Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm More Than My Gallbladder

So, as you know, the cause of my mysterious stomach problems turned out to be my gallbladder. I had to get rid of it. I scheduled my surgery for the Wednesday before Halloween and got all my ducks in a row. Kids, food, house.....everything was covered. The surgery was scheduled for 2 in the afternoon--not the best time for surgery--because you can't eat or drink after midnight the night before--but it was the soonest available time spot. I figured I'd be too nervous to want to eat, anyway. Mr. Minivan and I headed to the hospital. I had packed a few things just on the off chance that they kept me overnight. Someone had just told me about a friend or relative who had gone in for the same surgery the previous week and had been nauseous from the anesthesia and had to stay overnight. So many people I spoke to had warned me that they had had the same reaction to anesthesia. One friend told me to ask for an anti-nausea drug in my IV. So I was also nervous about that. I always say that the things you worry about usually turn out to be fine--and it's usually something else that you never thought about that is the problem. And so it was. I had no problem at all with the anesthesia. The surgery went longer than usual, which made Mr. Minivan, in the waiting room, a little nervous.

It turned out that two rogue gallstones had escaped and were lodged in my common bile duct, which I think connects the gallbladder to the liver?? I don't really want to know. They had to be removed. The doctor both my internist and the surgeon wanted to perform the procedure wasn't available til Friday, so guess who had to stay in the hospital??? Yes, that's The procedure is called an ERCP--a scope is put down your throat and maneuvers its way down to the duct where a little basket retrieves the stones and pulls them up. What if it can't get them, I asked. I was reassured that they will get them. If the stones are too big, they are pulverized by a little roto-rooter type thing. Thankfully, I would be knocked out. With the Michael Jackson drug. But more about that later. So far the procedure reminded me of those arcade games where you try to retrieve a prize--that you really don't want --with one of those little claw-things. I always dropped the prize as I was pulling it up. I hoped that the doctor was more adept than I. I also was told that during the procedure I would have to have a stent put in--to keep the duct from narrowing as it healed--which would be taken out in a month. Lucky me!!!!

The gallbladder surgery itself turned out to be no big deal--I was a little sore afterward--my stomach sort of felt like I imagine it would after doing hundreds of sit-ups. I can't really say for sure, never having actually done hundreds of sit-ups. I took two extra-strength Tylenols that night and then nothing else. Being in the hospital sucks. I woke up every two hours to go to the bathroom--from all the IV fluids they were funnelling into me. That was at, like, 1 AM, 3 AM, 5 AM. Then at 2, 4, and 6, various nurses popped in to take my vitals, steal more blood, and change the IV bags.

My parents decided to come in from Chicago for moral support and because they were worried and wanted to help out. I admit, it was a drastic way to get them to come, but you do what you have to do......:) The day after the surgery I had a lot of visitors, several friends and one of my brothers, who also lives here. I also met the doctor who would perform the stone retrieval the next day. Turns out he is from a nearby suburb from mine in Chicago. Small world. He started to tell me about the procedure. I stopped him. "I don't really want to hear about it," I said. "Do you want to hear about the risks?" he asked. For sure, not. "No," I said, "because it doesn't matter--I have to have it done anyway. I have complete confidence in you." I then instructed him to go to bed early and to have no more than one cup of coffee in the morning. We don't need any shaky hands.

The procedure was scheduled for 3 PM. Here's the weird part.......they're going down my throat, remember? I was on my stomach. Yep, it made no sense to me either. I didn't want to tell them how to do their jobs, but really.....
So, I'm on my stomach, with my head turned to the side and my right arm propped up on a little bolster. They put a little plastic ring in my mouth that sort of looked like the ring you rip off a gallon of milk, only thicker. The IV drugs (the Michael Jackson drug, I was told) were already flowing. The next thing I knew, I was on my back on another table and I heard, "You're done!" Freaky. They could have done anything to me. NOTE TO SELF: Check for tattoos. The doctor told me they were the biggest stones he had ever seen. I told him I bet he says that to all the girls.

I went home the next day, Halloween, having already had my own personal trick and treat. I was really tired for a while but that passed. I got a ton of flowers, baked goods, and other thoughtful gifts from my wonderful friends and family along with so many messages of support. Thanks to everyone for caring. Mr. Minivan and Boys #1 and 2 were great! It was wonderful to have my parents here...I wonder how I can get them back......luckily humans come with a few spare parts. Maybe my appendix next.....JUST KIDDING. I feel much better. Next on my to-do list.....getting rid of the stent.


Anonymous said...

Wow!That was quite the experience! I hope you're all better now. I finally got the rest of the stitches out of my knee two days ago. I still can't kneel on it, but it will get better with time.

Having pre-cancerous eye thingies turned out to be a good thing. The surgery on my eyes had a little perk: no more crow's feet!

オテモヤン said...
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