Gallstones - Have the op or not?

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A few months ago I had a pain in my right side which I was sufficiently worried about to see the out-of-hours doctor (it was a bank holiday). I was worried it was my liver or something but the doctor diagnosed a kidney infection. This didn't seem right at the time as the pain wasn't especially severe and I didn't feel generally unwell.

A few weeks later I had a pain again, saw my usual doctor and she sent me for an ultrasound which found 'lots of gallstones' (her words).

I was referred to a surgeon and I was really hoping that when I saw him he would give me a steer on what to do. He just said it was my decision and he would be happy to either discharge me and see whether things got any worse or carry out the operation. I had to decide then and there, so I said yes to the op, but I didn't feel at all sure.

I have very suddenly been given a date for the operation (just over a week away). I am now panicking.

I haven't had the severe pain I see others reporting. More like nagging discomfort from time to time - really not that bad.

I did have some bad pain in my right shoulder, neck and side in December but my doc wasn't sure whether it was gallbladder-related or just muscular (had been doing some heavy lifting). I just took pain killers and it resolved in a few days.

No jaundice or fever.

A couple of times I have had very pale stools (sorry!) which I know is related.

Having seen all the horror stories about the effects of this operation I am extremely worried.

My husband wants me to have this because I travel quite a bit for work and he doesn't want me to be struck ill while I'm away. Also, we want to try for a baby soon and he is worried about me having gallstones if I did get pregnant.

I'm so anxious and I don't know what to do.

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12 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi 

    i was anxious and I was in a lot of pain ..living on boiled potatoes and veg to stop the colic attacks... I was so nervous thinking I wouldn't wake up after the operation. Worrying it was all going to go wrong .my hubby said you will be a different person after wards...I am I am so much calmer I eat a wide spectrum of foods now I feel well. My hubby said this because .. I had undiagnosed gallstone attacks for about 15 years basically annual colic attacks calling doctor in agony then occasional pain and a lot of nausea after eating rich food .... If only I had known back then I could of had it removed and avoided years of attacks . Often triggered by stress often on holiday ...I ended up with food phobias ...I was told I had ulcers and a nervous stomach I didnt I had gallstones...and yes pregnancy does trigger the attacks ...and dieting triggers it too...the reality is there is a risk of getting diarrhea or constipation after the operation but the majority are left ok. But if you have a lot of stones ... Your surgeon is offering you the operation now planned not an emergency less risk...if you get a bile stone stuck your poo goes pale you go yellow jaundice its life threatening you will be rushed in as an emergency not as safe...

    its your choice I suggest a list of fours and againsts ... Rule the nerves out we all had them.... Hope this helps 

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  • Posted

    Hi, seems a bit tricky you seem to think not been ill enough to want surgery but don't want to store up trouble. I agree with your husband you sort of feel worried what if emergency away from home. Again don't want to be pregnant or have a young baby and then be troubled with it. It seems from what is discussed by some people on here it can be hormone related and some get problems in pregnancy, you don't want things spoiling that happy time. The trouble is everyone seems to be different post surgery with their digestion. Some people not likely to comment on here because they are really well and so don't come on. I feel for your dilemma and can't really offer advice other than to say. I think they never go away, they will grow but the question is will they trouble you. My surgeon said to me I can remove them now while it's all calmed down or I'll see you sometime coming through a and e when things will be more difficult. This decided it for me but I had been having more trouble with them and I am older. Hope you find your answers I would say ask your go but think they'll just say its up to you. I would say do your research on here and other sites and see what you think. You can always postpone op if you don't feel ready to decide, don't be rushed.
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  • Posted

    Thank you both - those are great responses, really helpful.

    As you say, there are pros and cons, potential benefits long-term but also risks. On the whole I am inclined to trust the GP that she would not have referred me and the surgery would not have offered to do the op if there is no clinical basis for it but surgeon did say I am just on the cusp of where they would think about doing something  - hence, it's up to me.

    I already have IBS so I am used to some digestive problems but don't want those to get worse.

