Stabbing pain after eating / gallbladder removed?

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Hello,

About 15 years ago, I had my gallbladder removed due to large cholesterol stones that blocked the gallbladder. I didn't have much trouble, actually, except occasional nausea, but I had a severe attack of vomiting with dehydration that landed me in the emergency room, and it was found that I had stones, so my gallbladder was removed with laparoscopic surgery. I had complications afterwards, with paralytic ileus that involved having to have my stomach pumped. It took a bit to recover.

After that, I had the predictable severe diarrhea after eating and didn't worry too much about that since all of the women in my family had their gallbladders removed, and they all had the same issue. But then the problem progressed, perhaps within a year or two? And now it's completely out of control, and I don't know who to turn to or what to make of my symptoms which I assumed were usual, but now, I wonder and I wonder if they are curable too? If anyone knows, please let me know. 

For around fifteen years, sometimes after I eat, I have excruciating, knife-like, exploding, makes-me-sweat, stabbing pain where my gallbladder used to be. It feels like labor pains in terms of intensity. It's completely incapacitating and is resolved by going to the bathroom, where I pass yellow, burning bile diarrhea (sorry to be disgusting; I'm a very private person normally). Sometimes the pain has caused me to faint with pain. I no longer eat near people and really, I avoid eating. Once one of these episodes have happened, I seem to be more prone to them and they repeat in cycles. They seem to be triggered by either not eating for too long or else eating certain types of fat. I've had thousands of these episodes since they occur every few days and, at most, might let up for a month. But then something else triggers them. I've learned to take strong digestive enzymes to prevent them, although I'm not sure if this truly works or not. When it begins, there's little stopping it for weeks on end. I don't think a painkiller would help in these episodes since they are sudden and extraordinarily bad. 

The other thing is that I have times where I vomit tons of yellow bile, which is the most horrible tasting thing in the world. Sometimes, this will keep me up all night, although it's more common to happen in the morning. 

During the rest of the time, I always have aching in the area as well as pain with applied pressure. No doctor has ever been concerned about it. I also cannot take cholesterol binding medication, which was recommended, because it interferes with another medication I take (thyroid replacement), which is necessary. HOWEVER, the diarrhea is so bad that I have also had trouble absorbing my medication and other nutrients, and I've had problems with various vitamin imbalances.

So, I found this forum. I've posted to other forums that aren't as vibrant as this one, and I realized recently that my situation was probably not usual. I'm a teacher, so I have a terrible time because I cannot eat lunch at school out of fear of this coming on and causing me to miss class. I literally just drink skim milk or eat broth-based soup for lunch (and even that can absolutely set it off at times). Every single day when working. I cannot afford to have an attack while teaching since I teach high school aged kids. 

What on earth could this be? Should I bother to talk with a doctor about it? Does anyone else relate to stabbing pains after eating after your gallbladder is out? Thanks for your help. 

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  • Posted

    Hi Clarissa

    Am so sorry to hear your suffering the last 25 years. It sounds like bile salts diarrhea and maybe bile reflux. You really need to see a gi consultant. If you can't take the bile binders you could try caltrate calcium 600 s tablets. They work in the same way as the bile binders in that the calcium carbonate soak up the bile. You start by taking half a pill 3 times a day with food and if no improvement after 5-7 days take 1 full pill 3 times a day with food. You could also try psyllium husk powder (Metamucil powder) as it also soaks up the bile. I had mine removed nearly 6 months ago and had vomiting diarrhea and nausea. I found the calcium and the psyllium husk great for stopping the diarrhea. They are definitely worth a try if you can't take the binders. Good luck xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Acejohnston,

      Thanks. That's one thing the doctor said, although not about the calcium (which I will try! Also, the Metamucil). Thus said, does it cause stabbing pains like this? Or did you have them? I'm far more concerned about the extraordinary pain than anything: that's what I haven't heard too many people have after gallbladder removal. Do you have this kind of pain? Thanks again! This forum is so fantastic. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Clarissa

      Glad to help. Have they checked you for stones recently? I have had that stabbing pain but thankfully only a few times and have had tests and all ok. Unfortunately a lot of people get pain where the gallbladder was particularly when they Eat fatty food. I think if you could get the diarrhea under control it might help the pain and will also help with the absorption issues. There are a lot of people taking the calcium after the gallbladder removal for the diarrhea. It's a pity we weren't told about all these side effects prior to the op. I would definitely not have had it done. Xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Acejohnston,

      No, they haven't. They checked my blood recently and said my ALT/AST and bilirubin were fine, so there was no need to image anything, so that was that. I'm in the U.S. so our medical system is hit or miss depending on your insurance. Is this the kind of pain other people get? I'm asking because I know dozens of people with their gallbladder removed, and they don't have this sort of pain sad It happens even when I eat anything at all sometimes, not only fatty food, although fatty foot will definitely induce it. Also, not eating and then eating crackers can induce it. I just had an attack from a non-fat bagel because it's bad right now. 

