Brief History of My Gallbladder Attacks

It was only six weeks ago I had no clue what a gallbladder was. Now, this adorable little organ has humbled me and is in control of my life. I have felt its wrath and have no choice but to comply with its wishes. What gallby wants, gallby will get. Here’s how it all went down.

Gallbladder Attack #1

January 10th: I woke up at about 3 AM feeling strangely hungry. There was a gnawing, burning feeling in my stomach. I figured I was hungry and went back to bed, forgetting al about it the next day.

Gallbladder Attack #2

January 15th: I woke up about 3AM, again, with a gnawing hunger. Only this time, I had some chest pain too. My diaphragm hurt and so did my back. I had a restless night trying to get back to sleep. I mentioned this at work the next day and a coworker suggested this sounded like heart burn.

Gallbladder Attack #3

January 25th: I woke again at 3AM, though this time, I had to get up and walk around. My whole abdomen was in pain, and so was my back. I certainly could not sleep. It felt like extreme hunger so after an hour, I just decided to get up and start my day. I had breakfast, coffee, answered some emails, and hopped on Google for some self-diagnostics: internet-style. It was painful, but eating helped. It kind of felt like the food was flushing everything through my system and brought some relief.

But searching Google raised the alarm bells as it always does… ever notice the end result of any round of medical searches on Google convinces you that you are dying of cancer?

Gallbladder Attack #4

January 27th. Same as above, only this time, eating did not help. In fact, it made it worse. More Google searching, more terror. I quickly discovered that most abdominal issues, from ulcers to liver problems, to pancreatic cancer, all have similar symptoms. It was clear I should see a doctor. The pain was still bad by 10AM, so I hit the ER to get checked out.

The doc did blood work and diagnosed me with an ulcer. I was shocked. I eat a very healthy diet and pay particular attention to gut health. I drink kefir (loaded with probiotics) every single day and I also drink a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed in some diluted grape juice (The Chronic Tonic, I call it) every single day.

The doc put me on Prilosec, Zantac, and prescribed a clear, liquid diet. If you can see through it, you can eat it. Jello, apple juice, miso soup.

This seemed to work.

Gallbladder Attack #5

Feb 2nd: When my “witch doctor” (my loving term for my outstanding kinesiologist/nutritionist who has done more for my health than any other person on the planet), was horrified when she found out I was on Prilosec. I went to see her and she suggested I probably need more stomach acid, not less. She suggested a hydrochloric acid supplement and getting off the Prilosec. She also ordered a full screening of bloodwork.

So that night, I stopped the Prilosec, Zantac and tried the HCL (hydrochloric acid supplement). At 3 AM  I had the worst attack yet. It was brutal and I thought maybe I had made a major mistake reversing the treatment. This attack lasted about 8 hours. Normally, I could eat during these attacks, but now I was getting violently nauseous (and frightened) when I put food anywhere near my mouth.

So I went back to the ER to get the bloodwork and see the Dr. again. Luckily, I got the same doctor. As the attacks became more severe, the pain also became more distinct. After checking me out he decided that this was something in the gallbladder/liver, and not an ulcer at all. He suggested an ultrasound to take a look right away. He also prescribed some codeine for the pain.

Unfortunately, thanks to our somewhat broken healthcare/insurance system, the same ultrasound costs about 5x as much money for a walk-in vs a patient coming from a referral. So I had to get an appointment with a local doctor to recommend the ultrasound at the hospital.  This was a Saturday and I could not get an appointment with the Doctor until Thursday, during which I had…..

Gallbladder Attack #6

This was the worst. It lasted almost 30 hours and was totally unbearable. Merciless. The codeine did NOTHING to tame my angry gallbladder. Luckily, I discovered that a hot shower really helped. It did not take away the pain, but the gentle action of the water would take the edge off, especially my aching back. I took about 10 hot showers that day and through the night, every few hours. I climbed into bed immediately after the hot shower, bundled up to get really warn, and managed to get about 1/2 hour of sleep after each shower. It was precious relief.

