Blog

Tom’s Story

For more than a decade, Tom Wurm had been taking prescription medicine for his acid reflux. Tom routinely scheduled physicals with his hometown provider in Manitowoc, but he felt like he had control of his symptoms, so he never questioned it.

But around a year and a half ago, Tom’s symptoms were getting much worse.

Tom 's Story“I experienced painful burning when I would lay down to sleep,” he said, “bile would move out of my stomach and into my esophagus.” The medication he had been using didn’t seem to help. Sometimes his symptoms were so strong that it caused him to vomit. He also experienced pain in his chest while sitting up. “A couple of times, I really felt like I was having a heart attack.”

With the support of his wife Tracie, Tom decided to seek medical attention.

He briefly considered a LINX procedure with his local provider, which is a band of magnets placed inside the esophagus to create a mechanical sphincter—a family member who works at Door County Medical Center (DCMC), recommended he try a more permanent procedure. “She spoke very highly about the hospital so I scheduled an appointment.”

After initial tests at Door County Medical Center Heartburn and Reflux Center, which included a BRAVO monitor to gauge the severity of his acid reflux, plus the results of his esophagram, Tom’s greatest fear became reality: he not only had a hiatal hernia, which is a tear in the diaphragm causing the stomach to bulge upward, but he also had a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

“With Barrett’s, my stomach had essentially grown into my esophagus,” explained Tom. “It also had the potential to cause cancer.”

Because of these two diagnoses, DCMC surgeon Dr. St. Jean and his team recommended Tom undergo a robotic-assisted laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. A Nissen fundoplication strengthens the valve between the stomach and esophagus restoring the natural, physiologic anatomy to prevent GERD. The laparoscopic approach also allowed Tom to have his hiatal hernia repaired.

Ahead of the surgery, Dr. St. Jean made an agreement with Tom that he would need to lose at least 15 pounds in order to be wholly successful. “One of the things that lead to acid reflux is belly fat,” says Tom, “and that extra weight just pushes on your stomach.”

In May of 2019, Tom had an outpatient robotic-assisted laparoscopic Nissen procedure with incredible results.

“I no longer worry about lying down and going to sleep. I can sleep through the night and not be awakened by my stomach pain or acid reflux,” he said, “and Tracie sleeps better without me bouncing around in bed coughing.”

Tom with friendsTom also exceeded his weight loss goal and lost 30 pounds. “I am more careful about how much I eat and in what combinations, but I still enjoy myself. A wonderful part of my life is family gatherings, which includes a lot of different foods.” He says prior to surgery, those big family gatherings came at a cost. “I always suffered for it afterward, always.”

More than 9 months after his laparoscopic Nissen procedure, Tom recommends anyone experiencing acid reflux issues to visit the Heartburn and Reflux Center at DCMC. “The fact of the matter is I haven’t taken a prescription drug for my stomach since the surgery. I’ve taken antacid a few times, but I think everyone does that on occasion. I have not had a stomach problem since,” shared Tom. “The whole team was very respectful and accommodating; they took care of me and made sure I was comfortable. Most importantly, they cured my illness.”

Published 2/18/2020 11:36:38 AM
Tags: acid reflux, Bravo, GERD, heartburn, Heartburn and Reflux Center, news, reflux

Search our blog

Popular Tags

3D Mammography   75   75th   acid reflux   addiction   adrc   advance directive   Affective   alcohol   Algoma   als   alzheimer's disease   Ambassador   American College of Healthcare Executives   anniversary   anti-bullying   apnea   art   art for health   art gallery   athletic edge camp   Auxiliary   award   awards   Awareness   back   behavioral health   Bravo   Breast Cancer Awareness Month   breast cancer prevention   breastfeeding   Brian   brussels sprout slaw   C.H.I.P.   cancer   cardiac   cardiopulmonary services   catholic   catholic sisters   Celebrate Community   center   Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services   ceremony   certification   childcare   children   cold flu prevention   colon cancer   colonoscopy   community   community health   Community outreach   Coronavirus   COVID 19   CT scanner   cyberbullying   da Vinci Surgical System   Daylight Savings Time   DCMC   DCMC Auxiliary   DCMC staff   dementia   dental clinic   dentist   depot   depression   diabetes   diagnostic imaging   Diana Wallace   diet   Disorder   dogs   donate   donor   door county half marathon   door county schools   Dr. Reisner   Dr. Rory Johnson   Dr. Shaun Melarvie   e-cigs   economic impact   economy   Education   emergency department   employee art   exercise   fair   Family   family medicine   family practice   farmer's market   fitness   five   five star hospital   Foundation   fundraiser   gallery   Gerald   GERD   handwashing   head   health   health tips   healthcare   healthcare leader   healthy eating   heart   heart healthy   heartburn   Heartburn and Reflux Center   hernia   hernia screening   history   HOPELINE   hospice   hospital   House and Garden Walk   HPV   Human Kindness Project   immunization   infant   insomnia   internships   job   jody boes   June   kelsie ladick   kids   Kids' health   kim   LEAP   lice   life   living will   luke spude   lyme disease   mammography   marinara sauce   memory   memory clinic   memory loss   men's health   men's health month   mental health   milk   ministry   ministry fund   MRI   national heath decisions day   National Women’s History Month   navigator   New Year   newborn   news   North Shore Medical Clinic   novel coronavirus   nurse   nursing   nursing program   nutrition   nwtc   obesity   OB-GYN   OPSU   organ   outpatient surgery   outreach   patient   patient care   Patti Balestrieri   Paula Hobart   pelvic health   pets   physical activity   physical therapy   post exercise tips   PRC   prevention   primary care   Providers   recipe   recovery   reflux   rehab services   resolutions   running   rural   SAAM   SAD   scholarship   scholarships   school   School Nursing   Seasonal   Seniors   services   sexual assault   Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner   Shop and Dine Day   Sister Bay   skilled nursing   skilled nursing facility   skin cancer   Sleep   sleep disorder   sleep lab   smoking   snf   social justice   sports medicine   sports training   St. Francis   star   state-of-the-art   Stephens   stroke patients   studer group   suicide awareness   suicide awareness month   suicide prevention   summer   summer programs   sun care   surgery   sweet dreams   swiggum   technology   Teen health   Teens   telemedicine   teleNICU   telepediatrics   The Community's Garden   The Healing Project   ticks   to   training tips   Treatment   urgent care   vaccination   vaccinations   vaping   volunteers   wall   Washington Island   wellness   Wendy Ulrikson   women's center   women's health   work injuries   Worrick   years   youth workshops