June 05, 2017
Mike Spiegel wasn’t much older than 30 when he started taking an exhaustive list of medications—both over-the-counter and prescribed— to find relief from a digestive disorder known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Gaviscon, Rolaids, Tums, Pepto-Bismol, Milk of Magnesia, Alka-Seltzer, Tagamet, Zantac, and Pepcid worked for a time, but then became ineffective. Spiegel also tried the gambit of prescription drugs under the supervision of his primary care physician and later a gastroenterologist, including proton-pump inhibitors omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate, rabeprazole and dexlansoprazole.
“Almost as quickly as each drug worked, they stopped,” Spiegel, a Blue Springs attorney says. “It was a nightmare—I had to sleep sitting up in a chair for weeks at a time until my doctor found a drug to provide temporary relief.”
Spiegel suffered from the chronic gastric reflux for a decade, grappling with the feeling of “something heavy crushing my chest” and the extreme frustration of being on a merry-go-round of drugs. The condition negatively impacted his personal and professional life.
“I couldn’t go anywhere without proton-pump inhibitors,” Spiegel says. “I had no appetite and was frequently sick to my stomach. During bad flare-ups I couldn’t sleep, which in turn affected my work.”
GERD is prevalent throughout the population—according to the CDC, 60 percent of the adult population will experience some type of GERD within a 12-month period and of those, 20 -30 percent will have weekly symptoms. Approximately seven million people in the U.S. have some symptoms of GERD, which accounts for one out of five people. And GERD can lead to serious complications like stricture, esophageal cancer and debilitating symptoms like Spiegel encountered: GERD can cause not only daily pain, but lead to poor sleep, affect food tolerance and limit daily activities.
Over the years Spiegel’s physicians recommended the Nissen fundoplication, a surgical procedure often used to treat GERD. However, Spiegel rejected this option because of the lengthy downtime following surgery and the likely short-term effectiveness of the procedure for a candidate his age, which would result in multiple surgeries throughout his lifetime.
“I did my homework on this surgery and it just wasn’t for me for many reasons,” Spiegel says. “It also has some very unwanted and permanent side effects, such as the inability to belch or vomit.”
In 2015 Spiegel’s GI doctor referred him to Jonathan D. Patterson, M.D., a board-certified surgeon at Centerpoint Medical Center. Dr. Patterson is the first physician in the Kansas City region to be specially trained in LINX and the first to perform the revolutionary, minimally invasive solution for GERD, proven to eliminate dependence on medication and dramatically improve quality of life. A small, flexible ring of magnets that opens to allow food and liquid down, then closes to prevent stomach contents from moving back up, LINX presents a high success rate with minimal side effects.
“I had the LINX surgery on November 17, 2016,” Spiegel says. “I went off all my medications the morning of the procedure and went home that same day. The biggest issue I had post-surgery was food sticking, a normal side effect that disappeared in 10 days. Dr. Patterson coached me through that—not discomfort, just a strange sensation.”
Thanks to LINX, Spiegel has regained a sense of freedom in his life and is back to enjoying spicy food.
“I grew up on the Texas border and love food with a kick—cuisine impossible to eat with GERD,” Spiegel says. “Now I can eat it to my heart’s content. And no more sleeping sitting up in a chair or bed.”
For more information on Centerpoint Medical Center and its full spectrum of services, visit Centerpoint Medical Center.