Finale

Finally Thursday arrived and I saw the Doctor. She checked me out and said,  “you have a gallbladder that needs to come out, right away”, and scheduled the ultrasound for a few hours later, and an appointment with the surgeon immediately after (because she was fairly certain what the UltraSound would show). But she was not able to get the surgeons appointment until the NEXT day.

The ultrasound confirmed gallstones without a doubt. My gallbladder needed to come out. I was thrilled. Anything to stop the pain.

Fortunately, when I got home from the UltraSound, the wife Googled “life without gallbladder”.  This led to a full afternoon of reading. I realized that gallbladder removal was not always the panacea it is promised to be. It does not take much reading to discover this. I began to question the wisdom of tossing the organ completely and decided to take it up with the surgeon when we met.

I (currently) consider myself extremely lucky to have had this opportunity to research and reflect before hastily removing an organ for life.

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 03:43:35

    Here’s to that wife that googled “life without Gallbladder”. You two are a good team. This all bodes well for the long into the future when you are old and riddled with ailments and aches and your cranky and crotchety. Then you can just sit back and laugh and Gallby will laugh right along with ya.

    Reply

    • keepingmygallby
      Feb 13, 2012 @ 14:01:50

      Yes, where would I be without the wife?! I really owe it to her because I was so glad to hear the doctor say they were ripping out the gallbladder, and thus ending the pain, I never thought twice about.

      But BTW, I am already old & riddled & achy & crotchety.

      Reply

  2. Overeating and Your Gallbladder: Do Not Overeat. « Keeping My Gallby
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 09:05:59

  3. vinny
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 22:12:43

    hi i’m suffering pain in my lower right stomach also. i’m not really sure what it is since i still have to go to the dr. tomorrow and see what he says. but i’ve done my research and i believe that it might be my gall bladder, let me explain why and how it all started.

    last month 1/10/12 i was eating and drinking, then i felt a vibration around my lower right rib cage but there was no pain. i was concerned so i immediately stopped drinking alcohol that day and so on. however i continued to eat normally and realized that every time after i eat the same spot would vibrate but still no pain.

    a few days passed and pain started to occur and the vibrations stopped. the pain felt like small bites or stabbing pain. it first started on the right side of the stomach but then radiated to all over the stomach (left and right) and sides of the stomach. i then noticed that my tongue became swollen and a little pale (tongue is pinkish or whitish instead of being the normal pink/reddish color).

    after a week, chest pains started to occur in conjunction with my stomach pains. the chest pains don’t happend everyday, they come and go and alternate between the left and right chest.

    after my continued research on google, i’ve decided to watch what i eat by avoiding fatty foods, and just drinking lots of grape, carrot juice, eating oatmeal and fiber cereal. this helped as there are days when i feel fine.

    i still feel pain though, and especially after i eat, and i do feel full even though i ate a very small meal. i’m currently eating cucumbers right now as i’ve heard this helps.

    i hope i get this fixed soon coz it really sucks not being able to eat the foods you want to eat.

    also the reason why i believe this is my gall bladder is last year (2011) from the month of november and december, all i did was go out and drink heavily at bars. around 2-3 times a week. and almost every night all i ate was fast foods. mostly white castle. i would order 20 pieces of chicken rings, fries, 2 burgers, onion rings and a soda. i did this for 2 months, plus all the additonal unhealthy foods i ate…

    i hope this makes sense…i was gonna try a gall bladder flush but i’ll wait for what the dr. says…by the way im not overweight. im a fit person, active in sports.

    i think i might need surgery or something…

    by the way your site is great and informative.

    thanks.

    Reply

    • keepingmygallby
      Feb 27, 2012 @ 23:36:53

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so sorry, I know your pain!

      Go to the Doctor as soon as you can. The pain is bad enough, but not knowing exactly what it is makes it much, much worse. You’ll feel relieved with a diagnosis. What you describe certainly sounds like gallby. But you need to make sure it is not appendicitis, etc. Don’t delay on the doctor.

