Pretend To Write This Down.
My Organs Suck Part I: Gallbladder
by, 07-10-09 at 09:38 AM (709 Views)
While brushing my teeth this morning, I decided that for some reason I wanted to document exactly what organs have fucked up on me. If nobody reads these (I'm quite verbose and these are going to get long), I'll at least have them for myself.
So, failed organ number one: my gallbladder.
The problems actually started really early on.. the earliest attack I can remember happened when I was in the fourth grade and about 9 years old. I was in the back seat of my parents' car, curled up in a ball and in pure agony. I can remember it so specifically. My mom and little brother went inside the store for some groceries, but my dad hung back and basically watched me lay there. I remember my parents concluding that it was gas and, as a kid, I was pretty much exaggerating what I was feeling. Which, to be fair, wasn't an outrageous thing for them to assume about me.
Our solution? Tums. Lots and lots of Tums. By the way, Tums don't do anything for gallbladder attacks. We all knew they weren't working but it was almost like a reflex for me to just take them during every attack.
Let me take this opportunity to explain what a gallbladder attack feels like. It like, it comes in waves. It's not sharp, it's actually very dull, but it's just so much dull pain you don't know what to do. And when a wave of it hits, oh dear god. It hurts all the way to your back, and if anything touches your stomach the pain is multiplied by a number I can't comprehend. And then it IS sharp. You want to die.
I'm not sure why it took so long for one of us to figure out 'hey, gas isn't a crippling pain, something is actually wrong.' I think part of the problem was that the attacks were so goddamn random. I have no idea why the attacks happened when they did, just that there were a few restaurants that I could never, ever eat at because they inevitably caused one. I did notice, though, that if I waited too long between eating shit got unfortunate.
When I was 13, I had an attack one night so I popped some Tums, curled up in a ball, and cried and cried and cried. My mom, desperate, threw me in the car and we went to the ER. It was about 1:00am, so when we got there it was pretty dead so the nurses took me and my mom to a room pretty quickly. I really don't remember much after that. I think, for the most part, all I got was an IV of beautiful, beautiful drugs. That knocked me out, and when my mom woke me up I groggily stumbled back to the car. The next morning, my mom informed me that the doctor wrote me a prescription for Vicodin. Vicodin did some amazing things for me. What a wonderful drug.
Over the next couple years I had to go to the ER a couple more times when the pills just wouldn't cut it. Finally, I met Dr. McElroy, my gastroenterologist. He pops up later in my life (part whatever: appendix/lymph nodes and part whatever: stomach).
Doc McElroy actually knows my dad through ways that aren't interesting enough to mention. This comes into play in future parts. He thought gallstones were the root of my problem and scheduled an appointment for an ultrasound and bloodwork, which my mom took me to. Do you know what old, judging ladies assume when they hear a teenage girl's mom say they're there for an ultrasound? I've never gotten that many disapproving looks at one time before or since that day. Judas priest.
The ultrasound results sucked. "We can't find any gallstones." According to the ultrasound, everything was normal.
So Doc got me scheduled for a HIDA scan to see what the hell was up with my gallbladder. I had to lay on my back for two hours while this huge machine took pictures of my abdomen. They had put an IV in my right forearm and I had have that arm laying above my head the entire time. At least I had a tv. After a couple hours, the technician finally came back out, only to tell me that she needed to inject morphine into me to see how my gallbladder would react. Oh, I was stoked. Given my previous experience with opioids in hospitals, I was ready to feel AWESOME.
Here's something I didn't expect: morphine fucking HURTS. How is that possible? I could actually feel it travelling through my veins and it goddamn stung. How in the hell are people addicted to that?
At least the results finally revealed the problem: I had a 'nonfunctioning' gallbladder. The scan couldn't say why it didn't work, just that it didn't. Finally, we knew for sure what was wrong.
I got scheduled for surgery shortly after. My entire family was so, SO nervous for me but I was so excited for some relief I couldn't feel scared. And on February 6, 2004, that sumbitch was cut out of me. Dr. McElroy had to stop at one point during the surgery to explain to my parents and sister that it was gonna take a little longer than usual because he couldn't find the gallstones, but assured them I was doing okay. It turns out the stones were REALLY far down in the duct so the ultrasound couldn't pick them up. He was really close to cutting me completely open (my surgery was done laparoscopically) but instead cut a couple extra holes, did some more prodding, and found them, which is awesome for me cause healing is a lot harder when they cut you all the way.
Since it was a little more rough than usual I had to stay in the hospital overnight and I spent that week popping pain pills, eating oatmeal, and sleeping. By week two (I had to stay out of school for two weeks) I was feeling pretty normal again.
Apparently there are usually some really horrible side effects when you get your gallbladder out, but I guess since I went so long with one that didn't function at all my body had already adjusted. I had no side effects whatsoever and I've never felt anything as painful as a gallbladder attack since.