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Gallbladder Removal 2019 - support thread

(524 Posts)
UserThenLotsOfNumbers Mon 31-Dec-18 10:39:06

Who is or is likely to have their gallbladder removed this year?

There seem to be a lot of threads on the topic (I've read most of them lol) so thought it would be a good idea to start a support thread for people for people having the op soon?

My story:

I'm 35, married with one daughter. I'm about half a stone overweight but reasonably fit. I work full time, husband is SAHP.

Comfort ate and ate irregularly after having my daughter and I have had issues with overeating, which I've now mostly conquered. I also have ulcerative colitis which is being controlled successfully with medication.
I was diagnosed with gallstones in Feb 2018. At the time, I had 2 large ones, 1 and 1.1cm respectively. Could be more by now!

Had been having symptoms for about 6 months before that. It started some time after my daughter was born. She's now 2.2. 12 years ago I had v similar symptoms which ended in a terrible night of pain then nothing for years until 2017. On reflection I wonder if I passed a small gallstone?

So after a year of dithering and fear, plus waiting to get over a colitis flare up earlier this year, I'm now having the op on 18th Jan.

My symptoms started as a dull ache upper right side, feeling sick and occasional vomiting. Now I get back ache, wake up with sore back, twinges, soreness, some acid indigestion. I don't (frantically touch wood) have the terrible colic. But I have some symptoms most days and I feel overall it's getting worse. I want to be well again.

I sometimes feel my gallbladder is swollen, especially at night. I do panic about it.

I've read all the post op horror stories, and all about the post op conditions, although I know that's comparatively unusual. Of course the op is sold as being easy and problem free - I don't believe that's the case! Most common outcome seems to be people are mostly fine unless they have something very fatty or take codeine. Ok, can live with that (hopefully).

What's your story? What are your concerns?

My fears are having digestive issues and pain after the operation, also am apparently being discharged with paracetamol! That doesn't even cure a headache for me! I was on oromorph for 3 days after having my c section, although I know that's not really comparable.

Listofsymptoms Wed 02-Jan-19 05:52:27

What a good idea!

I’m in my early 50s and had my first official attack in May. Felt like trapped wind to begin with so I took deflatine and sipped warm water. It ramped up with a solid blocked feeling at my sternum. I just thought if I could burp it would relieve the discomfort but nothing was happening. Felt indigestiony so had Gaviscon. Pain was dull and moved all around my torso - no position relieved it - i ended up pacing round like a caged animal. Then I vomited big time and was almost relieved because I thought this would release the blocked feeling but it didn’t. All the way through I just thought it was food poisoning but the aftermath felt like I’d been kicked by a horse.

I thought I’d go to GP to just check I hadn’t had anything mad like salmonella and bloods were taken but Dr said straightaway it sounded like a gallbladder attack. Bloods came back that supported this diagnosis. I was referred pretty quickly for an ultrasound and asked the sonographer if they could see any stones and she said yes. Follow up Dr appointment confirmed I had a largish Stone of 4cms and some sludge and she referred me to a surgeon. Appt was supposed to come through in 12 weeks but took 20 - was a useless appointment where I was just referred for an MRI and told I might have to wait another ‘12’ weeks but fortunately got a cancellation quite quickly - had it done 2 weeks ago and am now just waiting for outcome and hopefully the surgery.

In retrospect Ive had these bouts of ‘trapped wind’ before. I’m lucky in that I haven’t had an attack since May and I’m able to eat normally - haven’t adjusted my diet at all. I am at least 3/4 stones overweight and have put 2 stones on since April so classic yo yo weight changes. I also suffer from a lot of flank pain where my sides cramp up and then it spreads round to my back and no position or stretching relieves it. It can be brought on by me twisting my torso to put a seatbelt on or by bending down in a tight spot to pick something up - sometimes even something as simple as putting rollon deodorant on can set a ‘spasm’ off. I wonder now if this is related to my gallbladder issue but the surgeon said it might/might not be and didn’t seem particularly interested!

Anyway that’s my story 😊

mehimthem Wed 02-Jan-19 06:15:44

I had my gallbladder removed about 18mths ago & feel fortunate that my diet is pretty unchanged except that I can get a very uncomfortable tightness (not quite colic, but bordering on) if I drink a glass of milk. If I eat a spicy, hot curry or chili meal too I will end up with diarrhea for a day or so too - so I avoid those now despite previously enjoying them.
But, I try & follow a Keto way of eating now (high fat, low carb foods) & I really dont think any of this has impacted on my lack of a gallbladder.
I heard lots of scare stories before my surgery- just like the childbirth scare stories doled out to expectant Mums, lol - but my Dr had said something about foods to eat that I can eat anything I like, until I realise I can't.
It's all relative & I guess all of us will have different experiences & reactions.
Good luck though for a speedy recovery.

