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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Shropskr on March 03, 2014, 08:49:12 AM

Title: Gall bladders
Post by: Shropskr on March 03, 2014, 08:49:12 AM
As I'm typing this from the hospital bed.  I'd like to know how others have handled gallstones and recommended gall bladder removal.  Any problems after removal? Did anyone try to keep there gall bladders?  Please I'm asking for opinion and stories of what happened to you.

PS it is mustastian as I'm in a VA hospital and will be covered be them.  At least no hospital bills right.  One bright side.

Thank you
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Frankies Girl on March 03, 2014, 09:21:07 AM
Had gallstones, had the gallbladder removed. I was experiencing major attacks that left me writhing on the floor in extreme pain, throwing up after every meal, and even near-fainting spells before I was diagnosed. Miserable experience and while I was scared when they told me they were removing the gallbladder (was my first ever major surgery), I was relived that there was a way to stop all of the horrible symptoms.

Had laproscopic surgery - where they just do a few small incisions and inflate the abdomen with air and use cameras and tools to do all the work inside without opening you up. I'm pretty sure that's standard now, but they did scare me with the consent forms since in the event of an emergency or other complications, they want the okay to do traditional full abdomen open surgery (I was told that hardly happens, but it can so be aware of it and it will take longer to heal).

Immediately after surgery, the worst part was trying to deal with the trapped air in the abdomen - hurt pretty good for a while and couldn't sleep lying down for about 3 days. A recliner or LOTS of pillows is what helped. They make you walk the halls to try to work the air/gas out, but it's still uncomfortable for a few days to a week (at least for me it was).

Healing was nothing. I had three incisions (one of them was in my belly button) that were barely an inch long, and I have to look for them now to even see them.

The biggest issue after surgery for me was adjusting eating habits. Anything that was of moderate to high fat caused me to run to the bathroom. I developed IBS symptoms basically for about 5 years. Its not a big issue as long a I watch what I eat now and I can eat things in moderation that are high fat. But be aware that foods you eat can cause cramps and gas pain and the need for a bathroom RIGHT NOW.

I have no idea why you'd want to keep the gallbladder. It isn't a vital organ, and adjusting wasn't that difficult other than what you'd normally expect after surgery. I wasn't sure that was even an option but I wouldn't have taken it as my attacks were horrific and I wanted it GONE so I never had to worry about that happening again.

Good luck and hope you have a really easy time of it!
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: FIence! on March 03, 2014, 09:24:55 AM
How much pain are you in? I'm guessing a lot if you're in the hospital.

I had my gallbladder out when I was about 19, and the pain of the surgery was nothing compared to how I would feel when I got a gallstone attack. I was having painful attacks (and had no idea why, it took many visits to the doctor and finally hospital before it was diagnosed), and was happy to have the thing removed by the time it finally happened. The spasms happened with increasing pain over several months, until one time I was at a diner with some friends. We had just eaten grilled cheese and french fries (fat consumption triggers attacks), and I ended up literally rolling up in a ball on the dirty bathroom floor whimpering. At this point, doctors were finally able to put it together, and I got an ultrasound. The technician literally said "Whoa!" when he saw how many gallstones I had. My gallbladder was removed in a week.

The recovery period was pretty short, they used lasers and I have four incisions that range in width from a pencil eraser to a quarter. I was in the hospital overnight, and left first thing in the morning. The first 24 hours were rough, despite the tiny incisions you still feel cut open. I felt completely fine a week later though. You do get "ghost pains" because your body just kind of randomly shoots out bile, so if I eat a lot of fatty food, such as pizza and ice cream in one sitting, I might wake up in the night with mild pain. The solution is just to limit fatty foods. It doesn't happen all the time, for me it maybe happens 4 or so times a year.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: PennyMinder on March 03, 2014, 09:43:00 AM
I had no idea how sick I had progressively gotten until I opened my eyes after having my gall bladder removed and felt so much better! 

My story is much like the previous posters...writhing on the floor in agony is a memory I would rather not have.  By the end I was even jaundiced because of stones blocking my bile duct.

Post surgery I just had the usual surgical pain but it was absolutely nothing compared to what I had already gone through with the gall bladder.

