Achalasia Update: 2 years

Hi everyone who has suffered from esophageal Achalasia or knows somebody who is suffering.  I’ve been getting a few emails about my recovery and wanted to share the experience with you.

I had my heller myotomy surgery two years ago.  It all seems like a bad dream.  I no longer have any problems eating.  I do occasionally get heartburn, so I keep TUMS in my car.  One other strange side effect is I don’t think I’ve been able to vomit after heavy drinking.  I’m too old to be drinking until I puke anyway.

I decided it would be a good idea to post some of the emails I received and the answers that I’ve given.  If you’re reading this and you have Achalasia, you aren’t alone.


Hello! I have read your posts on achalasia. last one was your decision to undergo HM. I was wondering if you decided to keep doing acupuncture or ended up having the surgery. I have had 4 acupuncture sessions with little to no improvement (I realize it takes time for it to work). However  I am scheduled for laparoscopic HM in a week from today. My acupuncturist wants to me to postpone it until mid June. I don’t know what to do… I feel like just having the surgery done and continuing normal life.. Or maybe I should give a chance to acupuncture… I would appreciate if you could share your experience.   Thanks!  -A

Dear A,

I did not decide to continue doing acupuncture after the surgery.  There was absolutely no need for it.
Don’t listen to your acupuncturist.  I’ve done quite a bit of internet research (I assume you have too), and I haven’t found a single case where acupuncture has solved the swallowing problem.  If I could go back in time, I would have done the surgery while I was still having minor problems, rather than waiting for it to get really bad.
Hi Adam!
Thank you for your reply! I chose the surgery as well. I was lucky to have one of the best surgeons who dealt with achalasia since 1991. And I had the surgery last Friday, April 17. I am feeling much better. I was at the early stage of the disease so hope for many years of normal life after this surgery.   
Hope you are feeling well after the surgery! 

Hi Adam,

I came across your blog, searching Achalasia in Toronto on Google.   I was interested in how you’ve been dealing with Achalasia and am very glad to hear that the surgery has helped you manage this disorder better.

I was also an Engineering student at University of Toronto, (2009 – 2014), so there may have been a time when we walked right past each other in one of the engineering buildings!

Two weeks ago my doctor told me I am being diagnosed with Achalasia, and after reading a lot of the stories and study on Achalasia, I’ve been devastated and some what depressed.  I came across your blog last week and seeing that you’ve been managing it very well has been encouraging and helps me be more positive and thankful.

There is not much people here that knows about Achalasia, so I am happy I came across your blog.  I found it very useful and informative.  I have alot of fears about acalasia (what will happen in 10 years? what if surgery fails? will i be about to maintain a normal life? the acid reflux side-effect lead to early cancer…), but for now i am trying to be strong and thankful for living a supportive world with good people who care for each other and helps us back up on our feet.

Thanks Adam for sharing your experience, I hope Achalasia is something that no longer holds you back and you are able to pursue your dreams and live the life you always wanted.  Thank you for reading my email and I’d appreciate if you write me back.

Thank you very much,

Hi T,

I’m very glad that my blog has helped you.  One problem with the online achalasia community is that the heller myotomy surgery is so effective that people leave the community right after receiving treatment.

Its been 2 years since I had the surgery.  I’m back to my old self!  Dancing, playing sports, going to bars, and generally having a good time.

Don’t be afraid of the surgery.  Its highly unlikely a complication will occur because it is a very simple procedure.  You’ll be back to regular activity within a week.

Please please please be brave and go see a surgeon.  My only regret is that I didn’t see one earlier.  I could have saved myself, family and friends from misery.  Its scary to watch someone you love rapidly lose weight.

One last piece of advice.  Get the laproscopic heller, not the POEM.  Poem has been shown to give more frequent cases of acid reflux.

 Good luck! -Adam

Hi Adam,

Thank you very much for your email.  I am so glad to hear you’re living a normal life again!  Some things we take for granted, and it’s these experiences that reminds us how fortunate we are.
I agree, the online achalasia community has very little on people’s success stories.  I came across an NFL player by the name Malcolm Smith, who also underwent the Laproscopic Heller, it was very encouraging to see how capable he still is.  For now I am going to stay positive, and am looking forward to talking to my Gastroenterologist, Dr. Edward Lin regarding my next steps.
Thank you so much for your time and writing back to me.  Yes, please feel free to post my letter on your blog, I am sure there are many people who’ve been beat down learning of achalasia and hearing all the horror stories around it.  It would be appreciated if you remove my name.
Once again thank you and hope you have a great week ahead of you!

I hope this helps somebody out there.  I’ll respond if you email me.  Your letter will also probably wind up here 🙂