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Gallstones

(77 Posts)
StudentMumArghh Fri 20-Oct-17 03:46:25

On Monday, I went to the GP about pains I've been having in the night. He reckons I've got gallstones and I've been referred for blood tests and a scan.

Tonight, I've been woken again by another attack. This is the 5th in a space of a week. I still have another week to wait to do my blood tests and a further unknown wait for the scan.

These attacks are so painful and exhausting, I don't know how I can cope for much longer. I've read that some people go months without attacks yet I'm having them almost every night sad

cazzyg Fri 20-Oct-17 04:02:34

Can you work out what's triggering the attacks? Common triggers are fatty or spicy food and alcohol.

The only cure is to get your gallbladder removed but in the meantime if you can work out what the triggers are for you, changing your diet could minimise attacks. Buscopan also used to help relive them.

You have my sympathies - gallstone attacks are some of the most painful experiences I've had. If the pain gets really bad, you show signs of jaundice, your urine turns orange or faeces pale, then you would be justified in going to a&e.

WombOfOnesOwn Fri 20-Oct-17 04:02:34

Hopefully they'll do the operation and remove it. It's the most hideous pain -- I had a terrible attack that blocked my bile ducts about 4 months after giving birth, and even with the pain of labor fresh in my mind, I'd have taken having another baby over having another gallstone attack!

The surgery was for me very easy, I went home 15 minutes after leaving the recovery room, and while climbing stairs when I got home was a herculean effort and I needed a very long nap (and 12 hours of sleep that night!), less than a week later I was able to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding.

Some people try very hard to avoid the surgery -- but honestly, it's not so bad, push for it if you can!

WombOfOnesOwn Fri 20-Oct-17 04:03:37

Also, make sure you report any symptoms of itching, coated-white stools, or orange urine to your doctor ASAP, because these can be symptoms of a bile duct obstruction that can quickly become a very dangerous complication of gallstones.

NewIdeasToday Fri 20-Oct-17 04:06:27

I suggest you read up about how diet can make a difference and try to really limit those foods that set off attacks. Typically that is any slightly fatty foods. You can get advice on the NHS website. And recipe books via Amazon etc.

Also ask your doctor for medicine to reduce the chance of attacks while waiting for the scan. Omeprazol really helps.

StudentMumArghh Fri 20-Oct-17 04:14:10

Thanks everyone. I have been watching what I eat and reduced the fat. But I ate tonight the same as I did last night (no attack) and now I'm lying here in agony. I'm worried that the frequency of the attacks mean its infected?

Twinkleheth Fri 20-Oct-17 05:15:12

I had misdiagnosed gallstones for 3 years - absolute agony. The attacks were spaced out but then one month I was suffering almost nightly, and contacted out of hours who sent a doctor who gave me a morphine injection, which only lasted an hour. Within days I was admitted, a Stone was blocking my bile duct and I became severely jaundiced. I was then sent to another hospital as I needed the operation urgently (hospital I was originally in couldn’t operate for 2 weeks) and had pancreatitis. My advice is do not suffer in silence, if your condition is reaching a more critical stage then contact out of hours or your GP in morning. I absolutely empathise OP, it’s just horrendous

LondonNanny90 Fri 20-Oct-17 13:56:34

I don't want to panic you but if you have really frequent or long attacks then go to A&E. I had them on and off every few months (not knowing what they were) then had 2 weeks worth of constant ones. Ended up in A&E thinking I was dying, got put straight on morphine drip and after being scanned was booked in for an emergency op. My gallbladder had become badly infected and the surgeon said if I hadn't come to hospital, I would have ended up in intensive care or worse.
I fully sympathise - it's the most horrendous pain.

StudentMumArghh Fri 20-Oct-17 16:49:47

Bloody hell LondonNanny90, You were lucky then! The pain started around 3:30am and eased off enough for me to sleep about 7ish.

I'm not jaundice or having pale stools blush and I'm completely fine during the day which is why I'm reluctant to go to a&e. I have a 1yo DD and nearest family is an hour way.

HundredMilesAnHour Fri 20-Oct-17 17:21:38

I think misdiagnosis is common reading the posts on here and from my own experience. I ended up with pancreatis caused by gallstones but it was a while before anyone figured out what the problem was.

I was getting severe pain, usually during the night, but was so busy at work that I wasn't able/allowed time off to see a GP. At one point a colleague found me on my hands and knees in the Ladies in so much pain. So that evening on the way home, I stopped at a private GP walk-in service and paid £60 to see someone. They said I had a chest infection and gave me an expensive private prescription. The next day at work, I was still struggling and it was a Friday so I was worried I wouldn't be able to see a doctor if it got worse over the weekend so I stopped at the private GP walk-in again on my way home (another £60, another expensive prescription!). This time they said it was the start of a stomach ulcer.

