Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recovery - My Gallbladder Removal (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)

Today marks exactly one month since my gallbladder was removed. While my surgeon and doctors originally told me I'd be feeling back to normal and able to eat, "whatever I wanted" 4-5 days after the surgery, I have to say that is definitely not the case.

The first week was the worst. For the first night I had problems urinating. (SCARY.) I found out later that the nurses should have waited until I peed before they discharged me. While, they didn't... and after a very stressful night of sticking my hand under warm water, running the tap in the bathroom, and praying to God that even a -tiny- amount come out... I finally did pee the next morning. Phew. I did NOT want to return to the hospital in order to have a catheter placed inside me. One crisis averted!

The rest of the week consisted of me sleeping sitting upright on a couch in the living room, while my friends and family members aided me by helping me stand up and holding my hand while I hobbled to and from the bathroom. Fun times.

Walking around the house was necessary during that first week, to get rid of the carbon dioxide gas they pumped me up with during surgery. Thankfully, I never had the horrible shoulder and back pain that usually accompanies this, but my stomach was definitely bloated and hobbling around helped a lot.

To keep busy I caught up on the entire last season of Game of Thrones, and played a crap load of Final Fantasy 6, Katamari, and the Sims 2 on my Playstation Vita.

I was extremely sore all over, and I awoke many times during the night exclaiming "OUCH!" and then falling back to sleep. In honesty, I really didn't get any good sleep sitting there on that couch. My butt would become numb, and my back eventually started hurting. After a few days I started laying down on another couch, and that was a bit more comfy. I HATED having to sleep on my back every night (my sides were way too painful.) I'm still dealing with this, and I can't wait until I can sleep on my left or right side with comfort again.

The painkillers I was prescribed (tramadol/acetaminophen combo) really didn't help with my pain, so I eventually gave up on them around the four day mark. I decided to just ride it out, and eventually the pain became more of a soreness/ache, and I started to feel better.

As for food, the first week I had zero appetite. I knew I had to get my strength and energy up though, so I did eat a lot of plain toast (no butter), light veggie soup, crackers, fruits, apple juice, jello, fat-free pudding, and apple sauce. Nothing really substantial for the first week, but I was still feeling nauseous anyway, so I just tried my best.

Week 1 also brought about pretty brutal diarrhea (gross, I know... but all part of the process.) Running to the toilet after any meal was not a highlight of this whole recovery process. Thankfully, as week 2 rolled around, this greatly subsided.

At the one week mark I received a surprise in the mail from the company, I Heart Guts. It was my very own stuffed gallbladder to make up for the one I lost! Hurray! This definitely putting a much needed smile on my face. :)

Much cuter than the one I lost! <3

Around the one week mark, I definitely started to feel better, but I also developed sharp pains on my left side under my ribs. Not too happy about this development!

Week two I became stronger and was able to walk around without much help. My appetite increased, and I added lean turkey and chicken with brown rice and veggies to my diet. I wasn't able to go see the fireworks on Canada Day with my friends, but I was able to get into the car and drive around to see them from a distance. 

Week three I started feeling up to going out more, and even went to the mall and for a walk around the block. This was probably a mistake, because my right side (where my GB had been) started aching and forming sharp pains that would literally stop me in my tracks. Did I just push myself too much that day? I'm still not sure.

Fast forward to today - one month after surgery. I've met with my surgeon who said all my incision areas are healing very nicely. He wrote off my left and right sided aches and pains as, "part of the healing process." I also found out that my gallbladder was, "chronically inflamed" at the time of removal, and if it had been inside me any longer it could have potentially ruptured and become life threatening. It was a good thing I got it out when I did.

The problem remains though, that I still have pretty painful stabbing and aching sensations both on the right side under my ribs, as well as the left. I visited my doctor yesterday, who seems to think I might have IBS related problems. I'm not too convinced of this, so I was sent for a full blood work and other tests. Reading patient stories online make me worry about Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (where the sphincter leading into the pancreas goes into a "spasm", causing temporary back-up of biliary and pancreatic juices resulting in attacks of abdominal pain.

I'm also concerned about having pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, hernias... and, well, basically all the horrible things Dr. Web MD says I might have based on my symptoms. Hopefully my blood work will reveal SOMETHING, and there's a simple fix for these ongoing issues I'm having. 

My diet continues to be low-fat to non-fat everything. Sure, it's bland... but I have lost 30 pounds and I feel healthier. I don't want to develop more stones in the future, so I think it's better to be safe and sorry (at least for now.) 

Do I regret having the surgery? No. My gallbladder was in a BAD state, and needed to come out. I really just wish the pain I'm feeling would go away. I was led to believe that this surgery would eradicate the pains I've been having since January completely, but, this isn't the case. I'm crossing my fingers that the next few months find me pain free, so I can forget about this whole ordeal and move forward with my life. 

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