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. Glad to hear from your hubs that all went well! I had mine removed the same way – and my surgeon gave me a bottle of all the stones that were in the thing (ew, but I know you’d be fascinated) and said I was very lucky it came out when it did. They can burst like an appendix when infected bad enough. 🙂

    For me, I was lucky and fats nor lactose bother me at all (though I had it out younger) so perhaps you will be able to relax a bit on those random foods and what they contain.

    Many well wishes and a speedy recovery. I was up and about after a week and fully myself again within 2-3. 😀

  2. Wishing you a speedy recovery. I had mine out last May and it was the best thing I could do, not more stabby pains. And I just have to watch how much fatty food I eat but other than that I can eat whatever I want with no pains. And the pictures from the op are amazingly disgusting and riveting to look at.

    But the CO2 gas pains during recovery suck but they only last a few days and once they were gone it was plain sailing from then on.

  3. If anyone is wondering how Anne is doing: she’s great. The surgery was routine, and about eight hours after we parked at the hospital, we were back in our house.

    Right now, she’s sleeping in our bedroom while I keep the dogs with me on the other side of Castle Wheaton.

    1. I had mine out in August and spent 1 night before the surgery in the ER and 3 nights after in the hospital. Wish I could have been out the same day. Only thing I’ve noticed giving me digestive trouble was Christmas Mint M&Ms but I don’t eat much fatty food anyway. Good luck

  4. Just an added word of advice from someone post gallbladder (17 yrs ago), if you do find you want or think you may consume fatty substances avoid doing so on an empty stomach. Trust me. I’ve found that eating a slice of bread or other absorbent type foodstuff prior to eating a meal with fat in it often helps avoid the um, bum rush your liver gives the fat when it hits your stomach. And I do mean bum rush, in the not so nicest of meanings. My understanding is that basically the liver still sends a surge of bile when it senses the fat hit the stomach but since there is no gall bladder to gently ease the bile into the intestinal area in reasonable amounts, it all gushes in on top of whatever is already in the intestines (unfortunately before the fat it’s supposed to be breaking down even has a chance to leave the stomach) and you could end up with a lot of gas pain and other bathroom troubles. The bread trick isn’t by any means perfect, but it usually works for me.

    But since you eat healthy for the most part on a regular basis, it shouldn’t take your body too long to adjust to life without a gallbladder. Glad the surgery went well and I wish you a speedy and happy recovery. And enjoy that cruise!!! 😀

  5. I had my gallbladder removed 2 years ago. I didn’t have any previous symptoms like you- mine started as a constant pain for several days before it decided to just not work anymore. I have a pretty rare condition called situs inversus, where all my organs are reversed (like a mirror image of a normal person- heart on the other side, gallbladder on the other side, etc. Healthy, but backwards). Well, I had to stay in the hospital for 4 days before surgery because I was the first patient with situs inversus they’ve ever had. So, they ran tests to verify that yes, I’m backwards (duh), and (SURPRISE!) my gallbladder was dying. For 4 freakin days. Apparently, my basic laproscopic procedure turned into a toodoo, because they had a whole crowd of doctors “observing”, and what should’ve been an hour- 2 hour procedure took over 6 hours. To their credit, it can’t be easy having to do things in reverse. I had to stay an extra 2 days to recover. Ever since I’ve been great, but it seems like the symptoms you had prior, I have now. I can’t eat fatty, fried foods now because I get extremely nauseous and barfy. I guess my body is just wanting to be an anti-fried chicken douche. (Sigh) So, be careful what you eat, and don’t be surprised if some things just don’t sit well. I hope you have a good, restful recovery. Take it easy, and get better!!

  6. the shoulder pain from co2 post op is no joke. take it easy but i felt pretty much normal after a week!

  7. Ox bile capsules. Really strange, I know, but they seem to really help people without gal bladders digest fats better. There is a lot more info available on paleo diet sites in terms of dosing and such.

  8. My mom had this done recently after years of frustrating food issues. She thought she was allergic to just about everything under the sun. It was a miracle cure. Wishing you the best!

  9. As you’ve already found out, it’s probably one of the lesser horrible surgeries. I had mine out years ago, after one really huge gangbusters trip to the ER, when they decided that letting me go was out of the question. I wish I’d been able to get the little incision/camera operation, but the huge scar is not all that noticable anymore, and recovery wasn’t too bad, if you don’t mind walking so bent over that you see nothing above your knees. I do remember feeling so much better and amazed, as well, at how quickly the pain goes away. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  10. I follow Wil’s blog and now I’m following yours. I feel like a stalker. 🙂

    I had my gallbladder out after a particularly bad episode where I felt like I was dying of a heart attack. Spent the whole night in the ER, and had the gallbladder removed 3 days later. Nobody told me about the gas they use to “blow you up”, and I thought I was dying again. But I haven’t had any problems since then, and I drink milk and eat cheese and chocolate with wild abandon. 🙂

  11. I had mine removed 3 days after you. Mine, however, tried to kill me! lol I’m glad you are going to feel better. I felt instantly better the next day. I spent 5 days in the hospital because I had to go to the ER the very day you wrote this. Hope you are feeling better!

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