I can’t believe it has been 8 months since I last blog posted. So much stuff has happened in this 8 months, and instead of filling you in within one long post, I’ll try to break it up a bit. One of the things I want to post about today, is my new found
love hate for my gallbladder. I wasn’t going to post about this, but I want to now. When I was in the throes of pain and agony, it would have been helpful to read about someone else’s experience with gallstone pain, and there really isn’t that much out there on the interwebs…unless you’re looking for a homeopathic way to cure them. (Just FYI, those ways don’t work. Trust me.)
This all started back in October. We had just come home from Renaissance Festival in Houston — my husband’s favorite birthday activity — when I had trouble falling asleep due to, what felt like, stiff muscles in my back. I took some Advil, and my husband massaged my back for a bit, and eventually it went away in about an hour. I didn’t think anything else about it.
Then, about a month later, we had moved into our new house, and started experiencing this pain again, except it was a million times worse! The pain always occurred in the middle of the night, and originated in my chest area (felt like horrible heartburn) and slowly migrated to my upper back, between my shoulder blades. It honestly felt like someone was trying to take my skin from my back and wrap it around my front. (Horrible imagery, I know). The pain was so bad and lasted so long (3+ hours) that I would spend an hour or so retching in the bathroom. There was no position that was even remotely comfortable. All I could do was sit and cry until the pain went away. I never went to the emergency room, though, because I thought it was just the food I was eating.
Well, after about a month of these episodes occurring anywhere from 1x to 3x per week, I had enough and called my GI doctor. She came to the conclusion that it just might be bad heartburn/acid reflux, so she prescribed me Prilosec. While I felt like an old lady buying this at Walgreens, I was hopeful it might help. She also requested for me to do a blood test and then sent me to another lab to have an ultrasound done, just to make sure something else wasn’t wrong. My blood test came back with flying colors. My ultrasound? Not so much.
I received a call from the doctor the same day I did my ultrasound telling me that my gallbladder was full of gallstones. What was strange, though, was that the lining of the gallbladder, and the gallbladder itself were normal in appearance, size, shape, thickness, etc. At that point, she told me to eat cleaner, healthier meals, track my food, try to exercise more, and see if anything helped.She also said not to go to the ER unless the pain lasted longer than 8 hours. Um. WHAT!? That is SO long to sit in pain!!!!
Nothing worked. I was still waking up at all hours of the night in severe pain, throwing up, and angry. Angry that my body wasn’t normal. Angry that I was waking up my husband when he deserves a good night’s rest, too. Angry that I couldn’t control the pain or predict when it would happen. The pain continued to come and nothing could stop it. I tried almost every recommendation I read online to eating foods good for the liver, apple cider vinegar shots, etc. Nothing worked. I just kept trying to hold out for surgery or some other relief. BTW – never search #gallstones on instagram…especially if you’re eating lunch.
At my next follow up appointment, I told the Doctor that my episodes were not getting better, and in fact, seemed to be getting worse. She told me that it was probably time for it to be taken out surgically and gave me the name and number of a few reputable surgeons they work with.
I met with the surgeon yesterday, who also confirmed the need for removal. There is a new type of procedure that instead of creating 4+ incisions, they can pull the gallbladder out in 1 incision — making the surgery practically scarless! (the incision is made just below the belly button). My surgery is scheduled now, and I’m excited…and terrified. Excited because I’m anxious to live a live without pain. But terrified because, well, no one wants to have surgery. I just have to keep reminding myself that the pain after surgery won’t be nearly as bad as the pain that wakes me up at night. And that all modesty will be going out of the window once they inflate me with gas. I’ve already apologized to my husband in advance for the amount of gas I’ll be releasing in the days following the surgery. #Awkward.
So that’s where I am now. 7 days until my surgery. I just continue to hope and pray that I don’t have any episodes between now and then. The surgeon prescribed this muscle relaxer-type medication for me to take when I do have another episode…but according to other patients, it has a 50/50 chance of working. Lovely. One thing that is helpful to me now is hearing the stores of SO many of my friends and family who have also dealt with this issue. Gallbladder removal is so common these days, but no one talks about it. I’m thankful for those who have been willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.