Gallbladderless, part 1

I want to tell my entire gallbladder story, start to finish. I feel it begins around last November but to speed things up, let's keep it in this year.

Back in January, Ted and I had a little getaway planned the beginning of the month. Starting about the first of the year though, I started to get super bad pain in my abdomen, sort of radiating up into my chest. It was at the same time everyday - dinner time. I could just manage to get dinner ready but then I was never able to eat it. My family would be sitting at the dinner table and I would be curled up in a little ball on the living room floor, rocking and moaning. Nice, right? Most of the time it would go away by time the girls needed to get ready for bed.

I knew I could not let this ruin my mini vacay with my hubbie so I headed over to see my ever patient and knowledgeable doctor, Natalie Bryant. I love her. I don't know that I've ever been this happy with a doctor and I wish she would move wherever I do throughout life.

I explained my pain and her first thought was it might be gallbladder pain. The issue is that with woman, gallbladder pain can be in a number of places at many different times of days, varying amount of pain, etc. With men something greasy and fatty translates more or less to the same type of pain and it's obviously indicative of gallbladder issues. Nice.

So the pain I was experiencing Natalie thought could possibly be intense acid reflux OR a gallbladder issue. She sent me home with a prescription for heart burn medication and an order for an ultrasound. If the pain did not go away from the medicine, I was to get an ultrasound within the next week or so.

The pain did not go away with the medicine but it DID go away. We had a pleasant vacation and life went on. I kind of forgot about it.

Fast forward to the end of April when one night, at 1:30 AM I woke up with strong radiating pain, coming from about my sternum and also afflicting my right side (right flank pain, in the medical world). I had difficulty denying the pain as I slept and eventually could not. I sat in the glider chair in our room and noticed it was continuing to intensify. I took some heart burn medicine with no relief. Ted was awake, caring for me, and I asked him to give me a blessing. He of course obliged but also said that afterwards we were going to the ER. Fine by me!

Ted called, and woke up, our dear friend Wanda. She came over, just plopped down next to me and held me as I cried into her hair. It was just the comfort I needed. Not that my pain had changed but it was so good to have her there. She would stay with our babies while we were gone as her own 4 children slumbered half a dozen houses down.

The ER diagnosis was easy - gallstones, most likely. While at the ER I learned of my dislike for morphine. I asked my nurse if, since I respond well to pain meds, we could start with half the dose and work up if needed. HALF the dose made me feel like I had a cinder block on my chest. I had to breathe consciously and deliberately for about 20 minutes. Another thing I noticed is that I could feel it from the top of my head down to the tip of my toes almost immediately after my nurse squirted it into my IV.

We left with an order for an ultrasound, one I followed through on the next day. (They also instructed me to keep to a strict low-to-no-fat diet. More on that later!) The ultrasound tech labeled the images STAT after he saw many stones he could neither confirm nor deny. I was contacted by my doctor's office a couple days later with a report that I had numerous stones varying in size. It was time to have the gallbladder removed.

Leaving the gallbladder in can cause a bile duct problem in which bile spills into your whole body and can also wreak havoc with your pancreas. A gallstone ridden gallbladder can, if left unattended, BECOME a very bad problem. Who knows when or how but it can.

I was referred to a surgeon, the only one in town which is where this post takes over and eventually I rescheduled my surgery for May 18th, knowing I should have it done sooner than later.

Well sooner was yesterday and now I am home. I opted to stay the night. My noon surgery didn't happen until about 2:15 and I felt it would be better to get a good night's rest in the hospital with assistance rather than any number of things happening at home.

I will give a thorough telling of my surgery and recovery thus far (even if for no one else than a friend of mine who is about to possibly have this surgery herself) but for the time being, typing this much alone has wiped me out and my recliner is begging me to rest.


Jewel said...

I'm glad you're already feeling better enough to blog, at least! I'm so sorry you had to go through this, but isn't it wonderful to have the options of modern medicine, so you don't have to live with that intense pain constantly?
I wish I lived in Thatcher right now. I'd bring you some yummy homemade chicken noodle soup to speed the "getting better" process up.

Amy Legler said...

Thank you Kelly. Like we said when we talked yesterday, its bad when we would rather go under the knife, than risk another attack. How grateful we both are for modern medicine and the opportunity it gives us to take care of things before they become worse. I hope you recover well! In the best of ways, I look forward to reading how things go. Thank you.