Out with the old, in with the new.

One night, fifteen years ago, Wil rushed me to the hospital because I was having horrible stabbing pain in my side. I got an ultrasound and the doctor could see that my gall bladder was stuck in a spasmed position. That happened as a result of it trying to digest a little ball of raw cookie dough that I had eaten earlier. (This is the part where we all replay our mothers’ voice in our heads, telling us how bad raw cookie dough is for us. But seriously, that’s some tasty stuff right there.)

I’ve never been one for eating things that are fried or high in fat because it has always made me nauseous. But when the E.R. doctor told me to basically cut out fatty things all together or I’ll need my gall bladder out, I took his advice. His mean, cookie dough depriving advice. Ever since then, I’ve been really careful about what I eat. Occasionally, I’d forget and eat one piece of orange chicken the kids would get from a Chinese restaurant, or a doughnut or something buttery.  I wouldn’t have gall bladder pain, but my gall bladder wasn’t digesting the fat in it, and I always ended up puking it up. (That’s right, kids. NO MYSTERY.) I used to joke that I had a cow stomach, able to sort out the thing that made me sick, which would just eject that one thing.

Several times since about August of 2013, I’ve had (what I didn’t realize at first) were for reals gall bladder attacks. Not only was I not digesting even the smallest amount of fat, (something with butter or olive oil in it)  but I was having hot stabby burny pain (that’s a technical term, you know) on my side. There were even a couple of times when the stabby pain woke me up multiple times during the night, then I’d get up the next morning with a rash on the right side of my torso. The last time this happened was on Christmas night, all because I had a tiny bit of gravy with dinner.

I had seen a gastrointestinal specialist in November after a particularly bad attack from eating a tiny bowl of chili. He said I really needed to get my gall bladder taken out before it turned into a ball of infection. Mmm…sexy… Still hesitant to agree to surgery, I told him I’d think about it, and left.

A couple of weeks ago, we committed to going on a super fun, nerd-filled adventure on a Caribbean cruise at the end of February. (We’ve already been on it three times in the past. That’s how I know it’s super fun.)  I thought back to the pain I experienced all night long on Christmas, and had the horrifying thought of needing emergency surgery while on the cruise, particularly while in Haiti. I’m sure the people of Haiti are lovely, but I’m a little hesitant to put my life and medical care in the hands of a third world country doctor. I scheduled one more consultation with the gastrointestinal specialist, bringing with me a big list of questions I needed answers to regarding the surgery before I made my decision.

When I told my doctor that I was going on a cruise at the end of February, he really encouraged me to get this thing out before I go. As healthy as I try to eat, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid anything that isn’t cooked with butter or oil on a cruise. Over the years, I’ve learned to carry ginger capsules and Zantac with me at all times, because it’s inevitable that I’m going to end up eating something that makes me nauseous. Knowing the countries I was going to be visiting, he said it was a risk I shouldn’t take, and I knew he was right. I scheduled the surgery for January 21st. Tomorrow.

People who have had their own gall bladder out have told me that I may have new digestion issues, mainly becoming lactose intolerant. I already am, so that’s not a big deal to me. Pretty much my entire adult life has been filled with a little fear of what I’m eating and how I’ll feel from it, so that’s nothing new to me. Now that I’ve committed to the surgery, I’m ready to have it done so I can feel better. It’s not a free pass to eat fatty foods, I don’t like them anyway, but I know I’ll feel better once this toxic thing is out of me. It’s a laparoscopic procedure, which has a camera, so you KNOW I’m going to ask for pictures of it before and after it’s removed. It’s fascinating to me when there’s an opportunity to see my insides. I know. Gross.

I have to be at the hospital at are -you- fucking- serious o’clock in the morning, but I can come home at the end of the day. As much as it freaks me out that I’m getting an organ removed from my body and they’re sending me home the same day, it’s pretty remarkable that medicine has come so far where that’s ok.

Since I’ve never had my gall bladder removed before, I don’t know how I’ll feel in the days that will follow the surgery. I’m pretty sure I won’t be up for much online interaction, so I’ll just tell you now that I will be on a new episode of TableTop on the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube this Thursday, January 23rd. We played Ticket To Ride Europe, and no, I’m not going to tell you what happens, you’ll just have to watch it for yourself. I will tell you that it was a lot of fun playing this game with Wil, Emma Caulfield, and John Kovalic. I love that I get to be part of such a fun show and I hope you enjoy the episode!


72 thoughts on “Out with the old, in with the new.

  1. My dad had his gall bladder out about 10 years ago. He had to change his diet to one you are on already (avoid regular fatty meals) so I don’t think you will have much of a problem adjusting. He also has no other digestion issues and is rather happy. Your mileage may vary, obviously. Both the procedure and his recovery were quick.
    Good luck!

