Gallbladder Surgery

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I thought I would give a (probably long!) update as I've had quite the week! Very long story short, after 12 months of at least 2/3 attacks per week, I ended up having emergency gallbladder surgery this week.

Last Monday morning I woke at 4am with the excruitiating pain. I ended up in A&E on morphine, which did nothing. They kept me overnight, and the surgeon and his team of junior docs came to see me the next morning around 9am and literally could not get me into surgery quick enough. I was prepped and in surgery by 11.45am, after 31 hours of constant agony. I don't remember them giving me any drugs to fall asleep. I know I got the anti-sickness med and then he had barely put the mask over my face and I was out. I know I got back on the ward at 3.20pm, hooked to the morphine drip (yay, fun times!), and the rest of the day was a blur. I do remember that one of the junior doctors just kept telling me that my gallbladder was huge. Nothing else, just that it was huge!

The next day they explained that my gallbladder had actually ruptured and was exploding bile everywhere inside. Also, it was that inflamed it was at least 3 times the size of what it should have been. He demonstrated the size with his hands (which granted, were bigger than mine!) and mine measures out to 11 inches. He said that they'd had to consider converting to an open surgery, luckily they managed to make the incisions larger to get it out, but it had been a struggle.  I ended up spending 3 nights in hospital, and experienced quite a lot of pain in those first few days, and had 48 hours of antibiotics

I'm hoping not to tempt fate here but so far, so good. I'm still sore and getting tired easily, but I guess that's to be expected after surgery full stop, let alone the craziness that happened. I've only had one bowel movement since the surgery, but it was regular. I'm slowly reintroducing food and mostly just eating whatever my body is craving which seems to be biscuits and chocolate, which is the complete opposite to my usual tastes! I had an Indian takeaway last night, just a chicken korma and naan and was fine. I'm still having the sharp shoulder pains from the gas, I'm guessing, but I've been able to sleep on my side since last night. I'm hoping things stay as smooth as they are going right now.

Apparantly, I've been incredibly lucky, both with the surgeon that I got who is supposedly one of the best in the area and one of the few that would have even attempted keyhole in a situation like mine, and also lucky that they managed to get it out when they did. The first few days were rough, and I imagine the severity of it was why I had a longer hospital stay but other than that, it's just niggly pains that I imagine will settle down once I've recovered. 

I just wanted to share my experience so that firstly, anybody who is experiencing the biliary colic (a surgeon confirmed for me!) knows to get to A&E ASAP since it can go south very quickly. But also, there aren't many happy ending stories out here, and while mine hasn't ended yet & I realise things could change at any point, so far it hasn't been as horrific as I expected. I'm mostly ok, people are amazed at how quickly I'm bouncing back and the difference in me after each nap! It's been a rough week but the first thing I really remember thinking when I woke up (after the confusion!) was how grateful I was to have that agony gone. I'm still apprehensive, but right now any pain & niggles I'm having outweigh that pain from the colic any day! Fingers crossed for a continued happy ending!

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  • Posted

    So sorry to hear of your terrible experience and glad at the outcome.  I have 'only' had two really painful episodes ending up in A&E and I am supposedly on the short list for a gall bladder removal.  My GI specialist has given me some emergency antibiotics, buscopan and morphine in case I should get another attack (I am in the country and some distance to the regional general hospital).  I am wondering if, since you had so many attacks, whether they gave you any antibiotics 'just in case'?  Seems to make sense; in your case presumably the GB was badly infected and you had grave risk on the table.
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    • Posted

      Hi Tom, 

      No, I wasn't given any antibiotics. Up until Tuesday, nobody really believed the pain was from my gallbladder. The last few times I went to A&E I was told it was IBS. When I'd seen my first GI specialist, he'd repeatedly asked me if I did recreational drugs and that my "story was believable enough to warrant testing". Scans showed gallstones, but I was told they weren't the cause of my pain. It was only that I was away in summer and a nurse who saw me experience an attack pegged it as my gallbladder, and I recently saw a new GI who agreed and scheduled surgery for late Sept.

      By the end, I had Cocodamol, Tramdol and Buscopan. I found the Buscopan next to useless, and the Cocodamol wasn't much use 12 months down the line.

      Everybody keeps telling me how serious this had gotten, and how risky the surgery must've been, but my surgeon didn't really say too much about it other than the condition of my gallbladder. I'm hoping they'll send some sort of notes to my GP that I can read. I imagine it was pretty infected, given that I had 2 days worth of antibiotic IV's!

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    • Posted

      It seems to be difficult for them to diagnose. On my first A&E visit the Dr thought it most likely to be dyspepsia and prescribed the ususal for stomach problems.  He did give me oral morphine, though. On the second occasion I was admitted and the saw distended CBD where stone(s) had been trying to pass...then I got jaundice while in hospital so that settled it.  I don't understand why it's so hard to diagnose.  I am dreading the thought of another attack before the operation. I would use all the weapons I have - antibiotics, buscopan, paracetamol and morphine.  I suspect the most important thing is not to let too much pressure build up in the GB otherwise you can cause a problem in the liver, pancreas or even rupture of the GB which you had.  So that means zero-fat or even zero food for a while, I suspect.
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    • Posted

      I don't understand it either, especially in my case, they found early on that I had several gallstones but insisted that they weren't causing the problems. I had a million and one things suggested, pleurisy, costochondritis, GERD & acid reflux, IBS (the old favourite), my body simply getting older (I'm 28!).

