Gallbladder Update

Well on Monday, the day of surgery, I was a rock star!! Probably thanks to the rock star meds I was still on from the hospital. Tuesday…I was no rock star. Wednesday either. Today I am feeling slightly better and slightly more alert.

Things I can NOT do until I am healed….

  • cough
  • sneeze
  • yawn…yes, you wouldn’t believe how many abdominal muscles you can use when yawning!
  • LAUGH. I am the girl that laughs, or finds humor, at the most inappropriate times! This is an inappropriate time!!!  Something on TV was funny and I giggled. Giggle turned into laughter. And once I started laughing it was close to impossible for me to stop! So I simultaneously laughed, held my tummy, tried to breathe, cried alligator tears and screamed out for PC to “turn it off!!!!” (I didn’t think I had to worry about this because I was watching an old sad episode of Grey’s Anatomy!).  It was hilarious and tragic all at the same time!

I am still waiting to notice the full effects of having this gallbladder removed. So far, I can tell my digestion is different. Although, different is the only adjective I have at this point because I am still on a cautionary diet. I no longer feel pain  in my upper abdomen after eating. I haven’t suffered from acid reflux yet either. Once I begin eating more solid foods again, I am sure I will notice more benefits than I do now.

The one difference I was not expecting…MY SKIN!! Oh heaven’s, my face! It feels amazing! I know this sounds silly to most but the difference in my skin is undeniable! Before surgery I felt like applying lotion after my shower was not an option. My face was so dry, rough, bumpy, red and more. So lotion was my answer. I tried all kinds, no fragrance…etc. However, when I applied lotion to my face, it never soaked into my skin. It think it just sat on top and dried up, only to peel off later. Most of the time it actually burned when I applied the lotion and my face turned more red than it already was! I was considering a trip to my dermatologist soon. You know, after the gallbladder and IF stuff were taken care of. But I haven’t applied lotion to my face once since surgery!!! Not once! I haven’t felt the need. My face is soft, my skin is pink not red, and it doesn’t feel dry at all. Lotion is an option now!!! I will still use it of course, but it feels so good to know it is just an option….

Hopefully I will notice more benefits with time and healing but so far I am pleased.

And although this surgery was scary for me, I still feel like a rock star. I think I have handled it well.

Thank you all for your kind words and support along the way.

Much Love To All!

Advertisements

Health Update

My gallbladder removal surgery is scheduled for Monday March 23rd. I am nervous but I’m trying to keep my eye on the prize…feeling better! I have one more week with this heart monitor. I don’t mind it so much. Although, whoever claims these electrodes (and the adhesives) can be removed with “a little soap and warm water” is a big fat liar! Even in the shower, that part is painful. I will get the results from the cardio on the 17th. If all goes well with that, the surgery is a go. Here is a short list of my surgery pros and cons..

Pros:

  •  Feeling better!!!!
  • hopefully less symptoms
  • after recovery I hope to be able to have a real meal rather than a lifetime of snacking
  • I hope my panic/anxiety episodes go away so I can start leaving my house on a regular basis again
  • I’m also hoping this tightness in my chest goes away and stays away
  • My hot flashes are likely to disappear also
  • I will have accomplished one of my 3 surgeries for the year
  • It will take my mind off this horrible house hunting journey
  • It will take my mind off my sis…lots of stressful things
  • PC is an amazing caregiver when I am sick 🙂

Cons:

  • It’s surgery!
  • If the past is any indication, I will be that 1% of patients that suffer from complications (most likely the rarest ones)
  • I’m scared
  • It is scheduled for the day after our anniversary.
  • My “pro’s” list includes a lot of hoping. I am worried this surgery doesn’t help as much as my doctor thinks it will
  • Did I mention I’m scared?

I do feel bad about the surgery being so close to our anniversary. On the other hand, I won’t be the only one happy I’m feeling better…I’m sure PC is getting tired of taking care of me. Plus, I still hold a whole lot of bitterness about my sister (my enemy) getting married on my anniversary last year. So I will be grateful to have something to keep my mind off of that. Last year during their wedding, PC and I went on an amazing vacation. We drove out of state so we could be as far away from the drama as possible. This year I was sure we would have found a house by now and that would help keep my mind off it. Since that hasn’t happened yet, I guess all I have is this stupid surgery. Maybe after this surgery, I can get back to the fantabulous infertility mystery.

