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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.
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