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My Life Before & After Gallbladder Disease

MY FIRST GALLBLADDER DISEASE ATTACK

This is my life before and after gallbladder disease and removal. It was February 23rd at 5 am and the Gallbladder Disease pain I remember significantly to this day, but still, find it hard to describe. My stomach had doubled in size, my sense of balance was gone, I could barely stand up and all I wanted to do was make myself vomit. I struggled for 30 minutes, making my way up the hallway to my parent’s bedroom, trying not to collapse, pass out or cause myself any more panic by thinking the worst. I keeled over on the empty side of the bed, begging for my mother to call an ambulance while praying the pain would stop. Little did I know, this was the hell I would have to live with for the next seven months.

First Gallbladder Attack \ In ambulance

TYPE OF DIET TO HELP GALLBLADDER DISEASE

There is no specific diet to help manage gallbladder disease. However, eating a low-fat diet is likely to minimise the symptoms your gallbladder has as the gallbladder will not have to work to release bile. If you find any particular food that triggers your Gallbladder disease be sure to avoid eating such foods. Sadly this management method did not work for me. It seemed everything triggers my gallbladder attacks.

MY GALLBLADDER DISEASE DIET

At the time of these attacks, I am on an anti-inflammatory diet known as the 30 DAY PCOS DIET CHALLENGE created by Kym Campbell. It required me to be on a percentage of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats all to maintain low insulin levels.

REMOVAL OF FATS AND HOW THEY HELPED PREVENT MY GALLBLADDER DISEASE

As much as healthy fats such as; coconut, avocado, nuts, eggs, fish and seeds are good for your heart, cholesterol and overall health; sadly when it comes to the gallbladder, it has to function the same way as it would with saturated fats to help your body digest them.

This transition wasn’t hard for me as I had already removed saturated fats from my diet three months prior to the first attack due to wanting to treat a medical condition known as PCOS.

The struggle for me was that over those 3 months, my body had been learning to convert these fats into a source of energy. So you can imagine how much of a struggle it was for my body to function every day. The biggest kick in the gut was even though I made these changes to remove the fat from my diet, after 2 months the gallstone attacks continue to become more regular.

MEDICATION MANAGEMENT FOR GALLBLADDER DISEASE

I was required to live on a combination of medications including nausea preventers, pain killers, anticholinergic and anti-inflammatory just to be able to function.

GALLBLADDER SURGERY

As much as I wanted to keep my gallbladder, removal was the only option. At this point, my gallbladder had taken control of my life with; regular attacks, constant diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. I wasn’t even able to keep myself on a sustainable diet and had to resort to using a juicer to process my food and only eating fruit and vegetables. I started to forget what it was like to live without pain and the thought of it all was sucking the life out of me.

GALLBLADDER DISEASE REMOVAL |POST OPERATION AND RECOVERY

HOSPITAL ADMISSION (GALLBLADDER DISEASE SURGERY)

I arrived at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital on Wednesday the 8th of July at 12.45 pm. I was instructed the previous day that I would not be able to have anyone accompany me during admission due to the tight restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.. Still, I was able to nominate one person to visit for an hour post-op. Knowing this didn’t help with my anxiety. It was already on edge knowing that I would have to face one of my biggest phobias (needles) to get the surgery done. Knowing that my support system was being forced to leave the building made the whole process even harder for me.

Wagga Wagga Base Hospital

Wagga Wagga Base Hospital Ground Floor

Once inside, I was called through to a private room and asked a series of questions and instructed to head to level one of the hospital. I expected my time here would be an extended wait. Surprisingly after 15 minutes, I was called into another private room to answer questions about my condition. This process was interrupted by the surgeon, as the patient who was scheduled for surgery before me was delayed as they had not fasted before the operation. This meant everything for me was happening in fast forward.

THEATER

As I was being pushed into the theatre room, I met the rest of my team. The anesthetist noticed I had Trypanophobia written on the form and asked me if I would like to have some laughing gas. I said I would take and do whatever makes this part of the process easier. They helped me out of bed and onto the surgical table and covered my face with a mask. I had never had laughing gas before, and the words I would use to describe the feeling is a state of euphoria. The Anesthetist proceeded and informed me of everything he was doing, with clear instruction and even gave me a small amount of anesthetic to numb the area. While he had to jab me twice, I didn’t feel a thing. We were even able to laugh about it. The whole team made me feel 100 per cent safe.

Gown prep for Gallbladder Removal
Wagga Wagga Surgical Room
Canular for Gallbladder Removal

RECOVERY FROM GALLBLADDER DISEASE SURGERY

I remember waking up in recovery to intense pain in my right shoulder. The nurse explained to me that it was common for your phrenic nerve to be irritated by the pressure of the gas used to inflate the stomach during surgery. All I remember was she gave me six doses of medication (Unsure the name of the medication) that sadly didn’t work. Then followed up with a small dose of Ketamine which made me lose all feeling in my body. I remember talking but not feeling my lips move. I ended up having to wave my hands in front of my face to make sure I was still connected to my body. It felt like an out of body experience. While the nerve pain went away, I was left with the pain of the draining tube, which I was given further medication for.

Drainage tube after Gallbladder Removal
Myself on oxygen after gallbladder removal

GALLBLADDER WARD CARE

I was transferred into a shared ward 4 hours after surgery into a room that I shared with a lovely older lady. The pain still hadn’t fully subsided, and I remember at this point wanting to cry but couldn’t bring myself to do so until my mum walked into the room and I lost it.

I was on small doses of morphine for the pain throughout the night while having hourly checks as my temperature kept rising above 38 C. There was no way I was sleeping that night. By morning everything had returned to normal, and they were able to redress my wounds, remove the drainage tube and discharged me before lunch.

HOME

Surprisingly I have no bruising even though I have four holes in my stomach. The most painful incision for me is the one by my belly button, along with tenderness every time my stomach moves.

My wounds after Gallbladder Disease
Dressings after Gallbladder Disease

Dressings after Gallbladder Disease
Dressings after Gallbladder Disease

Friday was a challenging one for me as I had to task myself with getting out of bed, having a shower, getting dressed all while in excruciating pain. I had to increase my dosage (with instruction from the doctor) to make it to Sunday.

It is now Thursday as of writing this, and it has been a good day. I have taken the time to sit at the computer in small increments to write this blog along as making myself some Spaghetti Bolognese. I can’t tell you how great food tastes right now.

My plan is to update you all in the coming months of what changes I am noticing in my body post-surgery. In the end, all this has been a hard experience. I am just happy that I can finally be myself again and that the operation was what I call a success.