View Full Version : I'm full of gall, apparently...

11-06-2004, 11:47 AM
At least my gallbladder is full of gallstones, and shouldn't be.

Just a reminder to everyone out there that if you ever experience a sharp pain under your right ribcage (not low like the appendix, but above the midline), it could be your gallbladder telling you all is not well.

I've been having pain off and on for about a year, but always the pain had stopped before. An hour of feeling like it was a gas bubble stuck somewhere in the piping, or a muscle pull, or just something a bit uncomfortable. Nothing to worry about. Sure.

Last Wednesday night, that changed. Could not get comfortable no matter what I tried - heating pad, cold packs, sitting, standing, lying down...best part here is I decided to see if things would change on Thursday.

Dumb move...spent that day throwing up and feeling like I had a knife in my ribs...after being up all night, I finally went to the ER early Friday morning and threw myself upon their mercy.:o

In four hours' time, I had a morphine shot, and things began to look a little hazy, but I could at least sleep...an ultrasound later, they found my inflamed gallbladder.

Ah, no home for me...instead, a weekend of no food or water, only saline and antibiotics, so my insides could calm down and they could see if I would need surgery or not. Add in a constant fever that made me think they had the heat too high in the hospital room, and it was a real fun Hallowe'en.

Got back to clear liquids on Monday - the most vile salty broth that pretended to be soup that I have ever eaten. But you know, I ate it because it pretended to be food, and I can't chew saline and antibiotics. The Jello was excellent. It was like a really lousy day spa that you can't leave.

By Wednesday, I was back on cream of wheat and then a sandwich at lunch. The best chicken salad sandwich and cream of chicken soup I have had.

The way they do this is to see if your gallbladder can handle the food in your system. If you can, you can go home and they will schedule a surgery later. If you can't, you get to have surgery a lot quicker.

So, I was lucky. My body decided to give me a big warning that my diet has not been all that great, which I knew, and nothing blew at an inoportune moment.

I will treat my digestive tract with a bit more respect after this and not treat it like an amusement park.

However, I will need the thing taken out, probably early next year. It'll be laproscopic, so no big scars, I hope.

Best part of all this - I had a call when I was in the hospital that I didn't get the latest job I applied to because I "had said that public speaking wasn't your strong point and that has nothing to do with the job." WHA???

Whatever...probably wouldn't have liked working with them anyways.

Just been a week, you know? The one good thing I found in this is that when you are flat out on a hospital bed tied to an IV and you are poked and prodded and checked for your vitals at every opportunity, most crap in your life really begins to not mean much.

As in, the crap at the job doesn't matter. The bills, we'll take care of them when we can. Just do what you can, and get well. And there are so many in worse shape than me. My problem is fixable. Another lady in our room was waiting to see if they were going to do another surgery to see if she had a tumour, scar tissue, or something worse.

I was lucky, and I thank the doctors and nurses who took care of me and put up with me for five days.:hail

11-06-2004, 11:54 AM
I had mine yanked some 20 years ago after two years of emergency room visits and untold tests.

Mine surgery was the old fashioned way, and I've got the 10-inch keloid scar to prove it; further beautified when they had to go back in...

What I fondly recall of the ordeal is that even in the recovery room, with my liver disrupted and 50 staples up my formerly-lovely abdomen, I felt so, so much better. It was a miracle!

I also recall a terrible craving for raw beef post surgery--maybe that was due to my complications.

In all I felt better immediately and went up hill in health. I even ran my first 8-mile race that year.

I'm glad you know what's wrong, and the cure isn't horrible; though having strangers go inside is weird, it's worth it for how much better you'll feel.

Take care.

11-06-2004, 11:04 PM
I know that the surgeon will be able to go in and fix what ails me, but you're right about the having other people inside my gut that seems odd. I mean, they will be extracting this thing out of my belly button. Still trying to wrap my brain around that.

I'm one of those people who feels pretty well most of the time. I don't go to the doctor unless I am at death's door, like from a fever that will not go away after three days. Then I know something is wrong, and I need professional help. My only other surgery has been tonsils when I was 5 and wisdom teeth a lot later.

The experience gave me a whole new insight into hospitals, healthcare, and what actually happens when you check in to the ER. Not like the TV show at all, far more professional and to the point.

