My Gallbladder Story

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My journey to have my gallbladder removed was filled with rough days and a lot of frustration before getting relief.

I am a 37 y/o male. I've been obese most of my life, but over the past 2 1/2 years, I've lost 150 lbs.

My issues started is Decmeber of 2014. I started having chest pains after I ate and it would wake me up in the middle of the night out of a dead sleep. I chalked it up to indigestion, but still made a doctors appointment to make sure it wasnt my heart. My PCP had me have a stress test done, and it came back normal.

During the time I had the stress test and my follow up, I noticed I was getting sick and having pain under my ribcage and in my back, and it was worse after big, fatty, or greasy meals. I brought this up to my pcp and she said it could be a number of things, so she scheduled me for an endoscopy and an ultrasound. The scope showed a few superficial ulcers and a minute hiatal hernia and a negative test for h pylori. The ultrasound showed no stones, and no thickening of the gallbladder walls.

But my symptoms kept getting worse. Along with everything else, I started getting nausea and dry heaved after bad foods. This whole time, I was dropping weight because I couldn't eat. At my followup with my pcp, she recommended I try the BRAT diet to see if it offered me any relief and prescribed me Zofran (an anti nausea medication) She said there was a chance it could be my gallbladder but wasn't completely set on it.

In Mid April, I had a gallbladder attack. I had cramping and pain under my ribcage and relentless dry heaving. I went to the emergency room, and had another ultrasound and bloodwork done. Both came back normal, but when the doctor did the physical exam, he pushed where my gallbladder was, I nearly jumped off the exam table in pain. I was admitted and the next morning, I had a HIDA scan done. My EF was over 80% and I had excruciating pain when they administered the CCK. I cried every time they did it. The surgeon looked at the test and deemed it "normal" and wasn't "completely sold" that my gallbladder was causing my issues. I was discharged the next day. He wanted me to have an upper gi done and see him in 3 weeks. Had the upper gi done and went back to see him. The upper gi came back normal. Meanwhile I had lost 15 pounds since I had been discharged. He was shocked that I wasn't getting better. He wanted me to stay on the BRAT diet and he gave me a new anti-nausea medication. I had hit my breaking point. I was miserable, I was sick all the time. I had no energy. I hadn't eaten real food in months.

I left his office and started to do research and found a surgeon in my area that dealt with biliary issues. I set up an appointment with her and within 2 minutes of meeting her and reading my reports from all my tests, she stopped at the HIDA scan and said "this isn't normal. Your EF is high and it's not normal to have pain. Your gallbladder is more than likely bad." We spent the next 20 minutes talking about pros and cons about the surgery. She told me there was a 75% success rate in gallbladder removal getting rid of the symptoms I was having. I decided 75% success is better than getting sick 100% of the time when I ate. She ordered a ct scan to make sure there wasn't anything else that they might run across, and it came back normal, except for a fatty liver.

I had surgery on June 8th. It took nearly 2 hours on the table. They went in laparoscopically, and the gallbladder came out fine. They had some excessive bleeding when they did a liver biopsy to make sure my fatty liver wasn't causing any other issues. I spoke with the surgeon in the recovery room. She said that my gallbladder was inflamed. I was kept overnight for observation due to the bleeding I had. I had pain but it was more from the gas they used to inflate me. The pain meds helped. But the biggest thing was the next morning when I had eggs and toast. I didn't get sick. I didn't have nausea. I didn't dry heave. I didn't have the pain in my back. Same thing after lunch. No symptoms like I had before the surgery. I had to sleep on my left side for a few weeks, but I am pretty much back to nornal.

I had my follow up this past Tuesday. The surgeon remarked that I looked much better than I did at our first meeting. I told her that I felt like a million dollars. She said "well we know why." She then told me what the pathology revealed. My gallbladder was completely shot. Chronic gallbladder disease (from my obesity and weight loss) and....it was full of stones. Stones that NEVER appeared on the ultrasounds or ct scan. She said I would have probably kept having more and more frequent attacks and it would have had to come out sooner than later.

I am now 3 weeks post op and feeing like I used to before all of my symptoms started. My appetite is back. I have issues with certain things now, and I'm avoiding greasy and fatty foods outright. I will try them in time. I'm having spasms on my right side, but they will go away with time.

