Am confused about my experience right after surgery? Am I just weird?

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I had my gallbladder surgery last wednesday. I've been under general anesthesia before so I thought I knew what to expect. Everything I read about the surgery was that it was simple and not a huge deal. To expect grogginess and some pain after but nothing terrible.

When I was woken up, however, it felt like I had woken up in the middle of a bad accident. It was like being jolted awake. There was no sleepy, drowsy, slowly coming to. And the pain was EXCRUCIATING! It was way worse than the pain my gallbladder had been causing. I felt terrified both by the abrupt awakening and the searing pain. I was sobbing which was making it all worse. When the anesthesiologist and recovery nurse told me to calm down because me crying would just make it worse, I was able to stop sobbing. But the pain did not stop at all and I was still very upset and scared. Still cried a lot. It was almost like going thru child birth.

I was left with just the recovery nurse and she seemed baffled that I was in so much pain but at the same time was telling me its normal and I should have expected it (confusing). She kept telling me to breathe more deeply but deep breaths in made the pain worse. She kept increasing whatever pain meds she was giving and told me that they wouldn't let me move to the regular recovery room until my pain level was a 4 out of a 10. I stayed at a high 8 for a long time but it did sloooooowly start to taper. She seemed anxious for me to report a 4.

She also was unhappy bc once it did get more bearable I would start to nod off after awhile and she didn't want me to because then my breathing got too shallow. But other times if I started nodding off she told me I must be starting to feel better and that it was a good sign. It was confusing. At some point she put the tube in my nose to deliver oxygen. I'm guessing all the pain meds plus my erratic breathing probably lowered my oxygen levels?

She made a point to tell me multiple times that she had given me all the pain meds she could give me safely. But I didn't ask her for more I was just crying and in pain and asking if this was normal and why was it taking so long to get better. I kept telling her I was sorry and I was trying to calm bown because she seemed pretty annoyed by me being so vocal about how much pain I was in and it taking so long to get better. The whole experience was so bad.

Now I'm certain the nurse could have been nicer and more patient and understanding. I'm pretty clear her reactions to my pain were NOT normal. And I'm pretty sure I haven't explained the whole scenario exactly. But what I'm asking is, are there others who experienced such horrible pain right after surgery? I've been combing the internet and not finding anyone with a similar experience so far. I can't understand why my pain was so different than others. Also, the way I woke up from the surgery was very different than from what I recall from previous experience. This sort of all of a sudden shocking jolt into being totally awake was new and added to the terror from the pain. I don't understand what made it different. And I also wonder how much pain medications are normal to get afterward. From the way the nurse kept telling me she had given me the max, it seems as if this is not usual.

I'm sorry this is so long. I'm just really confused by my experience. It wasn't what I expected and it doesn't seem to match others' experiences. It doesn't really even match what I was told to expect by the medical staff. I almost feel traumatized by it. It was that scary. So if you wouldn't mind sharing if you had a similar experience or if you too think mine sounds weird I would so greatly appreciate it.

I am feeling better 5 days later. Still sore and tired. Some stomach issues. But nothing compares to how I felt that night post-op. Gah.

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  • Posted

    My experience post op was a little rough as well.

    My surgery actually took about two hours. The gallbladder came out fine, but they had some excessive bleeding diring the liver biopsy. When I came too, I was groggy, and in excruciating pain. I can handle pain well (tore my Achilles and still drove myself to the ER), but this was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I rated it a 9 out of 10. It hurt to take in a deep breath or even move at all. They gave me two doses of dilautid in recovery and it only knocked it down to a 7. I spent the night in the hospital for observation. I didn't sleep at all. I couldn't lay on my right side or stomach, and it hurt to take a breath in. The nurses thought were understanding and did everything they could to help with my pain and keep me comfortable. I spent most of the night sitting in a chair or roaming the halls of the hospital to help relieve the pain. But after a few days, I started to hurt less and the pain meds kept everything in check.

    Everyone's bodies are different in how they handle anesthesia and surgery. Even though it's laparoscopic, it's still a major surgery and sometimes our bodies don't adapt very well right away.

    Good to hear that you are feeing better.

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  • Posted


    how awful ... You do need to find out exactly what happened or you will develop an absolute fear of going under anaesthetic again ... It sounds like you didnt come out of the anaesthetic as quickly as they wanted and they gave you something to jolt you out of it ... 

