Pregnancy RUINED My Gallbladder! My Surgery Story
Jul 19, 2020
During my entire pregnancy, I suffered severe stomachaches. They were so bad, they literally left me crawling on the ground seeking relief. The episodes would last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of pain, vomiting, feeling weak and sometimes ready to pass out.
I figured it was just the side effects of growing a human inside my body; indigestion, gas and bloating, you know, typical pregnancy symptoms. So I treated it as such. Taking over-the-counter medication, drinking tons of tea and trying my hardest to burp.
When Faren was born I was so excited to meet her, but I was also excited to be done with those debilitating belly aches. But at around eight weeks postpartum, I quickly realized that giving birth doesn’t mean you’re automatically back in tiptop shape and that the body needs time to heal.
So little is said and taught about what moms should expect after we’ve had a baby. So little is discussed about how postpartum shows up in so many ways; physically, mentally, emotionally. So little is talked about how our bodies are forever changed, how our organs are severely impacted by pregnancy.
For me postpartum is having chunks of my hair fall out every time I wash or comb it, it’s constantly feeling exhausted, sometimes feeling sad and frustrated and it’s being diagnosed with acute cholecystitis, or biliary colic; a.k.a gallstones.
At eight weeks postpartum, those horrific pains I experienced during pregnancy returned and I wanted to cry. In fact, I did cry. I cried a lot!
The first episode postpartum happened at about 2 a.m. one morning. I was in the middle of putting Faren back to sleep when a dull, broad pain spread across the right side of my abdomen; just below my breast and all the way around to my back. The best way to describe it is this; imagine someone in a slow rythmic pattern hitting a gong. Every time the gong sounds, represented the slowly moving wave of pain coursing through my body.
It wasn’t until I had to be rushed to the hospital’s emergency room twice in one week that I was told I had to have my gallbladder removed as soon as possible or continue to suffer the intense pain. I was sent home with pain meds and a list of doctors to contact to schedule consultations for surgery. I already knew what the problem was so when I suffered several more attacks at home, I quickly reached for my meds to ease the pain and refused to go back to the hospital.
But this condition was having much greater effects than just leaving me curled up on the bathroom floor like a millipede (ew, I hate them!). It caused me to not be able to hold my daughter when she cried for me because her growing baby weight put too much pressure on my back and intensified the pain; the condition had me locked away in my room for hours praying for the pain to go away as my husband tended to the baby. I wanted to be there for them, but I couldn’t. This condition was taking me away from my family. And even though I appreciated the medication, I couldn’t breastfeed once I took it, this in turn threw off my pumping schedule, which in turn severely diminished my supply.
Within two weeks I had my consultation booked. I met with a leading surgeon and at that very appointment, I booked my date for surgery. The doctor explained that pregnancy usually does have great effects on the gallbladder, slowing down its function and essentially turning the bile that runs through it into “sludge” which then forms the stones. He advised that only having the stones removed wouldn’t eliminate the problem because the gallbladder would continue making them, so the entire organ had to go. I needed gallbladder surgery.
About three months after giving birth, I found myself prepping my mind to go under the knife. Here I was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, again having to be admitted to hospital and having to go through another scary experience all alone.
Before being admitted to the hospital for my procedure, I had to take that dreaded PCR COVID-19 test; yes the one that goes up your nostril! I guess I have a high(ish) tolerance for pain because while I was nervous about that, that nervousness paled in comparison to the fear I had of going under anaesthesia. I was terrified! I told my family, I could thug it out mentally knowing someone was cutting into my body. That part didn’t move me. in fact the doctor explained that this gallbladder surgery was minimally invasive and very routine.
It was the thought of being in a sleep so deep that I had no idea nor control over what was happening to my body that terrified me. I lost sleep thinking about it. What if I never woke back up? What if they gave me too little drugs and I felt everything on that table but was too out of it to speak? I know I’m not the only one who’ve seen the documentaries with those medical horror stories.
But as I do with most experiences that frighten me, I mentally blacked out and just let it happen. Chile, before I knew it the anaesthesiologist was asking me what drink I was most looking forward to after surgery and I remember telling her, “I’m definitely getting a lychee martini from Social House after this.” That’s all I remember and it seems like five minutes later, I was back in my recovery room with the doctor checking in on me.
LOL! The thing I feared the most lasted the shortest time and I felt nothing. I was groggy, sore and a little disoriented when I woke up, but I had a visitor. They relaxed the COVID-19 protocol for a few and let my husband up to see me. This was a much welcomed gift and in my mind, the universe’s way of saying, “let us make it up to you,” for not having him there when I gave birth.
I’m currently on the mend and still nursing my wounds that are quickly getting better. I’m just happy that I have not felt that excruciating pain anymore and that I can now get back to living my life instead of wondering if the next morsel of food I eat would trigger an attack.
I really thought the trauma and drama ended when the baby came out of your body, but as I found out giving birth is sometimes just the beginning.
Let’s raise a glass (preferably of that lychee martini) to health, happiness and good medicine!