Strange gallbladder problems. Anybody else?

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Apologies in advance if this ends up ridiculously long!

Basically, 12 months ago I started getting horrendous chest pain, which was initially put down to acid reflux. All the general PPI blockers don't help, and it has been getting steadily worse. GP, A&E doctors and GI surgeons haven't been able to figure it out. After working with a nurse who had similar problems, she put me on to the possibility of it being my gallbladder, so I went back to see a new surgeon who has agreed and I'm now on the waiting list for surgery to have it out.

i don't typically get the pain to the right side of my chest, it's generally central, but can spread out across my entire upper abdomen and through to my back and shoulders. And my upper abdomen will swell out and become too tender to touch, even having clothes on is excruciating.

When I get the attacks, they'll last for a good 4-6 hours, and as dramatic as it sounds, the pain is that excruciating, it makes me want to die. 

I have found that I can generally eat whatever I want, as long as it's before about 5pm. After that, I have to be really careful. I do smoke, but don't find that it has any bearing on the attacks. I also drink alcohol, but again, it doesn't seem to make a difference.

I've also lost about 2 stone in weight, which is kinda great, but I couldn't really afford to lose that much, as is evident by my lack of periods (sorry, TMI). The surgeon doesn't think the two are related, but since I've been terrified to eat, and also been having some interesting bowel habits recently, it's not been helping matters. I went through about a month period of basically not tolerating any food, it either made me vomit almost immediately or came out the other end at a rate of knots, which has led everyone to believe it's IBS. However, I don't think you get this level of pain with IBS.

I take 30/500 cocodamol nightly, mostly as a precaution these days, but ive also recently been given Tramadol since the attacks have been getting so severe that codeine doesn't touch it anymore. It's gotten to the point that it take 4 cocodamol and 4 Tramadol before the pain will even begin to ease.

I know this is ridiculously long, but does it sound even similar to those who've had gallbladder problems? I feel like my symptoms are so crazy that they don't fit into any particular bracket. 

Any help?

Thanks

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  • Posted

    Hi Sarah have you had an ultrasound scan or a hida scan? Are they removing your gallbladder based on your symptoms alone? Also I think you not having any periods has a lot to do with it. I had 1 large gallstone and had pain under my right rib that went through to my back. It was a burning stabbing pain. Some people do get pain in the shoulder too. I didn't have diarrhea before the operation but did afterwards. Have you had any scopes? I also had a large cyst oh my ovary which I wasn't told about before my op and was only told 2 months later when I started vomiting all the time and had horrendous nausea. Have you been scanned for cysts because cysts can also cause your period to stop and can cause nausea vomiting indigestion and ibs! Have you tried alternative treatment at all? I wouldn't rush into having your gallbladder removed unless it diseased or you have stones. X
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    • Posted

      Sorry, I should have included the tests in my intial post.

      i've had an ultrasound and an MRI with contrast that both confirmed gallstones. I also had an endoscopy which came back clear, and countless blood tests that have all been clear. I definitely have stones, so I'm not rushing into it, and at this point I can only go on so much longer without having some sort of solution! 

      I think that the loss of periods is from the weight loss, i've lost about 20lbs, and only being 120lbs to begin with, it's dropped me down to around 7stone. But I wasn't sure if the weight loss and problems with food was something that was normal with gallstones. So many people have so many different symptoms for the same thing it's crazy.

      I haven't checked into the cysts, it wasn't something I considered since everyone has been pushing down the route of IBS or acid reflux, so I'll definitely have a look into that, thanks.

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    • Posted

      If you've loads of stones then it's definitely your gallbladder. Some people do get vomiting and diarrhea with gallstones particularly if the stones get stuck. The main cause of gallbladder problems in women is high estrogen levels which also causes hormonal problems too like cysts fibroids irregular periods. While you waiting for your operation take apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon 3 times a day in warm water. Helps with the pain of the stones and can help dissolve them too. Also apple juice is good for gallstones if you can stomach it! Good luck. I hope you have your operation soon. X
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  • Posted

    Sarah,

    I would say that you are having issues with your gallbladder for real!  I used to get that  whole abdomen pain.  I'd advise going down the route of a fat free diet.  That is what the medical professionals advise but I found it impossible so as low a fat diet as you can possible go, no alcohol either, boo hiss I know, it's a bugger, and that should help.  I personally don't believe in IBS.  I was told I had that 20 years ago and it turned out it was gallbladder related all that time.  I personally find the diagnosis of IBS a cop out!  I wish you well. 

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    • Posted

      i've been trying to do fat free but it's hard! Haha, I've been trying to take it a little more seriously recently, since the attacks have been so bad, I'm double checking labels and trying to go for low fat as possible but it sucks! I'm not a real believer in IBS either, something somewhere clearly isn't working, so what is it?! 

      The thing I've found with alcohol is that I can go for a week without it, and still have attacks. I can go for a week drinking as I would regularly, and have either the same or less amount of attacks. Which is weird, because everybody tells me that alcohol should be a huge trigger, but I don't seem to find it to be for the most part. Thankfully! Though I am cutting down a lot on my consumption.

      Thanks, I'm glad you managed to find out what was the root of your problems!

