Chris Robinson - Barretts Wessex

Name: Chris Robinson

Lives: Southampton

Diagnosis: Barrett's oesophagus

Did a kidney stone save my life?

I'd had acid reflux all my life; it had got bad and I was eating Rennie like sweets, as my Dad before me had to, but he'd died when I was a boy. A typical obstinate male, I wouldn't see the doctor for "just heartburn" but then I had to.

I had painfully passed a kidney stone on holiday and the attending doctor said I had to see my own GP when I got home.  Following a long discussion and prolonged urine tests, he concluded that my kidney stone was due to excess calcium from all the Rennie.  He sent me for an endoscopy.  That's when I discovered I had Barrett's.

The surgeon who scoped me said, "We don't like to see that in the oesophagus: it's like the lining of the intestines and could become cancer". Not knowing, then, anyone who'd died of cancer, the C word didn't scare me.

"I could give you an operation," he said (meaning a fundoplication). That did scare me so it was years later I eventually went under the knife.  Meanwhile the omeprazole I'd been put on had cured my oesophagitis: I was heartburn free but had the chronic reflux cough.

For me the fundoplication was the best thing I ever did.  The cough went.  I also discovered I had a sense of smell and my ear problems cleared up. (I hadn't realised they were due to reflux.)

A widow I met since told me her husband had been like me and wouldn't see the doctor until he couldn't swallow. "Six weeks later, he was dead."

I wonder whether that could have been me had the kidney stone not sent me to see my GP earlier.

Associate with HCUK:

Chris Robinson is the Chairman of Barrett's Charity, Barrett's Wessex.