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Dialation and Recover

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2001

I had my surgery on April 18th removing 1/3 of my stomach and 2/3 of my esophagus. I have had 5 dialations since. Starting at 1 week apart I am now up to 2 weeks. My GI feels it will close down less the futher away from the surgery I get. But he is prepared to do the procedure as many times as it takes. I am lucky enough to live close to the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale and they are getting to know me quite well.

I was lucky enough not to not need chemo or radiation. Lost 60lbs but have leveled it off at 190lbs. Working on regaining strenght and eating well.

I look forward to participating in this discussion group. Feel free to contact me directly at concepteng@qwest.net.

A swift recovery to everyone.

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2001

My husband is scheduled for surgery Aug 1 at MD Anderson. They will remove
part of his stomach and part of his esophagus. Please tell us what we might
expect after surgery. What is dialation? Please reply to jcraven@fbtet.com

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2001

I'll be brief but if you have any specific questions please ask.

Tomorrow will be three month. I went into surgery five days after diagnosis. My surgeon was Dr. Trastik who heads up the thoracic surgery dept. at Mayo Scottsdale.

I had the procedure called the Ivor Lewis. It is where they come in from both the chest and the back. I was in surgery for 6 hours and in the hospital for ten days. They did not find any evidence of cancer in my lymph nodes or liver so I did not need chemo or radiation.
I really feel I woke up from the operation in a new body and have had to spend the last two months learning how to use it.

You can't eat or drink for seven days, so make sure they give your husband these little blue swabs that are sugar coated and you dip them in ice water and rub them on your lips and gums.

Its important to stay on top of pain management. I had some nurses that were great and a few that didn't pay attention.

At seven days they perform a swallow test and if you pass, you get start drinking then eating.

Once out of the hospital the work really begins for both the you and your husband. I lost 60lbs in the first 30 days. Figuring out what you can and can't eat is tough. But it gets easier over time.

Now for the dilation or also called dilatation. As the juncture (where they reconnect the stomach and esophagus) heals, it shrinks. They will not dilate till 30 days after the surgery. Using an endoscope they slide a balloon down to the juncture and expand it to a specific size. I have had five to date and will have my sixth the end of the week. My GI feels it will stay open longer the further we get from the surgery. The procedure is pretty easy but it is discouraging having to go from solid foods back to liquids. The drugs they give you make you a little dingy for 24 hours and the juncture is sore for a day or two, but I can eat almost anything for 3-5 days. Its worth it.

At three months I feel my stomach has grown a bite and I can eat more in one sitting. I have found if I eat slow enough I can almost eat constantly and not gain or lose a pound.

I know what you and your husband are going through, but finding this board will help you. I wish I had found it before yesterday. Feel free to post or E-mail me with any specific questions. I will also post this to possibly help anyone else.


Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2001

Thanks so much for your help!!!

Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2001

Hi,after surgery sometimes the esophagus tends to close and you feel you have a hard time swallowing.Dialation is where they will go in and stretch the esophagus. You will feel a difference after you have this done and might need to have it done every so often until everything heels up nicely. Lots of luck to you and hope you have a speedy recovery. You will most likely lose some weight after your surgery. Fight to keep yourself strong and please make sure you eat alittle at a time, even if you do not feel hungry, EAT!! You will probally feel full because your stomach will be smaller,but small portions at a time. And keep yourself hydrated, drink as much water as you can. Again, wishing you well.

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2001

Can you explain further about the dialations. I am trying to find out everything I can for my best friend who has had her whole stomach removed 7 years ago and now has esophagus cancer. She will be starting treatment soon and I want to be able to help as much as possible. What kind of foods could you eat? What did friends do to keep you comfortable? Any information would be appreciated. Good luck to you.

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2001

I just had my sixth dialation in two months yesterday. The procedure takes about 15-20 minutes but with prep and post the whole event takes 2 hours. They put the endoscope (video camera) down your throat. Then they slide a balloon down the same tube and expand it to a specific size. The drugs they give you make it painless and you forget the procedure. The hangover from the drugs lasts about 24 hours. Your throat and juncture are sore for about two days.

My first dialation was 12mm and now I am up to 20mm. They take before and after pictures so I can see what is going on down there. The opening shrinks off-center leaving a nice ledge for food to park on.

I can eat normally for about 5 days (small portions) then things start getting hung up. Its really trial and error to see what gets by. Gravity is your friend. And of course chew, chew and chew. By day 7-10 I rely on primaly liquids. Soups are wonderful. Cook with all ingredients, then strain.

What works for me other than liquids: Cheese & crackers, eggs, mixed nuts, Rice Krispies.

What doesn't work: Lettuce, melon, rice.

As a friend and/or caregiver be patient and don't take it personal if they can not eat some you cooked. Just try again. Its discouraging when something that tastes good won't go down. But you don't have much control.

Maintaining weight and strength are the priority. It takes alot of experimentation.

Questions or ideas welcome. I'd love to expand my menu.

mrbt's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Jun 2001

Hello. I had surgery in Sept 98. I had 3 or 4 dialations during the next year. Now I can swallow normally. I was 52 at the time of surgery. Keeping weight on is a constant job and fatigue is a common enemy. I eat 6 or more times a day and separate liquids and solids. Drink approx 20 min before eating solids and wait approx 45 min after solids before drinking again. Eating like this will reduce dumping and cramping. Good luck and feel free to drop a line if you feel like chating.

Best regards, Bruce

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