Friday, July 15, 2011

Adios Gallbladder

Wednesday, June 22, was just a normal day. When I got home from work, I had about an hour to kill before Preston's last t-ball game. I knew if I didn't exercise before, I wouldn't get it down afterwards. So I didn't even go in the house. I jumped on my bike and took off down the road. I learned a few things on this bike ride. 1) I should change out of my work clothes first. And 2) There is a constant, gradual incline ALL THE WAY back to my house from the store. I still have a few minutes after my bike ride, so I had a bowl of cereal and then took off for the ball game.

That night I woke up in the most SEVERE pain I have ever experienced in my life. It was about 11:00, so I had only been asleep for about an hour. I had no idea what was wrong. My back hurt so BAD. I got up and took some ibuprofen. Then I tried to lay down again, but I couldn't, it hurt so bad. I tried sitting in the recliner, but that wasn't much better.

The attacks made me feel like the walking dead, as demonstrated by Buddy. 

About 1:00 I remember I had some prescription pain killers from last fall. I also thought of going to the ER, but I was home alone and knew I couldn't drive myself. I took the prescription pain pill and then tried sleeping on the couch. I think I finally feel asleep around 3:30. Then I was back up at 5:30 to get ready for work.

Thursday was a LONG day! I was so out of it. I tried to get off early, but the gal I asked had plans. I'm sure I still could have got the afternoon off, but I stuck it out. I had carpooled with someone that day, so after work, I got a ride to my mom's and sat in her hot tub. The pain was pretty much gone, but I still thought it would be relaxing. Josh picked me up that night on his way home from work. I was still out of it, so dinner was take out which included a large shake and a large order of onion rings. Despite that meal, I slept fine that night.

A few nights later, I was up again. I went straight for the prescription pills and then got online and started researching gallbladder attacks. I now had some sort of answer. The next day I was in to see a doctor. He told me, that is was most likely my gallbladder, but they needed to do some test to be sure. The first test was an ultrasound. It was only 50% accurate. It would either show a problem or it wouldn't. Even if it didn't show a problem, it could still be my gallbladder. In that case I would move on to the drink the gunk test, which he told me could trigger an attack. I was not thrilled about volunteering to start an attack.

I went home that night and was upset about the 50% accuracy. So I called back the next day and asked if I could skip that and go to the other test. But insurance would only pay for the 2nd test after an ultrasound. Here is where you start to notice how SLOW our local hospital is. They couldn't get me in for an ultrasound for a WEEK! In that time I had 3 more attacks, 2 in just one night;.

The ultrasound was pretty boring on my end. I just laid there and let the tech do her thing. When it was done, she said my doctor would probably call in about 24 hours. She must have seen the tears in my eyes, because I said "Can't you give me a hint?" She told me that the wall looks a little thick and she thought she could see some sludge, but she wasn't sure. It would be up to my doctor to make that call. But overall, she didn't think it looked to healthy.

I waited 24 hours, and then left a message for my doctor. It had been a LONG week by then. Monday was the 4th, so we had that day off. Monday night, I had TWO attacks that had me up all night. I was DEAD at work. Finally a coworker told me to go home. So at lunch I asked for the rest of the day off. I got out to my car and realized there was NO way I would make it home. I KNEW I would fall asleep while driving. So instead I went to my mom's house and crashed on her bed for 3 hours. I thought the highway she lived on would keep me up, but my body was too exhausted to even notice. I woke up about 4:00 and felt better. I was supposed to go to a craft thing that night, but felt like I couldn't since I didn't work all day. So I went back to work for 1 and half hours. Which turned out to be a good idea, because a different coworker saw me out that night with Jessica eating dinner.

Tuesday night I had yet another attack, which was the worst one ever. I was actually praying to pass out because the pain was so bad. I thought about calling in sick, but it was the day of my ultrasound so I had to go to town anyways. But I did skip lunch and take an hour long nap. I think I spent more time napping then eating that week.

