daily basis, excessive flatulence, constipation, occasional acid reflux and just generally feeling unwell. Several approaches were tried and whilst I initially thought that I was onto something, within a week or two, all my usual symptoms would continue. I eventually had both endoscopy and colonoscopy and was told that I need to take a PPI medication (Omeprazole) for a 6 month period.
I took this and was hopeful that perhaps, miraculously, it would aid my stomach issues; however the only issue it resolved was that I stopped getting any acid reflux. My bloating and constipation remained as bad as ever.
At the end of the 6 months, I attempted to come off the medication and, despite several attempts, including going cold turkey, slowly reducing the dosage and taking it on alternate days, I was simply unable to come off it and so I just stayed on it. I didn’t really have any other choice. Fast forward a few more years and even though I was still taking the PPI, my acid reflux symptoms returned back to their previous levels which was more than depressing. Although I am a fairly healthy guy, I do enjoy a few beers, I really like coffee and occasionally the odd bit of chocolate. All of these things played havoc with my acid reflux and not only spoilt many a night, but often had me awake in the night in severe pain and gulping Gaviscon.
I had initially thought that my only option was to increase the PPI dosage; however, I did some research and stumbled across the LINX® Device. It almost sounded too good to be true, but it made complete sense to me. With further research I then stumbled across Mr Nicholas Boyle who, from what I could tell, was one of the most experienced doctors in the UK dealing with this issue.
I had an initial consultation with Mr Boyle and he explained everything to me in a very clear and concise manner and I knew immediately that the LINX® device was not only something that I needed but something that I just had to have. As is always the case, but still to my frustration, a few tests were needed initially and I went for a SIBO breath test, which tested for higher levels of bacteria in the small intestine along with a test to measure the acid in my oesophagus which involved having a very thin tube inserted in my nose which had to stay in place for 24 hours. I can honestly say it was completely painless although somewhat embarrassing when collecting my parents from the airport later that same day.
The SIBO test came back negative but the tube showed far higher levels of acid than should have been present and so I was given the green light to have the procedure.
I wasn’t nervous about the operation as I was just relieved that I may be able to finally get off the PPI medication and still lead a fairly normal life without acid reflux. The operation went very smoothly and I woke up in no pain and feeling very good.
Mr Boyle had warned me that it would take some time for my body to get used to the device and that the very best way for the body to get used to it was to eat exactly as normal so that the device was opening and closing exactly as it was designed to do. He also warned me that I could experience some discomfort when eating and I may experience occasional painful spasms but that every person was different and it was impossible to tell who would experience them and who wouldn’t. I have to be honest here and say that the spasms were fairly bad. There was no pain whatsoever all day long, but whenever I ate or drank something there would be this painful spasm. I have to say that in the first 2 weeks, I wished that I hadn’t had it done. I experienced them the very first time I ate and they lasted about three to four weeks, gradually getting less and less over that time. Mr Boyle had also warned me to avoid fizzy drinks as these would cause me issues in the first few months. Needless to say, I didn’t follow this advice and 1 week later thought I would try a few beers and, needless to say, Mr Boyle did know better than me after all…
Overall, I would say in 4-6 weeks the spasms had completely disappeared and I could eat and drink normally and didn’t even think anything about the LINX® Device.
It has now been 9 months since my operation and I can honestly say it is one of the best things that I have done. Mr Boyle started me on a new medication which has assisted me with the constipation, my bloating has gone down, but mainly my acid reflux has improved no end. I can eat whatever I want and still enjoy a few beers and now have no issues whatsoever. The only one thing that gets me for some reason is coffee. I can have one coffee and I sometimes have two, but if I have a 3rd one, no matter how much later in the day, I experience some reflux. I don’t know why, but I can certainly live with that.
Overall, I am absolutely delighted with the procedure and would recommend anybody going through what I went through to have a consultation with Mr Boyle.