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Eating and air pockets in the gastric tube?

Josie60's picture
Posts: 81
Joined: Jul 2012

I'm still trying to figure out my new normal. I'm 8 weeks out from my surgery and 2 weeks of eating soft foods moving into expanding what I am eating. I've started eating a sandwich on toasted bread for lunch.

I've noticed the last couple days when i was eating that sandwich I start feeling pressure in the upper chest like the lungs are congested, then I start coughing. Eventually
I get kind of a burp or an upwelling of air from the lower end of my "stomach" ( or do I know refer to it as a gastric tube?). Then the pressure seems to go away.. Is that pressure normal and will it diminish over time?

I'm also trying to figure out how soon I will be able to start eating other items like fresh veggies, lettuce peanut butter. I plan on asking the surgeon Monday but I was just curious.

The transition to solid food took a little longer because the remainder of the stomach was in tough shape after chemo and radiation treatments and I developed a fistula in the neck, but I'm getting there.

paul61's picture
Posts: 1255
Joined: Apr 2010

I had an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy in 2009. I have found that a number of things can give me gas and I have symptoms similar to those you describe. I have not had the issue with coughing although I did have a nagging cough for about 3 months after my surgery but it was always there not just when I was eating.

I do have instances where I had an immediate "full" feeling and a feeling of some pressure in my chest just below my sternum. After I could burp I would invariably feel better and could continue to eat. I think it is because my stomophagus; (my term for my stomach rolled into a tube and used to replace my esophagus), does not have the ability to stretch that a normal stomach would have.

I am not sure if things get better as time goes by after surgery, however, I think as we learn new eating habits the symptoms improve because we learn to avoid things that cause the issue.

Things that I do that cause the symptoms you describe include:

1. Eating too fast - I find it helps if I set my fork down between byes to slow myself down.
2. Talking while eating - I find if I am talking while eating I tend to eat too fast and don't chew my food completely.
3. Not chewing my food thoroughly - I find I must be careful to insure that I chew my food much more completely than I used to (chewing food thoroughly also helps avoid abdominal discomfort after I eat)
4. Drinking carbonated beverages - I love Diet Coke but I have learned that my stomophagus does not like fizzy things.

I have learned that when I start to get that full feeling and pressure under my sternum I need to put my fork down and wait until I can burp. Not very delicate I know; but unfortunately, necessarily with our new plumbing.

Of course, given the fact that you had some issues post surgery, including a fistula I would definitely investigate this with your surgeon, but we do need to learn a new eating process post surgery.

Hope you will be feeling better soon and back to normal foods quickly.

Best Regards,

Paul Adams
Grand Blanc, Michigan

DX 10/22/2009 T2N1M0 Stage IIB
12/03/2009 Ivor Lewis
2/8 through 6/14/2010 Adjuvant Chemo Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU
Two year survivor

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance!

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