Hepatitis C Esophageal Varices Banding – What to Expect

Hepatitis C Esophageal Varices Banding

ML Karen varices banding
Best Friends lend an ear and give love during the tuff times.

My friend Mary Lou at hepcsupport.org is having her first esophageal varices banding. We have been messaging back and forth like crazy. She had a lot of fears and questions. As your best friend in the battle, I thought that you too might want to eavesdrop on our private messages. Also be sure and read Varices Stages and Grading here.

Mary Lou: OK. I have this banding coming up. What can I expect?

Moi: Well, you have had an endoscopy, so you already know what the prep for the scope is like. This starts out the exact same way. No food after midnight the night before. Ask your doctor if you can have enough water to take your meds in the morning.

When you arrive at the outpatient center, they will take you back and put you in a peek-a-boo gown and start an IV. Wear a little bit of blush and lipstick. Send pics! lol. All of your personal belongings will stay with a family member, wear pretty panties – makes you feel better. They take your vital signs and cover you up with a warm blankie. You will answer a lot of questions about dentures, medications, hepatitis c, and whether or not that is your real hair.

Soon they whisk you back and your doctor chats you up. They give you a gargle that is a nasty tasting mess and has the consistency of owl snot. I hate that part. (shuddering gag) The next thing you know, someone is putting you in a wheelchair. Really. There is no sense of time. On my last banding, my daughter said that I tried to wheel myself out to look for my red shoes. If you get my drift, it is la-la-land time.

Once you get home, it is a good idea to take some pain medication. You will not feel bad at first, but sedation wears off, you know? Then you just curl up in your own bed and drool on the pillow.

Mary Lou: I don’t drool. Ever. It’s not lady-like. :) How long does this take?

Moi: I am usually gone from the house about 3 hours total except the time we stopped at McD’s for an ice cream cone.  

Mary Lou: What? You were out of it. How long before sedation wears off?

Moi: Since you have cirrhosis, your body does not process the sedation quickly. It kinda cycles in your bloodstream cuz your liver can’t cleanse it out. That zoniness lasts for several days in my case. I think people may do better if their liver is in good shape. But think about it… You can get a lot of mileage out of that.

Mary Lou: When can I eat? My liver processes food so crazy that I have to eat frequent meals or my blood sugar gets wacked. BTW – I get your drift. I need the mileage. So I can’t cook or clean for 6 weeks? (sly grin)

 Moi:  Exactly! Eat popsicles, jello, and soup for a couple of days. Have some protein shakes on hand. Somebody brings them to me in the bed for the first several hours….. uhm, I mean weeks. haha!

Mary Lou: Get serious. Will I have pain? How much? How long? What kind of pain meds? (jaw clenched already)

Moi: Chill sister… You may experience some discomfort. Talk to your doctor Before the banding. I had spasms one time and took mega meds, but usually a little acetaminophen cuts the pain ez.

Betty and Veronica ihelpc banding

Mary Lou: Why? What hurts?

Moi: Your esophagus. See, they put the scope down and see how many varices that you have. They put rubber “bands” around them with the scope. That causes them to kind of die and fall off within several days. Then they just go through your digestive system eventually. If they only have to band 2 or 3, you will have less discomfort. You might even eat toast within 48 hours. I stay with liquids and then soup for a few days. I know when the doctor was banding 5 varices, I had more soreness – it was not easy to swallow n e thing for about 4 or 5 days. Matter of fact, it hurt swallowing anything but liquid. They usually will not band more than 4 or 5 at once. 

Mary Lou: Sounds gross. What if I have more varices? There is not a lot to read about it.

Moi: You may. I really hope not though. If you do, the doctor will schedule you to go back in every month and get more removed. I’m already 6 ahead of you. Wanna race? Ha. He will probably put you on a higher dose of Nadolol – the beta blocker that slows down the portal hypertension. That keeps the ones you have from growing and also can prevent new ones from forming.

Mary Lou: Were you scared?

Moi: Are pigs pink? Heck yes! The first one was in ER – ICU, blood and platelet transfusions. I can’t talk about it – that was a scary nightmare that I try and block. When I got home I just knew that I would never be able drink coffee, eat nachos, or anything other than homemade soup and popsicles for the rest of my life. They discontinued my hepatitis c treatment. Geez! I was a huge heap of sad, tired, and sorry. It took me a few weeks to manage a higher dose of the beta blocker and learn to chew everything extremely well. My teeth are officially as good as any food processor now. THAT is important information also. Do not try and swallow oatmeal without chewing. It is awful when it gets lodged in the middle of your esophagus. (Shaking my head) Nasty mess. (crying)

All of the other bandings were planned. By then I learned that there is life after portal hypertension and varices bandings. Anything else? It’s hard not knowing… I’m sorry.

