Discussions By Condition: Gallbladder conditions

Surgery or no surgery?

Posted In: Gallbladder conditions 2 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • April 26, 2008
  • 06:25 AM

I am 19 yrs old, and recently found out that I had "several small gall stones" as the radiologist put it. They did not give me a number, so hopefully "several" does not actually mean "too many to count"... :/. Well, anyways, I found this out due to an attack I was told was a gall bladder attack; basically, I was on my floor screaming and in so much pain simply wishing I would just die, or pass out, or some thing, anything, just not to feel the pain anymore. I went to the ER, they did an ultra sound, I have stones, so they said it must have been that I was passing a stone, and they said I need my gall bladder removed. Problem? It took so long for them to admitt me that by the time I was up getting the ultra sound done, any stones in my bile duct would have already passed, or got shot back in, so there is no real evidence. I am going to assume that it very well may be my gall bladder; my uncle had gall stones, and I have noticed that the pains are associated with fattier foods and alcohol consumption. Another thing; they also found a tumor in my liver...hopefully just a hemangioma. I went to see the surgeon I was refered to (I have no options to change docs, as I have military insurance, and they don't let you pick, being that the insurance is free). He definitally seems like an experienced, friendly surgeon, but on the other hand, I had gone in just to DISCUSS the removal of my gall bladder; I had gone in for information, not to schedule a date for surgery. He hurried me through the evaluation, and had the attitude of "I am a surgeon, and I know whats best"...sure he's had years of medical school, and probably has done dozens of this surgery, if not hundreds, but I HAVEN'T; I have never had invasive surgery, EVER. I am terrified of anesthesia, I am terrified of surgery, but I am also terrified of one of my bile ducts becoming blocked. I am really looking for other options here...he did mention a pill I can take, but he really down-played it, said that it takes months for the pills to work. I am going in on Monday and they are sticking a camera into my stomach to make sure I don't also have ulcers.
Basically, I am wondering if any one who has had stones has explored any of these other avenues, like the medicine, or the procedure where they use sound to break up the stones, and what your results were. I am also looking for any stories, good or bad, from those of you who had the surgery.
Part of me wants to do some thing; I eat pretty healthy, but do splurge some times (hence this previous attack), and I would like to continue to be able to eat not so great things on the rare occasion that I do with out the fear of an attack, or (if I get the surgery) the fear of having to run to the bathroom in a public place (especially if there isn't one available). He wasn't much of a talker; he sent me home with a couple of pamphlets on Gall Bladder, Gall Stones, Gall Bladder Remover, and H. Pylori (He thinks I have peptic ulcers, and is probably right), scheduled me for an apt on Tues for the stomach check, and then on Thurs for a follow-up. I have a CT on Tues after the stomach check, to check my liver, and to see what's going on in the general area. The surgeon is really nice and experienced, so I don't want to try to switch docs, but I guess I just need advice, and ideas from people who have been through this, or doctors who have done this surgery, since the surgeon didn't really give me the time of day.
This is a really big deal to me, as I am sure that every one here can understand. Every where I read, it says that the Gallbladder does not serve an exceptionally important function; yet I can't help but to have respect for my body...that obviously I have this organ for a reason, and that it probably really should stay in my body...
In case you haven't noticed by my plot-less, repetative post, I just really need advice and personal experiences if any one is willing to share some.
Thanks in advance for reading this bloody-novel...

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2 Replies:

  • I'm going through something similar to you - am in my early twenties and just got diagnosed with gallstones after a few attacks. The question I'm facing is: were my gallstones the cause of the attacks, or are my gallstones asymptomatic and the attacks due to other causes?I've looked through some of the research regarding medication (ursodeoxycholic acid), and the evidence seems to be that although they may work for certain types of gallstones, they don't work for others, and it takes between 6-24 months for them to have an effect. And once you stop the medication they're likely to come back. Lithotripsy (breaking up the stones using sound waves) doesn't seem to be particularly effective either?There was also something about just waiting to see if further attacks occur, since 30% of people apparently only ever have one attack. Although of course that means that 70% of people end up having more attacks! And while I'm personally thinking of taking this route (since it's not clear that my symptoms were due to my gallstones), I'm worried about future pain and also about possible bile duct obstruction.Could you perhaps get a second opinion, even if you're not allowed to change surgeons? Possibly from a gastroenterologist?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I'm 30 and started having pain that would drop me to the floor in Jan of 09. Figured it was just a bad case of the stomach virus because I also felt a little sick at my stomach. I also figured it was that mixed with a bout of gas because the pain would originate in the top middle of my stomach and then move all around to my chest, arms, back, and any other place it could go. I had been laying in the bathroom floor all night because I couldn't move and decided to go to the hospital for an excuse not to go to work the next day. I get to the ER fall into the floor and roll around screaming for drugs like a crack head coming down. And, I assume the doctors probably thought I was since they made me pee in a cup before they would give me morphine and the look on their face when I requested a gallon or two of it didn't help any either. Regardless, I got some fenegrin for nausea and some fluids, and then the morphine - which really didn't do anything. I kept rolling around on the floor and of the hospital and twitching around until I was so sleepy that I forgot about the pan for a little bit. At any rate, hospital said it was probably stomach virus and I should be fine. I told them I know what a stomach virus feels like and this is way worse. Never had pain this severe with a stomach virus either. They decided I needed a CT scan and told me that the gall bladder wall "may" have been a little thick, however all blood work was fine and no elevated enzymes that would indicate liver or gall bladder trouble at that point. So, about 8 hours later all the pain was gone and I was on my way home thinking I would be fine. For the next couple of months I would get the same pain although not as severe and it would only last about 30 minutes and would go away with an antacid. I had decided for myself that it was gas. Then last week the pain kicked in again, not as severe this time but the nausea was unbearable. I crawled into the bathroom to vomit, not because of the nausea but it seemed like the pain just made me do it. And right at the moment of vomit all the pain would go away for about 5 seconds. Ahh sweet relief I though. Anyway, I vomited so hard that I had torn a blood vessel and was spilling blood through the vomit. Never a good thing when you vomit blood and honestly it scared the bejesus out of me because I thought I was going to die in the bathroom floor so I made my way back to the ER. I walked in the door told them my symptoms and got a doctor that had actually went to medical school this time. He gave me a list of what it could be, but said they wouldn't know for sure until some blood work was done. They didn't share my concern for yakking up what I swear was a liter of blood. The pre diagnosis was a bleeding ulcer or gall bladder. Blood work came back and showed elevated enzymes pretty much indicating gall bladder and liver problems. If your gall bladder is choking out your liver, then the liver will show problems as well. Also, the blood work didn't show any signs of major blood loss which eased my mind quite a bit. I was also negative for the bacteria that exists with ulcers and all signs pointed to gall bladder problems or liver. The doctor decided I needed an ultrasound and whipped out the machine. He didn't see anything in the gb, however this wasn't his expertise and wanted me to wait for the ultrasound tech to get a 100% accurate reading. I went back to the oh my god I'm pregnant room for the ultrasound and as soon as they put that thing on me my gall bladder had enough stones in it that a mariachi band could have used it as a maracca. At this point the pain was really severe and they decided that it should probably come out. I agreed with no hesitation. Infact I begged them to give me the knife and just let me do it myself so I wouldn't have to wait on a surgeon. This mother had to come out or I was going to crawl into the fetal and cry from the hurt. They admitted me to a room, contacted the surgeon and all was set for surgery.I now lay in the hospital bed for 24 hours or so just to make sure that all food and what not had left my system. Nurses come in and give me the questions about allergic reactions, ever had surgery before and all those formalities. I had never had surgery or been put to sleep, but wasn't too concerned because I'm actually quite healty except for this evil little ******d that decided it wanted to shoot 5mm stones down a 1mm duct everytime I ate something. I get to the staging area the next day and they give me something to relax before going into the OR, and I begged them to just numb me up so I could watch since I was getting the laparoscopic done. They poke 5 holes in your belly and pull the bladder out of your belly button. Sounds gross but would have been cool to see. I get in the OR and they hook me up to all the monitors that make sure I don't die on the table and put the mask on me with the knockout gas. 15 minutes later I'm still talking to them which made them a little concerned that I had too much willpower for the gas. Actually I was just trying to stay awake so I could see what was going on. That was the last thing I remember - trying to be all cool and not go to sleep because I was a bad **s. As soon as I wake up from the table I tried to break and run with the crazy eye. I mean you wake up with 10 people in a room and a bunch of stuff hooked up to you your first instict should be to get the ***l out of that place as fast as you can. They pushed me back down on the table about 5 times and I recall someone saying this guy is strong to be a little fella. I was feeling pretty good about myself at that moment because here I am cut open and still fighting them off. In hindsight I should have just lay still because trying to run out the room with my naked butt hanging in the wind just made me sore the next day. The procedure usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour or so depending on the severity of the gall bladder damage. Mine took almost 3 hours and the surgeon told me I was on the verge of getting the big gaping cut because the bladder had severe scarring and was full of stones other nasty stuff and they didn't want to spill it into my body. But, all is well and I only got the 5 little holes. I milk it for sympathy and tell all my friends that the holes were a lot bigger than they actually were. I stayed overnight at the hospital after the surgery for observation and they wanted to see if I was going to get sick when I ate. All they gave me that night was jello and water - don't really see how that could make anyone sick actually. The next day they bumped up the test with a deep fried fish fillet and something that resembled coffee. Hospital food ain't the best but I hadn't eaten in 3 days at this point so it was either that or the bottom of my shoe that was going to be consumed. I spoke with the surgeon and gave me a list of what was probably going to happen.1. 10 minutes after eating and you will experience explosive diarreah.There were some others, but I can't remember what they were after the explosive diarreah part. And he was exactly right, althought I think it was more like 5 minutes instead of 10. Also, you never know how much you use your abs until everything you do feels like being shot. I coughed once and thought I was going to cry like a little girl. The worst part of the hole thing though are the nerves that go from the right shoulder down into the abdomen that get irritated during the procedure. This caused me to feel like someone was trying to rip my shoulder off and discard it like a used up chicken leg. That hurt for about 2 days and then went away like they said. So here I am 5 days after having the gall bladder removed, eating whatever I want without fear of being in pain. The explosive diarreah still happens but it takes longer to engage with each meal. Just as a side note I did eat fajitas the day I came home so that might have had something to do with it. I also went out and had a few beers just to test the water a little bit. My point is, don't be scared to have this done. You will glad you did. However, make sure this is not the first procedure of this type that your surgeon has ever done because they won't know how to check for leftover stones in the ducts, and tears to other parts of the digestive tract that can cause problems that will make you thing somehow your gall bladder grew back and is trying to get revenge on you for ejecting it into the medical trash.It will also take a week or so for your liver to realize what happened and naturally work itself into detour mode to get bile into your stomach for digestion.All in all not a bad experience and I had a really good medical team that knew what they were doing.My .02 worth.Kennedy
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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