This is all about perspective. I will keep my faith. This surgery will be successful. I will experience relief from most of my current symptoms. I have nothing to worry about.

Music Monday

I know this song is everywhere and it probably getting totally over played on the radio but I just can’t get enough of it! This might be my favorite cover of this song so far! I wonder if I can get PC to sport that hat? I wouldn’t mind that at all…

I have this crazy fascination with the dancing elderly. How cute is that? I love to see that music remains in the soul even if your body can’t move like it used to. It reminds me that we are not that different from one another. Age, physical abilities, race, religion…none of that matters. Music can unite all of us. If only everyone saw it that way..

Much Love To All!

And the verdict is in.

My GI office called today with my scan results. Everything looks good according to the abdominal ultrasound, except for the gallstones floating around my gallbladder. They are sending me the info for a general surgeon they recommend. I need to have my gallbladder removed.

I am nervous, scared, anxious, and ecstatic to finally have answers! So now what do I do? Is surgery my only option? Well my GI says it is but what about all of the natural methods out there in the virtual world PC and I have read about.

PC and I have considered doing a few cleanses. There is a cleanse for every organ it seems. The concern most people have about the gallbladder cleanse is if the gallstones are too big, they could get stuck in the bile duct which would be a serious complication. In addition to that concern, I have also read that many doctors don’t even believe it is possible for a gall stone to be eliminated naturally. They claim what people see in their stool during the cleanse is not actually gallstones but the discarded form of all the ingredients they ingested for the cleanse. Plus the process of the cleanse is not a pleasant one at all. In my case I would just be making all of my symptoms worse in order to hopefully get rid of them all together. This could take months if not years!

The only reason I would consider an alternative to gallbladder removal is my (possibly irrational) fear of the surgery failing to relieve my symptoms. The only explanation for that would be if my gallbladder is not the only culprit here. But I am no doctor so how can I know for sure? I guess that answer will come when I take my test/scan results to a general surgeon or even my PCP to get an explanation. If my PCP agrees that my results point to only the gallbladder, then I can stop worrying about that.

There might be one more reason for my hesitation. I’m stalling. If I’m being totally honest I have appreciated the break from my regularly scheduled va-jay-jay exams. This gallbladder stuff has taken over and my IF appointments have been benched. I ran out of BCPs last month and postponed my follow-up with my gyn. The last time I saw her she wanted me to take time to consider the laparoscopic and then a hysterectomy. Once my gallbladder is taken care of, I have to go back to deciding if I want my useless, empty uterus removed. Yay! <–insert sarcasm here

For someone so scared of surgery, I sure am facing a lot of it! I have never had surgery. Well that isn’t entirely true. I had surgery on my neck when I was 2 months old but that one doesn’t count.

I have decisions to make. If any of you have had trouble with gallstones and would like to share your experience please leave a comment. Any info would be helpful.

Much Love To All

Health Care Management?

Maybe this is the “getting older sucks” part of my life. How does one rank their health symptoms? Unless one is a doctor, how do you know where to start, what symptoms are related or what kind of doctor you need?

My symptoms are random and growing in numbers. Let me give you a little background here. My tummy has always been sensitive. About 5 years ago I had some sort of weird episode while on vacation and later was told by my doctor that I have a hiatal hernia. For more info on that, here is a link. Then a few months ago my gyn prescribed me a high dose birth control pill. Long story short, I ended up in the ER with a “toxic reaction”, severe dehydration and a UTI. I was so sick for days! Vomiting, diarrhea, chills, panic and this burning sensation that started in my tummy and quickly spread throughout my body. I was pissed! What the hec is wrong with me? I can’t even take bcp’s? Anyhow, fast forward to a few weeks ago when I visited my GI. After an exam and several questions, he asked if I have ever had my gallbladder examined. I said no. He was shocked! He then scheduled me for a blood test, and ultrasound and another test I can’t pronounce. Naturally, as soon as we got home I did my gallbladder research. I am going to share what I have learned because if my symptoms sound familiar to any of you, this info might save you some pain and time. I am not a doctor! Please do not view my findings as anything other than amateur research. The info I am sharing is a combination of many websites I ran across, including one called Gallbladderattack.com.

