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Discussion in 'The Pub' started by morgan000, May 14, 2009.

  1. just wondering if anyone has had any experience with gallstones? I have one about 1 cm big which showed up on an ultrasound and apparently need to go to hospital to get it removed. I went to a specialist today and he didnt explain any of it to me, just said lets get it fixed and showed me the door and now i'm on a waiting list. Has anyone had the procedure done and what does it involve?

    Also are there any remedies out there to make it pass? There are thousands on the net but has anyone had a personal experience with it?

  2. Haven't had a gallstone, but I've had kidneystones and the bloke in the hospital bed next to me had a gallstone. He was screaming every bit as loud as I was.
    Trust me, you DON'T want to pass it.
  3. dont the smash it into little bits wth laser these days?
  4. I had a bagful of marbles removed in November. I'm not brilliantly informed but I'll ouline my own case and what I found out.

    Started having episodes of upper abdominal pain about 8 years ago. I’d wake up in the small hours feeling a bit bloated and with some discomfort under my right lower ribs, which would sometimes pass with vigorous exercise (cue laughter from wife finding me running on the spot, naked, in the loungeroom at 3am) but would otherwise build over the course of half an hour or so to be near unbearable. After an hour or two it would then subside and I’d be back to normal.

    Attacks got more frequent and more severe until, last winter, I was spending several nights a week curled up on the bathroom floor, dry retching and beating my head on the floor with the pain and couldn’t kid myself any longer that it was just a bit of indigestion.

    Trip to doc resulted in a blood test for liver function and a referral for an ultrasound on my gall bladder. The ultrasound was interesting as even I, who cannot see a bloody thing on them normally, could see my stone collection.

    Time for a referral to a surgeon and an instant fat free diet. It’s amazing really. Tell me to cut out fat ‘cos I’ll die of a heart attack in 20 years and I’ll tell you to sod off, whilst hoeing into a mountainous fry-up. Tell me to cut it out because otherwise I’ll be rolling around, praying to my atheist deity for a quick death the next morning and I’ll comply.

    Anyway, much Googling occur and I find that my symptoms were pretty much textbook gallstones. Reliable information is hard to find on the web, most sites falling into one of three main categories.

    • Cheery, lowest common denominator “What to Expect in Hospital†stuff put out by the health services.
    • Wacky, “Conventional Medicine is Evil, Wave Crystals at Your Body Instead†new age type bollocks.
    • Personal websites by US medical practitioners and surgeons advertising their services.

    Anyway, having sifted through the dross, I managed to glean that gallstones, though appallingly painful, are rarely life threatening. In that vein, big ones are safer than small ones because the serious complications result from the stones shifting and blocking bile ducts and so on. For the same reason, treatments designed to break the stones up can be dodgy because they result in small pieces of debris floating around. Also, such treatments are often unsuccessful because the construction of the stones (mainly composed of cholesterol) is not particularly brittle. Finally, if you have a propensity towards stones, even if they’re removed, they’ll probably occur again (although a change of diet can help).

    The upshot of that lot is that the favoured treatment is removal of the gall bladder in its entirety. This isn’t as drastic as it might sound because

    • The gall bladder is merely a regulating device and produces nothing vital in itself. It’s there to hold a reserve of bile which is injected into the gut in the event of having to digest a particularly fatty meal. Hence the fact that high fat meals provoke attacks. Without it, the gut still gets a supply of bile, just not the big squirt when you’ve just eaten a bucket of KFC.
    • A gall bladder full of stones probably isn’t working very well anyway.
    • Gall bladder removal was one of the first abdominal operations that was performed on a routine and survivable basis. There’s over a century of surgical experience to draw on.
    • These days, unless there are pressing reasons otherwise, it’s done by keyhole surgery so you recover pretty quickly.

    Was diagnosed in late August and provided with supply of super heavy duty painkillers to deal with future attacks. Saw surgeon in early October and was booked in for surgery in mid-November.

    Mid November, I went into hospital midday Friday, had the op Friday afternoon and went home Saturday midday. Had four incisions. One large one in the navel, one centrally further up and two small ones in my right side, one of which had a drain in until just before I was discharged. Pain was pretty much non-existent, even after the initial, post operative dose of opiates wore off. In fact I found myself turning down pain relief ‘cos it just wasn’t warranted. Main discomfort was under my shoulder blades which is, apparently, due to being inflated with CO2 during the op to give the surgeon room to work.

    I was out of bed before dark on the Friday for toilet trips, although pissing was a bit difficult for a while (being rather reluctant to clench my various abdominal muscles). I wouldn’t have particularly wanted to try a dump at that stage.

    On the way home on Saturday, we stopped off at my favourite café and I demolished a huge fried breakfast. Boy did that grease taste good. I found myself walking slowly and carefully but feeling pretty good.
    The only point where I felt much pain was getting into bed on Saturday night. I got a really bad fit of the giggles whilst lowering myself into place and simply couldn’t stop. MrsB, ever sympathetic, got them too and we just kept setting each other off while I was stuck, halfway into bed. Rounded off, of course, by the cats welcoming me home by jumping on me. Oooooowwwwwwwww. Otherwise there was the occasional twinge, kept in check by panadeine forte but nothing compared to a full blown stone episode.

