Doper Doctors...Help! (possible TMI)

Let me preface this by saying that Dad is currently in the hospital under a physician’s care, so I’m not seeking medical advice. I just want some answers.

On Monday, Dad went in for laproscopic surgery to get his gallbladder removed. As of tonight, he’s still in the hospital. He’s not doing well after his surgery. He has a slight fever and has been unable to keep even clear liquids down for the past three days. It was only tonight that he was able to keep anything down. He’s finally having bowel movements, but he has no control of them. He’s pretty much passing bile. On top of it all, his voice is getting scratchy and he may be catching a cold.

My question is, how normal is this? Dad is having serious problems recovering after what we were told was a pretty normal procedure. I’m scared for him. He was supposed to come home the day after the surgery, but it looks now like he’ll be in the hospital until at least Saturday.

I just want my Dad back.

IANAD, and this probably isn’t going to help much, but as far as I am aware there is really no such thing as a minor surgical procedure. If it involves any kind of cutting or snipping of the skin, there is a chance that something will go wrong and recovery may not be easy as expected, and all patients are different to some extent. Gallbladder surgery is much less risky than open-heart surgery or similar, but still, cutting out an internal organ isn’t trivial.
My father also had a much much tougher time than we were expecting after he was operated on - looking back I think the seriousness of the operation (he had an aortic aneurysm) and the possible risks were downplayed to us because they wanted to avoid causing anxiety beforehand, which I can understand, but it was still a nasty shock.

So I suppose it’s not ‘normal’ in the sense of being the expected post-operative outcome, but it’s certainly not unusual for some people to find post-op harder than others who have had the same procedure, and they may or may not recover as fully as was expected.
I would suggest you get one of the physicians to talk you through what has been done, what they think is currently happening, what they expect to happen, and what may happen. I think it’s within your rights to do so, I doubt the physician will mind, and you should then have all the info you need. Even if they are ethically allowed to comment, the doctors on this board won’t be able to give much insight into your fathers condition without access to his medical history and case notes, which the hospital physician will have at their fingertips.

I had my gallbladder removed when I was around 36 years of age. There were multiple complications, each relatively minor, but I was in the hospital for a week. After going home, I was pretty much in bed for another 5 days. A woman I knew at the time had the same surgery done and went home the day after surgery, spent one day at home, then returned to work.

I googled gallbladder surgery complications and found this:

Hope he’s feeling better soon!

Your Dad will probably be okay. But if you seek answers, you should be talking to the surgeon.

It is not that unusual after a gallbladder operation to have to wait a few days to eat solid food or poop. Fever after an operation can be due to abdominal infection (which generally respond to antibiotics), urinary tract infection, atelectasis (a small collapse of the lung that can be treated by taking deep breaths), pneumonia, phelbitis or DVT.

It sounds like he is already improving. I hope you have your Dad back soon.

I believe it is unwise to ingest fecal matter postoperatively!


Post op fevers are pretty common, and can be caused by a number of things. Sometimes it is a sign of infection, sometimes it isn’t, but he needs to be in hospital until the source of the fever is found and treated. I’ll reassure you that most are easily treated and this is one of those things that surgeons deal with every day. As for the GI complaints, it is pretty common for the bowel to be messed up after surgery, as a complication of general anesthesia and manipulation. Again, fairly typical and something surgeons deal with every day.

It can take several days to bounce back from even laparoscopic procedures. I don’t want to sound falsely reassuring as any surgery, protracted recovery course, and hospital stay for whatever reason is cause for concern, but again these things are not uncommon.

You’ve obviously never tried the food at our hospital.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with Dad’s surgeon, as Mom has done most of the talking with him. She said the doctor told her that 20% of patients develop complications after surgery, but even he was shaking his head at Dad’d difficulty recovering. They ran several blood tests and took him to Nuclear Medicine for more tests, but could find nothing wrong with him.

Dad came home today, but he’s still vomiting and experiencing loose bowel movements. If he throws up again, he’s going back to the hospital.

Thanks for the good thoughts and informative answers, everyone.