Open Cholecystectomy Recovery

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Would love to hear recovery stories and tips on recovery from open cholecystectomy. I have had 2 laparoscopic cholecystectomy and then the open one. Recovery was easy for laparoscopic cholecystectomy. I know it will take longer to heal now. Any suggestions on how to sleep? Thinking about getting a wedge pillow. Also having burning sensation where I was cut.

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  • Posted

    Hi. I had unexpected open surgery about 18 months ago. My single gallstone turned out to be huge (5cm) and my gallbladder was severely infected (empyema), despite no outward symptoms of this. I was very unwell immediately afterwards; a combination of morphine having no effect on the pain, developing some internal bleeding and my liver taking a beating during surgery (my liver function tests were through the roof and I had weekly bloodtests to monitor them during recovery). I was in hospital for five days.

    Recovery wise, I was off work for six weeks then a phased return (either mornings or afternoons only) for another few weeks. I had to take it very, very easy for the first month; very short walks, no carrying anything remotely heavy or driving. I basically slept and watched box sets! I used a V-shaped pillow on top of a few normal pillows and slept on my back, propped up for about a month. I couldn't even bare the weight of a duvet on my surgery site at this point. It was some time before I was comfortable lying on  my side.

    Recovery was slow but steady and I was back doing very physical tasks (on a boat) after just over three months. Now I only feel the scar when I sneeze! Also, the scar (I had 19 staples, about eight inches long) has faded and is barely noticeable. There is still a little numbness around the scars (I also have laparoscopic scars from the initial keyhole attempt) and this will never go away I've been told.

    My advice is to take it very slowly and do not push yourself physically. Take naps when you can (my surgeon ordered me to do this!). I found once I was awake in the morning, that I was never getting back to sleep whatever time it was. I really struggled to eat as my appetite was zero. Make sure you eat properly and take multivitamins if not.

    Please ask away if you have any questions. I would have really appreciated advice from someone in a similar  situation as I'm sure you've found,pretty much everyone has had laparoscopic surgery!

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your detailed response it has helped a lot. While recovering did you feel any other pain besides where you were cut? I have been doing ok. Of course its very sore where I was cut. Maybe a hour ago i started feeling pain in my middle of my stomach below my incision that seems to radiate to my back. I took some pain medicine which has not helped. I am going to wait it out for a little while before contacting my doctor. I was in the hospital for over a week. So to say that I'm tired of seeing doctors is a understatement.

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  • Posted

    I think I had some lower abdominal pain, but put that down to the first keyhole incision above my belly button. I had some intercostal nerve pain in my back as well. That wasn't touched by painkillers and seemed to last weeks! Probably due to nerve damage during surgery. There was a lot of inflammation around my gallbladder and also I was basically sluiced out with saline to get rid of pus that had leaked from the gallbladder as they were trying to remove it. Nice eh! I was told to try and keep on top of the pain by taking painkillers regularly rather than waiting until needed. Unfortunately I've yet to find a effective painkiller. I was given IV ketamine after surgery as I had been given enough morphine to put me into respiratory arrest according to the anaesthetist , this landed me in the High Dependency Unit with the added unexpected 'bonus' of a catheter. You may also still have pain from the carbon dioxide used during surgery? I was extremely bloated for days afterwards! 

    Have you been told about breathing exercises? It's important to properly inflate your lungs on a regular basis to avoid pneumonia as the tendency is to take shallow breaths as it bloody painful to take deep breaths. Also to gently massage the scar lengthways to line up collagen as you're healing. This helps prevent scar tissue. Honestly, you can hardly see mine now.

    Fire away any more questions. More than happy to help.

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  • Posted

    Hi the best item that was bought for me was the pillow shaped Luke a triangle not sure the correct name. I was able to sleep 😴 with this. I had just the endoscopic cholostomny, but it was an operation with complications so it’s taking me longer to recover and this pillow has been brilliant for relaxation and to support me and kept me up right in bed. Good luck with your surgery your very brave. I came really close to having full surgery wishing you a speedy recovery and best wishes Joanne 

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