The liver makes the body’s supply of bile. Bile helps break down fats during food digestion. Not all bile is needed at one time so excess is stored within the gallbladder. In gallbladder disease, bile in the gallbladder becomes concentrated and thickens. Gallstones are born out of this sludge from cholesterol and bile salts. (Apparently, bile is no match for cholesterol) The end result of the disease process is inflammation (cholecystitis) or stones (cholelithiasis). A gallbladder attack occurs when the gallstone blocks the flow of bile from the gallbladder and is manifested as a pain in the right side (sometimes perceived in the right shoulder because of referred pain) as severe as the excruciating pain of a heart attack). Some of the symptoms of a gallbladder attack are:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • severe abdominal pain
  • feeling of fullness
  • belching
  • headaches
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • fatty stools
  • burping with regurgitation of bitter fluid
  • sweating
  • lightheadedness
  • weakness
  • shortness of breath

I have every single one of those symptoms. The shortness of breath only occurs due to the panic I experience. One symptom I have that is not listed anywhere I can see is the burning sensation I mentioned earlier. It is just as random as the other symptoms. It starts just under my ribs in the center and quickly spreads to the rest of my tummy, my neck and my arms. I am fairly certain it is related to my tummy problems because once I “void my tummy” the burning stops. Actually, it stops shortly before I begin vomiting, It takes all of my will and prayer to keep this burning sensation from turning into a full panic attack at this point, especially once it spreads! This is where the priority and management comes in. Is my panic causing me to vomit? Or the other way around? I haven’t had panic in years! It only returned (at least in full force like this) the night I took that damn high dose birth control pill. I haven’t been well since that night and have been fighting a panic attack every day since. Now allow me to share what I read about the causes of gallbladder disease!

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
  • Low stomach acid
  • Food Sensitivities or Allergies
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Brain degeneration
  • Overweight
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy (due to excess hormones)
  • Estrogen intake and birth control pills(estrogen increases the concentration of cholesterol in the bile)
  • Chronic Heartburn
  • Frequent use of Antacids and PPIs
  • Atkin’s Diet
  • Over age 40 and increase in risk as one ages
  • Female especially those who have had children
  • Ethnicity (Pima Indians and Mexican-Americans)
  • High triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol,
  • Alcohol intake
  • Family history of gallbladder disease (Heredity)
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, immunosuppressive drugs
  • Antidepressants which slow down gallbladder contractions
  • Very Low Calorie Diets
  • Diet high in saturated fats
  • Diet high in refined foods and sugars
  • Diet low in fiber (which is what the refined diets are) and not enough vegetables
  • Non-fat diets
  • Low-fat diets
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Diseases such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Chron’s disease (ulcerative colitis is controversial) Hemolytic anemias, PCOS

I fall into at least 10 of those categories! And that’s not counting rapid weight loss because that isn’t my symptom, that is what has resulted from my symptoms. (can’t complain about that one though, 20lbs and counting.) And did you notice the bold and italic cause? Why didn’t anyone tell me that????? I am printing that page out to take to my next gyn appointment. She was just as shocked as I was about my “toxic reaction” to the pills. What about the HORRIBLE reaction I had to the Metformin when they thought I had PCOS? Was it my gallbladder that made that med so hard for me to take?

Do I dare be a little excited about this? I pray it is a gallbladder problem. That is not a life threatening organ. I can live without it. Could it really be that simple though? Well, after what I have been through, simple doesn’t sound like the right word. Either way, it would explain a lot! I am excited to possibly have an answer, finally!

How do others cope with multiple health issues? I haven’t updated anyone on my endometriosis because I have been focusing on this tummy crap. So, again I ask, how do you juggle multiple symptoms? Is that what a primary care doctor is for? I mean, do you go to one doctor first and then let him/her send you in the right direction? I didn’t grow up with the resources I have now, so I have never had a PCP in the past. I have one now but I’m starting to think I do not use her properly. So far she is great! Wonderful beside manner, polite, and I always leave feeling like I was heard. I guess that may be what a pcp is for. A ring leader of sorts. Our insurance doesn’t require referrals but maybe there is a good reason for getting your pcp to give you one. They are the educated ones, they can steer you in the right direction. They can hear your symptoms, help you categorize them and make an educated guess as far as your next move.

Anyhow, I hope this information is helpful to someone. I can’t believe no one warned me about the risks. Every one of my doctors is aware of my tummy problems. Why didn’t anyone put 2 and 2 together? I guess this situation is a great example of being your own advocate! Always educate yourself! Even if your doctors are as amazing as mine. They do not live in our bodies and we (as patients) aren’t usually able to connect the necessary dots for them.  Between my own research and my health journal, I will get answers!

Much Love To All!