that time my gallbladder tried to kill me

I’m alive.

Every time I question if maybe I’ve died, I focus in on the intense pain I’m feeling, and then I remember, hey…you’ve gotta be alive to feel pain.

So, it’s settled then. I’m definitely alive.

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The last 96 hours life has delivered some valuable lessons. I generally prefer that my life lessons not take the form of a giant shit sandwich, but hey, we don’t always have a choice in the matter, now do we?

For those of you I haven’t updated via email, text or phone, the deed is done.

All it took was the worst gallbladder attack, to date, Monday night, finally requiring my admittance to hospital Tuesday afternoon, but it’s done.

Gallbladder has left the building.

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In case you ever find yourself stuck in the red-tape hell of needing a surgery that feels like an emergency to you, but is clearly not seen as an emergency to the powers that be, here are the Top 10 Worst Things About Having My Gallbladder Removed:

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10. The pain. Oh sweet mother of cheese, THE PAIN. Pain that makes me look back at birthing two giant babies without epidural, or any other pain medication, and think, “yeah, that wasn’t so bad after all”.

9. The ER. In total, five visits to the emergency room in nineteen days. I spent a total of 31 hours in that horrific, dehumanizing, and utterly depressing area of the hospital. It’s my goal to never go back to THAT PLACE again.

8. The roommate. I know I was very fortunate to finally have someone show enough mercy to actually admit me to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, after spending 12 hours in the ER, but when they wheeled me up to a shared room with Bonnie, a very talkative lady in her 60s, I almost asked them to take me back down to the ER. Bonnie’s phone sounded off loudly each time a text arrived. It was also set to clickety, clack with each character she typed. Bonnie took several phone calls between Tuesday at 3:00 pm and Wednesday morning. I dreamed of smashing Bonnie’s phone into a million tiny pieces.

7. The Carbon Dioxide. Why didn’t anyone tell me that they would pump my abdomen full of CO2 during the surgery? It might have lessened the shock of seeing a swollen and distended belly when I lifted my t-shirt to observe my wounds. Holy shit, thought I, not only am I scarred all over, but I’m suddenly really fat. What in the actual fuck?

6. The unexplained shoulder pain. Apparently the Carbon Dioxide they blew my belly up with travels up and up until it finally settles in its final resting place, the right shoulder. It would have been super helpful to know this BEFORE I panicked that I was suddenly damaged in other parts of my body. Thanks to the power of the Interwebs, I was able to find medical documentation that explained exactly why my right shoulder ached so much Wednesday. It’s that damned CO2.

5. The constipation. Morphine has been my BFF. Every day I thank the powers that be for my morphine. But that beautiful drug has had a decidedly less-than-beautiful impact on my bowel’s ability to shake their groove thing. Invest in some stool softeners, friends.

4. The gas.  I suppose all that CO2 has to get out somehow. Jeezus Murphy. I sound like a truck driver. Or frat boy. Or whoever else is known for farting. Whereas mine were formerly of the silent-but-deadly variety, they are now loud (but sometimes still deadly). I’ve been told to let it rip because I need to keep moving that gas on out.

3. The sore throat. I seriously thought I was coming down with Strep Throat the day after surgery. It would have been so helpful if some member of my medical team had advised me that a sore throat is a common outcome from general anesthetic. Once again, Dr. Google for the win.

2. The scars. I know that the laparascopic procedure is so much less invasive than the open surgery of old, but still, I have FOUR scars across my abdomen. I’m too much of a baby to check them out yet. I’ve left the outer dressings on for now, and refuse to look at the actual incisions. I’m told they’re very small. But still… FOUR? Seriously?

And the #1 worst thing about having my gallbladder removed…

1. The perfectly timed visit from Auntie Flo. Yep, because the universe decided it hadn’t fucked with me quite enough yet, my period arrived at 9:45 pm, half hour before I was wheeled into surgery. Because you haven’t lived until you’ve had to wear hospital-issued mesh underpants and industrial strength sanitary pads.

Enough about the negatives.

What was the best thing about this awful, horrible, terrible experience?

The kind and generous outpouring of love and caring from friends and family. I’ve probably sent and received more text messages in the last 3 weeks than I had in the previous 3 months. I also want to make special mention of the many blogging friends – most of whom I’ve never met in person – who took the time to check in on me via email. I am so grateful for your kind thoughts. It made me feel very special to know so many of you cared about my health and well-being. I’m humbled.

