Goodness. An interesting few weeks and holiday.
For those of you that don't keep up on Google+, which is my primary social media tool these days, I'm recovering from having had my gall bladder removed this last week. And moreover, recovering from the pancreatitis that led us to understand my gall bladder was the problem.
About the beginning of November, I had what they describe as an attack. Pain in my central epigastric region. Not often particularly symptomatic of a gall bladder problem, which a visit to the gastroenterologist confirmed. He was not willing, at that time, to say with certainty that based on the various tests I had, that the solution was unequivocally a gall stone issue, so we talked about a few more tests, and I was sent on my merry way. I spoke with a urologist about another issue that was discovered as well. Not quite as critical, but apparently I have a sizeable adrenal cyst over my left kidney that will need addressing soon too.
After the original attack, I returned home, and really didn't have much problem with it. I noticed what I guess would be termed discomfort more than pain on the upper right region, but it wasn't really much of a thing, and I didn't think much of it until it got a bit more severe later.
On December 13th, after having had a bout of vomiting that didn't particularly correspond to anything else the prior day, the pain grew worse, and finally I headed back to the ER to see what was up. Upon the return of my bloodwork, I became a superstar that drew doctors and nurses to come see me. The guy with the lipase over 41K (when normal is between 10-70 and elevated is maybe... 100-200). Apparently my pancreas was rebelling in style, and THAT was the pain I felt, but for the extensiveness of the inflammation, they were still confused that I was saying maybe a 5 on the pain scale at best. Pain meds on board, I started feeling a bit better, and settled in for a couple days of poking and prodding when they admitted me that night. Hospital stays... Oh joy...
Definitive diagnosis of gall stone disease, and treatment was relatively clear. First we had to clear out the common bile duct to allow the pancreas to settle down and heal, and once it had time to do that, the gall bladder was a goner.
So they performed an ERCP to clean out the duct, and apparently found a few things, which accounted for the pancreatitis. And then I got sent home to rest and relax while things inside settled down for a bit. The following Monday I was scheduled for a laproscopic cholecystectomy.
Normally, they should only last about an hour or maybe 90 minutes or so. Mine took 3 hours. They discovered something interesting.
Apparently when your gall bladder is so packed with stones (thousands and thousands), it becomes relatively solid, and thwarts efforts for its removal. They had to empty it of stones before they could get it out. Worst, my surgeon says, he's ever seen. They still don't totally get why I didn't notice before now. And likely, both from the alterations of the skin of the organ along with my impressive collection of stones, things have been this way for very possibly years. This would correspond with an earlier attack I believe I had some 12 years ago. Scary.
The consolation to the results of the gall bladder thing is that it is very highly likely that my gall bladder has not been functioning as intended for a long time, and as a result, I shouldn't experience anything out of the ordinary (or at least nothing that has been unusual for the past year or more) in terms of diet issues. When I read up on expected things that happen once the gall bladder is out and things you might experience, I look back over the last several years and understand a few things now. :-)
A week out from the surgery now, I feel pretty good. The initial couple of days were frustrating just in the impact to my mobility, but I tend to heal quickly, and noticed significant improvements each day. As of now, other than some tenderness over the incisions, and an occasional twinge from the area in question when I stretch or move too much, I'd say things are healing nicely and coming along well.
I was very blessed both during my hospital stays and recovery to have my sweeties keep track of me. I am so incredibly grateful for them each.
So the holidays were spent relatively low key. I got to spend quality time all around, and had a few nice family experiences as well, which I appreciate. I'm happy to know that in spite of living in a very dysfunctional given family, I can still appreciate what much more functional families look like, and be welcomed in them.
So things are looking up. Sometime this spring, I'll be back in to have my cyst looked at, and given its already significant size, excised. Hoping the recovery is the same.
One of the other things that has been significantly manifest lately is that from when I started just trying to keep crap out of my diet, I've been steadily losing weight.. a pound or two here or there. Since this summer, I've dropped about 25, and it really shows these days. A lot of people that have seen me assume it was related to the recent surgery and ensuing issues, but through the course of the month, I had only lost about 4-6 pounds.. and that's not far from my typical fluctuation. I had really started to notice over the last month or two in that my pants are all bunched up, and I'm tightening up my belt another notch for it to be comfortable. Time to go shopping again, methinks.
So how were your holidays?