And morphine has its place, but it gave me a cranking headache when it wore off. Once the pain was dull enough, I told myself no more fun drugs just because of how they make me feel.

11-07-2004, 10:00 PM
It's a major, invasive surgery, even if it's only a "little" laporascopy. Your gallbladder being in your liver, they're going in pretty far.

My liver still kicks me now and then--you won't have that because technique is so much more advanced.

Feeling violated or loss after a big operation is normal, especially during the primary adjustment phase. But that goes away.

Post op though, do take your morphine or pain killer. (I'm lucky, my body adores morphine and no side-effects.) It was explained to me that taking narcotic for real physical malady doesn't make one addicted. Our bodies, wonderful machines they are use the non-pain time to heal us rapidly. It's taking the same drug when body is fine that causes addiction.

You may have unusual appetites, and sudden desires to sleep 12 hours months after surgery. Listen to that--you'll heal faster.

I can tell you after they got my 8 stones out, I was immediately better physically and psychologically. A nurse friend told me it's not unusual for one to undergo personality changes after a big surgery.

I had mine yanked when considered too young to have such a disease; I don't fit any of the usual demographis "fat, 40, had children" in fact was the opposite. My genes were in play.

You'll feel astronomically better soon!


11-09-2004, 01:04 AM
Arghh that does not sound like fun :( Hope all goes well with that :(

Also, Gala, thank you soooo much for this: "It was explained to me that taking narcotic for real physical malady doesn't make one addicted."

I'm on percocet right now for a broken leg, but no matter how many times I asked for information on the drug, the pharmacists forgot to include it. I did what I could on the net, but everything I found was really cut and dried, 'you can get addicted to this' etc etc.

You just helped take some of that stress off my mind :D

11-09-2004, 05:27 AM
Hi Allion, long time no chat. I hope all goes well with your gall bladder. Surgery is never fun, but sometimes is necessary.

I had my appendix out in 1988. As it turned out, before the flare-up, my wife and I had been discussing my getting a vasectomy. I thought (or didn't think, depending on your point of view) that since I would be off work for a month recovering from the appendix operation, I might as well get the snip-snip done while I was lounging around.

Bad idea.

Mind you, I did recover quite well from both procedures and was playing hockey one month to the day after the appendix operation, but for days after the snip-snip (which took place less than a week after the appendix came out), I felt like absolute crap. Try getting comfy when both boys are black and blue and you've had your abs sliced open.

I console myself with the knowledge that without modern medicine, I would certainly have died from a ruptured appendix that year. A little discomfort was a small price to pay.

11-09-2004, 08:30 AM
Chunky, you made my day...true Canadian to go play hockey after surgery, eh?

Too late now to question why you would put yourself through two surgeries within days of each other, but it all worked out. Right?

I do assume that the snipping was more than just a snip, if you get my drift. All sounds painful to me...I am a suck when it comes to pain, so perocet, demerol, morphine...it's all good, and it's all for a reason: to help me sleep it all off and pretend it never happened.

My father had a hernia removed years ago. They found his appendix wrapped around it somehow. Two for one surgery. This was also the time he almost died from a blood clot in his leg - I found this out years later, as no one was going to tell a mere child what the deal was with dad in the hospital. He has a blood disorder to boot, so it screws up his platelets. They're the wrong shape, so his spleen wants to eat them. The fact it is probably hereditary crosses my mind every so often.

Found out my surgery is November 30th. A lot sooner than I thought, but at least the chances of me having another attack are a lot less in the three weeks before then, instead of waiting for a few months and wondering if the chili I am about to eat will make me double up in pain.

I figure my bruises from this last hospital visit should fade just as I go in again for more fun.

11-09-2004, 10:41 AM
Lawrence Watt Evans (and others) discuss their gall bladder operations here. (http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=read&group=sff.people.lwe&art=38410)

You can follow the conversation with "related articles" link or simply hit the "next article" link.

Best wishes.

11-10-2004, 02:54 AM
perocet, demerol, morphine

I'm a red headed, blue eyed individual, so my pain threshold is virtually non-existent. Stub my toe, and I'm screaming for an ambulance. My wife, on the other hand, takes pans out of the oven with her bare hands. Okay, just kidding. Actually, she's had teeth pulled with no pain killers.


