The Gallbladder Experience

What’s a gallbladder you ask? Well, it is a tiny yet important part of your digestive system. However, I never knew how important until I started having severe stomach pain.

Apparently I have lived with a bum gallbladder for quite some time. Like my ENTIRE life. Seriously not a cool conversation to have with anyone–family, friend, or stranger. But the good news is I finally know the answers to the what and why questions about my digestive health that have plagued me off and on for many years.

As it turns out, I am the exact kind of person to have gallstones and, subsequently, gallbladder issues, according to those in the medical field. Female, fair, fertile (um…hello? 3 kids!), forty (not there yet, but close enough), and….wait for it…..fat. Yes that last one stung quite a bit when I heard it. Although I am perfectly healthy by all the numbers I think are important–cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure–my surgeon said it’s that other number (my weight) that is too high. Nothing like discussing one’s rolls of fat and skin with a surgeon all the while sitting half-naked under a medical gown on an exam table. Bad visual, I know. Sorry.

For each person who experiences gallstones, and other side conditions for that matter, the “adventure” is never the same. Yes, symptoms and effects are similar but never identical. In my case, I have had several bouts of gastrointestinal issues that have sent me to the ER several times since my 20’s. Most recently one virus that nearly had me hospitalized and two rounds of severe stomach pain, cramping, and other unpleasant GI symptoms that don’t bear repeating. All of this occurred within the last year and a half, which left me with plenty of questions beyond the ones I had going into each ER visit.

The diagnosis was finally made by a wonderful and knowledgeable ER doctor at the end of February and surgery took place a few weeks later to remove my gallbladder and the umpteen gallstones it contained. Now I am healing and training my digestive system to tolerate food again. And for those of you wondering what and if I have eaten anything for the past several months, it has been a menu of rice, chicken, pears, good quality bagels, and TONS of water. Consumption was never more than a 1/2 cup of rice, 4 or so bites of roasted or grilled chicken breast (lightly seasoned with salt & pepper), half a plain bagel, or half a pear. And not all in one sitting either. My stomach ached so badly that drinking water was all I could do at times to simply stay hydrated. Not a great diet but the only one I could tolerate for several months. I am slowly adding food and beverages other than the bland ones listed above back into my diet. Slow and steady is the key to the recovery process. Many family and friends asked if this diet was healthy. My canned response became, “This the best diet no one wants to be on. I have lost 30 pounds, with most of it lost from February to April. I am no health expert but was told throughout this ordeal by my doctors and nurses that we can go without food for a while, but not without water; so stay hydrated.”

After this long and very unexpected absence from the blog, I am back in the swing of things. Ready to tackle allĀ  the good, real, funny that has been filling my idea book, the voice recorder on my phone, and the mental notepad in my head. At least this experience has produced some interesting conversations in real life and manifested itself as potential material for the blog. More to come, I assure you. In the meantime, how have you spent the past four months?

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