Health Chat: My Experience with Gallbladder Removal!
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
Hey guys! I know it’s been a minute since my last blog post, but between school, STITCHES-related stuff (Things are Happening and I’ll let you know about them as soon as I can!!!) and trying to enjoy summer while it’s here, I’ve been super busy… plus I didn’t have another idea for a blog post, lmao.
WITH THAT SAID, today I wanted to talk about something that’s not related to writing or video games or YouTube: my gallbladder. Specifically, I’m going to discuss the symptoms that led to its removal back in February, and how I’m feeling now at almost six months post-op. If medical/body stuff squicks you out, I wouldn’t continue reading - and just a disclaimer, I’m not a medical professional and illnesses are different for everyone! If you think something’s wrong with you, PLEASE go to a doctor! Pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong!
Back in December of 2017, I was under the most amount of stress I’d experienced since high school. I won’t go into detail as to why, but I felt like crap - my depression and anxiety were both at peak, I wasn’t sleeping well, the whole nine yards. Christmas was right around the corner, and I was noticing some abdominal pain that I wrote off to my chronic acid reflux. I switched medications for that, which helped the pain somewhat, but now I had pain in an area where I didn’t usually get it: my upper right abdomen, right under my ribs. There was a lump there too, the size of a clementine and hard/painful/hot to the touch. I was constantly in pain, bloated, and felt nauseous every time I ate something. Gastric symptoms made themselves known at that time too, with diarrhea dogging me around every corner - and yes, that’s just as gross as it sounds.
After Christmas, I got an ultrasound, and lo and behold, my gallbladder appeared to have either a small growth or a gallstone - a tiny, hardened piece of bile, which is what your gallbladder stores for you - attached to an inner wall. This was the explanation of my pain, which had been steadily increasing since I first noticed it, to the point where I couldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours without waking up groaning and clutching my stomach. I met with a gastrointestinal doctor, who referred me to a surgeon, and on February 16 I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy - a long, fucked-up way of saying they made four small incisions in my abdomen and sucked my gallbladder out of me through a tube.
The first day after surgery was HELL. My abdomen felt like it was on fire, and while I chronicled a lot of my experience on social media, I kept some things to myself, like lying in bed with a giant ice pack for hours at a time and taking Tylenol like it was going out of style (I saved the good drugs for bedtime so I could sleep). Each day after that, however, got progressively less painful and easier, which is exactly what’s supposed to happen. I have four tiny scars - including one in my bellybutton, ick - and nowadays I usually feel totally normal.
Key word: usually.
What nobody tells you when you’re going to get your gallbladder removed is that everyone’s body is different, and we all have different reactions to different foods post-removal. For example, I have a heinous reaction to things containing vegetable/coconut oils now - no more movie theater popcorn! I also can’t eat anything that’s reconstituted using hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup, which means my childhood dreams of owning a soft-served ice cream machine are dead and buried. But all in all, it’s not so bad - and if anyone out there is getting their gallbladder removed and has questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them to the best of my ability!