11-10-2004, 03:52 AM
Thank you for the website - I think I have found a new author to read. The personal anecdotes about the surgery are also enlightening. Leave it to a writer to give a great story about what happened to him.

I hope I don't have what he had (a disintegrated gallbladder from waiting too long). The surgeon didn't seem to think so, but then again, he has to get that camera in there to have a look-see. I will know more once I have my consult.

I know what he went through with the food, though. It becomes very much a love/hate relationship. I haven't had butter since this started. I love butter. I am convinced that if I do eat it or french fries (or anything else tasty) that I am going to get pain in the order of seven purples shades from hell. Would rather pass on that, thanks.

And I love fish & chips too - but I am also learning to love yogurt to get my good bacteria back up again.

I consider this a big wake up call that my diet was not great before, and that veggies are not necessarily icky. Some of them, anyways.

11-10-2004, 03:59 AM
ChunkyC, your wife's story is not all that unusual. I remember my dentist telling me that he could do extractions on some people with no freezing. Not what I would do, but if it works for them...

The concept blows my mind - apparently, as we age, the nerves do shrink in the tooth, and they become not as sensitive.

Of course, I get shooting pains from eating cold stuff and have to wear a night guard so I don't grind my teeth to powder. Very sensitive teeth in my head. Broke one and got a nice gold crown out of it.

Arg...I'm a pirate...

Me, I am more than willing to stretch out my arm and take whatever painkillers they are willing to give me. I found that morphine doesn't take the pain away; it just makes me not care. That's ok for me.

Thanks for letting me vent about this - I am a big sucky baby when it comes to needles, doctors, surgery, hospitals, you name it.

11-10-2004, 10:21 AM
While having some kidney surgery a few years ago I was introduced to Val by drop....hmmm, I said, if I were an addictive type person this stuff would be great ... then my wife told me that her late mother had been hooked on Valium for years. No wonder the woman was always happy.:grin

from the swamp - dub

11-14-2004, 03:27 AM
I had my gallbladder removed in July. I waited for months for the surgery; I had a gallstone the size of a golfball merrily floating around. My symptoms were stomach jabs and back pain (apparently really common for gallbladder problems).

After you recover from surgery, be prepared to feel better than you have in years. I didn't even realized how crappy I felt until they took out the gallbladder. My symptoms had been building up for a decade.

Although I was in a lot of pain (I had laproscopic surgery), I was up and walking within a couple of days. I spent the first couple of nights post-op sleeping upright in a chair because I couldn't stand the pain of getting in and out of bed. It took a couple of weeks before I could head back to work.

Since the operation, I've developed an odd craving for veggies. Another side effect was that I couldn't taste chocolate for about month. Yes, I was a grumpy, scarred camper.

You'll have to watch what you eat afterwards. I've heard that some people have problems with dairy but I haven't experienced that. I can't eat much red meat though, it makes me ill. I also can't sleep on my stomach anymore.

Surgery is definitely worth the pain. You'll feel energetic and just overall healthier after they suck that gallbladder out.

11-16-2004, 02:48 AM
Hi Peer54,

I thank you for the personal recollections of your surgery - as you can read, I am a huge scaredy cat when it comes to being under the knife. My last surgery was to get wisdom teeth out a very long time ago, and the general anaesthesia gave me a real problem when I was supposed to wake up.

(I basically didn't want to - three people left the recovery room in the time I was lounging around talking in my sleep saying I had to go back to work (?!))

So there is that. Then there is the pain issue, and the what will my stomach do now issue...I have been careful since the attack to not eat anything that may cause a problem. I dabble with different things to see if they give me pain or gas or the have-to-run-to-the-loo thing (I know, too much information - sorry!).

I am hoping to do my pre-surgical consult tomorrow - I went today and the office was closed. Grr... I think that after the appointment, I will either be really freaked out by what will happen or real calm about it. What I need is info.

But I am at the point where I know I can't live with this thing that is basically ticking inside me until the next attack. The ER visit was a wake-up call that something was definitely NOT RIGHT in here.

What I want to see is my ultrasound. I just want to know if I have one big one, or lots of little ones. Plus it would be cool to see my insides.