      I managed to identify some trigger foods, but they were all over the shop so was never able to keep it under control. And then it exploded! But the past month or so I was on a very low fat diet, checking the fat content on everything, or like you say, just not eating. After a really bad attack, it could be 3 days before I ate again. And I truly believe it was the cause of my bowels wreaking havoc too, so that made me want to eat even less, which in turn led to a 25lb weight loss which at 8st 6lbs, I couldn't really afford! 

      I'm glad you manage to have yours under some control, and that they identified it pretty quickly. Sometimes I think part of the problem is having the right person to see the symptoms at the right time, it's all well and good seeing a GP the morning after the attack, but someone who actually witnesses an attack can properly identify and order the right scans at the right time to get the right results, if you get me. I wouldn't wish this pain on anybody. I hope you get your surgery soon!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your kind wishes, Sarah.  Fingers crossed still OK.  Still have zero appetite and feeling nauseous but I think it's gradually improving.  I've been taking one of H&B stronger multivitamins and minerals 'The Big One' or some such name on the basis that if I am skipping food and being faddy then vits are a good idea in moderation.
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  • Posted

    I'm glad to hear so far you are doing better than you were prior to your surgery. Sounds like you went through hell.  I hope your recovery goes well and you will be back to your normal activities,  

    I've  had mine out for two months now, ate six small bites of steak yesterday and the pain got so bad, took a half of pain pill and was on the couch with my ice bag. Woke up this morning and that steak wanted out of me one way or another. Not a good day. I truly hope you are one of the lucky ones that heals wonderfully. Happy endings to you.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your well wishes. I'm starting to realise just how serious things actually got! 

      Im sorry you're not having quite the same luck. Have you been back to see your doctor or surgical team at all to see if they have any answers for you? I 

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  • Posted

    Hi Sarah 

    it really great to hear that everything turned around so quickly for you, and that you are on the mend, it sounds like you have a good surgical team.

     

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    • Posted

      Thank you, I've been told since that my surgeon is the top dog of surgeons in our area, and that everyone at the hospital thinks he is amazing. I can only thank my lucky stars that he operated.
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  • Posted

    Does anyone know the difference between gall bladder pain and hiatal hernia pain...Not all the time, just time of attack, even after eating just a few bites of a baked potato, plain....the pain is under my left breast area, and it is horrible...the thing that I do right away is take about four antacids, and lie on my left side...It feels so much like a heart attack would feel...My doctor said my hiatal hernia is huge, but I could have gallstones to go along with it...anyone have any pain on the left side under breast area...It normally lasts about 30 minutes...feel sooo good when it is over...
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    • Posted

      I suffer with acid reflux and as with a hiatal hernia, it is the acid coming back up the oesophagus that causes the pain.  I would always recommend that you keep as upright as possible when you eat, even stand up, and stay that way for at least 30 minutes after the last mouthful. Lying down will only encourage the acid back up, and encourage the hernia to move upwards.  My sister has a huge hernia and she sticks to staying very upright when eating.  I even sleep with my top half raised up.  I used to use a sleeping wedge, but now have an electric bed so I can raise the top half of the mattress.  I had my gallbladder out 18 months ago and have never looked back.  Good luck.
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    • Posted

      I can only give you my experience with gallbladder pain, which was unusually upper central and left sided as opposed to the traditional right sided pain. I never had a single attack that lasted less than a few hours, even with strong painkillers, they were all between 4 - 8 hours long. It was hard to describe, like a very dull ache with sharp waves that as painful as they were, were almost a relief from the dull ache. People who witnessed it used to tell me that I would go a deathly grey colour,  hold my side, and eventually struggle to breathe. The pain would get so bad I would be unable to talk and I'd just pace backwards and forwards saying I wanted to die, our pain scale was "the window ledge" as in, how much did I want to throw myself out of the window, or was I just on the ledge waiting to be pushed?! 

      The only way I could get any sort of relief was a few hours down the line, and I'd close my eyes, prop myself up in bed and block everything out and breathe as shallow as I possibly could and just hope and pray it would go away.

      i hope you manage to get it sorted soon. Also I found that taking antacids would make it worse.

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  • Posted

    Hi Sarah,

    What an experience you have had!  From a lot of the things I have read on line about how many tests, how much pain, the wait, if the doctor's think it should be removed, etc. . . . you went through a lot awfully fast but at least you got that thing out.  It sounds like it was a really fast surgery when they seen what was happening.  I'm glad you are through this and hope only for the best for you.  This has been quite an ordeal for you and now you can enjoy Great Health!  Thank you for replying.

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    • Posted

      Hi Ruby,

      I've had months and months of testing, to no avail. They found the stones but insisted they weren't problematic until I finally saw a new surgeon recently who agreed 90% it was my gallbladder, and I had surgery scheduled for the end of September. Fortunately, they're now 110% convinced that it was my gallbladder, it just took it exploding and trying to kill me for anybody to believe me.

      Above all though, I'm extremely glad they got it out quick, and at least our healthcare system means I won't be in any worrying debt from this. 

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