Around the time my gall bladder attacks started happening.
Bennett was 3 weeks old.

I normally don't post super personal info on my blog, but I wanted to just because I know I'm not the only one that has ever dealt with this...though it's not always obvious what is going on. 

Tomorrow morning I go in to get my gall bladder taken out. After years of pain and insisting that I didn't want to get it removed, I'm finally at peace with saying sayonara. 

One evening, a few weeks after Bennett was born, I started feeling like I was having a heart attack. My heart was racing, I had an amazing amount of pain in the center of my chest, and I couldn't breathe deeply. I was freaked out and it wasn't going away. I actually thought I was dying. But then it did, after about an hour. I called my sister (who is a nurse) and she said that I should probably go to the ER just to be safe. Three hours after arriving (glad I wasn't actually dying), I finally saw a doctor who did an EKG and said they weren't sure what my "attack" was. That was comforting. Not. 

The next day I found a doctor to help me figure out what the heck was going on. It took a few more attacks, some x-rays, lots of head scratching, and a couple "I'm beginning to think this is stress related/psychological" conversations before he sent me to get an ultrasound of my abdominal organs. He knew that gall stones could manifest in all sorts of different symptoms, then he told me the classic person with gall stones fits these "4 F's" (female-check, fat-well I'd just had a baby, but I wouldn't call myself fat...nopefamily-check, my mom had gall stones and had her gall bladder out when I was youngerforty-nope). He told me that people with gall stones typically have lost a lot of weight quickly, resulting in gall stones. Losing baby weight is considered rapid weight loss, I am female (duh) and my mom had gall stones. Not all people that have gall stones have attacks, but once your body produces stones, it always will, and you may end up having attacks at any time.

At my ultrasound, it became obvious that I did in fact have tons of tiny stones sitting in my gall bladder. Attacks happen when a stone blocks one of the various ducts that lead to either the liver or the pancreas. They can last for minutes, but most of mine have been at least an hour long. I get chills and sometimes I throw up. The pain radiates from my back and gets worse before it gets better. The pain is worse than labor contractions and it's especially horrible because there's nothing you can do to ease the pain and you have no clue how long it will last. 

My attacks went away after I stopped breastfeeding Bennett so I thought I was in the clear until Buck was a few months old and I had another attack (I think hormones have something to do with it, but I guess there's "nothing written about it" so I must be wrong). After a few of them, my OB suggested that I go talk to a surgeon about getting my gall bladder removed. I went (very hesitantly) just to see what she had to say. I didn't feel comfortable with the first surgeon I saw, but I learned that attacks often happened after you eat a good amount of fat. Gall bladders don't discern between good and bad fats so an avocado could give me an attack just as much as a piece of fried bacon. SO NOT FAIR. If you know me, I'm much more likely to eat the former! I decided after my first appointment that I was not going to get my gall bladder out and that I'd try to change my diet and eat as little fat as possible in order to avoid the attacks. 


Over the past six months I've eaten better than I ever have, and I've had to conciously pick and choose my fats for the day. However, I've had more attacks than ever (I can't even count the number I've had total) and they have been more painful than ever. I decided to go see another surgeon for a second opinion. He pretty much said that surgery was up to me, but that my gall bladder was esentially out of order and it would never be back in working condition. My gall bladder could also get infected which wouldn't be pretty and would result in emergency surgery. He also said that an attack could turn out to be life threatening if a stone got stuck in my pancreatic duct. I (stubbornly) still wasn't convinced. I left without scheduling surgery, though obviously I warmed up to the idea (and after a few more attacks) and lots of prayers I decided to just trust God that this was the right decision. After scheduling my surgery, I felt some relief but I was scared (not only to go under the knife-I've never had surgery before) but also of the possibilities of what can happen after you get a cholesystectomy. I'm still nervous but I'm mostly excited to be able to eat without being in fear of an impending attack. 

Why did I just tell the world this? Apparently, gall bladder attacks are common for young moms to experience, and it took a lot for my doctor to initially figure out what was going on because I wasn't old and overweight. I know I'm not the only person dealing with this, so I thought I'd put it out there in case it can help just one person figure out what's going on-because being a mom is overwhelming enough!


Peace out gall bladder!
(ice cream here I come- praise the Lord!)

...

UPDATE: It's been a week and half since my surgery and I feel pretty much 100% recovered! The surgery could not have gone any better and so far I haven't had any side effects from  being sans gall bladder. I might have gone on a celebration-eat-everything-I-haven't-been-able-to binge (ice cream, cheeseburgers and tots) and still no side effects! It's great to eat without being in fear. After the surgery I did have a little pain (to be expected) but nothing huge. I took the pain meds for 2 days mostly to be comfortable while I was asleep. I was super tired for a few days. I also was pretty dizzy off and on for about a week after the surgery, but I also was back to my normal mommy requirements of lifting and bending and it was probably my body's way of telling me to take it easy. All in all, my surgery was a complete success. Hallelujah!

UPDATE #2: It's been over a month and still feeling great with no side effects. I had my follow up appointmet this week and my doc said that my gall bladder was "chalk full of stones" and that theres no way anything else would have fit in there. No wonder why I was having so many attacks! Most people probably don't wait 4 years to get it out though. Glad to have that behind me!

5 comments

  1. abi porter on May 23, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    So happy you'll finally be done with those attacks! that sounds so miserable! If you need any help in the next few weeks while recovering dont hesitate to ask!

     
  2. Cadie on May 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    I have been thinking about you all day, today. Praying for a very successful and quick surgery. Wisdom and precision for doctors and peace for you. Glad to hear you won't be in pain from it anymore. How terrible. Worse than labor pains with no baby to forget the pain afterwards, it sounds horrible. So happy for you when this is all behind you!

     
  3. Ashley on May 25, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    praying for a speedy recovery and lots of help with your little ones while you recover :-)

     
  4. Sara on June 5, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Glad you are feeling good!

     
  5. Kira on June 11, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    I'm so glad the surgery was such a success for you! Let's go get ice cream soon ;)

     


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