Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Well that was unexpected, my bout with gall bladder disease

Some might wonder what happened to me sometime in September near the middle of my short lived summer break. Few people were aware that near the middle of summer term my health turned toward the worse but was unable to get an appointment with my doctor until the second week of September, which is when they found out that there was something wrong with my gall bladder.  Instead of telling me what it was or doing more tests immediately they sent me to an internist, who has absolutely nothing to do with gall bladder disease and booked out a month in advance.

During my meeting with the internist he told me that my gall bladder had sludge, and people my age have it due to "the three F's": Female, Fertile and Fat.  Mind you I'm 6' tall and weigh between 165-170 lbs on any given day (that's a BMI of 22.4-23.1, very much in the "normal" range). I called him on his "fat" comment, to which he corrected himself to state I had two of the three f's, fertile and female. He then sent me to the lab to run more blood work and had the local hospital run a HIDA scan ASAP.  A HIDA scan is a nuclear radiology scan which checks to see how well ones gall bladder is working and if there are any "clogs" in the system due to stones or tumors by putting a special dye in your blood system and x-raying it for one minute every five minutes for an hour. Then they inject a hormone into your blood stream that synthesizes eating a fatty meal and see how your gall bladder reacts, generally this takes 30 minutes and results are available in 3-5 business days.

My internist called me two days after my HIDA scan to tell me that he was going to be setting me up with a surgeon because my gall bladder, while free of gall stones, was only functioning at 8%.  The week that followed the scan I had horrible wrenching pains in my stomach. Having already survived over a month on nothing but liquid vitamins and graham crackers, I found that the only thing I could eat this time around was plain hummus and pita bread. One night I was in so much pain I went to the ER, only for them to inform me that since I had chronic cholistitis instead of acute cholistitis that no surgeon there would touch me because my blood work showed no active infection.

The following week I met with a lovely surgeon who explained to me the procedure, they would make four incisions in my abdomen, three along my ribcage and one in my bellybutton.  Once inside they would pump my abdomen full of gas, clamp the biliary duct connecting to the gall bladder in two spots, clip between the two clamps and remove my gall bladder and go home later that same day.  Sounded easy! First an ultrasound the next morning to see why I was in so much pain after the HIDA, then surgery on Halloween.

I arrived at the hospital on Halloween at 5:45am, and was quickly taken to pre-op where they finished going over my medical history and allergies.  By 7am I had an IV in my hand and a "cocktail" in my drip and was happily on my way to la-la land as I was being wheeled down the hallway to the OR. I awoke hours later, realizing it hurt to breath, I was put on oxygen and wheeled off to pediatrics, which apparently also takes people who have just had their gall bladders removed.  I stayed there for three days before being released.

My husband states that the doctor told him my gall bladder had pus, he cant remember if they said in it or around it, because shortly after being told, he was also informed that I would not be going home but admitted to the hospital.  Generally one has a one or two week post op appointment where their doctor says that they are healing nicely and can go back to their normal lives. I, on the other hand, had a one week, a two week and am now waiting on a one month appointment to see when the doctor will release me from light duty and only being able to lift up to 10 lbs at a time.

I am slowly getting used to my new digestive system, see your gall bladder stores bile (the substance that digests fat) from your liver so that when you eat foods containing fat it can release more bile in order to break down the substances into things your body can use.  Without a gall bladder the bile just drips from the liver into the bilary duct, which in essence drips directly into your digestive system.  This can cause an array of eating disasters; if you eat too much fat, especially in the beginning, your body will flush it through your system, if you don't eat enough fat things don't flow through your system well enough. I think you get the idea without me having to go into details.  There is a very delicate balance in eating that I have yet to figure out. While the only time I know I had too much fat was when my family tried Five Guys for the first time, aside from that we normally eat pretty low-fat foods, yet I still get a pretty bad stomachache about 8-10 hours after consuming red meat.

So this is where we are today, I am slightly behind in my schooling because of the three days I ended up in the hospital, I also am trying to figure out what I can and cannot eat. This may or may not be a new adventure for me, and for us.  Only time will tell.

I honestly started writing this post to try and explain that while I have been gone for a while, it was really not intentional and truly unexpected. I apologize for my absence, and wish you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

~ Marvel ♥

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