Ever wonder how it feels to have gallbladder removal surgery? Remember the night when macaroni and cheese almost killed me? Well, this past Wednesday, I went to the surgeon and had gallbladder removal surgery. I thought, hallelujah, I will finally be out of pain. But maybe I was just naïve and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
We arrived at the hospital at 9 a.m. and I was scheduled for surgery at 10:30 a.m. Yes, I told them I needed an early appointment because I get hangry. They happily obliged. In fact, once I arrived, they took me straight back and prepped me for surgery. I was pretty excited to not feel like I was dying.
Not going to lie, I was a little terrified about gallbladder removal surgery.
But a few weird things happened 1) my great aunt who is almost 90 called me the night before practically in tears to tell me she was praying for me. This is the same woman who is just patiently waiting for her own heart to give out. 2) My neighbor, who is in her 60’s and falling apart before our very eyes asked, “Aren’t you nervous?” (Well, I wasn’t until she asked me.) 3) The Silkwood baths that I was demanded to take the night before and the morning of my surgery. I felt uncertain. I got spooked about the gallbladder removal surgery that I was honestly, looking forward to having.
As soon as I got into my gown, my surgeon and anesthesiologist showed up. They were ready early. Everything got fast-tracked. Cool, I thought, maybe I could be home by lunch. No such luck.
We went back to surgery and, for the first time ever, I went unconscious from the IV pain meds before they even got the chance to tell me to count backward from 10. When I woke up in recovery, I was in lots of pain, completely groggy and somehow had lost 3 hours. I was supposed to be home, but instead, I was still on a gurney and feeling completely out of sorts and in extreme pain.
The worst and most unexpected was the trapped air pain. Oh me, oh my! I knew that during gallbladder removal surgery they were going to pump my stomach full of air to make navigating the laparoscope easier but I had no expectation of the pain that would accompany that trapped air. I fell unconscious when I came home, only to be awoken by a searing pain in my shoulder so fierce that it made childbirth feel like a splinter. I was screaming and crying in pain. I frantically begged the Big Guy to call the surgeon, only to find out that it was normal and expected.
I didn’t sign up for that shit.
No one told me about that, so I’m warning you!
Another fun surprise, I found out my gallbladder was not located where it is supposed to be. Your gallbladder is supposed to be tucked up under your liver, mine somehow had migrated to the middle of my chest. Was I born deformed? Had it moved during one of my pregnancies? Was it twisted? All I know is that even the surgeon was grossed out by it. Things didn’t go as planned or expected.
Is gallbladder surgery the only way to get rid of the issue? Typically, but it depends on your situation. If you are willing to completely overhaul your diet ( I did try this way but it wasn’t feasible for me longterm), sometimes you can mitigate the symptoms. However, for mire severe inflammation cases, removal is the best solution. Unfortunately, if the gallbladder problems are too severe, surgeons may need to drain some of the bile to reduce swelling before gallbladder removal surgery can even be performed. This could mean being saddled for days or weeks with a catheter and a bag that’ll need changing regularly. It’s imperative to ensure that if this happens, you have access to the right equipment, like Coloplast catheters, during the drainage period. Suffering from gallstones is definitely not easy and very painful. My gallbladder attacks were more unbearable than my unmedicated, Pitocin induced labor and delivery.
Today, we are 5 days post op and it’s been a doozy of a weekend. The surgeon put a transdermal scop patch behind my ear to stop the projectile vomiting. That was nice of him since coughing, projectile barfing, sneezing and hiccupping after having your gallbladder removed, it’s a little excruciating. Only, one problem, I had to take it off after 72 hours. That was a good thing too because the damn thing was making me blind. Seriously, on top of being sore like I had done 1 million sit-ups and higher than a kite on pain pills, I couldn’t even read Facebook. My vision was so blurry that I couldn’t read my phone.
I removed the patch and then my nausea came back with a vengeance. I’m not sure if it’s from the anesthesia, the pain pills or just the change in my digestion from the removal of the gallbladder. All I know is that Zofran was powerless against it so I did what any desperately nauseated person would do, I sent the Big Guy to Walgreens for some motion sickness bands.
Thankfully, I’m feeling a little less nauseated and a little more normal. I’m hoping this means that my health is on the upswing and soon, I won’t have to worry about things like nausea and the label on every single piece of food that I put in my mouth.
Gallbladder Removal Surgery Changed my life
There is one other unexpected side effect, as the tape has begun to come apart from the incision on my belly button, I realized that I did not leave the hospital with the same belly button as I went in with. To be honest, I used to have this adorable little belly button and now, it’s hideous. It may be the swelling but as it stands, I may have to take this ugly thing and go into witness protection; at the very least, I certainly need to take my belly button and go into hiding.
It’s swollen, much larger than it was and, at the risk of being too graphic, it looks like a piece of exposed meat in there. I think some glue has come loose. I’m freaking out. All joking aside, I’m calling my surgeon tomorrow and asking him to take a look because I really don’t think this is what my belly button is supposed to look like after gallbladder removal surgery.
Have you had gallbladder removal surgery? If so, how did it change your life and eating habits?