Friday, September 7, 2012

Getting cut open

I am getting my gallbladder removed in one week and I am very excited. 

For the past few years I’ve been having weird stomach and back pains. My pain spells would last for about a week. Every time I ate I would become extremely ill. I would simultaneously get sharp pains in my stomach (like I was getting stabbed by a knife) and achy pains in my back (like I was getting hit by a hammer.) Then I’d usually throw up a few times. I was often involuntarily moved to tears, and I had to miss a lot of work because I couldn’t successfully fall (much less stay) asleep. After a week or two of this, I would gradually become better and the pains would go away for about a month or two. I first started experiencing these in November 2010. I remember this because I wrote about them here.

When I first started getting these I went to our on-campus medical center. I was told I had a stomach infection and that I had to wait it out. So for two years, wait it out I did.

Last week I had another pain spell. It was comparable in pain to the one that first led me to the doctor, so I decided to get professional help. It was Labor Day weekend, so our campus clinic was closed. I checked myself into the Flagstaff Medical Center emergency room. It was a good thing I did, because FMC – unlike the campus health clinic – has an ultrasound machine. I had my first ultrasound (and I got to see my insides, you guys!) and found out that I had gallstones.
A picture of gallstones that I found on Wikipedia. These are inside of me. Right now.

 I was happy to hear I had gallstones. It’s a strange feeling, being happy about something wrong. But I was so glad it was something treatable. I do not have to wait it out at all. And once my gallbladder is gone, I won’t have to deal with gallstones anymore. I can’t imagine not feeling that stomach-back pain combo ever again.

My surgery is on Friday, September 14. Until then, I’m on a combination of anti-nausea medications and Percocet. I’m excited to be off of those as well. I will continue to take pain medication – if I don’t, I’ll get the knife/hammer pains mentioned above – but I am excited to have my full mental capacity back. I cannot concentrate for long periods on this medicine. I am constantly zoning out. It has taken me half an hour to write all of this; if I could think clearly it would have been more like 15 minutes. I do a lot (like, a lot) of logic puzzles. I used to average around 2-3 minutes, but right now I'm doing them in 5-7. It's weird not being physically able to think as quickly as I used to. I have the memories of quick thought, but none of the ability right now.

I got a gallbladder removal pamphlet from my doctor. The back page was entitled Feeling Good Again. It’s about feeling good again. And it’s accompanied by this picture:
They're barbecuing their gallstone blues away.
Look how happy all those middle-aged white people are! Just hanging out with their watermelons and bottled water. I am pretty sure none of them have their gallbladders. As we all know, gallbladder removal is the fastest way to integrate oneself into suburban society. I am eagerly awaiting my comfortable shirts and my linen capris, and my practical sneakers.

1 comment:

  1. maggie.danhakl@healthline.comOctober 26, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Hi Alison, recently launched a free interactive "Human Body Maps" tool. I thought your readers would be interested in our body map of the Gallbladder:

    It would be much appreciated if you could include this tool on and / or share with friends and followers. Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Thank you in advance.
    Warm Regards,

    Maggie Danhakl- Assistant Marketing Manager
    p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

    Healthline Networks, Inc. * Connect to Better Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107