MummyPig89 Wed 02-Jan-19 06:27:00

I had mine removed in 2014 just after the birth of my daughter. The attacks had started halfway through my pregnancy with her and got worse each time, I lost a lot of weight and could only eat fat free foods.
The operation was simple and straightforward and I was back to normal pretty much straight away. Had no problems since, the only thing I can’t eat now is cheese although I’m ok with mozzarella so I get through a lot of that!

PenApple Wed 02-Jan-19 06:47:21

Hi! First symptom started nearly 2 years ago when I was around 6 months pregnant, daily or twice daily attacks when I was climbing the walls in pain. Pain under right breast & right shoulder blade. Even an apple would set it off, googled it & saw GP who confirmed gallbladder suspicion so referred for urgent scan. Found several small stones.

Plan was to remove it after baby was born but as soon as he was out I had zero symptoms, until 3-4 months ago!

Now the pain is generally just in right shoulder blade, but I get pain in left shoulder blade, and occasionally upper left abdo, way more often which I presume is pancreas, although bloods etc only show slightly high bilirubin levels.

Currently on wait list to see surgeon so could be looking at the end of the year for removal.

I lost lots of weight rapidly a couple of years pre pregnancy which I think could be a risk factor for them? Now I’m overweight though which obviously hasn’t helped ☹️

UserThenLotsOfNumbers Thu 03-Jan-19 10:33:26

Listofsymptoms – thanks for your post. I too got the “trapped wind” symptoms and did exactly the same as you – deflatine and hot water, plus hot water bottle. I used to have IBS so put it down to that. On reflection, I now know it was gallstones. Sorry to hear you were messed around by the hospital. I hope you get a date for surgery soon. If you have experienced episodes of biliary colic you are likely to get approved for surgery (but depends on your CCG). I too haven’t adjusted my diet, much. I never really ate high fat stuff anyway. There are definitely certain things that make the symptoms worse. It’s quite possible your weight change has set things off. A friend of mine had gallstones after losing lots of weight after bariatric surgery. Seems cruel doesn’t it? You do really well to lose the weight and are rewarded with gallstones! I think my gallstones cause me some mid-back pain, but not sure. Seeing the Osteopath for a couple of sessions next week so we’ll see how that goes.

Mehimthem – thanks for your post. Definitely know what you mean about the scare stories! I remind myself that it’s disproportionate, in that more people will talk about bad experiences rather than ones who had the op done and had no issues. That said, some people really seem to suffer afterwards. I will be following a healthier diet after my gallbladder is removed as well. I have struggled with overeating in the past. I feel that gallstones/the op is the price I’ve paid for that, and whether I get symptoms after the surgery or not, I really need to look after myself more. Thank you for your well wishes 

MummyPig89 – thanks for your post. Seems VERY common to have gallstones during pregnancy/after childbirth doesn’t it? Must have been awful to have suffered that during pregnancy especially. I’m really glad to hear you’re back to normal. Shame about the cheese, I would be sad at this! But it’s a small price to pay for good health I guess.

PenApple – thanks for your post. I’m sorry to hear about the pain you experienced. I can relate to your experience as mine started not long after I gave birth, with an initial “flare up” then seemingly nothing for a while. I waited (procrastinated! I’m not going to lie, I’m a total wimp!) then it got worse and I had to man up and get it organised. I hope you are able to have the surgery and it helps you. Weight loss and pregnancy/childbirth do seem to be major triggers for gallstones. As I said above, it seems a very cruel reward for losing weight!

15 days to go – definitely starting to feel nervous now! Got everything prepared at home and work, just need to pack a bag nearer the time!

Listofsymptoms Thu 03-Jan-19 10:52:04

Best of luck with your Op User... Will be interested to hear all the details! Thanks again for setting up this thread - I too have scoured the boards and read many a thread on this issue!