Good luck to you!  You will feel like a new person when you get this taken care of!
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: greenmimama on March 03, 2014, 09:44:47 AM
My scars are still healing from my gall bladder removal :)

I started having attacks in Jan, finally went to the ER on Jan 16th, after a CAT scan it was confirmed I had a couple of large gall stones. Once I talked to my Dr. she really recommended I get it removed, because as she put it, you could eat great for a long time, then the holidays come along and you don't follow the special diet, then you could have an attack large enough to dislodge a stone and it could get into your pancreas, this can then block the pancreas and is deadly. You might get the surgery done and might still have to eat a special diet, but at least you don't have to worry about getting Pancreatitis.

So I really didn't want to have gall bladder attacks again, so we went with removal, my surgery was fine, no issues they did it laproscopic and I have 4 small incision sites. I had never had surgery like that before so the pain from recovery was more than I thought it would be, but I had it early on a Tuesday morning and that same Fri was the last time I took the pain pills they prescribed me, I did 2 more days of Ibuprofen and then it was painful but easy to handle.

One of the hardest parts for me was the lifting restrictions because I have young children. All in all, I can now eat what I want and it has been really good, I had the surgery on Feb 11th.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Threshkin on March 03, 2014, 10:04:21 AM
I had my gall bladder removed a few years ago.  The last attack put me in the hospital and they scheduled the surgery for a few days later.  The surgery was simple.  They knocked me out and I woke up a few hours later kinda sore.  I left the hospital the next day.  I was a little weak but nothing major.  About a week later I was flying to New Zealand for the start of a five-week, five country business trip.  The trip was kinda tough at the beginning - no stamina - but by the end I was 100%.

I have never had any trouble with diet or any other after effects.

The pain from my gall stone attacks was 9 to 10 on a 10 point scale.  Getting the surgery was an amazing relief.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: ruthiegirl on March 03, 2014, 10:08:08 AM
DH had his out a few years ago.  Similar story to the previous posters -- agonizing pain, quick surgery, about 1 week of pain and another week of taking it easy. 

He eats almost everything he wants now, but a hot dog or greasy meal will leave him with the runs for a few hours. 

And really, the alternative to not having it removed is that it can burst and flood your insides, causing all kinds of infection, so there's that. 
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Frankies Girl on March 03, 2014, 10:47:56 AM
I find it comforting that everyone that has had this had intense pain (not that ya'll were in pain, but it wasn't just me). I had thought I was being a big baby about how bad I hurt, and it took months of attacks before I finally went to the doctor. The doctor that took out my gallbladder told me that the pain from gallbladder attacks was on the same scale as full on active labor/childbirth. He said if you could weather through months of those with no medication, then you had a crazy high tolerance for pain... I don't know why, but that made me feel a bit better. ;)

Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Shropskr on March 03, 2014, 10:51:49 AM
Thank you

Anyone have any other diet restraints besides limiting fatty food or suffer diarrhea?

 It's the after surgery life limits that scare me not the surgery itself.  They are saying laparoscopic.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Frankies Girl on March 03, 2014, 11:09:45 AM
Thank you

Anyone have any other diet restraints besides limiting fatty food or suffer diarrhea?

 It's the after surgery life limits that scare me not the surgery itself.  They are saying laparoscopic.

Nope. No restrictions at all from my doc, and it isn't a given that you'll even have the IBS symptoms after either, it's just a possible. Other than being more aware about eating absolute junk, I didn't have to change anything. And I counted the junk/fatty food gotcha as a positive since it forced me to be much more aware of what I was eating and make some better choices.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: crumbcatcher on March 03, 2014, 12:41:58 PM
I think I would rather give birth again than go through another gallbladder attack. ;-)

I'm not going to share my story because my laproscopic surgery didn't go well, and I know that my experience is definitely the exception, not the rule.  For the most part these are simple, routine surgeries.  Like any surgeries, they have risks and things can go wrong, BUT I will tell you that after recovering from mine I am still extremely glad to not have gallbladder attacks anymore.  It was horrible.

Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: RetiredAt63 on March 03, 2014, 12:42:25 PM
If you haven't had your gall bladder removed yet, please read this:

He explains why we get gallstones, and why doctors tend not to bother treating them, instead opting to remove the gall bladder.

I am fond of all my body parts, and give my gall bladder a regular workout (love the low carb/moderate protein/high fat life: bacon and eggs for breakfast, something meat and vegetable or dairy for lunch, same for dinner, can go hours between meals without snacks or stress, etc., etc.).