That Fri night I woke up at 1am in absolute agony. I can't even begin to explain the pain but I remember wishing I had a shotgun so I could shoot myself to make it stop.shock It took me over an hour to be able to dial 999 for an ambulance (even though the phone was right next to my bed). I was taken into A&E. They couldn't work out what was wrong with me and I couldn't even keep water down let alone the pills they tried to give me. Eventually at 5am, even though I could barely stand and they didn't know what was wrong with me, a nurse told me I was being discharged. I had no-one to collect me, no money to get home, nothing except for my door keys, my dressing gown and my knickers. The nurse just said too bad, you'll have to wait in reception until there's someone awake you can call (family were 6 hours away and I'd recently split with my BF who was 1.5 hours away). Luckily a passing doctor overheard the conversation and demanded that I was taken back to a cubicle and examined properly. A consultant was called and they diagnosed it as acute pancreatitis caused by gallstones (I had a scan at 7am). I ended up in hospital in HDU on morphine for 10 days. The consultant said that if I'd gone home (when they were trying to send me), I would have been dead within less than 24 hours. shock. That doctor saved my life and I am forever grateful. My pancreas was too inflamed for my gall bladder to be removed so I had to wait 2 months for the operation. It was a relief when it finally happened (although it ended up being open surgery and taking 5 hours due to complications from how ill I'd been).

What shocks me the most is that when I hear people talking about their symptoms, there are certain words that are triggers to think "gallstones" or "pancreatitis". So I don't understand how an A&E dept couldn't have even managed a guess initially at what might be wrong with me. I had classic symptoms, was the classic age (and overweight at the time). I guess it's a sign of how underfunded our NHS is and the pressure that is put on NHS staff.

Apologies for the long story. What I'm saying OP is don't be fobbed off. Please keep pushing until you get the help you need. It makes me nervous when you say you only get the pain at night. I was the same until the last couple of days when I got the pain during the day a little too. I wouldn't want you to go through what I went through. It was terrifying to be alone and in so much pain.

In terms of what you can do to minimise the pain before you have the operation, keep your diary fat free. Not low fat, it has to be fat free i.e. 0.1% fat or less. There are a lot of good sources of fat free cooking advice on the net. It's restrictive but it will help prevent attacks.

Teddy7878 Fri 20-Oct-17 17:28:16

Could it be trapped wind? That can be incredibly painful and last a few hours. It does sound like your symptoms are more serious than that though and could very well be gallstones. If you get another few attacks I'd get yourself to a&e so they can hopefully scan you quicker. Is the pain in your right side?

StudentMumArghh Fri 20-Oct-17 17:58:24

Yes the pain is in my right side and is very tender compared to the left. It spreads to my back and shoulder blade. I don't believe it's trapped wind.

I've also been advised about the fat free diet! Ab an incredibly fussy eater is it very hard! But I've cut fat down.

NecklessMumster Fri 20-Oct-17 18:08:06

I had this, attacks for months, GP said IBS but symptoms were classic gallstones. I ended up going to a and e with a bad attack, they admitted me, gave me morphine and I was in hosp for a few days
They booked me in for the op 6 weeks later so inflammation could be treated first, but said it could flare up in the meantime, to try a low fat diet but it might not make any difference,then the op went fine.
So, dont wait, go to a and e as it just gets worse and more dangerous, and a low fat diet is no guarantee

sunshineandhappy Fri 20-Oct-17 18:10:10

I'm scheduled for surgery soon. In the mean time I've cut out fat almost completely and not had any attacks. ( lost a stone too!) use the food labelling and try to only eat food with a green less than 3% fat label. Good luck!

user1471465348 Fri 20-Oct-17 18:18:50

I've recently been diagnosed with a gallstone (massive!). I think I've been fairly lucky (compared to others) as I've only had 4 attacks in a year.
Dr was quick to pick up on it though and sent me for bloods and scan after the second episode.
It really is bloody painful...!
Spicy food has been the trigger for me, so I'm cutting down on adding chilli to everything!
I actually vomited about 4 hours into my first attack. About half an hour after this, the pain subsided.
So when I had my subsequent attacks, after a couple of hours of agony, I made myself be sick. This helped again. Im not advocating it, just helped for me. I told the dr I did it, and I'd do it again. Mine isn't severe enough for surgery, but hoping to control it with diet.
Fingers crossed they sort you out though. It truly is so bad!

TapStepBallChange Fri 20-Oct-17 18:19:50

Have been having fizzy drinks? When mine got really bad with a blockage (inc trips to a&e and 5 nights in hospital) I found fizzy drinks made it worse, which I assume was due to the gas

goose1964 Fri 20-Oct-17 18:47:01

I'm waiting to have my gallbladder removed, I've found that a very low fat diet has really helped with the pain, now merely seriously uncomfortable

Aquamarine1029 Fri 20-Oct-17 19:51:04

Aside from gallstones, also be aware that the same pain can be caused by a low functioning gallbladder. This is what happened to me. Last year was hell for me. I was unwell for most of the year, almost constant nausea, frequent sharp attacks of pain, vomiting at least 10 times a week (and I have rarely vomited in my 44 years of living), and agonizing upper back pain. I was miserable. I severely modified my diet and nothing worked. Literally anything I ate made me sick.

