Monday, August 2, 2010

Life Without A Gallbladder

Life without a gallbladder seems to be going fairly well.

I had my surgery last Monday, and it was successful even if I had to wait hours for it because my surgeon was running late from a previous procedure. (The frustrating part there was they had moved up my arrival time from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m., and then I didn't get taken to the operating room until after 4:30 p.m., more than two hours after my original estimated start time. They wouldn't let me drink anything -- or even have ice chips -- so by the time they took me, I was dehydrated to the point that when I tried to talk, my lips would get stuck to my teeth and gums.)

I woke up in recovery around 7 p.m., and got to say goodnight to Ellie on the telephone from recovery because it was going to take too long to get me into a room and Scott needed to take her home and get her into bed. 

The best news is the surgeon was able to do the procedure laparoscopically, so I have only four small incisions, the biggest one a little longer than an inch. No stitches even! 

Because of my anti-Phospholipid antibody issue, I was treated just before surgery and exactly 24 hours later with a blood thinner to help prevent a blood clot. My surgeon had consulted several other specialists about me and they decided that while it wasn't necessarily going to be a problem if I didn't have the blood thinner, if I did have a blood clot, it could be more of a problem for me because of my tachycardia than a more typical patient. 

Interestingly (to me, at least :-), the injections had to be given into the belly. The only other shots I've had into my belly were insulin when I was on shockingly high doses of steroids during my 2007 hospitalization and had temporary blood sugar issues. Those insulin injections were great -- no pain whatsoever. I had the idea that all/any belly shots were painless. I guess they use a bigger needle or something with the blood thinner, or maybe it was the drug itself, because these belly shots hurt. And that surprised me, although there's no question that I'd choose an ouchy shot over a high risk of a blood clot.

I got home just in time for bedtime on Tuesday after going back-and-forth with my nurses and a resident about whether I should stay in the hospital for a second night. My pain levels shot through the roof just a couple hours before I was planning to go home, and we were all a little concerned that I'd get home and end up back in the emergency room for out-of-control pain. The resident sent me home with a prescription for 10 mg of morphine for break-through pain along with oxycodone for regular pain. 

Scott made the trip out to the pharmacy to fill it for me (what's up with hospitals that don't have pharmacies open past 5 p.m. for ER and discharged in-patients?!), but thankfully I ended up not needing anything but a slightly higher-than-normal dose of oxycodone.

A week post-op, I think I'm doing fairly well. I'm still using some pain meds for surgery-related pain, but I'm taking less oxycodone than I was the week before surgery. I'm fairly happy to have weaned down as much as I have. 

But I'm still sleeping a lot more than even my "usual." And I haven't been out of the house since I got home from the hospital. (My first appointment is Wednesday for acupuncture. I'm hoping I can get myself there.) I managed my first shower post-surgery on Saturday evening, but haven't managed another one yet. 

When I saw the surgeon on Tuesday morning, she said my gallbladder was swollen, scarred and full of stones. She also said that it was clear from looking at it that it had been causing me problems for years, and that it definitely needed to come out. That was nice to hear since I'd worried a little bit that it would turn out not to be a gallbladder problem after all. 

I go see the surgeon for my post-op check up on Tuesday. I'm expecting to be told everything is healing fine, but I'm looking forward to getting a copy of the pathology report on my gallbladder.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that the surgery went so good. Take it easy and get enough rest so you heal. I've had those shots in my stomach after surgery and they do hurt! I thought it was because they had to go through so much fat...I mean tissue. That nasty galbladder is out now...hopefully you will feel great now!

Aviva said...

Shame on you, Mo! Making me laugh like that hurts my belly! :-) I did point out to the nurse for each injection that hey, at least it wasn't hard for them to get the pinch of belly they needed for the injection. Had to be one benefit of having extra padding! What do they do for belly shots on really skinny people, anyway? I should have asked while I was still in the hospital!

Thanks so much for the comment, Mo!

Joan said...

High protein to heal, Aviva. Protein's role is Growth, maintainence, and REPAIR!

Hang in there.

Queen of Optimism said...

Hi Aviva,

I'm so glad the procedure went pretty smoothly. It sure sounds like your gallbladder really needed to come out so I am hoping that as time passes, you'll find some relief with some things. I didn't realize you had the antiphospholipid (sp?) antibody. That can be pretty serious and cause lots of problems, right?

Be easy on yourself as your body begs for the rest it needs to heal and bounce back from anesthesia. Did you make it to acupuncture??

Take good care of yourself!!

Many hugs,