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Who's Had Gallbladder problems?

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    Who's Had Gallbladder problems?

    Despite my best efforts to pull a Cleopatra (i.e. live as the ultimate Queen of Denial), it's become impossible for me to ignore the reality that my gall bladder is responsible for the worsening problems I have with:

    • persistent nausea;
    • occasional vomiting;
    • abdominal pain -- there's an area about two fingertips is diameter midway down on the right side that's always tender to the touch and is occasionally affected by severe stabbing pain; and, most annoying of all,
    • bouts of almost non-stop belching that can last for up to two hours at a time several times each day.

    From those of you who've dealt with gallbladder problems before, I'd appreciate hearing about your experiences.

    How many needed to see a gastroenterologist, as opposed to their GP, to diagnose and/or treat this?

    Was anyone diagnosed using ultrasound instead of a CT or MRI?

    Did anyone have success treating their problems non-surgically?

    For those who required surgical intervention, did you have laparoscopic or open surgery? Did anyone go into the OR expecting to have a laparoscopy only to discover the surgeon needed to do open surgery instead? Were you required to do a complete bowel prep prior to surgery? What was recovery like (in the hospital, at home before you were back to whatever your 'normal' is, etc.)?

    Words of encouragement and success stories are welcome!

    Thanks, everyone.
    It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

    ~Julius Caesar

    Hi Hipcrip!

    Had all the symptoms..and finally had the surgery Laproscopy..been so long ago--but so glad I did...had been living with nausea all the time and had pain when presses in the area..then no more!!

    Sorry can't remember a lot about recovery--been so long...but nothing bad or I would remember.

    Hope it all goes well and you feel better.
    "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.” ~Carlos Castaneda


      I had a real bad gallbladder attack and my Dr. thought I was having back problems and gave me percacet for the pain. After fighting with the pain my daughter took me to the ER and they found out my gallstones had gotten out of my gallbladder, so I was transfered to a bigger hospital. I had laproscopic surgery 3 days later and the pain was gone right away. The surgery is nothing compared to SCI injury and surgery. Some people said they had a tummy ache after, but I did not. No staples, or big incision, a funny thing though I kept touching my little scope hole and it itched, they told me they close the hole with something like crazy glue and I should just pick it off scared the crap out of me.

      You should be fine, I could pretty much eat anything I wanted. Now that I was injured after my gallbladder surgery I can't eat like I did before, but I am sure you know that.

      Best of luck, it is not that much to worry about, very little recovery time, and no more stomach aches.
      JeAnNE L1Burst Fracture inc. 11/5/10

      Live Well--Laugh often


        What I and my primary physician thought at first to be gallbladder trouble, turned out to be a prolapse that affected my bladder/bowel. Just FYI.

        A HIDA Scan is used definitively as far as I understand. (Copied from WebMD: In this test, a radioactive material called hydroxy iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) is injected into the patient. The radioactive material is taken up by the gallbladder to measure gallbladder function. This test also is referred to as cholescintigraphy.)
        Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

        T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12


          My dear hipcrip, I had my gallbladder and appendix removed in 1975 before laproscope was heard of. Geez, I wa sicker than a dog for months and they kept saying I was too young, thin and had no kids (fat, fourty and fertile were the crude words used) so not gall bladder.My scar is over 5" long slanted from navel to rib. Back then you were in the hospital for a week and the nurse came backrubs.
          I was young and AB so nothing to compare to what you are going though, but that is my experience. Do I sound like an old aunty?


            Thank you, ladies, for the reassurance that if surgery is needed, it will provide fast relief and hopefully shouldn't be too hard on me.

            @sherocks -- you said the magic words with "no more nausea"! I'm at the point where I am nauseated constantly, and can't swallow anything, including water, without making it worse. For some reason, eating is a little less traumatic when I'm laying down -- maybe the gallbladder empties better in that position. Hearing that you barely remember the surgery is great news indeed!

            @JeaPow -- I laughed pretty hard at the doc's recommendation that you use super glue. If that's the advice from the larger hospital, I shudder to think what the smaller one would have told you. Your experience is very reassuring. I've had a laparascopic procedure before, and the thing I remember most about being in the recovery room (besides how good those yummy soft flannel blankets felt coming straight out of the warmer) is the nurses cheering every time I managed to burp up some of the CO2 they used to inflate my abdomen during the surgery. ~lol~ Thanks for sharing your story -- I'm glad things went so well for you!