  2. I bet you can’t wait to start that fatty food diet! You are going to love that new treat..meat and potatoes slathered in gravy!

  3. Good luck tomorrow, I hope it all goes smoothly for you!

    When my aunt had a ping-pong ball sized aneurysm behind her left eye removed the surgeon was awesome and sent her pictures from her surgery after the fact. They are kind of crazy and kind of amazing at the same time. Thankfully her surgeon and the nursing staff were so great and she’s back to her normal self now – the only change she’s noticed is that before it was removed she hated popcorn, would gag at the smell, dreaded anyone making it. Now though – she loves it! Strange the ways our body reacts to things!

  4. My cholyestectomy (sexy sounding, yes?) was on an emergency basis last year, so I didn’t have an opportunity to do any “research” (Googling and then freaking out), but of everything I learned afterwards (again, Google) the most important was that the discomfort in my upper back I experienced for several days after the surgery was from the CO2 they use to inflate your abdomen like a blowfish so they can do stuff on your innards. Apparently, it escapes upwards over a few days, so just be prepared for that and don’t think you’re dying (never leave me alone with Google, seriously). I had heartburn, something totally new, for exactly one week after the surgery, and then that, too, disappeared. You’ll be ready to enjoy the heck out of that cruise in no time!

  5. Well good luck!!! Your getting it taken out on my birthday so I hope we both have an awesome day!!!! Love your twitter and your blog!!!

  6. Since I had my gall bladder removed I can eat everything again and have come to the conclusion gall bladders only exist to torment us. They are only the basin for the bile produced by the liver anyway and I expected occasions where my food would have to stay in the small intestine longer to wait for enough bile to be produced but afaik that was never a problem. Good luck with recovery!

    1. Yes. Gallbladders are evil. I don’t miss mine AT ALL. Only ambulance ride I ever had was for my stupid GB. Speedy recovery wishes!

  7. Good luck! I had mine out a few years ago and feel much better for it! Recovery wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be 🙂

  8. Good luck! I had my gall bladder removed about 15 years ago (how am I that old?!) and they were ready to send me home 3 hours after it was done. I remember being drowsy all day, but not any significant pain. Had it done Thursday AM and was back to work as usual on Monday! It was a huge relief to no longer worry if and when another attack was coming.

  9. My gallbladder came out 3 years ago, and it’s amazing how much better I felt immediately.

    As an aside, I’m finding your blog delightful, and I’m so glad you decided to tell your stories.

  10. Wishing you the very best of luck–before you know it, you’ll be home surrounded by your pups who, I’m sure, will take the best care of you.

  11. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

    Not gross for wanting to see your insides. I’m still bummed I couldn’t see the inside when I had c-sections. 🙂

  12. I had my gall bladder out years ago (@36, due to my body producing gravel in my kidneys and gall bladder). My specialist stated that I was young enough for my body to get used to not having a gall bladder and adapt. Turns out, he was right – other than a little more frequency in heart burn from time to time, everything turned out okay.

  13. I went to Oktoberfest in Munich 6 days after having emergency surgery to remove mine. While on Demerol in the ER (on a military base, in Sicily), the doc asked if I had questions. My one and only concern: would I make it to Oktoberfest. I did! It was awesome!!! You will have more gastrointestinal issues. I can not process grains, at all. Or some veggies and most fruits. But, all is good. Not having stubby, throw up pain is so worth it!!

  14. Good luck! I had my gall bladder out in an emergency surgery, 8 weeks post-partum, 14 years ago. I had an attack that I thought was a heart attack. I was lucky that they were able to do the surgery laparoscopically. I had some post surgical issues because I don’t deal with anesthesia well and, it turns out am extremely allergic to the anti-nausea medication that they gave me. Honestly, though, other than some lactose issues and issues eating leftovers I haven’t missed my gallbladder at all.
    You’re lucky that this is scheduled and you were able to ask questions. When they were just about to put me under, the surgeon asked “Do you have any questions?” I said “Okay, you’re taking this thing out, can you tell me exactly what it does and why it’s okay to NOT have one?” They were fantastic and answered my questions and put me under…

  15. Hope all goes well for you, my wife had to have hers out after it filled with stones and almost ruptured I guess. She really hasn’t had any issues since it came out with no dietary changes and the surgery was pretty easy so try to not worry about it.

  16. My husband had his removed years ago (mistakenly, as it turned out, but that’s a long story) and he did have some incision pain, but that was it. He eats everything with no problems, except for lactose (but he had that intolerance before). Best wishes for a speedy recovery and a great cruise!!