Mary Lou: I’m sorry you had the bleed out. So the banding will prevent that. I think I’m about ready. Not really - but that sounded good, didn’t it? Any more tips for your girl friend?

Moi: Yes – bandings done regularly can prevent bleeding esophageal varices. Try and schedule the banding at the earliest possible time slot so you will not be too hungry. Blood sugar does drop with liver disease and fasting is hard. That makes you look pale. Put on more blush and lipstick.

lipstick ihelpc google+

Also, calm your sweet self while you’re waiting your turn. When I am all ready and lying on the hospital gurney, I ask for the lights to be dimmed. That gives me some time to take some slow deep breaths and pray or meditate. I need it. I always get a little jittery. I even tell my daughter that she is the only person allowed to get in my personal belongings if I should die before I wake. I’m lol, but it is part of my routine. I don’t wanna scare you. It is never easy to go under sedation, even if just a light one. Once you’ve stared death in the face, you treasure each moment and know that it is a gift, right?

Mary Lou: That I know sweetie. I have confidence in my doctor. I know that this is necessary. It is just an unknown. I feel better hearing about your experience. I’m just ready to get it over with.

Moi: Within a week, you will forget that you had it done. Even after my first emergency one, I was back at work in a week.

Mary Lou: I know that many others have survived this. It’s a part of the disease progression.

MOI:  Yipper. Hay! You could pull a Katie Couric and have it all shown live on the Today Show!

Mary Lou: Honey, I think it’s time for you to go to bed. You know why? You are talking crazy stuff! I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Thank you.

MOI: You’d do the same for me. I know you’ll use this like you do every experience. You will reach out to others who are going through it. It’s such a gift you have. Making something good out of something bad. TTYL. I gotta go call the Today Show… Gnite.

Mary Lou: Forget the Today Show. Get some sleep hon.

P.S. So that was our little varices chat. Another friend – a guy – is probably going to have to be banded too. You know who you are…. so this is for you also. Just don’t do the lipstick thing. haha! I hope this helped. We’re all in this together. The good, the bad, and the ugly of cirrhosis, hepatitis c, and on and on… xoxo Karen:)

Keep calm and get some sleep
via sylviaschade.com

Hepatitis C Esophageal Varices Banding is not so bad. If you have to have it done, you might be interested in a Low Sodium Diet  and also Ascites articles.

13 thoughts on “Hepatitis C Esophageal Varices Banding – What to Expect

  1. thanx for breif discusing hapatitac c ,moi my father have hapatitac c ,he vomit blood 3 time last day,his stomac has been swollen ,he has also internal bleading ,platlets count is also reduce ,know he is admited in hospital plz give me any advice to tackle the problem

    1. Ramzan,

      This is a frightening time for you. I think the hospital will try to do these things.
      1. Transfusion of new blood
      2. Put tube in stomach to stop bleeding.
      3. Give IV medication to reduce water in his stomach.

      I had all of these also. It is not a very good situation. But if they can band varices and get him fresh blood it will help. They may try and take water from his stomach to help swelling. Your doctor is someone you can trust. You will have to be strong for your father. Ask the doctor and nurses what steps they will take.

      I can tell you they said my death was sure. But then I got better and better and now have a good life. I pray that your father will have this! It can be true even if his liver is failing. Will you tell him that there is hope? He may be confused right now. It is frightening. But he needs good words of comfort.

      My heart and prayers are with you. Please keep in touch. OK?
      xo Karen:)

  2. I had my first bout with banding had 5 or 6 episodes of bleeding before this last time I had emergency surgery no one listened too me till it was killing me I had little painn just the feeling that someone had their hands around my neck for a while all i needed for pain was a numbing agent for my throat. It is hair raising but i am still here .

    1. Hi Linda,

      I’m glad you stopped by. It’s scary business. Once you’ve had a bleed out, it kind of stays with you forever.. I ended up with esophgeal spasms after one intense banding. That hands on your throat feeling is some of the worst pain I have ever experienced. Hang in there dear.

      How good of you to share your experience with us. Let’s stay connected, ok?

      I hope your day is good,
      xo Karen:)