            @lynnifer -- I appreciate the heads up about the prolapse mimicking gallbladder issues. I'm no stranger to the phenomena of having common symptoms not turn out to be from the most common problems, so there's no way I'll agree to any treatment without conclusively ruling out less-like differential diagnoses. I hope you can get your foot wound healed up quickly and without more surgery so you can move ahead with correcting the prolapse.

            @Linda -- You sound like a favorite friend much more than an aunt, and you most certainly don't sound old! With gallbladder and appendix problems going on at the same time, it's no wonder you were so sick for so long! My late older sister had her gall bladder removed in the 60s. I swear her scar ran diagonally from her left hip all the way up to her right boob, so I'm grateful that I'm living in the era of laparoscopies if I do need surgery.

            Hopefully I won't have to fight too hard to convince the docs that this is not an appendix problem. I've had sporadic bouts of right side abdominal pain for years -- I even went to the ER for it shortly after we moved down here. With no more than a cursory exam, the ER physician decided I was in need of an emergency appendectomy and I spent the next eight hours proving to him he was wrong. Gallbladder was never considered.

            Ugh. While there's never a good time for something like this to happen, the list of maintenance items and problems I need to deal with is already so long I can't see straight (literally -- an eye exam and new glasses are one of the needs!). It's overwhelming.
            It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

            ~Julius Caesar


              Thc, got mine removed about a year ago. Found stones during a CT scan. Laparoscopic surgery. Home for supper, no diet restrictions.
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                I had galbladder sugery as I had loads of problems and loads of stones. I HATE surgery and all that goes with it...but the surgery is sooooooooooo worth it it isn't even funny. One of these days, if you are not VERY careful with your diet (very low fat) you will be rushed to the hospital in the ambulance. I was. They confirmed it was gall stones with the ultrasound and I had laprascopic surgery to remove the gall bladder and stones. It is nothing like the old open method. You can do it as day surgery if you are hardy. I was in for a couple of days and finished my recovery at home for...I think a couple of weeks.

                I would definately look into getting it done and behind you as you will feel soooooooo much better and you diet will be more flexable. In the meantime stick to a VERY low fat diet, carry a dose or two of ibruprofin and yes, my doctor recomended benidril. The ibuprofin is for the pain and inflamation from the irritation from the stones passing through the bile duct, and the benadril is for reducing swelling in the bile duct. That is what my doctor recomened. Then if you feel an attack coming on, take the meds. But yes, (from a board certified surgery hater) get the surgery, sooo worth it! Good luck and feel better!
                Disability is not a medical problem with social issues, but rather a social problem with medical issues.
                Franklin D. Rosevelt


                  It sounds miserable hipcrip. What are you doing to do?


                    Linda, the decision was made for me. Friday my abdomen was hard and distended, my stool was yellowish and I was running a fever (99.4, which was of course dismissed as nothing). Looked up the symptoms and found that it was probably an infection of the gallbladder (cholangitis). The recommendation was "life threatening -- seek immediate attention to avoid morbidity and mortaility." So I went to the ER.

                    Told the resident it was my gallbladder and that I was only here out of concern it was an infection that could go septic. She, of course, didn't rule out gallbladder but also forced me to go through (and pay for) diagnostics for appendicitis. It was, of course, my gallbladder. Why won't they ever listen??

                    Got started on IV antibiotics. Consult with surgeon reveals the gallbladder is full of stones (no surprise given my recent abdominal pains plus other symptoms). Big surprise is that because the walls of the organ are so thick, it appears my gallbladder has been infected for *years* with a low-grade infection.

                    They wanted to keep me for 24 hours of IV antibiotics and because one pancreatic enzyme, amylase, was slightly elevated and it scared him. That complicated my life terribly because I have to fly to San Juan on Monday to get my pump filled (the alarm date is this week), and I know I would not rest in the hospital. I also didn't want to get admitted just to lay in a regular hospital bed for a day where my chronic pain wasn't being managed (I take heavy amounts of oxycontin and oxycodone every day and they had me on nothing but 50 mg demerol every four hours, which is what you give an AB with a broken leg) and risk pressure sores and all the other goodies we crips get when hospitalized (plus having to pay the Medicare deductible for a one day admit) only to get released for my pump refill and then go back in later this week for the surgery.