Also, abdominal surgery is abdominal surgery, even if it is just a little opening.

Good luck

Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Tami1982 on March 03, 2014, 01:19:37 PM
I second, third, or fourth, LOL, what everyone has said.  I waited months and months, and multiple ER visits before they figured out what it was.   I was back to work 3 days later, but had zero energy and no stamina for about two weeks.  The most painful part of the surgery was the gas escaping, but it was just one night for me.  I have had no issues with diet or food.  My cousin can't eat bacon now though.  I guess it's different for each person:)
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: homehandymum on March 03, 2014, 02:26:46 PM
A friend and my MIL have both had their gall bladders out, and they both said that a gallbladder attack was much more intense pain than childbirth.

Neither of them have any dietary restrictions now.  My friend is over the moon because while she was waiting for the surgery she had to be VERY careful about what she ate, and was frightened after every meal in case it set off an attack.  Now she's back to normal.

Life is a crapshoot - you could be completely fine, or you might have complications, but the odds are better (IMHO) with the surgery than without.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: Dezrah on March 03, 2014, 03:05:37 PM
I had terrible "digestive cramps" for years and got in the habit of eating Tums like they were candy to cope with it.  Then I graduated undergrad, moved back home with my parents, started a job, and worked on planning a wedding.  All that stress accelerated the level of aggravation to the point where I was throwing up on an almost daily basis and spending whole evenings in pain.

They did this test where I was given a radioactive isotope that collected in my gallbladder (so they could watch it on the X-ray film) and then they gave me the hormones that were supposed to trigger the organ to work.  The technician showed us that a healthy gallbladder would go from the size of a quarter to a tiny pea in a few minutes.  By comparison, you couldn't even tell that mine had contracted at all.  There were no gall stones involved.

Having the right medical diagnosis was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  I wasn't being whiny, this wasn't normal, and there was nothing psychosomatic (made up in my head) going on.

This was my second major surgery (first one was ACL reconstruction) and I'll tell you that this was by far the easier of the two.   In Laparoscopic surgery, they fill your body cavity with harmless gases so they have the room to work.  I remember some general aches stemming from the leftover gas bubbling around before my body absorbed it, but not a whole lot of pain beyond that. 

Granted this happened to me when I was relatively young and fit and I know a few people who had more complicated removals due to weight and age related issues; everyone came out fine, but some people had a more miserable time than others.  Your doctors should be able to explain all the potential risks for your individual case.

Long term, there is very little change to my diet.  Sometimes an extra fatty meal bugs me a little but nothing like before it was gone.  I can still eat the occasional cheeseburger, plus fries, but it's generally better if I skip the soft-serve ice cream for dessert.  The only thing I've regretfully given up on is HuHot Mongolian BBQ; one plate is all I can ever manage before my body tells me to quit, but that's probably a good thing.
Title: Re: Gall bladders
Post by: vern on March 04, 2014, 01:17:16 AM
Last year I had no pain at all but started vomiting.  I thought it was food poisoning. 

I finally went to the doctor after a few days and it turned out to be a gall stone blockage.  They snaked a tube down my throat and removed the offending stones.

I wanted to keep my gall bladder and was expecting the "hard sell" to have it removed from the specialist.  But he surprised me by saying that "You don't need to have your GB removed.  There's only a ten percent chance that this will ever recur."

He also said that GB problems where pretty damn random.  I thought it was diet related (I eat mostly paleo) but he said that he has a friend who weighs over 300 pounds and eats crap and has never had any problems.  He also knows a vegetarian marathon runner who is ~5% body fat who got them.

So I still have my GB.  However, I wasn't having any pain at all so YMMV.

P.S.  It's an amazing world we live in.  They told me that if this had happened a few years ago, they would have had to cut me open to remove the stones and I would have been in the hospital for two weeks.  Today, they just do the tube snaking deal and you can go home as soon as the anesthetic wears off.

Title: Update Gall bladders
Post by: Shropskr on March 04, 2014, 09:01:53 AM
You guys are so awesome.

I get the tube snake today as one of the stones is stuck in a duct. And I agree with everyone else the pain is awful.  I have a Really high pain tollerence and it's blown through it.  Also through ultrasound found out my gallbladder is packed full of stones. 

It looks like all the times I thought I was repulling some ab muscles front and back for the last three years have actually probably been gallbladder attacks.