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Oesophageal Patients Association
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trapped food issues

Hello everyone,

This is my first post , on behalf of my husband who has just had the Ivor - Lewis op 7 weeks ago . Hes been doing well in recovery until the past week or so , hes now struggling to eat solids ( had soup for lunch but fish pate sandwich caused a blockage & hes sitting here trying to bring it up or move it down!) This has been getting steadily worse over the past week. I suppose the scar tissue could be the problem & I`ve heard that stretching the oesophagus can work . His morale is suffering & we would appreciate any opinions / thoughts etc.

Thank you

23 Replies
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Very important, get an endoscopy done and a stretch of the join. They will not overstretch it but it can be done a few times, a little at a time. I had mine done and what a difference it made. Something less to worry about and gives so many more food options. A thing I have to force myself to remember - chew everything very well and take your time, easy to forget when eating in company. I found fresh bread and meat difficult items. Toast and crunchy things much easier.

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I had the standard oesophagectomy in May and if it's any consolation there are still certain foods that I have to be wary of chicken, rice and bread in particular. I can eat them, but smaller bites/mouthful or I'm chewing longer than I used to.

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Thanks for your reply , all very helpful, such a big learning curve.... Good luck with your recovery.

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Hi - As the other respondents have said, it is a regular issue following this operation. I personally had to have five ‘stretches’ before I could tackle most foods without experiencing them becoming stuck.

Don’t worry, the problem does eventually stop. He’ll never be able to eat the quantity of food as he did before the operation, but little and often is the key.

He needs to concentrate on high calorie foods in order to maintain his weight.

MFH

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It seems that a stretch would be of great help , we'll speak to the MacMillan nurse on Monday, thanks.

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Hi gardeningqueen,

I had surgery in February 2018, two stretches since. But what you describe could also be something I experienced before, after rehab in March, so about 6 weeks post-op. It was a feeling as if I had a cramp in my throat. Had to cough, brought up phlegm with the food. At that time it was not the scar which had contracted, must have had something to do with nerves. The doctors couldn't give me an answer, just said, my body will adapt to the new 'system'. And it did, I don't have this problem anymore. (Before the first stretch, the feeling was different. I could swallow anything in small quantities but not my pills. The diameter of the pills was more than the scar in the food pipe.)

Best wishes,

Monika

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He was able to eat soft food before yesterday but I think the scar tissue is blocking , hope to get a stretch booked soon , thank you.

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Hi Gardeningqueen

I have a problem with soft (delicious) white bread and I think it is something you have to watch, as slobjohnb said you have to remind yourself to take small bites and chew far more than you used to do.

With regard to the food getting stuck, our Dietitian told me that if food does get stuck have some sparkling water to drink and that will help to shift it, I haven't tried it but it's worth a try.

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Hi all - my hubby spends literally hours eating the smallest meals. He wasn’t able to have the op but radiotherapy has shrunk his tumour enough so that he can have more solid food than just milkshakes and soup. Likewise - our dietician said any fizzy drink will help to clear any “cloggy” bits and also helps to clear that sticky extra mucous. Good luck!

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Ohh i struggle with fizzy stuff???

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Yes bread is defo an issue , also a favourite of his unfortunately... Managing today on scrambled eggs , soup etc . Thanks for your comment.

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I cant eat bread, but can eat ryvita? Well could before last chemo,

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It may well be that certain foods will cause problems indefinitely. Even though it is nice to think of eating foods that are solid, it might be that he is not ready yet. Sometimes bread congeals and blocks up the system. Rice can be a problem also for some. One should not think like this, but sometimes bread congeals around the plug hole of the kitchen sink, so it is no wonder that bread sometimes does not go down as we would wish.

I am sorry to say that you probably just have to wait for a bit longer for trying food that is different / more solid.

It is a stage after the surgery when one starts to come to terms with some of the long term eating issues, so a dip in morale after all you have been through is not surprising - in fact it is pretty normal.

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Yes , one good day on eating gives you confidence to try other foods which don't always work & can lower morale , thanks for your comment , all very helpful

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Hello gardeningqueen,

Concur with Alan M's comment. 7 weeks is far too early to undergo stretch in my view as body will be undergoing fine tuning for many months if not years.

Toasted bread will be better alternative to plain soft bread to experiment.

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We'll give toast a go but he's back on very smooth food as he got a fright last night.

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The sparkling drinks solution really works, I found it hard to 'burp' but the gas from a fizzy drink helps, also a bottle of ale!. Don't routinely drink with a meal as it fills the stomach too quickly but when something gets stuck a drink is beneficial.

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I read your post and the replies with interest. Don't be worrying about stretches and such things, it's the nature and consistency of bread which is the problem and unfortunately some of us have no choice but to learn to live with it. It may be your chap is gluten intolerant now and there is a test for this.

I am three years post Ivor Lewis oesophagectomy this month and I still can't eat bread or pastry unless it's a very small piece, cereal, cakes or dairy. All of these foods cause me big dumping problems still.

These are all things that I loved to eat, and I do crave sandwiches and things like fruit bran cereal but my dietitian said that sometimes a tolerance to particular foods may never return. If I have any more than a quarter of a slice sandwich it really plays up and if I have any more than a small piece of one of those small deep pan type pizzas about one eighth of the five inch pizza, I suffer.

Having said that I have modified my diet and do eat a lot, what I do is try whatever it is, just a little and see how I get on and as everyone says it does get better over time.

So the best of luck with the recovery and perhaps try just very small sandwiches and cut the crusts off. See how you get on.

Regards and good luck Richard

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Hi,, after my op, same as hubbys,,, i felt a lump in throat,, and was difficult to eat, i had 2 stretches so far,, helped a little the 2nd time,,, was starting to eat bit more,,, but since a chemo last week, i feel this sort of lump, and lost a stone in 3 weeks, re not eating, seen DR today and he says its normal, re bile , and it will go... Not worry abt stretching, does not hurt,,,endoscopy with a balloon attached,,,

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Im 3 months post op and ive had 2 stretches, they dont hurt,, and after 2nd one, was now 20mm,, i managed to eat a little bit after abt 2 weeks,, but had a chemo 3 weeks ago and now im worse than ever, DR say normal ??? Delayed next chemo for a week, but i dotn believe this and dreading next chemo.

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I am 4 months on from my op and am unable to eat bread in all forms, and boy do l miss it , just not worth the discomfort! When l get asked why bread not cake etc all i can say is when the bread , toast whatever mixes with my saliva it reverts to its dough like state and no matter how long l chew the doughier it gets. This happens with the flat breads as well. The only one l risk is l have a slither of very crisp pizza( about 1/12 of Dr what's its) If it gets doughy l discretely remove it but life without pizza for me would be sooo sad. I have managed to find meat and fish paste in my supermarket which l have on crackers when l would have had a sandwhich in the past. I get reflux and regurgitation , and there are several things they can do to help this. I started on metacloperide a few weeks ago, had botox a couple of weeks ago, they may repeat that. They start with the least invasive and work towards more surgery if necessary. But always the least invasive first. I hope you husband gets some relier soon. Its a steep learning curve. Best wishes to you both.PS l did try a 1/4 slice of fried bread a few weeks ago,it went down a treat unfortunately before l left the table my food started coming back up and the bread got stuck! Cant win,wont be haveing that again!

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Thank you all for for your replies , we`ve really appreciated them . Hes just back from a dilation procedure & it has made a huge difference , solid food again , fantastic. Thanks again....

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My partner is 9 months post op and has only now started to feel as if things are "hitting somethig" at the back of his throat when he eats. Does this sound normal?

I panic over everything

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