The other odd thing about this is that for about a month before I got sick, I kept writing scenes in my work about people being injured on their right sides. Not gallbladder, but wounded arms and sides and the like. I do fantasy stuff, so a lot of it ends up in battles or adventures that go sour.

So now I'm thinking that my subconscious was working overtime telling me something was wrong with me, not my characters.

Has this happened with anyone else, or am I just nuts?

11-19-2004, 06:58 AM
Don't worry, I'm sure the silence doesn't mean that you're alone or nuts.

I didn't experience that symptom before discovering my gallbladder problem but it doesn't surprise me to hear that you did.

I have a nasty nut allergy and every time I'm about to go into anaphylactic shock, I get this feeling of foreboding before my throat shuts. This is a common symptom.

Our bodies are often smarter than we are.

BTW, I hope that you don't have to wait too long for surgery.

11-19-2004, 08:50 AM
Hiya Peer,

My surgery is scheduled for November 30th. Still have to do what they call a pre-admit appointment, which is where they do blood tests and such and tell me the details of the surgery.

Apparently, my paperwork is somewhere between offices, so I will call tomorrow and see if it has materialized somewhere. I would like to be able to tell my work ahead of time when I won't be there, and there is only a week and half before my date, and the whole thing is just one big hairball of stress.

Can you tell I own a cat?

With your nut allergy, are you affected by all nuts, or just peanuts? I haven't had any experience personally with this sort of condition, and I can imagine it isn't much fun to try to deal with. Nuts are everywhere, it seems. One good thing is that in Canada we have a chocolate manufacturer that makes certain lines of candy on nut-free production lines, so that makes their products safe to eat.

And yeah, our bodies are often sharper than our heads at predicting illness. My hubby gets migraines when his stress level goes up too high - a signal for him to chill out and it forces him to sit and be still.

PS - everyone in the reach of my voice - donate to eliminate these popup windows!! Save our board!!

Kempo Kid
11-21-2004, 01:53 PM
Hmm. I had a dream a week ago where someone was insisting that I do a fasting blood test. I agreed, but afterwards I remembered that I had had a cereal bar that morning, so there was sugar in my system, and that would skew the results.

I wonder what my brain/body is telling me.

I have stabbing pains in my left side sometimes, just under the rib cage, but I put that down to stress, or muscle spasms.

Kempo Kid
11-21-2004, 01:57 PM
This is my THIRD attempt to post this damn thing! What's going on here? I keep getting error messages telling me I can't post more than a post a minute, even though my last post was at least several minutes ago!

AS I SAID, a couple times, I had a dream a week ago that someone was insisting that I take a fasting blood test. I agreed, but afterwards I remembered that I had had a cereal bar that morning. There would be sugar in my system, and that would skew the results.

I wonder what my brain/body is telling me. Hmm.

I get stabbing pains in my left side, underneath the ribs, sometimes. I generally put it down to stress, or muscle spasms.

11-24-2004, 03:19 AM
I had my gall bladder removed two years ago. I had had horrible pains under my right breast and behind my right shoulder blade. My scar is about five inches above my navel, barely noticeable now. The thing is though I still have the same kinds of pain I had before it was removed. Maybe they fooled me and didn't take it out?:rolleyes

Kempo Kid
11-26-2004, 08:24 AM
Phantom gall bladder pain?

11-28-2004, 01:11 AM
Everyone I've talked to about gall bladders says that you can expect a phantom attack about once a year after you've had it removed.

Strange, eh?

11-28-2004, 07:27 AM
Never had a phantom attack that I know of in 20 years.

Adhesians a different story, especially when I do situps and pushups. (Mine was removed with the old-style butcher knife.)

Maybe I had phantoms and didn't appreciate them ;)

11-28-2004, 09:26 PM
I have to say I am looking forward to Tuesday (surgery day!).

Get this dratted thing out of me so I can move on and not have to worry about it being set off by an omelet or toast.

However, I'm just not sure what will happen after and how I will heal up. Guess I'll find out on Tuesday.

I'm lucky I don't have to wait as long as I thought I would for surgery. Guess someone cancelled and they had an opening?

11-28-2004, 09:49 PM
We'll be thinking of you. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. *hugs*

11-29-2004, 01:32 AM
Wow, you didn't have to wait very long for surgery.

Good luck and try not to worry too much. Just remember, you're going to feel better than you have for years. Within a week or two, you'll be a-okay.

