Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I've Got Gall (For Now)

Cartoon from iheartguts.com, which I encourage you to take a look at. It's my kind of funny.

Saturday evening treated me to an internal surprise the likes of which I had never before experienced. One minute I was happily minding my own beeswax and the next I was hit with an indescribable pain I could not pinpoint. It started in my upper back, just between the shoulder blades, and quickly spread to my shoulders, chest, rib cage and stomach. I began to feel queasy and panicked and exhausted all at the same time. The pain was unbearable and nothing worked to help it subside.

Allen and I took a little drive to the Instacare where they had us sit and fill out some paperwork and then wait for 15 minutes (which seemed closer to ETERNITY) before calling us back. The doctor asked me to describe my pain, asked a few other questions and determined that I was in excellent health. The doctor asked what my pain was on a scale of 1 to 10, and although I wanted to scream TEN!!TEN!!TEN!! I couldn't help but think of Brian Regan's comedy bit about the pain scale so I settled on an 8. I was immediately sorry I did not give myself a higher number. I was not crying (at least not on the outside) and I worried that this may have been misleading so I calmly told the doctor something along these lines:

It hurts when I stand, it hurts when I sit, it hurts even more when I lay down - and I really, really want to lay down because I am exhausted beyond comprehension. Something is wrong, and I really want to do whatever is possible to make this excruciating, constant pain go away so I can go to sleep and stop feeling like I'm going to throw up. I have had NINE babies, two of them without pain medication, and this hurt I am now experiencing is the worst possible pain I have ever felt. I feel like my entire upper body is in labor pain times INFINITY. If it were possible for me to have an upper-body epidural right now, I would donate a kidney and chop off my left foot for that to happen.

I think he got the gist of what I was saying. He started to press along the bones and muscles in the various areas where I was feeling pain, searching for the central location of it, to no avail... until he pushed beneath the right side of my rib cage: BINGO. It was my gallbladder. Unless I wanted to take a trip to the ER (I did NOT) he said they could give me some medicine for the pain and the nausea and I could get an ultrasound on Sunday morning. I could not fathom there being any possible medication that would reduce the pain enough that I would make it until morning, but I was willing to give anything a try to avoid the dreaded ER.

The medicine was administered via shot (oh, how I hate needles!) along with a dose of stupid, apparently, because as the night progressed I got stupider and stupider. Initially, the pain slowly ceased - enough that I could function normally and foresee eventually falling asleep. Except that my arms and legs were restless, enough so that I could not resist flailing them around every so often. At one point I said something to one of the kids and Allen laughed and asked if I had cotton in my mouth. The stupid was taking effect, and between my blathering nonsense and my body doing the hokey-pokey spontaneously, I had some small understanding of my stupidness so I put myself to bed.

The next morning I went for my ultrasound, feeling pain-free but still extremely exhausted. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary was discovered, except that I had 8 gallstones. The doctor told me that 1/3 of all people would have gallstones if they went for an ultrasound so it was not absolutely necessary to have it removed; however, this was something I should consider in the future. He left the choice entirely up to me.

I chose to keep my gall. (You go, Gall!)

I plan to test myself out. See if it was a fluke or if it happens again. Because I'm not a big fan of removing stuff from my innards that doesn't necessarily have to be removed.

However, I can pretty much guarantee you this... if I have another Attack Of The Gallbladder episode that is anything like the one I had on Saturday, that sucker's history.


Infertility Goddess said...

it was the worse physical pain of my life. After six months of it I begged the surgeon to take it out the day of my appointment. I even went to the appointment fasting just in case he would do it.

(when I went into surgery Morgans biological mom was in labor. When I came out of surgery I kept asking how my baby was. The nurse and Dr kept telling me I didn't have a baby that I had my gallbladder out. They thought I was crazy because I kept insisting that I had a baby - until Kenny was allowed in the room and explained to them our situation)

rorymckm said...

i had only ONE gallstone in my gallbladder. however, that one stone had embedded itself into the wall of the gallbladder, causing constant inflammation. and that was i was 19. it took until i was 37 to figure out WHAT was causing the pain, and then i was forced to wait another year for surgery. 19 years of pain was SO not worth it. hope you don't have to have yours out, but if you decide to go that route, it was the easiest surgery i've had and i recovered SO quickly i was amazed. oh yeah, and i'm not missing the pain ONE BIT! LOL

Kinsey said...

I hope you start to feel better, otherwise get that gall out!!! Good luck with everything.

Anaise said...

A lifetime of problems will follow you if you have your gall bladder removed. Every person I know (well enough to talk about such things) who has had theirs removed has reported the same problems and looks back saying, "If I could do it again, I don't know . . ."

Do your research!!! If you do eventually decide to have it removed, at least be informed!

Stephenie said...

