Introduction

I’m Bettina Kilburn, M.D., M. Div–a psychiatrist by training, with a multifaceted consulting practice, located in Atlanta (Decatur), GA.  Also, I’m ordained clergy in the Presbyterian Church USA. And I know what it’s like to live gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). In non medical terminology, reflux sucks–the heartburn, the food coming up, the sore throats, the never ending cough, losing your voice. More than being about food, GERD impacts your relationships–your time with friends and family, your social life and your most personal intimate activities. All day, every day, you’re aware you have GERD. As one young (now former) GERD sufferer puts it, “Every day with GERD is a bad day”.

Being evaluated for GERD is no fun. I remember wondering if there was any end to the scopes, tubes, substances, and probes I would be asked to swallow. The challenges didn’t end with diagnosis. There were food restrictions and eating schedules, medications that needed to be timed in relation to eating, lifestyle changes to adopt. Managing GERD requires discipline–not necessarily an easy thing. I embraced the discipline of managing GERD, and it helped my life greatly.. But over time, the GERD tyrant returned and made my life miserable again.

On April 10, 2012, I underwent magnetic sphincter augmentation with the LINX device to treat both gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).  I had the privilege of being the fifth person in the United States to participate in LINX implantation following FDA market approval of the magnetic device.

The recovery was not without its challenges. During my “tenure” as a LINX patient, I had late term complications from my original surgery, and second surgery on 8/12/15. The LINX community has learned a lot from patients like me–and I’m happy to report I’m finally doing well again.

Every day without GERD is a great day. My journey with (and now without) GERD and LPR is one story among the many, many stories that comprise GERD and LPR  statistics and research. I’m sharing it as a GERD patient advocate. I hope that my story may help other GERD and LPR sufferers considering their own choices.

On a larger level, as both a physician and former GERD and LPR sufferer, I’m honored to contribute to the efforts of all who champion treating the challenge of GERD as a significant, and increasing population health issue.

For more information on my story, I invite you to read My Journey, Why I Chose LINX and LINX Redo

Please post comments, questions, and/or stories, and/or you may reach me privately via Contact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. What a wonderful blog! Thanks Dr. B for always sharing information with me. I am going to have a discussion with my GI doc about Linx therapy. I would love nothing more than to drop my PPI–plus my father died of esophageal cancer and neither me nor my family would want to become embattled with EC again.

  2. Had the Linx device implanted 10 days ago. Yesterday ate shrimp and scallops for dinner with no problem. Today, difficulty swallowing all day, burping up soft food, mucus and foam all day. Very discouraging! Any suggestions? Thanks.

  3. Jane,

    I understand the frustration! To me what you are experiencing is typical for many LINXters. I had the same issues early on in both recoveries. The second and third weeks are when the swelling inside peaks, so that is when a lot of folks can’t get solid food down easily and have the food impactions as you are describing. I didn’t have the dietary instructions the first time. Hopefully your surgeon did give you instructions. During the first few months after surgery it is critical to eat small amounts of food frequently, (every couple of hours–even every hour.) Much better to try to get solid food down, even if it is a teaspoon an hour, rather than go back to liquids–frequent eating will keep the LINX opening and closing, so that the scar tissue that is forming is less stiff. Anything that gets your esophagus moving will help. I used deep breathing and small amounts of yogurt as well as hot herbal tea to move things along–other folks swear by puddings and bananas. You may already be aware of two Facebook patient support groups–if you are on FB search for LINX. The complications group is for folks who are struggling late term–the other groups are better for early recovery LINX patients like you. You will see that you aren’t alone in what you are experiencing–for the overwhelming majority of folks, this stuff gets much better with time, LINX “physical therapy”, and healing. You are in my prayers!

  4. Jane,

    I understand the frustration! To me what you are experiencing is typical for many LINXters. I had the same issues early on in both recoveries. The second and third weeks are when the swelling inside peaks, so that is when a lot of folks can’t get solid food down easily and have the food impactions as you are describing. I didn’t have the dietary instructions the first time. Hopefully your surgeon did give you instructions. During the first few months after surgery it is critical to eat small amounts of food frequently, (every couple of hours–even every hour.) Much better to try to get solid food down, even if it is a teaspoon an hour, rather than go back to liquids–frequent eating will keep the LINX opening and closing, so that the scar tissue that is forming is less stiff. Anything that gets your esophagus moving will help. I used deep breathing and small amounts of yogurt as well as hot herbal tea to move things along–other folks swear by puddings and bananas. You may already be aware of two Facebook patient support groups–if you are on FB search for LINX. The complications group is for folks who are struggling late term–the other groups are better for early recovery LINX patients like you. You will see that you aren’t alone in what you are experiencing–for the overwhelming majority of folks, this stuff gets much better with time, LINX “physical therapy”, and healing. You are in my prayers!

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