Monday, May 19, 2014

Extracting a Gall Bladder

A few months before my daughter, Melody, was born, in the Summer of '03, I was having a rough time with my health.  Several times over about a two week span, I had what felt like heart attacks.  It started with a feeling much like severe heartburn, and progressively got worse, to the point that I was feeling an aching pain in my chest.  After one such attack, I felt like I needed to go to my doctor, and I called his office to see if he could see me.  He told me to come right in.  After an examination, it was still a mystery.  I felt better, as the attack had subsided, but my doctor couldn't figure out what was causing it.  He suggested that, should I experience it again, that I should go to the emergency room, and in the meantime, he would schedule me for an MRI.

A few days later, on my way home from work, it hit me again.  My wife met me at home, and said we should go to the ER, so we did.  It was very crowded, and the desk attendant said it could be a long wait.  A little later, they called me back.  They were going to take my vitals and a blood sample in advance of my examination.  While giving blood, I got lightheaded, nauseous, and apparently became pale.  My wife, Teresa, alerted the nurse, and they immediately led me into a room in the ER.  I felt like I was going to pass out.  They started to check me over and did test after test.  We ended up being at the hospital for almost six hours, and no reason for my symptoms could be found.  The doctor said there was one more test he wanted to do, but it could be done the following day.  I was sent home.

On the drive home, I started to get nauseous again, and felt like I was going to throw up.  Teresa pulled over and began to dry heave.  I felt horrible.  Poor Teresa could only watch.  I finally felt well enough to get back in the car and she drove us home.  We had an uneventful night, but we knew we would have to go back to the hospital the next day for the remaining test.

It was scheduled for 1 p.m., so we both skipped work so we could sleep in, and then get to the hospital early.  The test they gave involved injecting me with radiation and then scanning my gall bladder to see if it was functioning correctly.  Just before the test, they asked me if my wife was pregnant.  I said she was.  They said that she and I would not be able to be around each other for at least six hours after the test, due to the radiation.  She was my ride home!

While I went for the test, Teresa called my parents to let them know about our dilemma, and they rushed over to Howard County General to assist.  After the test, I rode with my father, while my wife drove my mother back to our house.  Teresa then made dinner and we all hung out together, in separate rooms.

The results of the test showed that my gall bladder was not functioning correctly, and it was likely what was causing my attacks.  I was referred to a surgeon who told me my options.  First, he wanted me to have an endoscopy to make sure there wasn't anything else causing my attacks.  Second, he would remove my gall bladder laproscopically, by making several small incisions in my stomach and removing my gall bladder in that way.  These procedures would take place a week apart, two weeks after the initial examination.  I also would have to see my doctor for a physical to make sure I was well enough physically for the procedures.

I passed my physical, then had the endoscopy.  It was a weird procedure.  I was knocked out, but I remembered everything that was occurring up to a point.  I remember them sticking a tube down my throat and I kept gagging and choking on it, before I was completely out.  The endoscopy showed no other issues, so the surgery was planned for one week later.

This was my first ever surgery of any kind (other than getting my wisdom teeth out), and Teresa took me to the hospital that morning.  The procedure was scheduled for noon.  My father came to the hospital to be with Teresa while they waited.  This time I was completely out cold.  When I awoke several hours later, I was very nauseous.  I couldn't sit up at all.  Everytime I tried, I felt like throwing up.  Eventually, I was the last patient still in the recovery room, and the place was getting ready to close.  I was finally able to stand up for more than a few minutes, and Dad and Teresa took me home.

I was given some pretty lethal pain killers, and I took one before going to sleep for the night.  The plan was for me to sleep on the living room couch since I couldn't climb the stairs.  I also couldn't get up without assistance.  Poor Teresa was 7 months pregnant, and she had to take care of me!

The first night was horrible.  I did have to call Teresa twice during the night to help me to the bathroom.  Dad came back over the following day to sit with me while Teresa worked.  The day after that, Teresa's father came over to sit with me.  Finally, I got well enough to be able to get around without assistance, and I gradually started feeling better.  I was able to return to work after a couple of weeks of taking it easy.  Thank goodness it fixed my problem.

That's all I've got.  Have a great evening, everyone!

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