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.


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.


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:


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

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

  1. I am so glad that they didn’t remove your hysterical sense of humor and impeccable timing along with your gall bladder! You are one amazing chick to go through all that and still entertain us with style, grace, panache, and . . . (laughing) GAS!

    Take care of yourself. Health makes everything else possible.

  2. Sounds like you had a rough go of it, Nancy! Good to see that you well enough to post, and more importantly, are now flatulence free. 😀

  3. Oh, Nancy, I’m so sorry you’ve had such a miserable time with all this, but your sense of humor is fantastic. Reading the #1 Worst Thing made me laugh out loud. You poor thing. Plus, I’m surprised they didn’t discuss the surgical and anesthesia process with you beforehand. Usually an anesthesiologist meets with the patient first to mention how the throat will be sore from the endotracheal tube, etc., and the surgeon should discuss how the procedure is done. Maybe your surgery was too urgent for this? Regardless, I’m so glad you finally had the surgery, and for your sake, I hope that cute comic doesn’t become reality and you end up with kidney stones next. :/

    Hope your recovery goes well from here on out.

    • The anesthesiologist introduced herself to me in the corridor while we were waiting for my surgeon to come in (he had already gone home because a previous surgery (not his) had complications, and had to return to the O.R. from the ICU. I guess my surgeon thought he was off the hook for the night. She asked me if I’d ever had problems with anesthetic before, I told her that I hadn’t, but that was pretty much the extend of it.

      The surgeon had explained the procedure when I had my consult with him a week ago; i.e. the 4 keyhole incisions, etc., but didn’t explain the CO2, didn’t mention that I’d come out of surgery looking 4 months pregnant, that my shoulder would hurt, etc.

      Today is a bit better than yesterday, which was a bit better than Wednesday, so I’m headed in the right direction.

      Right now I’m mostly concerned about my planned flight to Atlanta Monday night, which seems a pipe dream, based on how I’m feeling today, but… hope springs eternal. 🙂

      Thanks for your well wishes and kind thoughts, Carrie. xoxo

  4. Nancy, I’m appalled they didn’t tell you what to expect post-surgery!! I knew all those things …. on the other hand, I’ve unfortunately had extensive experience with post-surgery recovery – just for the record, not me, but for the men in my life. Normally when you are given morphine, you are given a stool softener at the same time!! What hospital were you at? … remind me not to go there!!!

    You’re on the mend … that’s the part that matters. I’m surprised you are considering going back to work so soon. Others I have known who had this surgery were off work for at least 2-3 weeks. I hope you’ll cut yourself a lot of slack ❤

    • I was back at my desk/laptop moments after arriving home Wednesday afternoon. I told myself I was just jumping on long enough to set up my OOF reply on email. Well… I ended up sitting upright at my laptop for ~5 hours Wednesday, < 24 hours post-op. Not my best decision, and I certainly felt it that night. Thursday and today I tried to limit my sitting upright/computer time to 90 mins at a time, but I've stayed pretty on-top of work since getting back home.

      I'm hopeful that I can make the trip Monday night, but am also prepared to abandon the plan if it's clear my body is not healed enough to do so safely. One day at a time.

  5. We love you, Nance! OMG i hate the clickety clack texter. The worst! I did chuckle about your new truck driver status though hehe too funny. Eric had a double hernia op recently via that laproscopic surgery they do these days and incisions really are teeny. Rest and recover well my friend. X

    • Trying my best to rest. Not so good at that, I’m afraid. I feel like such a slacker for taking so much time off work, so I’m trying to stay on top of things, given my office is 20 steps from my bed.

      Damn Bonnie and her clickety clack typing. OMG and the phone calls. She must have a million friends. She was on the phone over and over and over again. I actually debated asking to be brought down to emerge. 🙂

      • Almost all the conversations were the same. I could tell her story better than she could by round 4.

        the funniest was when she would drop her voice down by one tiny fraction and say, “I can’t REALLY talk much. I’m not alone anymore”. Ha!! The inevitable follow up questions were about me. She would respond in one-word answers.
        “Younger” (presumably about my age)
        “I don’t have a clue” (presumably about my condition. Because unlike her, I don’t talk about it every 10 seconds.

        Then on Wednesday morning, she was loudly telling all her phone friends, “I can’t believe they’re sending my roommate home just hours after her surgery! She was operated on at 1:00 am and they’re already discharging her. It’s such a disgrace!”

        If I wasn’t so annoyed that she kept waking me up, it would actually have been pretty hilarious.

      • But seriously… why the clickety clack on the keys while typing. Can’t you just look at your screen to see that you’ve hit the right key? Do you need the audio cues??

      • Stop it!!!! You are making me laugh so hard. It is upsetting Monkey (because he feels left out I think – quite funny in itself). “Why are you laughing Mummy? WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING??” lol

      • This could be a teachable moment. “Now, Monkey, when you grow up and have a mobile phone of your own, don’t be a pest and make sure to turn off the clickety clack sounds whilst typing.” He will thank you for it.

  6. Hi Nancy
    Been thinking about you and wondering . .
    . well now I know. I’m pleased for you that it’s all behind you now. I hope your recovery is swift and you can get on with enjoying your new house. Hugs!

