I've got a lot of gall. A lot of hard, lumpy gall.

Or at least, I did until Monday afternoon, when I had my gall bladder removed.

This’d be a good time to put a TMI warning up.

Last Saturday, driving home from a party in Sonoma, I developed a bad back ache. By the time I got home, it had turned into a piercing stomach ache. With vomitting. First bad shock of the weekend: when I went knees down in front of the toilet, I puked bright red with dark red chunks. Right then, I was pretty sure I was going to die. I had my cell phone in my hand and was about to dial 911 when I remembered that the last thing I’d eaten was a big slice of blackberry pie. That was a load off my mind. And, a few minutes later, another load off my stomach. After a couple of hours of this, I drove myself to the emergency room where I found out I was suffering from pancretitis caused by a dislodged gall stone.

As a side note to anyone working in the nursing profession: if you have an incompetent co-worker, and can’t get your administration to do anything about her, you are certainly entitled to a prolonged bitch session. However, it might not be the best idea to do it within ear shot of every single patient on the ER floor. It doesn’t really inspire a huge amount of confidence in the hospital as an institution.

Anyway, I’m eventually moved up to a regular room, put on an IV, given a shot of morphine, and left to starve for two days. Which is fair: while the stone was blocking my gall bladder, anything I ate would be immediately regurgitated. And since they wanted to operate as soon as possible to get my gall bladder out, even after I’d passed the stone, I still couldn’t eat, because I was going to get general anesthetic for major internal surgery. But Jesus H. Christ, there’s nothing like not eating for three days to make you realize just how much food is advertised on television. Even Taco Bell was looking good to me by the time they rolled me into the ER.

The surgery was done laproscopically, which means they cut four dime-sized incisions in your belly, one right in the navel, and pump in a bunch of air to inflate the abdomen. Then they stick a camera and a bunch of surgical tools in through the various holes, snip out the gall bladder, and then pull it back out through one of the convenient openings. The upshot is that within a day of being partially eviscerated, I was able to walk out of the hospital under my own power. Which was stupid: I should have asked for a wheelchair, but I was desperate to get away from the hell that is daytime cable television, and didn’t want to wait for them to scare up someone to push me out.

Oddly enough, as wierd and uncomfortable as all that sounds, when the doctor described it to me, it didn’t really bother me. What did freak me out was the anesthesiologist describing how they were going to ventillate me. She was particularly pleased by how far back I could tilt my head. I’m not sure why the vent wierded me out so bad. It’s not like it’s the first time someone has wanted to shove something long and tubular down my throat. Although this is, to my knowledge, the first time it’s happened while I’ve been unconscious. Also, no one mentioned the catheter. Which is probably for the best: like the vent, it was put in and taken back out while I was under anesthetic, but unlike the vent, the catheter still fucking hurt when I woke up. Like when you’re taking a monster piss, and you have to pinch it off in midstream. Last thing I remember before the surgery was them taking the oxygen mask off so they could put the gas mask in its place. The next memory I have is waking up on the gurney, surrounded by five or six people talking (some at me, some at each other) with this ferocious pain in my dick. Someone’s trying to tell me how the surgery went, and all I can think is, “Oh my God, I’m about to piss myself in front of all of these people!” That was definitly the scariest part of the whole ordeal. I mean, not just because of that, but because it was so disorientating. I thought it would be like waking up in bed, but it’s more like someone took the film of my memory to the editing table and just sliced out a couple of hours. That really scared the shit out of me until I got my bearings again. After I got over that, I was able to focus on trying to figure out which of these masked people had been pounding on my stomach with a baseball bat while I was under.

For the next two days, I felt like a side of beef from a Rocky training montage, but I think I’ve turned a corner this morning. I’m still pretty tender, and stuck at my parent’s house instead of my apartment, which is only a marginal step up from the hospital. A lot more ammenities, but it’s also filled with bricklayers building my parent’s new patio. At least the hospital was quiet, although enough Vicodem makes it pretty easy to put up with just about anything, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

I wanted to give a shout out to Drs. Banks and Mockus, who did an excellent job on gutting me, and to Nurse Helen, who’s got a great bedside manner, a dab hand at an IV, and doesn’t skimp on the morphine. Kaiser Permanente often gets a bad rap, but the care I got was top rate at every step, and the doctors and nurses were attentive, helpful, and very kind. Anyway, the whole ordeal is pretty much over, now. I’m still sore, but I’m up and moving around, and will probably head back to my own place tonight. It was a scary and painful experience, but I think I learned some valuable lessons from it, and if there’s one thing I took away from it that I’d like to share, I guess it would be this: being on an IV drip for three days sure makes your pee smell funny.

Damn. No one mentioned a catheter when I had my gallbladder out. Do you suppose they didn’t put one in? Because I don’t like the thought of a whole surgical team poking about in my girly-parts. I know, I know - I’m just wierd and more modest than your average Victorian. Now I’m all squicked out but my surgery.