I had my gallbladder scanned and I had no stones. Not even a little one. Several weeks later I was finally given a functionality test, and my gallbladder was only functioning at 8%. That's why I was so miserable. I had it out a week later (last December), and I've been completely back to normal since that very day. Basically, if they tell you you don't have stones, that DOESN'T mean your gallbladder isn't crap.

StudentMumArghh Fri 20-Oct-17 20:05:22

Thanks all! It really is miserable! If it happens again I think I'll have to find a way to a and e!

Mollie85 Fri 20-Oct-17 20:12:32

I like a PP had a misdiagnosed gallstone (singular but it was a big bugger!) for almost three years.

Drank my body weight in gaviscon, took omeprazole, had the camera down the throat, checks for stomach ulcers, cut out gluten, then lactose, then sugar, then all carbohydrates. When I google my symptoms now it's so obvious to me - pain at night radiating in the top right of my body. Textbook hmm...

After I was diagnosed in the December (by simple scan which took all of 45 seconds) my op was booked for gallbladder removal in the January. From the December to the January I was signed off work as the pain was so bad I'd pass out. I live alone and so was terrified. Honestly, I've nothing to compare it to, but the night I was diagnosed, I phoned my mum to take me to the hospital and said to her quite gravely - I think this is it for me, so prepare yourself and dad confused... in my defence I do suffer from anxiety...blush
Her response was classic: "ok love but dads jut got us a Chinese so can you give us half an hour..." grin

I digress.

Two weeks before the op someone told me to eat pears. I have no idea why but they were like a miracle to me. I can't look at them now though Perhaps try that, OP?

Had the op in January 16. First ever operation so it hit me quite hard. I've a lovely little ladder mark below and Into belly button to show for it, plus three more which have faded beautifully.
Needed all of the two week recovery time because I was weak ... ( the gallstones had been as a result of rapid weight loss and I was restricting calories by a silly amount.) The people that went in before me for the most part were double my age and walking around without a bother on them.

The pain is horrendous and don't let anyone tell you it's not. I've been a changed woman since the op, however I've put most of the weight I lost back on. (However, I Can't blame the gallbladder removal for me eating pie!) cake

Good luck to you, OP. If there is anything else you want to know do ask thlgrin

Snoopyokay Fri 20-Oct-17 20:35:32

You have my sympathy OP, it really is horrible. I take co-codamol whenever I get a bad attack. Weirdly enough they started off very frequent and now only get them monthly or so.

CotswoldStrife Fri 20-Oct-17 20:40:28

You do need to eat a super-low-fat diet to stop the pain and inflammation - my DH had gallstones and we had to eat very, very carefully for a few months before he could have surgery.

We lived off rice, prawns and chicken breast mainly, with jelly (surprisingly low fat) for dessert.

The pain is hideous, you do have my sympathy there.

spanieleyes Fri 20-Oct-17 20:45:29

I slept in the bath! Soaking in hot water, constantly topped up, was sometimes the only way I could get through the night. I didn't eat at all during the day in an effort to stave off any attacks, one at work left me crying in a corner ( not a good look for a teacher!) It was just about the worst pain ever!

trinity0097 Fri 20-Oct-17 20:46:00

NICE guidelines are not to do low fat, but instead to cut out whatever triggers you. Low fat is not the pain relieving magic cure for everyone, can be for some though.

Most gallstone surgeons don't know this though, but the nutritionalist I saw in hospital did and told the surgeon off! I ate a very high fat diet with just 3 minor attacks in a couple of years, about the same number I'd had in the same timeframe eating low fat

GranolaLover Fri 20-Oct-17 20:48:34

I'm no expert but you may have cholecystitis,which is acute inflammation of the gallbladder. My DD had this 5 years ago and it is VERY painful. She felt increasingly ill over the course of 7 days,with a high temperature,nausea and vomiting,off her food,and feeling hot and sweaty. Her DH ended up taking her to A and E and she was admitted,kept in for 5 days and given intravenous antibiotics,which did cleared it up. She said she'd never felt so ill,or had so much pain before,ever. And she had given birth and had 2 bouts of kidney stones prior to this! She was told that ultimately,it was probably a good idea for her to have it removed. Since this episode,she's had several much milder flare ups,nothing like as bad as the first one. She's holding off as long as she can on having it removed as she has a real fear of having a general anaesthetic,and really dislikes hospitals generally.

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