Tuesday, February 11, 2020

That time I was beat up by a gallbladder.

I'm going to preface this to say there is a lot more to this story that happens before that I'm just not mentally ready to talk about that would make my feelings about this make more sense. Just know that immediately before all of this happened, I had some major life changes happen the same week as this, so by the time all of this happened, I was already in a depression low. So that makes all of this that much more depressing.

If you follow this blog you know I have a ton of medical stuff going on at any given time, especially stomach issues. I've had unexplained pain and though I've had two endoscopies and a colonoscopy, no real cause was determined. We knew that I had a few gallstones and while my symptoms weren't screaming that I needed to have my gallbladder out, I knew that eventually it may be a thing.

As it turns out, now it is a thing.

Last Wednesday, I woke up with a minor stomach ache. Nothing big, and everyone in my house has had a stomach bug so I thought I was probably next. I had been having weird bowel movements for about three weeks and I figured it was either the stomach and flu bug going around my house the last month or so and/or some medication I was only a month into taking. I thought maybe my body was telling me this wasn't going to work out. That day though, no issues with that, just an icky tummy.

I couldn't eat a small bowl of cereal in the morning, I felt a little nauseous. I couldn't eat lunch because I felt like I was outrageously full. By dinner I knew I had to eat something so I could take my nighttime medication, so we had spaghetti and I tried to eat a little of the chicken and the plain noodles. I just really couldn't stomach it so threw most of it out.

Around 9 p.m., we all go to bed. Matt had been sick and barely functioning so when he went I figured I probably should in case I really was getting sick. By 10 though, it was clear it wasn't happening. My stomach hurt. When I say it hurt, I mean it was worse than being in labor. I'm not even exaggerating. I decided to go take a hot shower because it was a pain going right through the middle of my chest into my back, like I was being impaled. Shower was nice but not helpful. I got into bed and thought maybe a heating pad would help. I literally suffered through this for two more hours until waking Matt up at midnight and saying I think I need to go in.

Let's just feel remember Matt is loaded up on NyQuil, he feels like absolute crap, but he's more able to drive than I am at this point. I felt terrible.

Olivia was still up so I told her I was going to the ER, don't freak out, but if there's a fire she's got to wake everyone up. Cool, so we leave.

We get there and thankfully there wasn't a crazy long wait, maybe a half hour or so, but I thought I was dying in that waiting room. At this point I had Googled enough that I thought I'm either having a weird heart attack or a gallbladder attack, neither of which had super enjoyable options.

By the time I get there, the doctor (and nurse) are fairly surprised that I'm in as much pain as I'm in. It felt like contractions, like a dull pain that stays and every minute or so it ramps up and just HURTS LIKE A MOTHER%*!@)!. The doctor can't even touch my abdomen without me screaming and jumping off the bed so he orders a CT scan and an ultrasound.
I got my handy dandy IV and they gave me some pain medication, Fentanyl, which was horrible. I mean, it took the pain away but I also felt like I was on an out of control speed boat going side to side. Even Matt said I looked completely high.

I go to my CT scan and they tell me I'll have to lift my arms up, which is fine because I've done this kind of scan on my abdomen before so I know what to do. I can only lift my IV arm up though and she tells me totally fine. We do the first two scans, normal, no problems. The next ones are with contrast and as she puts stuff in my IV it really hurts. I go to put my arm up and it explodes everywhere. The contrast stuff is all over my face, both arms, chest, hair, machine, everywhere. Apparently there was too much pressure but my IV was intact.

In case you don't know, that contrast stuff is SO sticky. By the time I was done, they had me go into a restroom with some towels and told me to do my best to wash off because it basically looked like someone ejaculated all over me. Like all over, and it was getting crusty.


I got wheeled into ultrasound after that and she had me rolling over into the weirdest positions I've ever been in during any kind of exam. She tells me she sees a LOT of gallstones, sees that it's extremely inflamed and that there is a "big chunk of something" towards the bottom.

She said she would send all of that to bed read after she got me back down the hall. As soon as I'm wheeled away and she's not even down the hall, the ER doctor comes in and says my CT scans are really pretty bad and I'm getting my gallbladder out first thing in the morning.
So we wait. We had to wait for them to find me a room to go to for the rest of the night and be prepped in the morning.
At this point I have enough drugs flowing through me so all I'm feeling is a dull pain I'd register at around a 5, but it's what I feel EVERY day so I'm not even phased anymore. I mean, I can work through this because I've had to for years now, so I'm fine.

About an hour later, they get me up to the fifth floor, but instead of the surgery side, I get put on the orthopedic side because they didn't have a single room or a shared room with another female.
At this point I'm delirious with sleep because I hadn't slept all night on Tuesday because of Matt's snoring, and now it is early Thursday morning and I still have not slept. Matt wasn't feeling so super, either.
We waited all morning. Apparently my idea of "first thing in the morning" is different than everyone else's, so I was getting a little annoyed.
I did have a nice room with a decent view though, so I can't even hate on that. My nurses literally had no idea what to do with me because they aren't used to handling people with gallbladder issues, so I was getting annoyed as the day progressed. By 5 pm or so, it was shift change and I had two very nice nurses come in and ask how I was. I started to cry and say that my child care was going to be done at 7pm and I honest to god needed to have surgery by then. They asked if Matt had to be here and I was like, YES because I can't speak for myself if I'm unconscious and he sucks at answering the damn phone.