  17. Good luck for a speedy recovery ….I’ve had gall bladder issues in the past so know how painful it can be! I also have food intolerance but have recently heard about diatomaceous earth…if you Google it there’s some interesting stuff about it. I’ve ordered some to try..:-). Ps I love your Twitter and have taken to vandalIzed ing stuff here in the U.K.!

  18. I hope they will do it laparoscopically because that’s the best – I just had to have my appendix out laparoscopically and you would have thought nothing happened. Regardless I hope you are up and feeling better soon!

  19. Had mine out over 20 yrs ago. Only issue was the need to replace the antacid in my pocket with Imodium. Oh, and the depression jag from the anesthesia 3 weeks after surgery. My trigger (other than fats) was orange juice which, I can now have without all the stabby pain. Best wishes for a quick recovery. Glad you are going home same day as hospitals are no place to get rest.
    PS have Wil check the ringer vol on the phone in the room – mine was set to “raise the dead” level and I almost passed out when it made me jump off the bed 10 mins after getting settled after recovery.

  20. THE GAS! OH GOD THE GAS! It’s nice that i can eat a greater variety of foods, but the unfortunate side effect, for me, is the gas. Well, my husband thinks it’s funny…

  21. I just know that everything will turn out fine and you will be even more fabulous than you are now! xoxoxo

  22. I have two friends that have had their gall bladders remove & their biggest complaints are the inability to digest cheese and chocolate. But, it sounds like you have already pretty much eradicated those from your diet, so you may be okay 🙂 Best of luck!

  23. Best of luck with your surgery tomorrow. I had my gallbladder out over 20 years ago and had a quick, uneventful recovery. We can be recovery pals ‘cos I’m getting a new left knee tomorrow.

    1. Recovery pals FTW! I hope everything goes well for you and that they make you better…stronger….faster… 😉

  24. Thank you so much for sharing. After following your progress here I may get up the nerve to see a doctor. Count how many needles you get stuck with tomorrow and if it’s more than three please LIE! The health of strangers may depend on it.

  25. We already spoke on twitter about how having my gallbladder out was a million times better than leaving it in, and that I was running within a fortnight of surgery. I didn’t know about the lactose thing, but I did know a lot of people have changed digestion afterwards – for example, my sister can no longer eat pork. I can no longer eat butter. But we have different reactions to the foods we can’t process anymore. Human bodies are weird and strange.

    Good luck with it, and don’t forget to keep pushing that button for more pain killers. That’s the best part.

  26. Thank you for sharing this, Anne. It sounds like you’ve done your best to put this surgery off but with the upcoming cruise – well, its time has come. I hope the procedure – and your recovery – go as smoothly as possible. I will send you some Reiki tonight.

  27. OK, had mine out the old fashion way years ago. By doing it lap(yes,I’m a medical person), you have a much lower risk of infection. That being said,ask every person you see if they’ve washed their hands or used hand sanitizer. INSIST on it. Once surgery done, remember to take deep breaths. They put carbon dioxide ( soda fizz) into your abdomen to inflate it so they can maneuver the equipment. If you ever felt bloated before, this will make it seem like nothing.

  28. Good luck reading all of these gall bladder comments!!! It’s like no one can just have an issue anymore without everyone else telling you about their story. But, more importantly, good luck and best wishes with your operation.

  29. cruciferous vegetables, anything fruit or veggie with skin, nuts, beans, these are a few of my favorite things. Sans gallbladder, no more breaky down in the ol digestive track anymore, sadly. And here’s to any easy surgery, it is really amazeballs medicine.

  30. My dad had no digestive issues that we were aware of after he had his gallbladder removed. However, after reading the responses above regarding leftovers and excess gas, you are lucky you have three dogs for two reasons: 1) I can see them looking at you while you are cleaning out the refrigerator and saying, “Leftovers? We love Leftovers!” and 2) who better to blame the farts on?

    Sending happy thoughts your way and please tell Wil to let us know how you are doing on Twitter so you can rest.

  31. Good luck Anne! I’ve had no problems since having mine out, I can eat anything without consequence. You’ll feel so much better, I’m sure. xxx

  32. My husband had his gall bladder out last year. Didn’t change a thing for him or us or our food. Just less trips to the ER with severe abdominal pain! Good riddance to bad rubbish, that. Good luck and here’s wishing you a speedy recovery!

  33. Will be thinking of you and sending positive energy at very-early-your-time (hope I calculate the time difference right)! Hope all goes well and you’ll feel better like immediately!

  34. My boss had it done a few years ago, and she was perfectly fine. Still, I’m crossing my fingers for you and sending positive energy your way!

  35. I had mine removed in 2006 at the ripe old age of 23. I’ve since learned that many people who have gallbladder disease also have gluten sensitivity; you might want to try giving a gluten-free diet a chance to see if you feel better.

    Here’s to a speedy recovery and feeling better soon!

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