JingleAllTheQuack Thu 03-Jan-19 22:44:50

Some very familiar stories on here! My symptoms also started just after giving birth - I also thought it was trapped wind at first, etc. Took a while to get a diagnosis (my GP was useless and fobbed me off with antibiotics; I wound up in A&E during a particularly severe attack but they sent me home as soon as the pain stopped and my EKG (ECG?) came back clean, etc). I eventually had the blasted thing removed almost a year ago - relieved to be free of the attacks and haven't yet found anything I can't eat. I found the initial recovery tougher than I expected though - I figured that as it was keyhole surgery, it would be a breeze compared to my c-section, but actually it was worse. Take it easy for the first 7 to 10 days.

UserThenLotsOfNumbers Fri 04-Jan-19 07:13:51

Oh no! shock My c section recovery was terrible and I was on oromorph for 3 days after...!
However I was having to traipse back and forth to neo natal ward, maybe that made a difference?
The level of pain afterwards seems so variable.

Hazlenutpie Fri 04-Jan-19 07:25:06

I had mine removed last year. I’ve never looked back!

Alabasterangel6 Fri 04-Jan-19 10:21:09

Brethren! Was coming on to create a new (probably self indulgent) post for a handhold, but if you don’t mind I’ll start here. I’m feeling bloody awful. If they don’t say next week at my scan that they will take this out quickly then I’m not sure what I’ll do.

I’ve had bouts of a small gnawing RHS pain for years. It comes and goes but nothing concerning and no ‘attacks’ as such.

Xmas eve my stomach started gurgling like a drain - everyone found it amusing hmm but no other signs other than this. Then NYE the gurgling stopped and the pain started. Immediately after eating a goats cheese pizza. Overnight the pain was awful; sweats and chills, general stomach cramping, expecting d&v any minute that never came. I kept thinking the pizza was off and if I could just poo or puke it would help but nothing. Also aching and feeling generally really unwell. Ditto all day weds. Thurs the pain subsides and under the main pain I can feel that the pain under my rib is back. Doesn’t matter how I shift it’s still there. GP says he’s sure it’s gallstones I fit all the classic boxes of Forty, Fat, Fertile and Family history. Palpating doesn’t feel very nice but no longer in agony. He’s referred for bloods (going today) and I’ve opted to tap into my private healthcare for a scan which is booked Tuesday.

After seeing him the diarrhoea started - TMI here - literally nothing will stay in. Explosive liquid nasty smelling stuff which is paler than normal. And the RHS gnawing is still there.

I feel like a bag of shit. I’m supposed to be back at work on Monday with a boss who isn’t very understanding about sickness and a job that involves long meetings and driving (and I can’t be away from a loo at the moment). The house is a shit tip (no pun intended) and DH is away with work loads. GP said (unhelpfully) that this is ‘episodic’ and would likely calm then happen again. I’ve got private healthcare and I am going to use it if needs be - or does that sound mad?

Questions: does anyone know how long this diarrhoea is likely to go on? Will it settle? The fact that it’s still there logically tells me that my bile production isn’t happening so despite lessening pain (all over, rib pain still there) that this is still ongoing and not over.

I’m too scared to eat. All I can manage is those breakfast biscuit things (2 yesterday) and they just went straight through me. Not sure if I should keep trying or not bother?

UserThenLotsOfNumbers Fri 04-Jan-19 19:26:32

Alabaster - yes please join in! I'm sorry, that sounds utterly miserable. I hope you feel better soon. Are you able to keep down liquids? Definitely use your private healthcare. I'm having mine done through NHS, but at an NHS clinic in a private hospital. My blood tests and a chest X-ray were normal, it was the ultrasound that showed my gallstones. Could it be bile salt diarrhoea you're experiencing? If you go private you'll probably only have to wait a month to have the op, if that.

UserThenLotsOfNumbers Fri 04-Jan-19 19:27:17

Ps. I've had the "gnawing pain" for a year now. Feels like a ticking time bomb though.

UserThenLotsOfNumbers Fri 04-Jan-19 19:30:40

PPs.any manipulation of the area, such as a doctor examining it (there's that test they do, can't think of the name) plus the ultrasound, really set my symptoms off. I would forwarn you that you may not feel too good after the ultrasound, not to alarm you, but to prepare you.

Also pizza is definitely not a friend!

Hope all goes well Tuesday. It will be worth it to get the diagnosis and solution.

