A month ago today, I broke up with my gallbladder.
Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about it and he put it a really good way: It’s like when you’re short-staffed at work. You still do the same job that you had to do anyway, but it’s a little harder and you can tell something is missing.
That pretty much sums it up. After the follow-up with my surgeon, I was still having problems. Incidentally, my GP had gotten all the reports from the hospital about my surgery and her office called to see if I wanted a follow-up with her. I did. I like my surgeon a lot. This is the second surgery I’ve been through with him and I trust him to do a good job and take care of things. He will answer any questions I have and address any concerns, but he is very straight-forward and a little short when he talks. I needed a little bit more than that.
When I went to see my GP on the 31st (about 3 weeks after the surgery), I was still having pain at the main incision sites (one on my upper stomach, one below my bellybutton). I was also still feeling lightheaded and I had a very scary experience where I no longer felt able to talk right. It happened at work one morning and I felt like I was slurring my speech, unable to get my tongue to do what I needed it to do to make words happen. I was also concerned about my digestion and stomach problems. My surgeon had told me everything was normal under the circumstances and my GP said about the same thing.
What they don’t seem to tell you when you undergo anesthesia (or at least what they didn’t tell me), is that your cells suck that stuff up and hold onto it. Your cells then decide to randomly release some of that medicine. She said it happens for most people in the afternoon and they get really tired. For me, it seems to happen about 10 in the morning or so and that’s also when the speech problems happen. Like clockwork, every time I’ve had the problem, it has been the same time of day. This is normal for about two months after surgery. It also helped explain not being able to stop myself from sleeping 11-12 hours at a time. I am doing that less, but I can tell you that I’m still tired A LOT. Normal post-surgery, but a pain nevertheless. The lightheaded feeling is probably also connected to the anesthesia, so hopefully that goes away within the month also.
As far as pain from the incision sites: 1 year. The doctor said it can take up to a year for that to go away. Really?!? No one told me that either! She took a look at my scars and said that I was having some hypertrophic scarring. Luckily, I am not developing keloids, but in order to help the scarring stay more minimal, she recommended applying something like Bio-Oil to them with as much massaging as I could handle. I have already been able to tell a difference. The worst scar is below my bellybutton and it has the most raised scar tissue. I’m not sure if it’s shrinking exactly, but it looks like it’s healing better. (A side note: I had a dream that the Bio-Oil worked so well that it started to make my bellybutton disappear. Not reality, thankfully.)
My stomach problems have been the worst part, really. Here is also where we get into TMI territory, so consider yourself warned and feel free to skip this paragraph. After I eat, I almost always feel stomach pain of some sort. It’s not constantly awful and sometimes it’s just a minor annoyance, but it is a marked difference. I also have noticed an increase in gas. I have discovered that eating spaghetti with tomato sauce is a giant NO. The acid is just too much and I end up laying on the couch wishing I hated pasta. I also think that I can’t drink a lot of alcohol anymore. I had a couple of glasses of wine one night and everything seemed fine. At a friend’s wedding, I consumed about 3 rum and cokes over a several hour period. The next day, I almost shit myself. I can’t trace any food I ate that night to that sort of reaction again, so I can only assume it was the alcohol. I haven’t drank since. Everything in general seems to move through my system a little faster now than it used to and I have had to become more comfortable with public bathrooms than I ever expected. Overall, I seem to be able to eat most things without much problem, which is a relief. The doctor did suggest that I start on a probiotic in order to get myself a little more regulated and a little less uncomfortable. We’ll see how that goes as I haven’t noticed a difference yet.
All in all, things are generally manageable. I will be really happy if the probiotic helps my stomach and I will be especially happy if I can get these tired feelings under control as well. I am still cautious about some foods, which I think is probably a good thing anyway.
I was talking the other day about how there are some things you can never undo. Taking out your gallbladder is one of those things. I don’t regret doing it, especially since it apparently needed to happen, but I wish I had been better educated about exactly what I was getting into afterwards. Nothing is unmanageable by any stretch and things can always be worse, but I didn’t sit down and think “Well, you could always have more stomach problems after” or “Be prepared to want to sleep for half the day.” I think I probably should have planned to take some more time off of work or at least plan for an extra day off here or there so that I didn’t/don’t feel so drained all the time. Whenever I get bummed about how something feels, I try to remind myself that it’s only been ___ amount of time. It’s only been a month. I’m allowed to still feel tired or have stomach trouble or whatever it is after losing an organ only a month ago. Figuring out what things work (smaller meals, teas for digestion, etc) and what things don’t (alcohol, etc) is part of this process. I have to give myself time to do that also.