  3. For 6 yrs my varices were grade one, no BP meds.. this year a new doctor banded me, I don’t know what stage, or how many. As prepared as I thought I was for the worsening of liver disease, it was nothing like I had imagined. For nearly a week I couldn’t even sip water. I became severely dehydrated before the EGD due to colo prep. My blood pressure was 140+ over 90+. I woke up immediately with horrific pain in my sternum. I have yet to get any answers from the new doctor. I am disgusted. Discharge paper says to limit sodium to <2000 mg/day. But no BP meds. Interestingly enough, my blood pressure with all the colo prep finally out of my system is 109/69 this morning. I am wondering if anyone can comment on salt reduction without acsites or high blood pressure. I have not tried to make an appm't to follow up with this since, I feel I was blind-sided and left out of the loop. I was expecting no changes and had been promised to FINALLY be treated… Hah! I got my Hep C.. Feb. 23, 1974 in the same hospital where I had this banding by a new doctor. I am giving up at this point. I know so many who have been treated more than once.. I have excellent retirement insurance from working.. including no copay RX plan, but all I get is expensive MRI's, ultra-sounds, lacerated veins from blood draws and more EGD's. I had bridging fibrosis in 1994. So I am under the impression from reading topics on this site, that I am well into stage 4 decompensated liver functions. I have hit rock bottom. I have no help and no one to care one way or the other, including this new doctor who seems to be closed lipped. Should I be looking for another doctor? Do I even want to have another EGD in 3 months? Perhaps I should just do a living will with a DNR? I am totally out of my element here in this State. I came here hoping to get treatment and help. That was 8 yrs ago.. too long to wait and now I can't go home again~

    1. Hi Ginger,
      It sounds like you had some esophageal spasms. I had those after one banding. Really bad pain for days! I am surprised your doctor did not give you anything. I’m so sorry and hope you are better now.
      I am also concerned that they did not put you on a beta blocker like Nadolol. It is the 1st line of defense against varices. Your blood pressure is really high hunnyo.
      I am really discouraged at the lack of communication. You should look for another doctor since you have good insurance. You deserve to know more about the causes, medications, and side effects of varices.
      About Sodium – YES it does come into play even though varices have not been a problem. A low sodium diet will help the liver in many ways and it is also healthier for your heart. It’s not so bad once you get the hang of it.
      Don’t give up on treating. The new meds are awesome. SOOOO much easier than the treatment I went through. Cirrhotics don’t have a bad time with it and their cure rate is Amazing! This is your chance. Forget that doctor, or at least go in with a new attitude and let him know that you have some expectations.
      This is not the end. It’s just the beginning.I was totally decompensated. Still stage 4, but going and a-blowing as my mom would say.
      One more thing. I had bandings every month for a while. Then down to every 3 months. Now it’s been 6 months. I’ll get one soon, but I don’t expect any new varices with the beta blocker and all the adjustments I’ve made.
      You can do it. Please keep in touch. Check in with me on facebook. There is a cirrhosis forum with tons of support. Also groups for hepatitis c and the new drugs. A lot of people in your shape are treating.
      Keep me posted Ginger. I mean it. So glad we connected.
      xoxoxo Karen:)

      1. Ginger,
        I am ihelpcKaren on Facebook and there is a Sovaldi and Olysio group, Hepatitis Friends and Family, Hepatitis C Organizations, Hepatitis C News, and a lot more communities. They may not be easy to find because many are closed to the public. Come in my front door and I’ll hook you up!

        1. Thank you for the info. I have never had my blood pressure go over 115/80, until just before the knock-out drops hit me. Low BP runs in my family and I had thought perhaps that was a reason I was not on BP meds. As for sodium, I am not a “salt” person either. I don’t have ascites so I didn’t understand why it was written on the discharge paper. I live 60+ miles one way from the Dr office I had been going to. I may make one more effort to see if I can pay to have my records and notes copied and mailed to me. Otherwise, it just isn’t worth it go back there.

          1. Hello!

            It’s complicated, but the blood pressure and the portal vein pressure are 2 separate things. I’ve been studying to way blood moves into and out of the liver and still don’t fully understand. I know that the ascites and kidney problems are connected to portal hyptertension also. I’m with you. If you’re doing ok now, just wait. If you need the records, they can always mail them to you or even fax them.

            I hope your weekend is going great!
            Much much love,
            xo Karen:)

  4. Hot tea, i like Lipton Black tea was soothing and actually made my throat feel better.. I had less trouble drinking tea than I did with water.

    1. I’ve never tried the black tea, but it sounds soothing. I have been drinking decaf coffee this week since I just had a banding. I let it cool down a little first. You’re right though, water is a bit painful going down. Maybe because I take gulps instead of sips.

      Thank you so much for the tip. I appreciate it!
      xo Karen:)

  5. I just had to come back and read this as I head out for another banding. My first experience was memorable. Unfortunate for me, my doctor leaves you completely dressed & when I woke my shirt was soaked in drool. I must have been a real mess walking out of the clinic. Thankfully, I barely remember it!

    1. Hay sweet sister,

      How did the banding go? Did they find any new ones? I had mine a couple of days after yours and it was a mess. Lots of varices. I’m lol but they leave you completely dressed? No way! Of course I never remember any of it either. It’s like, “Who put my clothes back on me?” I always ask for ice cream on the way home and do not remember eating it. I think about you a lot. Your little guy is growing up fast!!! And the best part is that you are here to enjoy it. So very grateful for that dear friend. You’re a miracle! xoxo Karen:)

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