Alabasterangel6 Fri 04-Jan-19 21:05:15

Thank you for that. At the moment I am totally paranoid that the scan will show nothing...not sure why... the pain is now 90% gone but I tried half a plain baked potato with a tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese and the gurgling and threat of diarrhoea is back so I can feel a loo dash imminent. I will google the bile salts thing in a mo. The rest of the family slobbered over a lasagna tonight and I didn’t know whether to treat it with lust or contempt. DH sitting next to me now said ‘it’s like being on a tropical island with the sound of a distant thunderstorm’....he’s not wrong sad

Does the gnawing pain feel a bit like a dull toothachy pain? Like no matter what position I get in it doesn’t help. I can work and eat and distract from it but it’s just ‘there’....??

Alabasterangel6 Fri 04-Jan-19 21:14:11

Sounds a lot like that user yes. What I can’t seem to see is if there is anything I can do to alleviate?

Alabasterangel6 Fri 04-Jan-19 21:14:47

Presumably not while the sodding gallbladder is still there sad

MissMarplesKnitting Fri 04-Jan-19 21:23:27

Honestly, you will 99.9% feel a whole load better afterwards.

I thought I had IBS. I had it before kids a bit...so, just assumed it was the same.

After having my son, I'd get bouts of pain, repeated burping etc. Buscopan and painkillers and a bath sorted it.

Until early last year. Horrendous back pain, sweating and feeling awful. Though it was kidney infection, went to OOH and doctor told me to see gp for scan as she suspected gallstones.

Sure enough, there was a whopper in there, plus sludge. Three more awful attacks later (definitely worse than labour!) and I had mine out in August.

Other than a minor wound infection after the op, it was really smooth.

I feel LOADS better than before. In fact, I reckon for nigh on a decade I'd been just not right with my gallbladder. I have so much more energy and get up and go.

I have to watch food a little. Cheese is fine in smallish quantities. Can't eat Chinese or Indian takeaway but my lower fat home cooked ones are fine. It must be the fat in them.

Otherwise I can eat and drink anything I like and it's ruddy marvellous after years of cutting stuff out.

Honestly, the surgery was fine, ask for the liquid morphine afterwards and take your painkillers on rotation for a few days and all will be well. I was driving within a week and bouncing round the place within a fortnight.

MissMarplesKnitting Fri 04-Jan-19 21:24:06

Ooh and I felt like I had a ball up under my right ribs all the time. Lying on my left side was uncomfortable.

JingleAllTheQuack Fri 04-Jan-19 21:25:40

Oh no! My c section recovery was terrible and I was on oromorph for 3 days after...!

Ah - mine was pretty straight forward (not much pain, easily dealt with by diclofenac) - so maybe the gallbladder removal will actually be easier for you!

Alabasterangel6 Fri 04-Jan-19 21:43:50

@missmarplesknitting

“Ooh and I felt like I had a ball up under my right ribs all the time. Lying on my left side was uncomfortable”

Describes it perfectly. Like a slightly too big ball. I’ve got it right now.

nowifi Fri 04-Jan-19 21:48:43

I had mine removed last year and have been absolutely fine ever since, I can eat and drink anything! I too was nervous about the op and read all the horror stories but turns out I was scaring myself unnecessarily!

ALemonyPea Fri 04-Jan-19 21:56:56

I'm waiting for mine to done. Was meant to have it done June last year, but was postponed due to incidental finding of non cancerous rumours on both my kidneys, so surgeon won't touch me until I'm sorted. Had one operated on in November, and other big one getting done by March.

Fed up of feeling like I've been kicked in the ribs after I indulge a little. Constantly popping codeine to be comfortable.

UserThenLotsOfNumbers Sat 05-Jan-19 11:22:13

Thanks to those who shared their experiences of this operation. Very reassuring.thanks

In terms of relief from symptoms, I find eating moderately, and taking buscupan if needed (recommended by GP) and a hot water bottle helps alleviate symptoms.if I've eaten badly, I find the symptoms take a day or two to manifest.

dahliaaa Sun 06-Jan-19 01:44:43

I’m following this to see the experiences of others who have had their gallbladder out. I had my op two years ago but unfortunately have been left with long term discomfort under my right ribs (the sensation described above like having a large ball stuck under there.) makes wearing a bra v v uncomfortable. I had a lot of v large stones but it seems that my original problem must have been caused by something else (not that anyone can work out what that is !)

OP the operation itself was fine. Wounds all healed well. I had to go back to work after week and a half because of big project I was working on. I was aware of feeling a bit delicate and needing to be careful opening heavy doors etc (and I didn’t lift anything heavy) but I managed fine.
Food wise - I try not to eat anything too fatty and for the first 3 months eggs gave me stomach ache but that settled.

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