The Over 40, Fat, Female Disease

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yup, its gallstones! The medical term for inflammation of the Gallbladder is Cholecystitis, new one to me. Wednesday night, before I even knew the correct name or was able to spell it, I became very sick. I was nauseous, had hot and cold sweats, right under my boobs I had searing, burning pain that wouldn't quit and I couldn't get away from myself. All the sweating spoiled my new hairdo - Boo! My back hurt, my shoulder hurt, I couldn't eat anything (lost my two pound goal for the week!), threw up Vitamin water, couldn't get a deep breath, and I just kept saying, "This too shall pass".

Two years ago I had symptoms and the ultrasound showed I had sludge in my gallbladder. Sludge, BTW, is a medical term for the build up of cholesterol crystals and calcium salts. Finally a medical term I can pronounce! When these are crystallized, they form gallstones. I learned they are not like kidney stones which can pass with great pain but be gone forever. Gallstones can block the bile duct to the duodenum (pronounced differently than when I took anatomy in the olden days), and with nowhere to go, perforate the gallbladder causing peritonitis (deadly infection) or gangrene (death of tissue). Learned the liver produces bile and bile aids in the digestion of fat before going into the intestines. But, I hadn't had any symptoms for two years so gallstones were not on my immediate radar!

By Thursday about 3:00 I knew I had to call the doctor. The stars were aligned and I caught a cancellation for 8:45 the next morning. My doctor, bless her heart, was very happy with my weight loss, but said that is the first thing to look for with gallbladder problems. Early pregnancy, even pregnancy itself, a high fat diet, abuse of alcohol, and some medications also cause gallbladder problems. Well, I certainly didn't think 1-2 pounds of weight loss a week was RAPID! I did have my daughter at 19 (so I guess this is her fault) but I'm certainly not pregnant, I've been eating the LOWEST fat diet of my life, I don't even drink alcohol, and I don't take hormonal medications. But, they don't call it the over 40, fat, female disease for nothing! And the blood tests and ultrasound proved I have it. By 5:00 Friday I had a call from the surgeon wanting to know what I wanted to do. We discussed options and my appoint is August 4, 2009, to decide if I need to go under the knife. Do you think this is really my decision? Here's where I'd like your feedback! Have you been there? Done that? Alternatives??? If the surgeon says the words peritonitis or gangrene enough times, I'll quickly decide, I'm sure.

The one thing I don't know is the size of the gallstones or even how many. The symptoms have subsided to the point that I only have tenderness and the runz. My fever is gone and I actually kept my oatmeal with non-fat skim milk down today. I told the surgeon my daughter and granddaughter come Monday for 2 weeks, we have a fun packed schedule, and I wasn't prepared to even think about surgery until they left on the 1st. He said, "Well, you can always go to the ER if the symptoms flare up". Great, spoil our long-awaited vacation with illness! That sucks!! Life happens! Luckily, I'll save a lot of money since I won't be able to eat hardly anything good to avoid a flareup.

Looking forward to any responses that will give me insight to this dilemma. And, a word of warning! May it never happen to you, but know the symptoms, prevent it if possible, and read a Health News Article for 3 Spark Points if you have a personal interest in avoiding gallstones!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MARLIN515
    Dear Sue, So sorry to hear of your illness and discomfort! I'm glad to hear you are well-informed on the subject and asking for advice, this is the right place to get good info and feed back from others who have been there.