  7. Hey Nancy!!! Glad to see you back in the blog-o-sphere. I clicked on “Like” but I figured it was a rhetorical question. I am now thankful I did not need CO2 when my disc decided to ooze into my spinal column…twice. Once again you have put a humors spin on what was no doubt a trip through medical hell. No doubt you will be back out hiking in no time. Patrick

  8. Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Needless to say: don’t push it. Your body will tell you when you’re ready for travel, listen to it. Take care 🙂

    • It may take wheelchair assistance but, damn it, I’m making this business trip.
      ***I reserve the right to eat those words Monday evening if my body decides to revolt.

  9. I just can’t believe you’ve had to endure this, Nancy and while you’ve just moved into a new house too! Wow. At least your sense of humor is intact. 🙂 Take care this weekend!

    • I’ll be trying to walk a little farther/longer each day to work up my stamina for the flight Monday night. That’s the plan, at least.

      Thanks so much for your emails Tues and Wed. They meant the world to me. xoxo

    • I feel less like a winner every time I try to suppress a cough for fear of blowing my stitches. 🙂

      Slowly but surely making my way through this recovery.

  10. Ugh, I didn’t know Auntie Flow had showed up (uninvited of course) to the hospital. Couldn’t the nurses have told her that visiting hours were OVER???? Geeeez! The good news is that the scars will be little and barely noticeable after a while. OMG, the shoulder pain is horrendous! When I got my spleen removed I cried so much from the shoulder pain. Nobody warned me either. DIOS MIO!

    As I mentioned in the email, I will continue to pray that you will recover quickly and that your memory of the pain will someday subside. xoxo

  11. So happy it’s gone. In the past. History. And you kept your sense of humor! I was thinking of you on Tuesday hoping it would happen. Then checked your blog a few times a day…didn’t occur to me I could find your email. Feel rather stupid about that. I hope your recovery is fast and smooth. Take care and keep moving … that gas out. Hugs 🌸🌷🌹

  12. Hey Nancy….now I know you are going to be okay because you’ve managed a blog post AND made us all laugh. Just don’t push yourself too much…of course what am I saying?….you are the QUEEN of pushing yourself….okay just try to take it a bit easy until you heal a bit. 🙂 In a week or two you’ll be climbing mountains again. ~Kathy

    • From your mouth to the Universe’s ears, Kathy! Oh to be near my mountains again…

      Thanks very much for checking in on me Wednesday. It was very sweet and greatly appreciated. xoxo

  13. Glad you finally got sorted, Nancy. I’ve had that gas and it’s so incredibly painful. It takes a few days to dissipate but you’ll wake up one morning and it will be completely gone. I’m sure the scars are tiny – mine are. The other stuff is just a pain in the ass (!) but hopefully you’ll be back to yourself in no time. In the meantime take it easy!

    • Trying, June, it’s just not really in my nature to just rest. With my “office” just steps from my bedroom, I haven’t been able to resist working several hours each day (including immediately after arriving home from hospital Wednesday). Today feels much better than yesterday, so I’m hopeful that all systems will be go for my business trip Monday evening.

      The gas/swelling in my belly is markedly down this morning so, with any luck, even that should be back to normal soon.

  14. I’m so happy to hear you finally got your surgery, should get better now!

    but it is weird that medical staff don’t fill in on what happens with the procedure, like your shoulder pain and pumping yiur stomach full… seems to happen often and how are we supposed to know how things work?! The gas part made me laugh though as I can imagine a number of boys being jealous of you 😉

    Keep us updated on your healing as well, will you?

    • Thanks Vilma! Today is the first day I woke up without obvious pain, and my swelling has gone down considerably. Hoping to be back to normal (more or less) in the next few days. xoxo

  15. Happy to read you got this taken care of! Sending you good vibes for a fast recovery from the other side of the pond…….take care and get some rest over the weekend!

  16. Aw, Nancy! Sorry for not writing sooner, I’ve been a bit out of the loop lately and not keeping up with my blog buddies very well. (Due to a trapped radial nerve, which has been excruciating over the past SEVEN weeks, I had to drastically reduce computer time. Got a new physio now, and it’s slowly starting to get better.)

    How utterly vexatious that they didn’t tell you about the CO2! I hate it when you have to tease out information from medical personnel, why can’t they just tell you, or give you a damn handout or something???

    Hope you’re on the mend now and that those scars won’t amount to much more than a couple of cute dimples 🙂

  17. Oh gheez Louise….anyone with an attack needs to read this. While comical in nature…stinks jumping those medical hoops! May strength and healing come quickly and I wouldn’t want to look either…ick!

    • Hi Cozy, yes, this post was definitely more lighthearted and comical – mostly because I’m finally at the other end of this horrific nightmare. If you want the full, sordid story about how my healthcare system failed me, over and over again, for 3 weeks, read the precious post.

  18. Wow, a lot happens when one wanders away from blogland. Sounds like a not very nice experience! Glad you are alive and made it through, yikes. Heal quickly xoxo

  19. Oh Nancy, I am SO happy to find that you are still alive, gallbladder-free and able to articulate the madness in your usual hilarious way!