With a full heart,

xoxo nancy

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122 thoughts on “that time my gallbladder tried to kill me

  1. Wow! It’s behind you now! What a horrible ordeal. I still can’t figure out why it took them so long to declare you an emergency. No one should have to go through this much pain before being admitted and cared for. Your in-hospital circumstances sound pretty awful, though, as well. The roommate situation did make me laugh, though. I am sympathetic, but when you mentioned the keyboard keys clacking I knew I’d have lost it. I hope you can now heal and get back to your active, healthy life. I have a friend currently in the same situation waiting for gall bladder surgery. I think I’ll warn her about some of the things you experienced post-op! I’ll just say “welcome back to the land of the living.” 🙂

    • No one should have to go through what I went through, Debra. Apparently the only thing that would have made this an emergency would have been if the gallbladder was inflamed (which I cannot believe it wasn’t…) or if it had ruptured, which would have necessitated full on open surgery (one big cut) versus the laparascopic approach they took. I’m just glad that my biggest attack happened within 24 hours of the proposed ‘maybe’ surgery date. I have a feeling that had I not been in the ER all night/day – that I would never have gotten that phone call to come in. As it stood, when they wheeled me down at 10:15 pm, they had to page my surgeon to come in (he was already at home).

      So, while I didn’t love the pain – it was the pain that got me admitted and then operated on. Sad state of affairs. 😦

  2. I just came across you blog now and I was wishing I found this sooner. I was admitted to the hospital for gull stones a while ago- those things are ridiculously painful- which leads me to ask, having a gull stone attack compared to having a baby-is the gull stone pain worse?
    I hope you get better soon!!

    • I would say that labour compares well to the pain of a gallstone attack. The difference being, in labour contractions last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. With a gallstone attack the pain goes on for hours. So, assume a labour contraction that lasts for 2 or 3 hours and you have some idea. My pain was exasperated by the fact that I had also developed pancreatits, which is more severe pain-wise than just a gallstone attack.

      I hope you decide to have your gallbladder removed because there is strong evidence that a person with one attack of stones will continue to have more attacks (unless they remove the organ). Good luck!

      • It’s been a year since my last one- thought I death was coming to get me! Ha. However I made it threw which gives me hope that being a baby when it comes to pain that one day when I decided to have kids I’ll make it threw! Haha Hope your feeling much better!

    • Living the dream in Atlanta (business trip). Probably not my best decision in life traveling 6 days post-op, but it’s going fine. Looking forward to flying home tomorrow and sleeping the weekend away. 🙂
      How are you?

      • I can’t believe it! Go home and go to bed! That’s what happens when you are a fitness queen. You can’t drop the baton.
        I am fine, thanks for asking, Nancy.
        Take care. x

  3. eeeek! I am sorry I missed this post!
    I know i have “spoken” to you on email but I still feel I should have added my sympathies to those on here before now!
    My only excuse is that I have been in the land of Scot on a boat in the snow (well sometimes snow and sometimes rain and sometimes sun but always cold!)

    I hope you are feeling better now!!!

    • It was brutal, Sam, but it’s over now. I’m not back to exercising yet, but I’m getting nice long walks in every day, and successfully managed a business trip 6 days after my surgery, so I feel like things are moving along well.

      It looks like you had a fun time on the boat in Scotland!

      • I am so glad it is over and you are on the mend!!
        I think long walks sound like excellent exercise under the circumstances!!
        the boat in scotland was good fun, unusual and not as active as normal canal trips where we get off and do locks every hour or so but lots of fun! I managed to fit in a few long walks and even a small run!

      • I am certainly back to trying to teach them! I went and set up yesterday then it rained a lot and noone came! But it was bank holiday so I guess people had other things to do!

      • I know it takes a while to get an audience for these sorts of things. I know you’re not charging very much – so it’s clearly not an issue of cost. Probably more just a lack of awareness. Have you thought of going the Groupon route – just to drive awareness? Groupon will take half your revenues, but you’ll get wide exposure.

      • that is a good idea, I will see how it goes in the next couple of weeks and consider it 🙂
        I am charging half price for the first class anyway so if I offered a groupon it might end up approximately the same…
        I have no idea how to go about getting involved with groupon…I will have to do some research!

  4. Pingback: is there a doctor in the house? | my year[s] of sweat!

  5. Pingback: you couldn’t make this stuff up | my year[s] of sweat!

  6. Ok reading this post 3 days after having my gall bladder removed was probably not a good idea – laughter is painful! That being said, I laughed so much at your 10 insights because they were Spot.On. I could relate to all of it except the roommate because my surgery was thankfully outpatient.

    I hope, since over a year has passed, that the trauma of the whole experience is now just a blur and you’re living a happy gall bladder free life!

    • I am, indeed, Kim! Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, and taking the time to comment. Hope you heal soon and get to enjoying a gallbladder free life, too!

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