      I had to have the surgery because I had a large stone that blocked some duct and was admitted for surgery on an emergency basis. My blood pressure was dangerously low, and I was throwing up non-stop. Before that, I did not really have any symptoms though other than occasional nausea that I didn't think much about.

      My situtation is much worse, I think, than most people with their gallbladder out. I lived with my mother-in-law, and she had the diarrhea but when I asked her about painful stabbing feelings, she drew a blank. You really think this is normal though? My liver's okay at least.

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    • Posted

      Hi Clarissa yes I've heard of a lot of people getting that pain after the gallbladder was removed. It's a pity they didn't take you stone out of the duct. I know some people who've been lucky enough to keep their gallbladder after they had stones removed from the ducts. I just had 1 stone too causing pain but my gallbladder wasn't inflamed. Have been going through hell since it was removed and have since heard of so many that have suffered too. Have the people you know had side effects at all? X
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    • Posted

      Hi Acejohnston,

      The stone in my gall duct was removed! Definitely. That was the very reason I wound up in the ER being admitted and then having surgery. I also had a few other stones in my gallbladder, so the whole gallbladder was removed along with the stones. They said the stone in the duct was why I was vomiting and got so ill when before I had only been a little nauseous sometimes. I'm not sure if my gallbladder was inflamed. I just know it was an emergency surgery. The surgeons showed the stones to me afterwards. They looked disgusting.

      Have you tried taking a strong digestive enzyme? That helps keep my symptoms at bay pretty well, at least the extraordinary pain that I get which I still do not understand. However, I buy over the counter enzymes, a broad-spectrum one with acid-stable protease, lipase, alpha-amylase, amyloglucosidase, cellulase, hemicellulase, and lactase, plus pancreatin. I absolutely have to take it twenty minutes before eating though or it doesn't work at all. And sometimes, it still doesn't work. I really don't know why it works though, but I tried it out of desparation since I had a horrible attack while traveling (happens almost every time that I do travel, which is often, since I teach and have summers off). I assume because I change my diet.

      The other thing is when I have a really bad attack of bilious vomiting and pain -- not the runs; nothing will make those go away, and I'm used to them -- it makes me feel achy and weak and gives me a headache for a day or two afterwards, which I find strange.

      Other people I know commonly have the runs from eating the wrong thing. That's nearly universal from what I can tell in the women I've talked with who have had their gallbladder removed. My situation is much different and much worse. The pain is so bad that I go into a cold sweat, cannot breath, and can pass out. The pain is not constant but like a labor pain, rising in intensity and then holding and then eventually subsiding, but quickly followed by another pain, and it can be from anywhere from a few minutes to perhaps a half hour or more. It is like a knife being twisted suddenly in my right side, under my ribcage, near my laparascopy scar and my intestines also cramp (I'm very thin). It usually resolves with the runs, which are pure bile and which burns like crazy, and sometimes vomiting bile as well. I do not know anyone else whatsoever with these symptoms, or I would not be posting to this forum seeking answers.

      My health insurance is not very good, unfortunately, nor are my wages, so I have to be as selective as possible before going to any specialist. 

       

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    • Posted

      I should mention that the digestive enzymes do not seem to help the runs. Only the pain.
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    • Posted

      Hi Clarissa is there ox bile in your digestive enzymes? They recommend people without their gallbladder should take digestive enzymes with ox bile which helps break down the fat. Have you any heartburn or upper abdomen pain? I've had a lot of heartburn recently but my doctor Keeps telling me it will all settle down. Were you ok for a few years after the operation except for the diarrhea which by the way they say is very uncommon and only happens to a small percentage of people after the operation! I truly doubt this is the case. The pysllium husk I take has digestive enzymes in it already and probiotics. Are you taking probiotics too? Might help the diarrhea. I think you if can take something to soak up the bile your symptoms will improve. X
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    • Posted

      Hi Acejohnston,

      I don't believe there is ox bile in my enzymes because it says they are vegetarian. The fat does not entirely seem to be the issue though. As mentioned before, sometimes low-fat foods can trip this stabbing, knife-like pain off too. For example, today I ate a non-fat bagel and wound up having a horrible episode of incapacitating pain. 

      I was okay after the operation for a while except the diarrhea, yes. I didn't have a regular doctor at that time and all of it was through emergency room. My mother-in-law assured me that it was normal since she had her gallbladder out. This was before the internet was a big thing so there was limited information, and I believed her. She said she had problems with eating since hers was out. So I never mentioned it to the doctors in the hospital. Besides, they released me a few hours past the surgery. The paralytic ileus came a few days later when my stomach blew up like a balloon, and I could not breath, and I went back to ER where they pumped my stomach and then again, released me. At that point, I had no doctor to speak of. It's hard to remember when the pain started, but I know it was not too long after that because it was just before I moved, which couldn't have been more than a year later. At first, the attacks were very occasional and definitely triggered by fatty foods. I gave up eating anything fried immediately. It seems like it worsened somewhat slowly and insidiously to the present day, at which point I have this nearly every time that I eat so that I avoid eating. 