I didn't think anything could be worse then labor pains. Sorry you had to go through that and hopefully that never happens again.

Stephenie said...

Love the chinese comment. Didn't think they could do that.

Lori said...

Umm. If you wanted an epidural, dear, I'd say you were a ten. Or at the very least dilated to a 4.

And I say rip the sucker out. You don't need gall, right? What made it hurt and what made it stop hurting? is there anything to make those pesky gallstones go away and not hurt again?

Thanks for posting this...at least we know what that mysterious terrible pain might be if we ever experience it.

Linn said...

I'm so sorry, Gerb. I hope that was all the pain they will cause you for the rest of your life. Sounds horrible--times a million.

TrinaC said...

That really stinks. I hope the pain doesn't ever come back. I had a friend who started having attacks a couple years ago. As long as she didn't eat any fatty foods, she was okay, but if she did she inevitably had another attack.

Richard & Natalie said...

Wow, Ow, & I'm sorry. I hope it never comes back, but if it does I agree- send that gall packing!

Shannon said...

4 years ago, Thanksgiving afternoon - 18 people here for dinner...I was doubled over in pain and sobbing uncontrollably - it took 6 hours to subside. For the next 3 days, I was fine until Monday morning it began again - I called a neighbor to watch my kids and drove myself 40 miles (stopped 3 times to throw up on the side of the road) to the nearest hospital, only to find out they didn't have an urgent care facility. My husband came from work, drove me to an urgent care (moaning, groaning and crying the whole way) where we sat for 3 hours so they could tell us to go to the ER. My ultrasound revealed a huge pile of gall stones - they said the gall bladder would have to come out and admitted me that night. The next day I had an MRI to see if any stones had escaped into the common bile duct...they had - this was followed by an ERCP on Wednesday to blast those suckers. They finally removed my gall bladder on Thursday afternoon - the last thing I remember was hearing the nurse implore the Doctor not to ruin any of the tattoos on my belly.

I had all four of my kids naturally, the oldest boy weighing in at 10 lbs, 6 oz. - your are correct Gerb - gall bladder distress undoubtedly surpasses labor and delivery. I have not had an inkling of a problem since the removal of my gall bladder - no regrets whatsoever.

I hope you are feeling well now, but should that excruciating pain return...you can probably guess what I'd advise you to do.

Annette said...

Ouch! Yikes! I knew someone w/gall stones and fatty foods would put him in pain, (like TrinaC said). ?Who knows?

I'm impressed w/how "funny" you can be- even in pain. Your comments to describe how you felt, to the doc. had me in stitches. Hopefully, if it it comes to it, you only have to give up your gall bladder and you can keep the kidney and foot!

Also- love the Brian R. sketch!

Chelle! said...

YIKES!!! Please do not have an attack at camp...I will start crying and not know what to do.

Gerb said...

Jen- So, you're feeling my pain. Or at least you did. I'm glad you're pain-free now. Have you had any repercussions since surgery?

Rory- Ouch. That does NOT sound pleasant. I'm glad you were able to get it resolved finally. I can't believe they made you wait an extra year!

Kinsey- Thanks! I haven't had any problems since. So far, so good.

Anaise- I've heard lots of horror stories myself. I think the best bet for now is to leave things as they are. But I appreciate the advice.

Steph- Amen! My worst fear is that it will happen again up at YW camp. But I'm feeling pretty confident that it was a one-time deal. (for now, anyway...)

Lori- Those are all questions which I would love to have answers to. Unfortunately, I don't. But I did find a 2-day apple juice diet that is supposed to help get rid of the stones. I just might give it a shot once I look into it a bit more...

Linn- It was terrible. At least with labor pains you have a break in between. This was constant. I hope it never happens again.

Trina- I may be an idiot but I ate a whole bunch of fatty junk the day after the attack to see if it would trigger another one. I couldn't think of any better way to see if it was permanent or not... but nothing happened.

Natalie- I'm glad we hadn't planned on going to Red Rock this year or we would've been AWOL!

Shannon- Yikes! Yours sounds worse than mine. I am so sorry you had to endure such torture - and with company! And with a much-too-long wait in the ER! But I'm glad it all ended well. And that nurse deserves a bonus for looking out for you. ;)

Annette- It's good to see you around here again. I'm glad I made you smile.

Chelle- If that happened, I'd be crying with you. Actually, the truth is I would go climb into my sleeping bag and curl into the fetal position until it went away, hoping no one knew what was going on. BUT... it's not going to happen up at camp. Because camp is going to be AWESOME!

CoolRunnings said...

It's all those donuts. Watch out for the donuts. . . .

Teachinfourth said...

No idea that you were here dying…and when I saw you today you didn't even mention it.

Totally NOT the martyr….I wonder where AaB gets it from?

I'm glad you're feeling better

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