Again, good luck! Try and post when you're well enough so we know how you're doing.

aka eraser
11-29-2004, 02:09 AM
Postive thoughts heading your way allion. Let us know how it goes.

11-29-2004, 04:13 AM
Good luck to you, Allion. I hope I didn't say anything to worry you. I am glad I had my gall bladder removed. Yes, I agree that you should feel much, much better. I don't know about your surgery, but I went home the same day I had the surgery. I didn't have much pain, hardly even needed the pain pills. I had what they call "band-aid surgery" because the incisions are very small and I just had band-aids over my boo-boos. The first day home I could only drink clear liquids. (even though I really wanted something yummy) But I recovered very quickly.

They say that bad things that happen are really good things for writers. I wrote a true life, first-person story about my hospital visit and subsequent healing at home and sold the story to Woman's World!

So good luck to you, don't worry about anything, and remember we will all be sending positive thoughts your way!:)

11-30-2004, 03:38 AM
Thank you for the kind wishes. I've decided not to worry about it, as there is so much not in my control. Which is part of the problem, me being a control freak...

I did get an idea for a short story about my hospital stay, as it is such a great place for observing people. I also have an idea about writing a nonfiction piece about gallbladder surgery, as it certainly seems to be popular to have one removed lately.

The crap thing about all this is the loss of income for the weeks I'm out of action. My job doesn't include benefits, so I have to make do until I get back. I can apply for unemployment sick benefits, but they make you wait for two weeks before they start paying, and that could be the entire time I'm off anyways.

But as the lady said on their info line, better to apply just in case I have to stay off longer than expected. That way, I will have done the waiting period and get that big pay right away (not! - I think it's only 55% of my earning or some thing - better than nuttin, as we say. This is in Canada, just FYI).

Right now, I'm scheduled for the bandaid, day surgery deal. The fact that they remove an organ and send me home later in the day is still difficult for me to comprehend.

However, my surgeon reminded me that if there is scar tissue inside or it looks odd, then I get the big scar. And the sick benefits will definitely come in handy.

Hey, I always wanted to be forced to sit in one place and read some of the hundreds of books I buy and never have time to get to. And of course, since I have to refrain from food and drink after midnight, I will become ravenously hungry and thirsty right around then.

As others have said, you guys are the best. Thank you for all the support and personal stories. And I will let you know in a few days how I'm doing.

12-02-2004, 06:53 AM
Surgery went well yesterday. It seemed to be a lot of waiting - wait for the admit nurse, wait for the IV nurse, wait in the waiting room before I toddled off to surgery, IV pole in tow...

A whole lot of stewing in my head until I clambered up into the surgical bed and the good doctor gave me the happy stuff that made me pass out...nighty night...

I went in around 1:30 pm and I first recall waking up in recovery about 4:15 pm. Super dopey and surrounded by odd noises from the other inmates. Felt bad for the little girl across the way - I think she had her tonsils out and she whined for about 2 hours until they took her home. Wait a minute, I should say I felt sorry for me to have to listen to her in between waking up and falling asleep again from the dopey drugs.

When I realized I didn't have a big incision, only five little holes all over my tummy, I felt much better. Dodged the gall bladder bullet, I guess.

Ended up going home around 7 pm. First the nurse had to walk me around to make sure I could, and it felt odd to be vertical after being horizontal for most of the day.

So now, I have a belly button that hurts. I have no idea what a cesarean procedure would be like, but I don't think I ever want one. I have a small incision with one stitch in it, and I can barely get up or sit down. Once I am down or up, it isn't so bad, but it's the moving around part that is a pain (ha ha). I am a suck when it comes to pain, anyways.

So I'm done with hospitals for a long while, I hope. I have to say the nurses I saw were more than nice to me, and they made sure I had a script for painkillers before I left the hospital. Bless them. They really run the joint.

The worst part of all this was the no eating, no drinking thing. My tongue felt like a dry sponge and I had the worst taste in my mouth. Felt so good to have ginger ale after I woke up.

Happy to be off the gall bladder attack train now. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better. Almost time for my Tylenol 3's so I'm looking forward to that.