Thursday morning the nurse called me back within 5 minutes of me leaving a message. She told me that the doctor said to get my gallbladder out, it didn't look good. So then I called and left a message for the ONLY surgeon at our local hospital. Two hours later, they still hadn't called back, so I went to their office on my lunch break. The doctor couldn't see me until the END of August. I explained my problem and the receptionist told me he was only working 2 days during the month of July and that is why he was backed up so much. She suggested I go to the Vernal hospital if I didn't think I could wait the 6-7 weeks.

I couldn't wait that long. I knew if I had many more attacks, I would probably try to cut it out myself. I also knew I couldn't go to Vernal because they wouldn't accept my insurance. I went back to work and explained my dilemma. JoLynn told me to go to Provo. A few in the office had been out there and really liked their surgeons. I went to hurry and eat my lunch, and when I got back to my desk, there was a copy of their business card on my desk.

The local surgeon couldn't see me for 6 weeks. I called Dr. Peterson in Provo, he could see me the NEXT day for a consult. So I made one more trip to the hospital to get a copy of my ultrasound results to take with me. Then I called my mother in-law and asked if she would go with me. (Josh couldn't get off work with that short of notice and I wanted him to save days off for the surgery anyways. And my mom was out of town.)

From the second I walked into their office, I was impressed. The receptionist had a bling mouse that I thought was cute. She told me it was her way of not growing up. I pointed to the purple feather in my hair and told her that was my way of not growing up. I filled the paperwork out and then was immediately taken back to a room. In our local hospital, you sit in the waiting room for at least an hour. Then the nurse takes you back to a room where you sit for at least 15-30 minutes. I wasn't in the room for a minute and the Physicians assistant came in to talk with me. Then he left and immediately the doctor came in to talk to me. I don't think I spent a total of 15 minutes in their office, and yet all of my needs were met and my questions answered. THAT is service.

In reading the results myself, I thought they didn't sound that bad, which had me worried, because the pain was BAD. But I must not have known what I was reading because he agreed it needed to come out. He asked me when, and I told him as soon as possible. He asked me how Monday was. I was floored! I thought I'd have to wait a week or two, but no, he could cut it out in 2 days. I am never going back to the local hospital. NEVER.

The only thing I could find in common with my attacks was that Josh was never home for them. Which is weird because I eat better when he isn't home. Remember that night of onion rings? No attack, even though they tell you that grease and fat will cause attacks. I've been on a healthy diet so that was really the only grease and fat I had had in months.

That weekend I actually felt better. I don't know why I did better when he was home, but I'm grateful for that. On Sunday night I started to get nervous. I hadn't had an attack for a few days, was I doing the right thing? For a short second I thought, its ok if I have an attack tonight, just to remind me why I'm doing this. But I knew I couldn't keep living like I was. It was affecting all aspects of my life. I wasn't performing well at work. I wasn't sleeping well because of the attacks or because of the fear of the attacks. I knew it needed to come out, but I was still nervous.

I had cleaned like crazy that weekend so my house would be in order. I had made sure to take the feather out of my hair so I wouldn't have any metal on my body. I woke us up an hour too early because I was so nervous. My appointment was at 9:30; we got to the hospital at 8:30. But once again they were fast. They had me right back to do lab work.

By 9:30 I was in the paper gown and my IV was in. I HATE IV's. HATE! Thinking about just the IV made me want to cancel my appointment. But once again, this hospital amazed me. First they gave me a quick shot of numbing stuff. It stung a little, but I didn't feel the IV go in at all, so it was worth it. The nurse who did it, had on a cute shirt that had hello and goodbye in several languages. I looked at the word "adios" and thought it was perfect for the day. "Adios" gallbladder. "Arrivederci" pain.

Because we were an hour early, we did have to wait for a bit before my surgery. At just past 11 they came in to get me. They told Josh the surgery would take about 45 minutes, and then I would have to spend another 45 minutes in the recovery room before they would come get him. I told him I loved him and would see him at 1:00.

I remember them wheeling my bed to the prep room. I met the doctor and the anesthesiologist. They checked my blood pressure, etc. Then they took me to the surgical room. It was FREEZING in there! My paper gown had several holes in it, one of which was used to hook up a hose that blew warm air into my gown. That is the last thing I remember.