    Main cautions are no heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for a while, until the abdominal muscles heal, because of the risk of hernia. I would have been fine going back to work after less than a week (desk job) but didn’t ‘cos I’m not that keen. I was riding 8 days after the op. I had to as I needed to pick up my new bike, but it wasn’t a chore and I was fine.
    Took my own staples out after a week (everything was looking good) and went to see the surgeon for a follow up after 3.

    Results, for me, were/are:-
    • a renewed ability to eat cheese, curry, chips and all the other foods that make life worthwhile.
    • Reduced necessity to make a run for it after eating anything oily. Otherwise no discernible practical effect on gut function.
    • No more nocturnal agony.
    • Some rather unimpressive scars
    • The ability to waffle for hours on internet for a about my experience

    I was initially a bit doubtful about having a, presumably important, bit of my works irreversibly removed but, having had it done, I’ve no regrets whatsoever. Indeed, one of MrsB’s colleagues recently very nearly died rather messily from (rare) gallstone complications so I’m bloody glad there is now no chance I’ll have to go through that.

    Incidentally, it was all done on the public system, promptly, efficiently, with a superb level of care (moderately informed opinion here) and without costing me a penny.

    Hope this helps. PM me if you need more detail.
  5. I had it done two years ago - trust me when I say the surgery is nothing compared to the pain of having it lol. I stayed in overnight cause I had it done in the afternoon. I have 4 tiny scars from the incisions about 4mm long. After the surgery you will feel really achy around the shoulder, apparently thats from the air they use to inflate the area and it gets trapped in the muscles??? Cant remember, I was still a bit out of it while the nurse was telling me lol. Take an iPod or similar, it will pass the time. Forget reading, you will be groggy for a while from the anesthetic. You will have to take it easy for a little bit, no big gym sessions lol.

    You will be fine! Seriously there is nothing to worry about :)

    I was on the waiting list but they moved it up because I was in a pretty bad way. My now ex found me almost passed out on the floor, out of it from the pain - childbirth is NOTHING compared to it. I ended up in emergency and on morphine within 15 minutes of getting there. So glad its over and done with!

    Let us know when you are set to go :)
  6. thanks alot for the replies guys, much appreciated.

    sirian sun, where abouts in the inner west r u?

    todays specialist was a private one recommended by my GP but after todays session, it was like i was at a drive through at maccas, in and out with no explanations. Won't be going there again, I'm going public to RPAH, i'll see a specialist there and see what they say. For private I'm on a waiting list for 2 to 3 months anyway, thats what he says, its probably longer.
    Thing is I don't have any pain, i just get really bad acid reflux if i dont eat for say 6 or 7 hours and i'm hoping when i do the operation it cures that problem. I'm taking tablets for that which r a dream, they really help but i cant be taking tablets forever.

    Other thing that showed up on the ultrasound is that I have a fatty liver so I've even changed my diet too, i was pretty keen on soft drinks before, like a 600 ml bottle a day and chocolates too. But now I hardly drink soft drinks, the chocolate is a problem though. I still do fatty foods maybe once or twice a week so i was surprised to see the fatty liver unless once or twice a week is too much, i dont know.

    ok then in terms of recovery time, my job is physical, i'm an electrician so running cables, up and down ladders, carrying ladders and cables and so on, how long before i can go back to normal duties you think?
  7. Hi morgan.

    A question out of the blue here. Did you change your diet significantly in the time before the ultrasound?

    I know a couple of people who have been through it recently and it's nowhere near as invasive as it used to be.

  8. Hey Mike,

    well i was in malaysia for 4 weeks and my diet was crap to say the least, mostly deep fried, coconut milk in everything and just really bad for u. I did the ultrasound about 3 days after i got back. but the thing is i had a few blood tests way before i left and it was showing abnormal liver readings and before the holidays, my diet wasnt that bad really, i mean junk food once or twice a week and a soft drink a day and sweets, that was the main thing, cocolates or lollies. i've done the blood test 3 times before i left all showing abnormal readings, on the last lest it showed i had a slight increase in uric acid too. then went for holidays and stuffed my diet completely and did the ultrasound when i returned and here we r, with a gallstone. so it must have happened a while ago because 1, i had abnormal liver readings before i left and 2, i dont think u could develop gallstone and abnormal liver readings in 4 weeks of eating crap. but i could be wrong.
  9. I was back doing normal stuff after a week, just had to be careful when lifting my son. Really depends on how long your body takes to recover.
  10. Judging by my own recovery, I'd have felt happy doing something really active but not real heavy lifting stuff after maybe 10 days to a fortnight, but your doctor can probably advise you better than I can.

  11. Similar story to the other guys. On A/L in Perth, having a wonderful time at Burswood Casino, then bang! Overnighter in Perth Hospital, morphine for the pain...... :shock:

    Strongly suggest you talk to your Doc about time off work. I only needed a week, but I'm not a tradie anymore. The cut on my belly button was a little uncomfortable for about a week.

    Good luck!