      On the pain relief, follow what’s on this site for tips. All of it is working for me. The good thing about your gallby is that it reacts to what you eat, quickly: eat crap and you’ll have an attack; eat well and you’ll probably sleep through the night.

      I would immediately start:

      1. Drinking tons of water, and some fruit juice especially apple, pear, grape.
      2. Don’t drink alcohol… you’ll pay for it in pain.
      3. Don’t eat any fried food.
      4. No eggs.
      5. Eat tons of fruit. It helps and they taste good. Mangoes, pears, apples, grape, dates, figs, oranges, grapefruits… they all work for me.
      6. You’re right about cucumbers. Eat them. Lots of them. Basically eat all vegetables except radishes.
      7. Beets too, really work for me.
      8. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are good.

      Go easy on the wheat (watch out with cereal and bread). Soon I will do a piece about how some people’s attacks are made worse by eating too much gluten (wheat) in addition to fats.

      Anyway, good luck, keep me posted. It sounds like you are doing your research which is great. My experience with the doctor and hospital was that I had to ask lots of questions, double check things. I would push for the ultrasound unless that doctor is sure you don’t need it.

      I’m not a huge fan of the flush, and I’ll be doing a piece on it soon. Whatever you have, it is serious and will take some effort to reverse. I doubt a simple “flush” will fix it. You smartly pointed out how you were way out of balance (binge WhiteCastle!) before this started. Your body is telling you that you went too far.

      Good luck with the doctor. If it is serious and you have to make some big diet changes, I’ll tell you it is not that bad. It has been about a month for me. I’m into it and feeling better than I have in a long time.

      Reply

  4. wolfmeister
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 07:40:15

    So is the gallbladder out now? How’s life without it?

    Reply

  5. Ricco
    Mar 14, 2013 @ 19:46:27

    Hi keepingmygallby, I was wondering if you still have your gallbladder and how you are doing? Thank you

    Reply

    • keepingmygallby
      Mar 15, 2013 @ 06:31:00

      100% cured! I just made a new post. Good luck to you.

      Reply

  6. Gary
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 08:19:01

    I heard eggs are bad because of the yolk. All saturated fat and cholesterol. My question is, would egg beaters or egg whites be a better substitute? I love eggs.

    Reply

  7. .Recentlydiagnosedwithgallstones
    Jul 16, 2013 @ 00:18:48

    Congrats!!!
    Do bananas incite attacks?
    Ever since I was diagnosed with gallstones last Thursday and having had my last attack last Monday in the early am, I started a more veggie/fruit diet. I have been eating oatmeal(with blue agave), quinoa, spinach, ground flax seed, strawberries,mangos,cucumbers and TONS of water. I have been slowly introducing items by the day so I see what aggravates me but I am feeling hungry. I want to introduce some more protein to give me some strength but have read that most legumes will bring on an attack and that scares me!
    What to do?!?
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks for your website!

    Reply

  8. Jessica
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 05:41:03

    Glad to have found your blog. I am dealing w gallbladder pain for about a week and a half. Visited the er twice, have had a ct scan performed and was told gallbladder was a little bigger than normal but not so bad it needs to come out. Was given Vicadin, helped me fall asleep for about two hours, woke up, like you, at 3 w stabbimg roght ribcage pain from front to bavk, cant take deep breaths. At times its bearable but this is interfering w my life in a major way.

    Reply

  9. damsonindistress
    Nov 29, 2013 @ 02:58:28

    Hi there, lots of advice, some of which I’m already doing. It’s strange that my attack the other day came after eating several white bread and butter cucumber sandwiches. It seems the cucumbers aren’t much good if they’re encased in buttery white bread.

    I was wondering about your view against radishes? In Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford advocates having a tablespoon grated daily for several weeks, although in the Chinese medicine aspect he says if you’re deficient and cold to avoid them.

    Reply

    • keepingmygallby
      Dec 01, 2013 @ 16:10:24

      I ate a lot of radishes. Lots! They were another magic food, and I’d be surprised if I did not mention them on the blog.
      Good luck!

      Reply

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