Saturday, July 31, 2010

Don't Eat Healthy

Let me make the back story as short as possible. Since December of 2009 I've had four wicked episodes of abdominal pain, one that sent me to the emergency room in January and one that would have sent me there this past Monday night had I not known for sure what it was. Right upper quadrant pain that goes around to my back and up to my right shoulder - this here is textbook biliary colic (pain from gallstones). I had it once in December, once in January, and once this past Monday. I was fine with it, even though it was excruciating on Monday night, because I knew what it was and it didn't freak me out. I just took two heavy duty painkillers that I was prescribed during my ER visit, which I had NEVER taken before Monday night, and went to sleep. I woke up very sweaty and tired but feeling much better on Tuesday morning, and I told myself that if this horrible pain only happened once or twice or three times a year, I could take it. I've also had some random abdominal pains in that general area since last year, but whatever...nothing to write home about.

I didn't think anything else of it until it happened again on Thursday night, just four days later. Then I woke up Friday morning and almost barfed in the shower, and I dealt with abdominal/back pain all day at work. That's when I knew something wasn't good. Cue me calling a general surgeon for an appointment.

Interesting aside: I was talking about my predicament on Friday morning with one of the doctors I work with, who has been out of his residency for a few years now. When I told him that this pain landed me in the ER back in January and that they didn't even do an ultrasound while I was there, he said, "Did you let them know you were a doctor?" I told him of course I didn't, it's not something I broadcast just for shits and giggles. He said, "It's okay to announce it. You'll get better treatment, which is unfair, but it's still true." Isn't that horrible? I mean, HE wasn't being horrible...he was stating what is a truth. But it's still a shame.

So now go back to me calling the general surgeon. The surgeon's secretary said, "He's not in the office today, he's only on call. You'll have to come to the emergency room." And I said, almost apologetically, "Ugh, I just feel so stupid. I'm a doctor...I don't know why I let it go this long!" So smooth, right? Well, I'll tell you what...that surgeon's door opened for me. The secretary actually said, "Oh, you're a doctor? Hmmm...let me know, I can probably get him to come see you later today." He came in to see me that afternoon, PLUS set me up for an ultrasound and pre-admission bloodwork after hours. That doctor thing works sometimes.

So there I am getting my ultrasound. The ultrasound tech is super nice, and I'm looking at all of my organs on the little monitor. Then I see my gallbladder...full of gallstones. I go, "Holy shit, look at that!" She said, "I'm not a doctor, I'm not allowed to say anything about your images!" I said, "It's okay, I'm a doctor, and those are gallstones." She calls the surgeon and puts me on the phone with him, and the first thing I say is, verbatim, "Dude, my gallbladder has like a bazillion stones in it." Very intelligent.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am scheduled to have surgery on August 10th. Balls.

What's with the eating healthy thing? Well, I'll tell you. Most people think it's fat people that get gallstones. Most people think you have to have a crappy diet to get them. Au contraire, mon frere. The surgeon said my gallstones most likely formed when I drastically changed my diet a little over a year ago. I stopped eating processed, nasty foods and instead filled my diet with mostly whole foods, a lot of fruits and vegetables, and a lot of plant sources. Because my gallbladder didn't have to squeeze out bile as much anymore to emulsify a bunch of fat, the bile just chilled out in my gallbladder, stagnating and finally forming little stones. (My surgeon friend asked me last night, "Is it one or two big stones?" I said, "No, it's a bunch of pebbles." He said, "Oh man, they're the worst kind." Thanks.)

Oh, and the people who say fried, fatty foods bring on gallbladder attacks? True enough...just not entirely. On Monday night, which was by far the worst pain I've ever experienced, I had eaten steamed broccoli, steamed brown rice, and tofu for dinner. And on Thursday night, the attack that carried through until yesterday, I had spaghetti squash with organic marinara sauce and a piece of whole wheat bread with less than a teaspoon of butter. I mean, really. And interestingly enough, Hubs and I went out for dinner last night and I had no symptoms at all. And I did NOT have a healthy dinner. But that's the way it's gone for me - my attacks were all after healthy meals, and when I'm on vacation or something and am not eating healthy at all, I have no problem with it. Maybe so much bile is squeezing out that it's just pushing the stones right out of the way. ;) Maybe I need that action in my gallbladder. It may not just be a joke actually, because they did see one stone stuck in the top of my gallbladder during the ultrasound, and I'd hardly eaten anything yesterday until dinner.

Funny story: The ultrasound tech said, "Have you eaten anything today?" I said, "Yes, I had a peach at 12 PM." (It was 4 PM.) She said, "Oh, we really like you to be fasting..." And I said, "Well, it was a peach....4 hours ago....I think it's gone by now."   LOL

I also think it's funny when people say that having their gallbladder out made them gain weight. gained weight because now that your gallbladder is out you can eat all the fried, disgusting, fatty shit that you want.

So now you know The Adventures of My Gallbladder. Think goods thoughts for me on the 10th. General anesthesia scares the shit out of me!


By the way, 230.8 yesterday.  That's down 2.8 since the Friday after vacation (last Friday) from 233.6.  My metabolism did its job on our vacation and held me pretty steady, though I definitely did gain a bit.  That's okay, I'd rather gain a pound or two than get off track completely. 

Happy weekend!  :)


Barbara said...

OUCH!! I'm so sorry to hear about your gallbladder. That's one more thing we share.

A few years ago, after several painful episodes, I went to an M.D. for some tests and he told me I had sliding type hiatal hernia, multiple gallstones and cholecystitis. He said I needed surgery fast or I'd find myself in the emergency room.

I hestitate to tell you this, knowing now that you're a doctor, but I have not been to an M.D. (except this one time) in 20+ years. I would only use medical care in case of trauma (which, luckily, hasn't occurred in those two decades!)

Otherwise, I opt for alternative approaches or self care.

Well, to cut to the chase, I left the M.D.s office, went home and made an appointment with my acupuncturist. I got five treatments from her and I haven't had a problem since then (that was back in 2001).

I remember at the time reading about some medical research supporting the use of acupuncture for gallstones (although I can't remember where).

Of course, each person has to use the type of care she thinks best, but I just thought I'd share my story.

I'll be thinking good, healthy thought for you on the 10th! I KNOW you will be fine!

Miss M.J. Ma'am said...

Oh, double damn! At least you know what to expect, and it's sooo much better then the big ol'scar from back in the day!(hopefully!) :) Now I have to eat some chips so it doesn't happen to me!!

Best Kept Secrets said...

wow. That sucks. I just joined a gym and using a personal trainer for the introduction period and she says to stop eating processed food, now I'm hessitant.

LABleedsBlue said...

Wow - that is scary! I'm sorry (and I'm sorry I've been gone for a month)!

You will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers on the 10th. I'm sure you'll be in great hands.

Rest up!