                    I managed to convince him to retest the enzyme levels and if they were stable, to release me on oral antibiotics and I'll follow up outpatient. I also told the surgeon that the only reason I came in was diagnosing myself with cholangitis from the Net and realizing it was an emergent situation. He told me I was smart. First time EVER a doctor didn't poo-poo me for making a diagnosis based on what I found online.

                    I can't really eat anything without bloating up like a beached whale, so it's clear liquids only til surgery. But at least I know what's going on -- and I confirmed again that I know my body as good or better than any doctor out there. I hate being treated like I'm ignorant.

                    Speaking of ignorance, we really need to get the word out about baclofen pumps. Every time I said I had a baclofen pump, the response was, "Oh, a pain pump!" And I had to say, "NO! No pain meds -- baclofen, an antispasticity medication." Two docs tried to treat me like a drug seeker when I asked for pain relief in my IV because they assumed my pump was managing my pain so I had no reason to ask for other pain meds. Very frustrating!!

                    And a tip: never try to use words and phrases like "central pain" and "neuropathic pain" with a nurse who calls abdominal pain and distention "belly" pain. The poor dears' brains just cannot handle anything as complex as central pain.
                    Last edited by thehipcrip; 26 Jun 2011, 5:11 PM.
                    It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

                    ~Julius Caesar


                      Gosh HipCrip your experience sounds very similar to Bill's except that by the time they determined it was his gallbladder causing the problem it had ruptured and they only discovered that by going in to do an exploratory surgery to find out why his belly was so humungous - oy !! Eight hours of surgery later he came out with an ileostomy , part of his stomach removed and a hernia repair - oy again !!

                      It sound like you have caught things in the nick of time - I am so happy to read this. His symptoms manifested in more than usual back pain and crazy belly spasms. We just couldn't figure it out - we'll know better for next time !!

                      Love and light for speedy healing - but stay vigilant !!

                      ~ Be the change you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandi

                      " calling all Angels ...... calling all Angels ....walk me through this one .. don't leave me alone .... calling all Angels .... calling all Angels .... we're tryin' and we're hopin' cause we're not sure how ....... this .... goes ..."
                      Jane Siberry


                        Obie, so good to hear from you!

                        All I can say is WOW, you guys have been through so much!! Poor Bill must have felt HORRID with all that going on. That he made it through that is very impressive.

                        I wish I could say that I can't conceive of how the docs could miss his gallbladder problems for so long, but I can't. I went to a really bad GP a couple of years ago and told him that my abdomen was hard and really bloated up. Without examining me, he looked at me and said, "It's called FAT." I'm not kidding. It took a few minutes more to get him to even deign to poke at me once or twice, which he did while I was sitting up. Once I finally convinced him I really was bloated up way beyond My normal size, he decided I was just constipated even though I kept telling him I had normal bowel movements. GRRR!

                        Thanks for the dose of love and light! Hope everything is well with you, Bill and yours.
                        It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

                        ~Julius Caesar


                          Good grief! What an ordeal. At least that doc said you are smart and your dx was correct.
                          I'm hoping you are going to feel incredibly good when that infected (for years!) gb out. All of the reasons for keeping out of the hospital were valid.
                          Keep us posted.



                            Wow, what an experience. Hope you recover quickly.

                            The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                              I wonder if it's got something to do with where the gall bladder is situated - Bill had 2 CT scans and they never saw it - but then once they went in it was obvious why - there was so much fluid and "ahem" other nasty stuff it was clouding the visual - oy and another oy !!

                              I'm really glad to see you again too HC - your kind and thoughtful posts have been missed !

                              ~ Be the change you wish to see in the world ~ Mahatma Gandi

                              " calling all Angels ...... calling all Angels ....walk me through this one .. don't leave me alone .... calling all Angels .... calling all Angels .... we're tryin' and we're hopin' cause we're not sure how ....... this .... goes ..."
                              Jane Siberry