      I have trouble believing that the diarrhea alone is rare. Every woman I know who has had her gallbladder out has some trouble with this, but no one has heard of the pain since I've started to ask around. It's not an ache or anything. It's exploding pain like something has ruptured, and it is accompanied by a second kind of pain like a cramp. 

      I take probiotics pretty regularly, actually, although I never tried psyllium. 

      Any idea what is causing this level of pain? I just want the pain to stop. Period. I've read a bunch of the posts on this forum, and I don't really see a post from anyone that I've noticed mentioning this symptom, and it's awful, and I'm honestly kind of confused at this point as well as frustrated. I don't even know which kind of doctor to try to see since I had the surgery in emergency. A gastroenterologist?

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    • Posted

      Hi Clarissa yes I think you need to see a gastroenterologist asap. I think all your symptoms are linked. It sounds to Me like you are producing way to much bile and that's why you are so sick. When I was in hospital in March I spoke to a number of people who had their gallbladders removed and a number of them were still getting pain like you were the gallbladder was. They had tests and nothing was found and were told it was a side effect of the operation. I saw the top gatroenterologist here in Ireland and he told me the diarrhea was very rare after the operation. But I don't believe that. He also told me side effects were rare but after speaking to so many people I now realise this is not the case. Unfortunately removing the gallbladder is a quick fix for doctors and not really the best solution as many people suffer with long term problems as a result of the removal. But the doctors won't admit that. The main cause of gallbladder problems in woman is a hormone imbalance due to high oestrogen levels. It's alarming the number of woman who've had their gallbladder removed who then have hysterectomies. Unfortunately it's all linked and what really needs to happen is a solution needs to be found for addressing the hormone imbalance and also removing the stones without removing the gallbladder. If they could remove the stones from nelson mandalas gallbladder without removing his gallbladder why can't they do it for everyone else!! I hope you give the caltrate and Metamucil a try and you get some relief really soon. Xx
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    • Posted

      Interesting! I have been pregnant nine times (miscarried a lot), and also, I have chronic ovarian cysts but not POC. You don't say that my estrogen is high! It's very high. Also, I had high cholesterol, mysteriously, for years. 

      I will make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I think they should have removed my gallbladder in ER, but also, they could have removed the one duct stone perhaps without removing the whole gallbladder, no? I thought this was weird. They said another stone would move down there, so they took it all out. The hormone imbalance seems like a great idea to deal with. I'm perimenopausal, so I wonder if that's worsening things. 

      I will be picking up caltrate and metumucil tomorrow, thanks! And thanks for your thoughts throughout. I appreciate your understanding of this issue and your taking your personal time to respond in such depth. The kindeness of strangers always stays with me. 

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    • Posted

      That's very interesting Clarissa because I too have a large ovarian cyst 7.5cm and a fibroid both of which showed up on my ultrasound when the stone was found but I wasn't told about it until after the operation. The cyst was still there in March but they won't remove it as I've had previous surgery and am deemed too high risk. It's a simple cyst so hopefully will go itself. They also Have found a link between a low level of fgF 119 hormone and bile salt diarrhea. I believe there will be medication available some time next year to treat it. Have you tried a naturopath? Might be worth a try. Xx
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  • Posted

    You could try Omeprazole. This may help with the pain you get if you have not eatenf or a bit. I had my gallbladder removed 5 weeks ago and am still finding out what I can and cannot eat. People are so different. Some I have talked to say they can go back to eating whatever they like once they have had their gallbladder removed, others have to stay on a lo fat diet for the rest of their lives. It is just trial and error really.

    Sorry if this is not terribly helpful.

    Sarah

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    • Posted

      Hi Sarah, I'm glad to hear you are recovering from your surgery. Most of the people I know seem to recover pretty easily. Everyone I know keeps to a low-fat diet (self included 90% of the time -- and sometimes, no-fat). That's okay with me since I have actually always been a health food nut! It's been 15 years since I've eaten anything deep-fried, but that's okay. That seems like it would literally kill me to eat. The problem is that I have this terrible pain from eating almost anything rolleyes I should have been more clear about that in my post. However, yes, I can bring an attack on right away if I eat any fat. Still, I can have knifelike pain in my gut if I just eat, say, a deli turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, no cheese and no mayonnaise -- one of the worst times ever was from that. Once it's on a roll, it's going to be triggered by anything. It's extremely painful though, and that's what I've never seen others discuss: pains like labor cramps that double you over and make you vomit and faint. Anyone would too. Not just me! Anyone would. You can even feel the cramping by putting your hand on my abdomen when it happens, it's so strong. Any ideas what's happening?
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    • Posted

      Try gluten free..that might be what is causing it as well. I have the same pain and have switch to almost 100percent gluten free and I feel allot better..I try to stay away from bread, that seems to trigger mine..I hope you find away to feel better! I feel your pain!
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