Gallbladder surgery changed my life.
At least 12 years. That’s how long I had been suffering with gallstones. I knew it the first time I felt them. Every time one moved through a duct, I suffered. Over time, I figured out some of the “triggers” for my “attacks.” Bacon, eggs, avocado, red meat, fried foods, salad dressings, and even some grains were triggers! I know there are vegetarians in the world, but honestly, if you’re not eating bacon occasionally, you’re missing out on one of the great joys of life…and I went years without bacon.
I often meet my friend, Linda, for breakfast, but over the past few years, I had to order egg-white omelets and no bacon. Sad. Don’t get me wrong. Egg white omelets are good, but occasionally, it’s nice to have a real omelet.
Soon after that first attack, I asked my primary care provider to order some tests to check my gallbladder. I felt positive that was my problem. She ordered an ultrasound, and nothing showed up, so life went on. I should have demanded that she order more tests, but instead, I “limped along” for a few years.
Then I changed primary care providers. I decided the one I had was not working to improve my life as much as she was working to improve her own. But while I was between providers, I made an appointment for myself with a gastroenterologist to see if I could get my gallbladder removed, and the PA in that office told me they only removed them in emergency situations. Wow. That is an insane answer. I even said, “You’d rather I end up in an emergency situation in Mexico or the Bahamas or Panama or Peru?” But I moved on.
Over the next couple of years, I had friends in Charlotte tell me they’d had their gallbladder removed, and they were not in an emergency situation. I suffered regularly, wondering when the next “attack” would be and wondering if it would become an emergency situation. When “attacks” occurred, I used my own home remedies. I took over the counter painkillers (and worried about my liver). Sometimes, I mixed apple cider vinegar with apple juice and drank it…yuck. I took Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies (to see more about them, click here). I turned on the seat heater in my car. I got in bed and waited it out. If someone had told me to stand on my head and juggle jars of pickled pigs feet (yes, pickled pigs feet are real), I likely would have tried. it.
So finally, in January of this year, I’d had enough. I made another appointment at the same gastro office but insisted on another provider. And we got real tests underway. The original ultrasound was unremarkable, showing gallstones but nothing wrong with the actual organ. But boy was that wrong! The second test, the HIDA scan, showed that I had only five percent function of my gallbladder...five percent!
I had surgery at the end of August after many delays due to COVID in my household. Without going into any details about my internal organs, I will say the surgeon said it was obvious the gallbladder needed to go. There was quite a bit of scarring, she said, proving I had suffered for a while. For anyone who might be having their gallbladder removed, I’d like to say it was pretty uneventful and easy. After the laparoscopic procedure, I came home and relaxed, taking narcotic pain relievers for less than 36 hours. Two days in, I strolled three miles in the afternoon. The next day, I rested. In fact, I operated on that “alternating exercise days” for the next nine days until I met a friend in Miami for a Caribbean cruise.
At that point, the only pain I had was when I rolled over in bed. Nothing severe…just a reminder that I’d had surgery. But after the first couple days of the cruise, all pain was gone, and by the time I came home, the only reminders were the tiny incisions on my abdomen. At my follow-up appointment soon after my return, the surgeon called me a prize patient! I had done everything I was supposed to do, and my incisions were healing nicely.
And now, I’m seven weeks post-surgery. I feel no pain. Knock wood. It’s amazing how much different I feel!
But the whole reason for this post? If you suspect you have gallbladder problems, force the issue. If you don’t get the answer you want from one doctor, go to another. Don’t just sit on your heels waiting like I did. Gallstones can turn into a very serious situation if a stone gets lodged in or blocks a pancreatic duct, causing pancreatitis, which is very painful. And don’t be afraid of the surgery. No one was more frightened than I was. I had never had general anesthesia before, and I was afraid, but I’m so glad I did it.
I now meet friends for lunch and eat without worrying about how I’m going to feel afterward. I’m still not much of a red meat eater. I prefer fish and chicken, so at least that good did come from the issues. But when I got to lunch with my friend, Linda, at Bricktop’s, I can order the deviled eggs appetizer with maple sugar bacon…and I enjoy every bite, because I remember life without bacon and eggs! I truly feel like I have my life back, as corny as that sounds. I say prayers of thanks regularly.