Then I remember waking up as they pushed my bed into a room full of other beds, the recovery room. I remember pleading for my husband. I just kept saying his name over and over. Sometimes I was nice and said "please, my husband, please." I could see a clock on the wall as I faded in and out. I remember looking at it once at it was 1:15, then I got worse. I remember trying to sit up, but didn't have the strength. I wanted to yell and cry for Josh, but was too weak.

A picture of my gallbladder and its TONS of stones. Those little things cause HUGE amounts of pain. 

Apparently around this time, the doctor went out to talk to Josh. He told him the procedure went well. He then told him to hurry to my side because I had tried to bite a nurse. I don't know if this is completely true, but I would believe it. I know I was upset that Josh wasn't there with me. Before the procedure, I knew that I would be in the wake up room without him for a bit, but when I woke up, I didn't care.

Josh said when he walked into my room, the nurse was trying to get me to drink a glass of water, but I was still crying for him. I saw him as he got to the side of the bed and I just latched onto his hand. Then everything was ok. He told me to take a drink, and I did. Sometimes he is the only thing that can make me calm down. He fed me some chocolate pudding and all was right in my world.

A while later, the nurse asked if I wanted to try and walk around. I knew I couldn't go home until I did, so I was anxious to try. When I stood up, I thought I was going to pass out, it hurt so BAD! The nurse must have got worried, because she gave me a vomit bag, "just in case." I shuffled down the hallway and went in the restroom. I must have been a while, because the nurse knocked on the door and asked if I was ok.

I made it back to the bed, but it took all of my energy. So we stayed for about another hour or so. During that time, Josh went to their pharmacy to get my prescriptions. I remember why he was gone, the nurses in the hallway were being loud and I told them  "ssh," but I'm sure they didn't hear me.

Originally Josh was only going to take off Monday and then go back to work on Tuesday, but I think my look of weakness scared him, because when he came back, he said he had called and told them he needed Tuesday off also. He had a funny moment while walking back from the pharmacy. He passed a small family of mom, dad and little boy, about 4 years old. The boy was pointing at everything and telling his parents what it was. "Truck" "Garbage" "Cowboy". Only my husband would wear his nicest cowboy hat to the hospital. Which paid off, because when I was asking for my husband in the recovery room, I apparently told them he wouldn't be hard to find, just go find the cowboy. I love that man and his hat.

Josh told me I had to blog this picture. I told him no because I look horrid, but this was less then 24 hours after surgery.  

Flowers from my besties. I love you guys!

Recovery hasn't been overly too bad. Lots of sleeping. Lots of pain pills. But it was worth it. I have four incisions. One in my belly button, one a few inches above that, and two on my right side. The two on the right have never bothered me. The higher one has a little bit, but not much. 99% of my pain has been in my belly button. It hurts to stand up, especially from the couch or the bed. And it hurts to lay down. But through it all, I just keep thinking, even if this pain is a 10, the attacks were a 13-15 on the pain scale, that ends at 10.

One sweet part of the recovery was on Tuesday. To have more room to operate, they had blown my belly full of air. They told me it would take a few days to work its way out and walking was the best thing to help. On Tuesday, I had just sat down in the recliner when one hit my shoulder and it HURT. I couldn't hardly move or breathe it hurt so bad. I had Josh help me up so I could try to walk it out. We went up the hall and back several times. At one point I had to stop for a rest, so I sat on the toilet. He started to comb my hair. I swear he is the sweetest husband ever.

Zipper has never been far from my side through the whole thing. :)

1 comment:

Layla- Miss CanAm said...

I know what you went through! I had mine out 4 years ago. Be careful not to cough- i started choking on something and the pain was so intense- so always have water around. Also- walk as much as you can even though it hurts. I found the worst pain to be from the air they put inside of you (so they can see what they are doing). It hurts to take deep breaths because of this. anways, walking around will help it move out.
I hoep you feel better soon!