Review from Martin Smith, 82, Surveyor in the Daily Mail, 12 November 2022.
I had swallowing issues for about 2-3 years – choking on food, regurgitating mouthfuls and chronic coughing while eating. It wouldn’t happen after every meal, maybe every other day and certain foods like bread were really triggering. I ignored it as I didn’t feel it was life threatening, but my daughter (who heard one of my coughing attacks) insisted I speak to my GP.
My GP referred me to the hospital to conduct tests. I had an X-ray and then an endoscopy which diagnosed me with something called Zenker’s – essentially a condition where a pouch had formed in my gullet and food and drink was getting trapped. My doctor told me there was two ways to treat it. On the NHS its only surgery under a general anaesthetic which I was wary about at my age. The doctors cut through your skin and your throat, so it’s more invasive, a longer recovery and more risky. There was a new way of treating it through the mouth (called Z-POEM), but only one doctor in the UK was trained in it and it was only available privately. After a battle with my insurance company they agreed to fund me.
I went to the Cleveland Clinic and was given light sedation and the whole procedure is performed with an endoscopy down the throat. I was back in recovery within the hour and discharged the following morning. I had a sore throat for a week or so, but aside from that no side effects.
I can now eat whatever I like and don’t vomit, cough or choke. I can now enjoy my food and can happily eat out without any embarrassment.