Achalasia and I

If I had to name one of the most dreadful thing I have heard or seen in my life then I would not hesitate a bit to name the “Achalasia cardia”.

It is not known as to when exactly I got the symptoms of achalasia going, but maybe somewhere in mid 2005. Initially, I overlooked it and then some colleagues suggested to see a doctor who prescribed me “acid suppressants” without even thinking otherwise. Trouble increased day by day and eventually I started losing weight. I was happy that I was losing weight without any efforts but much to my discomfort I started fearing foods, which I loved to eat. These included all the fibrous foods, nonvegetarian foods, all shakes, junks like pizzas, burgers, etc…and especially the carbonated drinks like coke. With regurgitation starting, I came across one wise doctor who identified the symptoms as dysphagia and asked me to undertake barium swallow and endoscopy. The reports confirmed “Achalasia cardia” with distended esophagus. Then for next few weeks I searched the internet extensively because none of the people I knew had even heard of anything similar to this. The doctor suggested me to take “pneumatic dilatation” by virtue of which my “LES” would be stretched. The dilatation only added to my woes because my regurgitations increased every time I had water, tea and anything to eat. Somehow the six months passed after which I took another dilatation. The second attempt could not give me any respite. In the meantime from December 2007 to August 2008 I had lost approximately 30kgs of weight. I could see the pain in the eyes of family members and my small child used to question as to why I frequently got up while having food and go to bathroom, why we did not you eat at the hotel, etc. ..Then I came across a yahoo group for “achalasians” and the guys there guided me and asked me to refrain from me from any other dilatation. I had the typical mindset, which I suppose all of us have, is to do anything but not to go to a surgeon for operation. I got myself transferred to Alibag near Mumbai so that I could get my treatment done with Dr Deepraj Bhandarkar for whom I had got couple of recommendations. I searched for his name on the net and came across a couple of articles about him. Some ex-achalasians, who stayed abroad, had told that not all surgeons are good when they operate on achalasia. I met him at the Hinduja Hospital and presented him my reports. While going through he was quite calm, composed, focussed and above all quite confident on the way he was going to handle the case. Somehow I also felt relaxed and hoped of getting over this nightmare of achalasia. He asked me to undergo manometry test to check the pressure of my LES. Finally we decided to fix the surgery in first week of January 2009 because I wasn’t ready to take any chances in year 2008.

I got admitted to the Hinduja Hospital a day before my surgery and perhaps these guys are the best professionally the best from the time the patient reaches them. Dr. Bhandarkar operated me and I suppose that took him approximately 2 – 3 hrs or so. The first sip of water I took after the surgery was quite fearful because still the psychosis of regurgitation had not gone out of my mind. But GOD was kind enough to me this time and I could feel the water reaching my stomach without any “stoppage”. The recovery was uneventful and I got discharged 3 days after the surgery. I have given up my bad habit of lying down after meals and now spend minimum of 2 hours by staying upright after eating anything.

I would suggest to all those who have similar symptoms to consult a quality doctor and if they really want to get rid of this thing please go to a surgeon who specializes in specialized treatments pertaining to disorders like achalasia. Lastly, I wont hesitate a moment in recommending Dr. Deepraj Bhandarkar and I take the opportunity to thank him again for helping me to be free from achalasia.

Sanjiv Rodi