    The strongest sign for me so far has been that I have experienced pale stools (sorry again!) which shows that the stones are having an effect.

    Still not sure what to do but thank you for the replies.

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  • Posted

    In my opionion and it is only that , I would have it done and put it behind you rather than having it looming over your future. You are used to dealing with some digestive troubles and you might find some things improve. Good luck with whatever you decide. Try not to worry too much although you seem ok about having the op. I was beside myself with worry, needlessly so. Recovery was not too bad no great pain. expect it to take longer than some experience. Some people seem to be better in days for me it was longer but that's all.
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  • Posted

    i had the same with surgeon, I decided to go away and think about it. Things just got worse and liver function changed and itching. Attacks were worse. I was on fat free diet but i was still getting attacks. I am 7 weeks post op. Getting better all the time. hope this helps.Also my first attack was in France and I was so scared.
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  • Posted

    Have it. It is so worth it. You can't read all the horror stories that are out there.

    Eat low fat foods start now and two months afterwards unless you want to sta on it. Stay away from fatty, greasy, and fried foods. Drink lots of water.

    I had mine out in Nov. I had no problems. Sore for over a month. But I'm feeling myself now. I'm still watching what I eat. Eat small meals, don't over eat. Avoid the wrong foods. Add make other foods slowly. If you add to much back then you will have issues.

    Any questions just ask.

    Lori

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  • Posted

    I was very skared to die and would not do this if there was a choice. So, did it and I'm really relieved now. 2 weeks and I am feeling very good.
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  • Posted

    Thank you everyone for your replies.

    I have decided to go ahead for two reasons.

    First (as if it knows that its time is up) I have had pain from my gallbladder every day after every meal this week.

    Second, my mother made what I thought was a very good point. She said, 'It's your choice but you are hopefully going to live for another 50 years or so, so there's the question of whether your gallbladder will make it that long. If not, you may have to have the surgery at a time you don't get to choose, when you aren't prepared'.

    So, I went to the hospital today for my pre-admission MRSA swab and blood tests.

    The only thing freaking me out now is that the nurse started talking about recovery and she said 'I expect you will be out of action for at least 4 weeks'.

    I was planning on going back to work after maybe 10, max. 14, days. I have an office-based job but it does include some travel every week, so my main worry had been about carrying a bag on trains, etc.

    Now I am thinking I may have been being optimistic?

    I'm going to feel so guilty if I have to be away for that long!

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    • Posted

      If you take it easy you will heal faster. Everybody is different. Just remember when you start to feel better don't over do it. Addthijnbs slowly back in. Time limit walks. Walk around your house after surgery. Add laps but don't ush it. Eat low fat foods. Drink water lots of it.

      Keep us updated. Any questions just ask. This sight helped me a lot when I had mine removed in. November.

      I hope you have your surgery real soon.

      Lori

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  • Posted

    Good luck. I thought the same about getting back to work. But you must take it easy. I was unfortunate to get the flu 2 weeks after so it took longer. Dont rush you dont want any set backs. As for feeling guilty,dont worry because if your work collegues knew what you had been through they would understand.  Your mum very wise.
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  • Posted

    Hi, yes I too agree with your mum it seems you're going to need something done some time. As for back to work everyone is different. I think after a week you do feel better but still movement sore and sitting for a long time doesn't help much. After 2 weeks you think you are over it and start to do too much and you take a step back and are disappointed with yourself. Plus for no reason you suddenly have bouts of real tiredness. All this passes but I think back to work and travel in 2 weeks is a bit ambitious, but you will know yourself. Better to take the time off work you need when they can plan for your absence rather than say you'll be back in 2 weeks , do 2 days and knock yourself back and have to be off again and you'll feel you've let people down. Take the time you need and you'll recover better and quicker. Plus when you are off make sure to rest maybe bed in the afternoon even if you think you don't need it. Even though you sound young your body has still been through an event and needs to repair itself. Good luck hope all goes well.
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