    The trouble is if they made a mistake u may not find out what actually happened ... But it's important you do .. 10 years ago I had a breast lump removed and woke up shaking from head to foot heart pounding through head like a panic attack .. Nurse in recovery basically kept shoving oxygen mask on me then I would go unconscious and then wake up shaking etc again .... Eventually came too but felt really shook up .. 

    Was terrified 18 months ago to have gallbladder op thought I had a reaction to anaesthetics ... The anaesthetist before op explained I was in shock due to being cold .. And to them using an anaesthetic which takes you deeper she assured me they would make sure I awoke comfy... I awoke wrapped in a fluffy duvet with a little warm fan blowing under it ..all toasty and warm .. No shock no shaking no heart pounding etc ... 

    My advice find out from your notes what happened did the over administer pain melds???? Or did they drop you off the trolley ?? Did you have to be administered something to awaken you quickly .. Once you know you can move on and ensure it doesn't happen again ..

    hope that helps 


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  • Posted

    Interesting. It sounds like my experience when I had my appendix out. I woke up also like I was just in an accident. I grasp a breath and felt like I had died and just came back. Then for three days stright I had this terrible pain in my upper right back area like a knife was stabbing me and the pain was about a 7 out of 10. It was not gas from the operation when they pump you full of air like the Nurse said because it reamined the same for three days no matter which way I moved. The pain just stopped after three days and I was fine. (except the infection that set in but IV antibiotics took care of the temperature and high white blood cell count after three weeks). Oddly enough the same exact pain came back after 1 year for the second operation. (Note the surgeon mistakenly took out my illium valve due to what he called a mass thinking he spotted a cancer mass). Turned out he took a health section of my colon out which was just a little puss from an infection that spread from my infected appendix. My regular GI doctor said it could have been treated with regular antibiotics and saved cutting the colon which ended up giving me crohn's. Thats a fun disease let me tell you. The food goes thru too fast now the illium valve is gone. Well. Long story short, I had to have a second operation to redo the colon re-section because I was getting strictures near the area they cut. Not sure if the blood flow was reduced or if it was just part of the crohn's disease. The second operation went better. Less pain because they did a spinal tap. Oddly the same pain in my upper back came back for a couple days after that operation too. It sent away for 7 months. Then the same pain came back on it's own without an operation. yeah, that's fun. Turns out I have gall stones now. Not sure if they came about due to the crohn's disease or what but gall bladder issues do run in my family. Now I wonder if the gall bladder was giving me trouble all along. (at least the pain I felt after each operation in the upper back. The doc says if the pain contiunues, I would have to have the gall bladder out. It only comes after I eat meat (usually meat with a lot of fat). The pain starts in about 3 or 4 hours after the meal. Then stops after about 5 hours. Pain level about a 5 or 6 out of 10. I was having these attacks every other day and getting little sleep until I read on this web site. I learned that going vegan can sometimes help and the pain has not come back for a few weeks. I tried introducing just a little meat here and there and so good so far. So I wonder if the gall bladder went out because of the two operations due to the stress? The only other explaination I have is that the physical theropy for my back involved a harness that pulled extreamely tight around the gall bladder (below my right side/ribs.. I theroize another option was the gall bladder was bruised and it took a few days to heal. Perhaps this was causing the pain? Last but not least, oddly enough when I got on my vegan diet, the crohn's went into remission. Also odd was the fact my intestines were not inflammed he noticed at the last operation. (perhaps it is not crohn's but that's not what the experts in Ohio said). The other senerio is that I have pancreas cancer. Reading online the symptoms sound similar. I just had an MRI and should know if it shows anything in a few days. Complex issue. Note, I did have two great grandparents who died of intestinal issues. I need to research thier birth defects but back in those days, it was even more difficult to diagnose problems. So I wonder if you are having issues with gall bladder too? Perhaps the body is just really tramatized but being put to sleep and cut into?
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  • Posted

    Yes you are not alone. I had my gallbladder removed at end of April and was in agony when I woke up. It did not last long though.

    Hope you continue to improve.

    Take care and keep in touch

    Love Sarah xxx

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  • Posted

    Possibly you can order the notes from the operation at the hospital to see if anything unusualt occured. James
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  • Posted

    I experienced excruciating pain which even after it subsided recurred every 12 tp 24 hours after the surgery.  It took me 8 weeks to recover and I am not sure that all the problems are gone 6 months later, but now am feeling pretty well.


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