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Goodbye Gallbladder

April 22, 2019

It has finally happened, the gallbladder is gone!

In fact, it has been gone for 3 weeks and I feel pretty awesome.

So… I promise that I will stop ranting about my broken gallbladder, because it’s been snipped, pulled out of a teeny hole above my belly button, dissected and incinerated.

The journey to get to this point was far longer than it should have been.

Below I’m just going to share a few things/pointers I learned along the way for anyone in a similar situation (in the UK).

If you have private insurance definitely look into having the procedure done privately as soon as you can get the referral from your GP.  I absolutely love the NHS, but they dicked me around for over a year after my official diagnosis of gallstones. My doctor initially told me that the waiting time would be the same for NHS or private and told me to lose a bunch of weight before I could be put forward for surgery which was fair because I really needed to, but after I lost roughly 45 in 4 months I had to go back to her in pain and misery to see if it was enough to get the referral in and she agreed to take it forward. It took me over 3 months after that to get my official appointment with an NHS consultant, and after that appointment I was promised in writing that I would receive treatment within 12 weeks… I was so uncomfortable every single day and could not plan my life.

12 weeks passed and they assured me that I was still on the list but kept telling me that I was months away every time I called… 16 weeks passed and I got a letter from the NHS saying… gee sorry this is taking so long, hang in there! (paraphrasing)…  At 19 weeks I finally asked for a private referral. THE NEXT DAY I had an appointment booked to see a private consultant and then after I met with the consultant, my gallbladder was removed 10 days later. If I had just pushed for the private referral in the first place instead of getting talked out of it I could have had it out last summer!!!

If you do not have the option of going private, get on the NHS waiting list as soon as humanly possible because for this particular surgery you’re very likely going to be waiting well over 3 months to see a consultant, then over another 3 additional months waiting for surgery.

If you are suffering from gallbladder attacks and symptoms waiting for surgery and you are struggling to work out what you can and can’t eat… experiment carefully and cut the fat right down, but understand that everyone’s body is different. It really changes the way that you think about food. I ended up not being able to eat any more than 15ish grams of fat within a 6 hour period without experiencing symptoms. It is however still important to eat some fat, so cutting it out completely is not only more or less impossible, it’s actually probably the last thing you want to do because those stones are going to grow if the gallbladder retains all that concentrated bile… it is a nightmare balancing act, but a necessary one.

Regardless of how badly you want to say “screw it” and eat whatever you want to, resist the urge. You could do some irreversible damage to your insides. (like your pancreas and liver) Seriously, take care of yourself. This was my biggest fear every day.

Ibuprophen is your friend. If you let the discomfort and pain and inflammation build up, even if you’re not having a full blown attack, it can completely drain all of your energy and make you miserable or lead to you needing much stronger pain killers…. so if you’re able to process ibuprophen, take it regularly (as per the instructions in the pack) to minimise your discomfort.

The keyhole surgery is pretty simple. I have a few tiny scars and the pain was nowhere near as bad as a gallbladder attack. In fact, I didn’t need anything stronger than paracetamol after I got home the next day, and after 2 days I wasn’t taking anything for pain. The worst thing was that my feet were absolutely freezing with the TED anti clot socks on… so invest in something cosy to go over the top of those!

It took me about 2 weeks to heal and overcome the fear I didn’t even realize I was having every time I put a morsel of food in my mouth. I still brace myself sometimes after a meal waiting for the horrible nausea and bowling ball to the sternum feeling that I was experiencing on a daily basis for a year of my life. This whole ordeal caused me so much anxiety and pain, but now I can eat again, and I’m actually healthier than I have ever been in my adult life because I was highly motivated to make major life style changes, lose weight (75lbs and counting) and get healthier because of the broken gallbladder… so despite my anger at being put off for so long to get the surgery, I can also see the whole experience as sort of a blessing.


Image credit: My talented pal Anna who made me the most amazing and personal Pusheen/Halloween/gallbladder get well card in the universe <3

From → Ramblings

  1. I’m glad you are doing better and getting back to normal! Love the card lol!

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