    I will keep you in my prayers, and hope you have a good visit with your DD and GD. Take care and God Bless! emoticon
    3168 days ago
    Yes, I have 'been there, done that' many years ago. In fact I was only in my 20s. My first attack made me think I was dying (or maybe wishing I were). I felt like my body was in a vice that was growing tighter. I saw my doctor and he said I needed surgery. Well, I didn't like that idea so went to see a surgeon for a second opinion. Long story short, I had gallstones and did indeed need surgery. Of course, things have changed a lot since then but I do recall him telling me, as I was having another severe attack and wanting him to take me to surgery right that minute, that he couldn't do surgery while I was having an attack. So my advice to you is, see your surgeon in August and have the surgery. It won't go away and the surgery isn't all that bad. And these days it is a much more simple procedure than it was way back then. You will do fine and I shall keep you in my prayers for a speedy recovery. emoticon
    3168 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/18/2009 12:12:36 PM
    emoticon I knew I could count on you guys to come through when I needed you! emoticon I guess the conclusion is have it out and be done. I'll be pondering that for the next two weeks and I hope you will all pray I don't have an attack in the meantime. I'll keep you posted. Hope you are enLIGHTened, not frightened, Amy, and will mention it to your doctor next trip. An ounce of prevention, you know!
    3168 days ago
    Hey Sue!
    Nothing more painful then a gallbladder attack. (I adopted my daughter, not sure what child birth is like)
    I had my gallbladder taken out 16 years ago.
    My first gallbladder attacks were like yours. And I swore it would pass. Yea right and they did 3 days after. This went on for about 2 years like you.
    My next 5 attacks sent me to the hospital for a week. Yes I was in hospital 5 weeks in less then 1 year. (once for Easter, no chocolate that year!)
    When they did the scope, ex rays blood test they could not find anything wrong with my gallbladder. The red head smoking surgeon (not his looks he was a chain smoker) He said my gallbladder was healthier then his.

    So the 6th attack came and I was scheduled for surgery a month after. Yet they still could not find out was wrong with my gallbladder. After they yanked it I never had another attack and still enjoyed the occasional (HA!) order of fish' n' chips. With no pain just weight gain!

    It seems like ever time I start some kind of diet for a few weeks and do a little cheat, that is what brought on an attack. Seems weird to me. When I was eating unhealthy all the time I was fine. Once I was on track for a month or so and gave myself a treat I ended up in hospital.

    I find it strange that you to are having a problem when you are eating better.?????????

    Even when I started this with sparks a few months ago, I experienced pain like a mild attack and when I mentioned It to the doctor he told me that even if I didn't have a gallbladder there was a SLIGHT chance of something ???? recurring. So now even with out a gallbladder I have to recall all the events leading up to an attack. Glad I am tracking all my food and exercise.

    I still don't know why spark people don't count all the times I lift my fork to my mouth as exercise. I can do 1000's of reps doing that.

    I wish you all the best. I hope this helps you. other then you getting a headache from reading yet another long email from me. By the way have a blast with your daughter and granddaughter. I would love some time with my daughter. She is 18 and only likes me when I pack her lunch for work. Oh well my time will come again when she likes me again.

    Talk to you soon.
    3169 days ago
    I had my gallbladder out 15 years ago. At that point I was the exception to the rule. I was in my twenties and only 115 lbs ( yup, it's true, I was actually skinny once.) Because I was I thin, I was able to have less invavise orthoscopic? (the one with the camera scope )surgery. I was glad I had the operation because I have never had anything as painful as a gallbladder attack (and I've had three children by natural childbirth!). You will have to stick to a low fat diet, but that's good for you anyway. There are natural alternatives to surgery, which I tried, but they take time to go into effect. Check out all areas with your doctor and choose what you think is best. By the way,the doctor gave me my gallstones, which I let my son take to school for show and tell. How many kids get to do that?
    3169 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/18/2009 9:52:55 AM
    I can't begin to tell you how very sorry I am that you have been so very sick. I have not been through this so I offer no help other than that with research and discussion with your family you will come to the right decision.

    You can blame me for you getting sick. After reading your post I went and read about Gallstones on SP like you suggested and you can bet I will be talking to my doctor about this. While I never had any children, I am overweight (duh) and I had a hysterectomy in December (all parts removed) and am now on HRT and I just turned 40 a few weeks ago. While I feel fine and I'm sure I don't have them now I think I'll discuss my chances with the dr. So you see, it is all my fault I had no idea this could be one of the issues with taking HRT.

    Please keep us informed on what you decide and I hope today is a better day for you. ((HUGS))
    3169 days ago
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