12-02-2004, 07:08 AM
My gall bladder was removed in July of 1989. I have a huge scar. Starts from right under my right breast and ends below my belly button. When they removed it, it was turning gang green. I almost died. They gave me pain meds that turns out I was allergic to, and I did die. They called code blue and everything. Wish I could remember it.

Anyway you are lucky to have that thing out of there. I have never had any phantom pain and have never regretted having the sickly thing removed.

Hope all is still going well for you.


12-02-2004, 07:31 AM
Glad to see all went well, Allion. They made you walk to surgery and climb up on the table yourself? And the gubbimint keeps trying to tell us the health care cuts have had no impact on the patient. I mean really. :p

12-03-2004, 01:20 AM
Glad to see that you made it through okay.

If your recovery goes anything like mine, you were wailing in pain yesterday and eating poutine today.

12-03-2004, 03:36 AM
Glad things went well for you, allion. Speedy recovery.

12-03-2004, 06:49 AM
Yeah, I know!! I was expecting to get a ride in the bed like some sort of princess (hah!), already doped up and dreamy before I get into the room.


They made me wander the halls after the nurse, my IV trailing behind me like a lost puppy. I felt like a reject in my smock and nightgown, trying not to let too much of my behind show. Kind of like, "Hi! Can you tell I'm about to be cut open in some strange way? Is it really that obvious?"

When we got to the room, it really felt like I was going into a super-secret chamber of odd equipment and people wearing masks. And the room was freezing cold. They did give me a warmed blankey which felt really good, and then I was conked out anyways, so it didn't matter, I guess...

All is well now, or getting there. I could take the big bandaids off today, and the boo-boos are healing. I am watching myself in case I spike a fever, which would not be good, as I had one when I first got sick. Also, if the boo-boos start to look ugly, this is also not a good thing, as it means infection, which means I have to go back there, and I really don't want to...ever...

I still look forward to my Tylenol 3's, but I feel better today.

The important part of all this for me is that it put things in perspective. Yes, it is still important to get to work and earn money to pay for things, but if you aren't feeling well and you can't get around and it hurts all the time, not much else matters.

aka eraser
12-03-2004, 11:00 AM
Glad you're on the mend allion. :)

12-03-2004, 11:53 AM
Thanks for sharing your saga. Glad it went well, and you're watching things.

That you're on codiene instead of morphine is a good sign.

Take good care of yourself, especially get lots of rest. In the long run you'll recover faster.

Your scars aren't that big but you might consider vitamin E oil when doc says okay; may already be fine. You can use it from a capsule, or buy pure in a jar. Heals scars quickly, stops itching and leaves less keloid.

I'm glad to hear the op was a success.


12-03-2004, 11:49 PM
I must be on the mend - the incisions are starting to itch. And the tapes they put over the stitches are starting to fall off. And I put my contacts in today for the first time in days. I am beginning to feel human again.

Yes, it is getting better all the time. Going to do a few errands today, nothing big, but I am starting to go nutso after being in the house for days on end. Also another sign of improvement, I think.

And any Christmas preparations I had on the burner can just wait their turn. This year, I get to come first, and the cards and decorations can patiently wait in the attic for me to get around to them.

Just had to add that rant in there - this year, Christmas seemed to start far too early, and I am officially sick of all the advertising and constant need for consumption.

Rant off, and thank you.

12-04-2004, 12:28 AM

Glad to hear your surgery went well and that you are on the mend. Remember I mentioned I had pain in the gall bladder area even though I've had my gall bladder removed? Well, I saw my doctor and he thought it had more to do with my ribcage and back. He told me that if you have a problem with your back if can affect the organs in the front. Interesting. So he gave me some kind of manipulation of the muscles in my back and I actually feel better.

As for what you had done, you will feel better and better. I, too, was going nuts staying home and resting. I wanted to go places but at first I wasn't allowed to drive. Oh, and you mentioned trouble sitting up--I found that if you roll to your side first with your knees bent, it doesn't hurt as much to sit up.

I think it was Vicodin they gave me for a pain killer. I only took maybe 2 or 3.

Maybe you could Christmas shop through catalogs. You avoid the crowds that way.

Stay well!

12-04-2004, 01:50 AM
I just want to state for the record that I laughed hard upon reading the following:

"the most vile salty broth that pretended to be soup that I have ever eaten."

Thank you.