Lo and behold, if you call down to surgery and ask when your patient needs to go, they come and get you. (Which... I honestly would like to know if any of my daytime nurses did that because when I got down there they had all be waiting for me. For HOURS.) Anyways. I had to have my hydrocortisone drip set up before my surgery, one during my surgery, some iodine drip so they can see what they're doing in there, etc.

I just remember laying on this bed back there, speaking with the anesthesiologist about the procedure and he recognized my name from my AFE and told me what a big deal it was. He talked about how things are still being changed because of my case and they talk about it often. I mean, that's cool to hear, but at that moment, I was terrified. I've had anesthesia a few times since but it doesn't get easier. It's like now that I know first hand that things can and do go wrong, and I'm not immune to that, I'm scared. Regardless, the gallbladder still had to go.

While Matt got the summary from the surgeon, he learned that not only was my gallbladder in rough shape, but a rather large gallstone(s) had worked its way up into an artery and that likely is the extreme pain I was feeling. I sat in the recovery area for almost two hours because they couldn't get my pain under control. I don't remember much, but I remember a nurse holding my hand and rubbing my arm and telling someone different things to try and listing off what she had already tried. I just remember awful pain everywhere.
I don't remember being transferred to my room, but I remember being there and meeting my night nurse David, and seeing Matt there. He had ordered me food in case I was hungry and had gotten me water (because I wasn't allowed to have anything to eat/drink before surgery so I went an entire 24 hours with nothing... which is HORRIFIC if you have diabetes insipidus and you grave ice water at all times and feel like you're dying of thirst) and was helping me get ready for bed.
I know Matt left to go home for a few hours to sleep, and my pain was just awful. They had me wedged in bed so I couldn't move really and I had this cool towel on my head which was helpful because I was starting to get a headache. They gave me morphine at some point and I had to yell because I thought for sure I was going to throw up everywhere.
Fortunately I didn't, but the barf bags now kind of look like weird, giant condoms. Right? The morning after surgery,  Friday, I was in so much pain. Honestly, recovery after child birth didn't even hurt this bad. They were having a hard time getting my pain under control and just really wanted me to go home, which I get, so I gave up when my pain was at a 5/6 and told them fine- send me home. Honestly. The surgeons came in to talk about the procedure and answer questions and they are looking at me like I must be feeling SO much better and I'm just nodding my head with tears streaming down my face. I left two hours later.
Not before I looked in the mirror though, because I am a glutton for punishment. I already have a mutilated looking stomach since Lucy's birth, that line under my belly button is the start of my c-section scar which ends a little lower and I call it the second butthole, because it does look like a butthole, no joke. But now I have these four other spots, with another one that looks like a belly button/butthole hybrid. My stomach is contorted and lumpy, and it's just.... I wasn't feeling great about myself as it is but this sets me even further back. To say I've cried over something so stupid more than once is an understatement.
So on Friday afternoon, I hobbled my way down the ramp I know so well (it's my only real memory of my time at the hospital after Lucy's birth) and went home. 

It is now almost a week since my surgery and I'm still in pain. It has definitely moved beyond the trapped air pain and it feels like every muscle in my abdomen was torn to shreds. Every organ was squished and manipulated, it feels like my ribs are broken, and it hurts to breath. I can hobble around a little more now, but sitting hurts. Laying down hurts. Using a pillow to move doesn't even help. It hurts to eat. I can pass gas and have a bowel movement OK though, and I was kind of worried. I can't dry myself after a shower. I have had to have help getting dressed. I cannot bend over, can't put my shoes on. Of course no lifting or anything that would use ab muscles, which is a lot as you can imagine. 

They sent me home with some oxycodone which is like eating Smarties and calling it a pain reliever. They don't do a dang thing for me so I only tried two and gave up. I alternate between Tylenol and Advil and those have never worked on me so I don't know why I even bother with those either. I'm just kind of using the labor breathing techniques I learned and who knew that would end up being a life skill? I just feel like crap. 

I really wanted my mom and I can't have that, and my depression is at a ridiculous low right now so I'm grateful to have therapy this week. I already struggle with independence with my medical issues and now having to have my children help me put pants on? It doesn't really do a lot to help me in anyway so I'm struggle. Which is STUPID, because it's just a stupid gallbladder. 

But. Here we are. 

So yeah- I had gallbladder surgery. No big deal. 

Bright side, hit my insurance deductible for the year, I suppose. 


Anonymous said...

I had a cholecystectomy in 2005 and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I'm sorry you had a troublesome recovery and hope that you get some relief and that the benefits of the surgery ends up being worth all that pain.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Jeez - that's awful! I know my sister in law was in the hospital for a bit when she had hers out, but mine was outpatient, so I can't even say I know how you're feeling. I had tons of gallstones and my gallbladder ended up being inflamed, which accounts for a lot of pain leading up to my surgery, but yours sounds so so awful. I'm really sorry you had to deal with that - and still deal with it since you aren't feeling much better. I really hope the pain goes away soon, and I'm glad you have therapy this week. I hope it helps somewhat. It's okay to be upset about all of this - even if you think something is "stupid." It's your body, your life. And you've been through a lot, so it really really sucks. *hugs*


San said...

OMG, Sara, can you catch a break already? How you're able to talk about it and post pictures about it is beyond me... I feel terrible for you :(

The Flynnigans said...

Good lord that sounds awful. I only caught a snippet on FB but am glad I read this. Glad you made it through surgery but I’m sorry that this is another thing on your radar you’ve had to deal with. You’ve had SO much thrown at you girl..... sending love and hugs

sachin said...

Wow, talk about a gut-wrenching experience! Your gallbladder really gave you a beating. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding us all to take care of our health