Kevin McCann - Mt. Pleasant, MI
"It's a life-changing procedure...I'm glad I had it done."
He's Free from Acid Reflux Pain after Receiving a New Medical Device
Hard work can bring plenty of stress and difficulties on its own, and for Kevin McCann of Mt. Pleasant, constant struggles with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) added additional troubles to his daily life.
McCann is a 61-year-old truck driver who hauls dirt and gravel for construction work. He's used to working thirteen and fourteen-hour days at his job and works out in his free time to stay in shape. On his Sundays off he will occasionally enjoy a round of golf or spend time with his son and grandkids.
Unfortunately, McCann's days were also plagued by constant severe heartburn. Diagnosed in his 30's, he struggled for years to keep the symptoms of acid reflux under control. "Sometimes I couldn't even drink water – it would burn," he says. He was on multiple antacid medications, moving on to the next as one after another eventually stopped working for him.
GERD seems to run in McCann's family. His mother had also suffered from acid reflux, eventually having a surgical procedure done to tighten her esophagus. McCann was interested in doing the same, so he attended a seminar at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot on surgical options to treat GERD. There, he learned that the standard operation to structurally change the stomach comes with significant downtime and dietary restrictions during recovery, as well as other complications.
However, at the seminar McCann learned of a brand new surgery for GERD that very recently became available at the Medical Center. This new procedure does not cut or alter the stomach or esophagus at all. Instead, a new medical device called the LINX® Reflux Management System is placed around the base of the esophagus, right at the entrance to the stomach. The LINX is a stretchable ring of titanium magnets, which constricts the esophagus to keep stomach acid from escaping, but also expands to allow food to pass through.
McCann decided that the LINX System was the right option for him. "This procedure allows you to eat a regular diet," he says. In April of this year, General Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D., performed the procedure at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot.
The surgery itself went by quickly with no troubles. "I didn't have any pain whatsoever," McCann says. "It wasn't a bad experience at all." He stayed for one night afterward, where he received dedicated care from the hospital staff. "The nurses were great," he says. "I'd give it all an A+." He remembers waking up once and seeing Dr. Smith peeking in to check on him at 3 o'clock in the morning.
With the surgery on a Thursday, McCann rested over the weekend and was able to return to work the very next Monday. He was limited in the amount he could lift for a while, but after six weeks he was completely healed and back to his regular fitness routine.
Another part of McCann's recovery was learning to chew food into small pieces and washing it down well with drinks. His care team made sure he understood what he needed to do. "Ice cream, fruit, and veggies are good, but you have to chew bread and steak thoroughly," he says, "which is better for your digestive system anyway."
The immediate relief from heartburn no doubt has been a benefit to McCann's digestive tract as well. Since the LINX procedure, he has had no trouble with pain or other symptoms from acid reflux. "I haven't taken an antacid of any kind since then," he says. He also reports being able to sleep better now.
Perhaps the best part is the food that McCann is able to eat now. "I can eat hot food again," he says. Spicy food is back on the menu, along with a greater zest for life. "It's a life-changing procedure," he says. "I'm glad I had it done."
Those who would like additional information about the LINX Reflux Management System may visit www.midmichigan.org/linx or call (989) 463-6699.
LINX® is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson