I have a story with a happy ending.
when I was 16, I began to experience pain after eating. It became so bad, my mother took me to several doctors. All diagnosed ulcers, and I went on round after round of medications. It got so bad I became a vegetarian by age 18. I experienced pain almost immediately after eating and up to two hours afterwards, and switched constantly from diarrhea to constipation. Finally, at 19, I accepted it as part of life and moved on. I got married, and had two children. Surprisingly, the pain would go away when I was pregnant, but I would be horribly sick for nine months during pregnancy. I had to fight to keep anything down and it became a running joke that I "rented food". I lost quite a lot of weight during that period of time. I moved in 2001, and began to experience more and more pain, but I was so used to the pain, it was normal for me. I began to go days without eating because the hunger was preferable to the pain. I hated food, I hated anyone who enjoyed eating. I almost passed out at work one day and we figured out it was low blood sugar and I was in danger of hypoglycemia. So I began to eat once a day, and lived with eating, immediately feeling like I was digesting a large brick, then, after 30 minutes to an hour, a knife passing through my gut.
In 2008, I collapsed at work, and my boss, an EMT, thought I was having an appendicitis. I get rushed to the ER, they do scans, and get diagnosed with colonitis. On my follow up visit with my PCP, I told him my whole story. He wanted to know why I had never complained about it in the 6 years I had gone to him and I realized I had lived with it so long, it was normal for me, and I had really lost faith in doctors really being able to diagnose anything. He then tells me his wife went through the same exact symptoms and it was my gallbladder. I told him it couldn't be, I had had several tests over the years and nothing turned up. He sent me for a hydascan? and it was found my gallbladder was working at 14%. Surgery was immediately set up, and when I went in, they had to take longer because it had almost completely calcified. I wasn't making stones, I was petrifying my gallbladder. They were amazed. I did not fit the profile. I was young, healthy, no history of any problems, rarely ever ate out due to family history of diabetes, and no genetic predisposition.
On a side note, apparently I metabolize anesthesia faster than normal, so I came out too fast, and had to stay overnight for pain management. I remember waking up for a previous oral surgery in the middle of extraction, and I remembered having a cavity filled and the shot wearing off half way through, but had never put it together.
recovery took a bit longer, but I could eat again! There are still certain foods I have to be careful with, and I have a reoccurring flareups of pain on my right side where they had to make the incision bigger, but overall, I never realized how bad my quality of life was until it got better. Thank God there was a doctor out there that knew something as simple as a bad gallbladder can take a form that is not "textbook".