Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 4

Continuing with the theme of loss...

I ended up losing my gall bladder too. I had no idea my gall bladder had issues, but apparently it had been bothering me for awhile and I just thought it was acid. It started out with my suddenly having severe pain directly under my ribs. I broke out in a cold sweat and called the doctor, certain I had a bleeding ulcer or something.

The doctor's office got me in. The receptionist said it was because she was afraid I had appendicitis. I didn't tell her I'd lost that disposable part of my anatomy over 30 years ago. But as soon as the nurse looked at me, she said, "Classic gall bladder." Huh? I never would have guessed. The doctor agreed and ordered an ultrasound and told me to go on a low fat diet. I supposed the low fat diet helped somewhat, but the pain was still so intense, I couldn't walk more than a few steps.

Two things happened. One, because my insurance is still based in Arizona, I couldn't find an ultrasound place closer than 3 hours away that would be covered. Two, I kept passing out because I wasn't eating enough protein in my attempt to eliminate fat. One day when the pain and the passing out collided, Michelle insisted on driving me to the ER. The good thing was sometime in the seven hours there, that I don't remember because of the drugs, I got an ultrasound. The bad thing was I promptly threw up in Michelle's car when they released me. Luckily I had a barf bag with me.

The ultrasound showed I didn't have any gall stones, which was good because it meant I wasn't in any danger of one of them blocking my bile ducts and putting my life in danger. But it did mean I had to do a nuclear scan to see if my gall bladder was functioning properly.

It wasn't. When I saw the surgeon four days later, he scheduled me for surgery before even sending me to the lab for the nuclear test. He was that convinced. The test proved him right. The only thing I regret was that I felt bad enough that I didn't think to make any glowing in the dark jokes the day I was radioactive from the test.

So, six days later I was having my gall bladder out in an outpatient surgery. I couldn't believe how quick it was and how much better I felt after I had it removed. Recovery was better than I expected. I'm still on a low fat diet, trying to discover what I can safely eat. It hasn't been a radical change, because I've generally had a good diet. But it does mean I have to eat smaller, more frequent meals and have to do some advance planning. What's interesting is that I lost my taste for Diet Coke and other sodas (except root beer, oddly enough) and most fatty foods. They really don't taste good. I do have to make sure that I get enough protein, which can be a challenge but I make a lot of smoothies boosted with protein powder.

We really don't know why my gall bladder decided to bail on me. I don't have a lot of the risk factors for it, nobody in my family has had gall bladder issues. It was just one of those random things. Ultimately, though, everything is turning out okay.

Tomorrow, the conclusion of this tale, with some really good news that came out of this summer.


lindaruth said...

It is amazing how aggravating one little thing like a gall bladder can be. I had mine out 4 years ago. I did have gall stones and had them for several years before I had the surgery (no insurance for a while). And I felt better very quickly. I didn't lose my taste for pop or fatty foods, though. :( My doctor warned me that sometimes people gain weight because they feel so much better -- he was right. :/ But I have found that it's better to eat smaller meals and go easy on the fatty stuff. Glad to hear you're on the mend. And that you're a Hoosier now. :) (My mom grew up in Terre Haute and we lived in Indiana when I was in jr. high and high school, so I have a soft spot for the state.)

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I tried to think of a head trauma joke, but I just couldn't. LOL

So let's just say, it was amazing to see the before and after of the gall bladder drama!