Recovery isn’t too bad, though. Much easier than a gall bladder attack.

Take it easier - don’t try to do sit-ups.


Catheters for females are sure a lot easier. I had one after my recent knee replacement, and it didn’t hurt at all either while it was in (I was out when they installed it) or when it was removed. I was quite glad at that point to be a girl.

Glad you’re recovering okay – and remember (TMI warning), constipation is a genuine concern after surgery, especially anything abdominal, so make sure you do whatever you need to do to get and keep your system moving again!

I had this same surgery in the early 90’s. My catheter was still in when I woke up, so I had the treat of having them pull it out while I was awake. I was still groggy with anesthetic, though, so someone was spared a knee in the jaw.

Feel better. I was back at work in about a week.

ETA: it was mighty hard to pee the next morning after surgery, too. They kept threatening to re-catheterize me unless I could produce something, so you’d better believe I kept trying to squeeze out a few drops. I only lately learned here on the boards that anesthetic makes it hard to pee afterwards. I kept wondering what was wrong with me! I wish a nurse had clued me in or something.

Yep, had mine out when I was 22ish. I blame Jenny Craig. Apparently, their food was so low fat, that all my gall just hung out in my gallbladder, feeling really bitter than it wasn’t wanted. It formed a bunch of gravel sized stones, and when I went off Jenny Craig for a weekend and ate all sorts of fatty goodness, I precipitated myself into a series of gallbladder attacks.

Those aren’t fun.

I got to wait a few months to get mine taken out, since nothing was blocked. I had it done at a military hospital, since my dad’s retired military, and I was still in college at the time. Very nice people. They gave me Valium before I went into surgery, and I ended up singing showtunes on the way in.

Take your pain meds, BTW. I found out the hard way that sometimes pain is sneaky. It pretends to be something other than the acute stabby pain it used to be, and you end up achy and miserable, and when you try to sleep it off, you have nightmares. So, take your pain meds.

Good luck on your recovery. And don’t worry about losing your gallbladder. Turns out you don’t really need one. Just, if you eat a whole lot of fatty stuff, your poop will float and smell bad. Not many of your organs are as expendable as the gallbladder.

The gall bladder and the appendix are nature’s way of laughing at Creationists.

Wow, I was contemplating starting a “Tell me your gallbladder surgery stories” thread because mine is coming out next Monday morning.

I don’t have blockage, it just seems to be failing. According to the tests they ran its only functioning at 20%.

I know its a minor surgery but I’m extremely nervous because I’ve never had any type of surgery.

Can others share your post-surgery diet problems? I have had numerous people tell me that after their surgery they can’t handle certain foods anymore and that they have to go to the restroom immediately after eating. Then I have had other people tell me it hasn’t affected their diet or bathroom habits at all.

Oh and the catheter thing?? shudders My surgeon never mentioned that.

Stillwell Angel - I had mine out in April, and it was really a piece of cake. Although I had two big stones and a bunch of small ones imbedded in the organ wall, they were still able to do it laproscopically, although one of the holes had to be a bit larger to get the big stones out. I went in for same-day surgery, went to my mother’s that night (I live alone and she was worried) and got up and went home the next day and was able to take care of myself and my dogs and horses. Plus I took a week off work to baby myself, so it was like a mini-vacation with vicodin. (I only took the pain meds the first two days - after that I was fine) Truly the gallbladder attacks were worse than the surgery. And my surgeon never said anything about a catheter and I never felt any different urinating afterward.

As for diet and bathroom habits, I haven’t noticied any changes. Less gas, maybe. (That’s verging on TMI for me).

Good luck with the surgery, and remember - there’s no crying in baseball!


So far for me, the recovery has actually been a lot more painful than the attacks themselves. Of course, unlike the attacks, the recovery has pain meds and knowledge of why I’m in pain, which makes it more bearable and less scary, but the three attacks I had (I’m guessing that two previous times I got sick were actually smaller gall stones than the one that landed me in the ER) weren’t nearly as incapacitating - or as lengthy.

I’m taking a week off as well. I know several people who went back to work three days later but my surgeon said he wouldn’t recommend that for anyone after any type of surgery. Your body needs time to re-group no matter how good you think you feel. I also spoke with a co-worker who had hers out last month and she said there was no catheter involved, that made me sleep easier the last couple of nights :slight_smile:

Thanks for the input!

When I had my first gallbladder attack, they couldn’t diagnose it, so they didn’t operate (which would’ve been free, according to New Zealand Health policy at the time, as it would’ve been classed as an emergency). Since then, after it finally being correctly diagnosed, as they know gallstone attacks aren’t actually life risking, any additional episodes will not be classed as an emergency, so will not be operated on for free, it will have to be paid for by me.

Luckily, it’s not been chronic for me, and I have only had a few minor episodes over the past ten years that haven’t been a big problem for me, so the surgery isn’t really required anyway.

Still… it sucks.