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  • Posted

    Your description of the attacks of pain sound just like mine when I started getting gallbladder pain attacks. The first one made me think I was having a heart attack.  The pain builds to a crescendo and stays there for hours.  There is getting away from it and you really do think being dead would be preferable.  Keep away of fats as much as possible.  I was given strong painkillers go take until I decided to have it removed after regular attacks over about 18 months.  It does sound like you have gallstones and all that goes with it.  Whether you have IBS issues as well I can't comment on as I didn't/don't have that problem.  Good luck.
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    • Posted

      Thanks, I'm glad (in a weird sense!) that I'm not the only one! Mine start out really niggly and small, and then builds up. If I can catch it, I'll pop my painkillers asap, and sometimes it'll stop it in it's tracks, but recently there's been no stopping them. I've been taking codeine now for nearly 12 months, and have begun topping it off with Tramadol and Buscopan (which does jack!). Pretty soon I'm going to rattle!
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  • Posted

    Sarah,

    I had most of the same symptoms as you (except the period stuff for obvious reasons. Lol)

    Mine started as horrible chest pains and indigestion that woke me up in the middle of the night. My PCP scheduled me for a stress test and scope, and both came back normal.

    Then the nausea started and the dry heaving followed after eating. And the pain was the worst. It would range from a dull constant ache to sharp, stabbing pain that landed me in the hospital twice. I had 2 ultrasounds and both came back normal, bloodwork, ct scan, upper gi, and HIDA scan. The only thing that was out of balance were my HIDA scan Numbers. But the surgeon said everything was normal.

    After another month of symptoms, and a total weight loss of 40 lbs, I saw a new surgeon who immediately pegged it as my gallbladder. She said she sees a case a week like mine. They got in there and found it was diseased and 10 medium sized stones.

    I went nuts feeling like no one believed my symptoms until I met the second surgeon.

    It's comforting to know sometimes that we aren't crazy. Lol. Good luck with the surgery and let us know how it goes.

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    • Posted

      I know, sometimes I feel like it's a mind over matter thing! And then the pain kicks in, and you realise it most definitely isn't! My doctor tried to pull the whole "sometimes, as we get older, our body chemistry changes and we get pain that we just have to live with". I don't think so. Like you, mine mostly wake me up in the middle of the night. So no, it's not something I can live with!

      Thank you, I'll try to keep you guys posted. I'm hoping the surgery will come through in about a month.

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  • Posted

    Sounds exactly like what I had. Central upper pain that would spread all over. I was under the impression if it was gallbladder it would mostly be on the right and through to the back which only started recently. So I was convinced it wasn't my gallbladder. It got to the point I was scared to eat, taking painkillers several times a day.

    But as I couldn't take the pain anymore I opted for the surgery and I'm now a week post op and no pain!! I wish it had been explained that it's not just on the right as I've suffered for years!

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    • Posted

      I was the same! Everything says that it should be the right hand side, where as mine is mostly central, right on my breastbone where your bra sits. It was only that a nurse had the same problems for 25 years, and had hers out and no longer has any problems. 

      I'm so glad to hear that you're no longer having any pain! I hope you continue on with good health!

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  • Posted

    Hi Sarah.

    everyone seems to have their own experiences when going through gallbladder problems. Some of the symptoms overlap and you can identify with other people and what they write. But pain is a very perculiar phononema and we all experience it and cope with it in different ways.

    at the worst, I would go three or four days without eating solids for fear of further pain, nausea etc but then I would feel normal and eat again and it would come back.

    i would have terrible stomach bloating, followed by what is now called IBS symptoms. Since having my gall bladder out , I have no IBS and once I came to terms with the fact I wasn't dying of some terrible illness, I learned to cope and my mind stopped playing tricks.

    they can't take your gallbladder out when you are really ill with pain, it apparently is safer to remove it when it is more settled.

    anyway, hard as it seems, try to relax, when you are het up you are more likely to feel less pain.

    hope you get this sorted soon.

    m x

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    • Posted

      Thank you. That's been the biggest trouble, is that I feel like my symptoms are not related to gallbladder troubles at all, since everything can be so different. I've been the same, having such bad attacks that I don't eat or even move for days afterwards. But also I can eat a certain food one day and be fine, but the next day be in all kind of trouble!

      I was wondering whether the IBS symptoms were brought on because of my body just getting to the point that it could no longer take much more of a beating; it's so run down that it's fighting everything. And my eating patterns have been all over the place due to not eating for 3 days, then eating normally for a couple etc. I think it just likes consistency!

      That makes sense that they can't take it out during an attack, I've been to A&E 3 times with it, and each time they gave me stronger and stronger painkillers. I'm hoping the surgery comes through soon!

      Thank you very much

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  • Posted

    Hi sarah50457

    All the side effects with my gallbladder, was that I couldn't keep food down, one day it would be fine and the next I'd have my head in a bucket.

    My doctor advised me to give up smoking & drinking and start a very low fat diet, this helped a little, but the weight loss is mental!

    the only thing I can advice is drink plenty of water that helps push stuff through and chill out as much as you can

    i really do feel for you its crap but hopefully it won't be long

     

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    • Posted

      Yeah, the weight loss is crazy! I've been trying to cut back on everything, but it's hard to sometimes, especially when they don't seem connected. I've started to figure out which foods are major triggers for me, and I'm trying to keep as low fat a diet as I can. 

      Thanks for the advice, I've started to drink more water in the past couple of days, so I'll carry on with that.

      Thank you!

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