    I hate to realize that due to being wrapped up in my own bubble of partying and travel (and no blogging due to crappy-app), I was not one of those kind friends checking on you. 😦

    I hope that every day brings you closer to a comfortable, pain-free normal, and that it comes soon!

    Hugs, Lynne

    • Lynne, I know you care! You’ve been on the road and technology-light, so I don’t take any offense whatsoever.

      Feeling stronger every day, and actually feel like a flight to ATL tomorrow night isn’t such a pipe dream anymore. Fingers crossed I’m even better tomorrow and able to get back to business. xoxo

  20. Boy, oh boy, have you had a dose of it, Nancy. Good riddance to that internal organ, sayonara to those docs, and keep a warm hug around those pain meds. It’s such an amazing thing to have a body that shows up to work most days that when part of it checks out on leave, we’re tossed right on to our asses. Would have been nice for a little heads up, eh?
    As happy as I am to read that each day you’re progressing, I’m hoping you might be able to postpone that trip tomorrow. Surgery is a big deal. Recovery from surgery is equally as a big a deal.
    I’m thinking of you and wishing you better.

    • Right now I’m feeling like I’m okay to try it. It’s only a short haul: 2.5 hrs gate to gate, and a coworker is landing 20 mins before me, so she will act as my handler: renting the car, driving, lifting my luggage. I’ll make sure to wear compression sleeves on my calves, and I’ll also get up to walk at least once in flight to de-risk blood clots. Fingers crossed!

      • I made it!

        As an aside, my conversation with the flight attendant was pretty hilarious.

        Me: Um, I just wanted to alert you to my situation (while I slip compression sleeves on my calves)
        Her: okay…
        Me: So, I’ve been cleared to fly, but I’m actually 6 days post-op…
        Her: NO BLOOD CLOTS!!!
        Me: Yep, that’s the plan, lady. That’s the plan.
        Her: What kind of surgery?
        Me: Gallbladder removal
        Me: Yes!

        We agreed that I would get up and move around as soon as the seatbelt sign went off (and I did). All good!

        I’m a tired puppy at the end of each day, but so far, so good.

      • I’m breathing a sigh of relief with the update. I can only imagine just how utterly exhausted you must be. And seriously, I hope your job is well worth this massive effort.
        Loved the dialogue. 😉

      • I feel like the 3.5 hour business review we just completed this afternoon would have been a nightmare to do over the phone/remote. So, from that perspective, totally worth it. (Which is easy to say now that I’ve had no complications. 🙂 )

        Happy to head home tomorrow morning, regardless!

  21. Thank goodness! I’ve picked up my clickety clacker a dozen times to contact you but was trying to let you rest, I’m very happy to hear the offender has been removed! And cracking up the Dr. Google was actually helping and not killing you off! 🙂 I’m positive you’ll over do it and go against all orders and get caught up at work before a normal human would even think of going back… And you’ll recover splendidly cause that’s just how you roll! Now maybe you can unpack the house 🙂

    • Kate, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that we are totally settled in (I did what I could on good days – in between attacks). Hubby has even replaced windows in the laundry room, installed a wash basin/cabinet and drywalled. The only thing I wouldn’t let him start on was the gut job of the upstairs bathroom because I didn’t want to have to climb down a flight of stairs after surgery. 🙂

      Now that I’m planning to fly to Atlanta tomorrow night, I’ve given him carte blanche to start tearing that puppy down. As long as I’ve got somewhere to pee and shower by Friday night when I’m back home. 🙂

      That which does not kill us… 🙂

  22. This was one of those times I wished I lived closer to you. I could’ve poisoned Bonnie. Or drop-kicked a few ER staff. I’m glad to know you’re feeling a bit better each day.

    And if you’re in Atlanta…….I’m there Monday night and Tuesday. 🙂

  23. Oh Nancy…… I’m glad it’s over. It all just sounds absolutely horrendous. They really should have taken it out first time around – they knew you needed surgery, why put it off and put you through all of that? I was aware of the CO2 and the shoulder thing after a friend of mine had keyhole surgery a few years back – it was absolutely awful for her too. And no one wants to spend any time in ER, let alone 31 hours.

    I have this vision of the gods all sat around at a table, deciding on what shit to send down to people’s lives (and what good stuff to be fair, they’re not all bad), and I can just picture one of them looking at everything you’re going through and saying “You know what? I’ve got a little something extra for Nancy today.” and pointing a finger that sends an AF lightning bolt down into your hospital room. Cue all the gods laughing hysterically and then going off for a well-earned cup of tea. Meanwhile, you at least had your surgery in peace 😉

    Rest and recover well my friend – what doesn’t kill us (and all that!)….


    • In this case it was less the Gods conspiring and more the fact that I am as regular as clockwork. I knew when the surgeon advised the date during my consultation the week prior that it meant surgery would land the same day as my period, but hope springs eternal so I hoped against hope it would hold off a day or two. No such luck.

      Feeling stronger each day, and plan to fly out to Atlanta tonight, 6 days post-op, because I’m stupid like that. 🙂

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