I learned a lot from this. I learned that all gallbladder issues aren't so cut and dry, and I also learned to be persistent with my doctors, to not be afraid to get a 2nd opinion, and I learned to trust my body.

Thank you for letting me tell my story.

1 like, 11 replies

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    What an amazing story, thank you so much for sharing.

    I had my gallbladder removed in April as I had also been in pain for a long time. I still watch what I eat but improving daily, some of the no-no foods from before I can now have in moderation however alcohol is not sitting well with me yet.:-)

    I to was obese and lost a lot of weight and have basically maintained it to since the op,due to the high fiber and low fat diet I was put on.

    I wish you all the best with your recovery as it does take up to 12 weeks post op :-)

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  • Posted

    Interesting story. A GP came to me in December and said she thought it was gallstones. So I went hospital and they did various tests, said I had a urine infection and sent me home with antibiotics. I thought that was the end of that. 2 days later, a letter in post asking me to make appointment for ultrasound which I did. Result of ultrasound GALLSTONES.

    After many very painful episodes with gallstones I eventually had gallbladder removed at end of April.

    Like you I am still being careful what I eat but generally feel a lot better.

    Sarah

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  • Posted

    Such a lot of your story is familiar to me, after fighting for years my gallbladder had finally come out. It's to early to tell (only had the op yesterday) but I no longer feel sick and the feeling of a twist on my right side has gone, fingers crossed I do as well as you. 
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    • Posted

      Fin,

      It was rough for a while for me. Knowing something is wrong, going to the doctors, tests coming back normal, but knowing there is something off.

      The rest of the day after I had the surgery and the first night were rough. But the next morning after the surgery, I felt like a new person. I ate and 2 hours later, I wasn't getting sick. I didn't have pain. I almost cried.

      Good luck in your recovery. Let me know how it progresses.

      Tom

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    • Posted

      I haven't been on here for ages and couldn't even remember my password. All is very good thanks. I have had very few problems, I get occasional cramps where my op was but nothing to bad and as long as I dont have any really fatty food I forget I ever had an op. Cream seems to be my nemesis, if I have any cream then I need to be near a toilet! I wrote to my surgeon and told him he was a complete a**hole which made me feel great. I still need to loose weight, I lost a lot at the beginning but it's slowed right down as things that used to cause me problems have crept back into my diet. I would recomemnd it to anyone, changed my life sooo much for the better. Hope you are still continuing to do well 
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  • Posted

    That is great news and I'm sure others will benefit from hearing your story. Especially as things weren't picked up by the usual methods. I am pleased you are doing well. I'm scheduled for surgery in 4 and half weeks and it can't come quick enough. 3+ years of suffering, cholecystitis, 9 days in hospital, 6 months to date on the waiting list and im sick of the less 3% fat diet. I'm ready to put it all behind me! It's a long and painful journey for most. Long may your recovery continue :-)
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    • Posted

      Lisa, it was a frustrating journey. But when I found the surgeon who removed it, she was amazing! She listened to everything that was going on. She was caring and listened to me as a person instead of a bunch of test results. She told me cases like mine were pretty common. She saw at least 2-3/week like mine where all the tests say the gallbladder is ok but it's still causing trouble. I was shocked when she said it was diseased and had stones, even though the ultrasounds showed none.

      If you are like me, you will fee like a brand new person once it's out and you are recovered.

      Good luck with your procedure.

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    • Posted

      That's incredible :-) I was lucky I guess. Ultrasound and blood tests picked mine up when I was admitted with cholecystitis. I put off going to doctors because I stupidly felt I'd be messed about. I didn't realise how bad gallstones can get. My consultant said it's one of the worst pains you can go through. Having had three natural child births, I can say it's not far off.
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    • Posted

      By the time I met the second surgeon, I felt like I had been beaten down and was going to spend years fighting this.

      When I had my attack that landed me in the hospital, the spasms and cramping was so bad, that it hurt worse than when I tore my Achilles Tendon. The ER doc pushed where my GB was and I almost jumped off the exam table.

      It was frustrating when my PCP, ER doc, and surgeons assistant all said gallbladder, and reading a lot of stuff online that all pointed to gallbladder and the first surgeon says "no. That's not it."

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