After 4 solid days of stomach pain I figured it was time to head into Kaiser to get it checked out. Anticipating the ER would be very busy on New Year’s Day, I woke up early that morning and drove into the ER. It was shockingly empty and what would normally take hours to see a doctor and get in to see the ultrasound tech, took only 45 minutes. I apparently beat the rush.
Having been very familiar of my family history with gallbladder issues and every female on both sides having theirs removed, I was pretty confident I knew what the problem was. That and I had gotten it checked out 8 years ago where I was told I had some gallstones, but it wasn’t necessary yet to get it removed. So when I made the decision 8 years ago to keep it for now I knew to just be careful and watch out for “the big one” – a gallbladder attack serious enough that made it necessary to remove it. So when I told the doctor my history and where the pain was were were all pretty sure it was my gallbladder.
What I didn’t realize however was how bad it was. They confirmed it needed to be removed, but when I asked the surgeon if it could wait until after our trip to Seattle, they said no – we need to get you in for surgery today. Apparently I had gotten used to gallbladder attacks after all these years. The ultrasound showed that not only did I have a lot of gallstones, but an inflamed gallbladder and ducts. Basically, I most likely had recently passed a gallstone (inflamed main duct) and there were just too many gallstones blocking my gallbladder from doing its job – turning it into a ticking time bomb.
Although I knew this day would come, I was still a little scared. I had never been under general Anastasia and this was my first major surgery. Thank god Tootie and Terry were so great to come over and keep me company while I waited in the ER for surgery. Tootie officially welcomed me to the club and reminded me of how grand life would be stomach-ache free. Exactly what I needed. Megan and Brian were so great to watch Luke so Rich could be there before and after the surgery. I felt very loved and thankful for my family. They were wonderful. Here’s me waiting in the ER for surgery.
Surgery went well, however a surgery that averaged 45 min. took 2 hours. They took their time which I was happy to hear, but they reported after the surgery was done that there was one very large one in there, the size of a golf ball, probably about 1/3 to a half the size of the entire gallbladder! Pretty crazy, but it makes a good story, right?
They kept me over night to monitor me and make sure the second procedure wasn’t necessary (removing any gallstones that may have been stuck in the main duct). I’m glad I stayed because I definitely needed the nausea meds. The nurse kept offering me pain medication which I refused because I just didn’t want to add to the nausea. She told me I had a high pain tolerance and I laughed and said, no I just really really hate stomach aches.
I went home the next day and the first few days were rough, but after 10 days I was able to hold Luke again. Not being able to hold your baby for that long is hard, and I hated being so useless, but it was necessary and I’m glad it healed quicker than expected. Megan was amazing and cooked us dinners, and watched Luke a bunch to give Rich a break. I’m pretty sure that when you look up Supermom in the dictionary it just says “see Megan Westcoat”. We were very grateful for Megan and Brian’s help, and I’m glad we could help remind them that they were glad they stopped having kids after 2 🙃
I have to say that although this was my toughest hospital “story” to date, I haven’t had one single stomach ache or instance of heart burn and it feels great. I’ve hit my quota with ER visits in the past 6 months – so here’s to a wonderful 2016, gallbladder free!