I’ve only mentioned this briefly once or twice, but on January 10th I had my Gallbladder removed via Keyhole surgery. This is how I’m doing, one week later and about my whole experience – Gallbladder surgery is super common and if anyone following me happens to need it, I thought going into lots of detail about the surgery and how I’m recovering might help! This is a long one, so grab a cuppa first.
For background: I have had pain in my Gallbladder for 7 years which got worse when I lost 14lbs in a month (which is way too quick) and ended up with gallstones, which caused lots of pain and random attacks for 2 years.
Gallstones can have no symptoms (something like 30% of the population have them!) but for some it can cause constant pain, digestive issues and attacks, which are literally higher on the pain scale than childbirth and can last hours. Some people have to drastically change their diets to avoid ‘trigger’ fods – which can be healthy stuff or unhealthy stuff – and some, like me, get random attacks. These attacks can lead to stones getting trapped elsewhere in the body, Gallbladder disease, liver problems and pancreas issues. Doctors usually recommend getting the Gallbladder removed to prevent further issues. There’s no way to dissolve the stones in most cases, but there are lots of herbal ‘remedies’ and cleanses – I don’t recommend trying them as they can lead to more problems and are not proven to work at all.
Pre-op: I got to choose a hospital via the NHS so I went for a private one as it had the least waiting time. It was also private, so… y’know. I had a consultation with my surgeon, who told me about the operation and we talked about what I can do before then to ease the pain and so on. I signed a consent form and he booked me in. A few days before the operation, I had to go and have my bloodwork done, get weighed and measured, get my temperature taken and get swabbed for MRSA.
Op day: I checked in at 12pm and as it was a private hospital I got my own room, which even had an en-suite and a TV. Fancy. I had a couple of nurses come in to take notes and ask me questions about everything (allergies, etc) and then I saw the anesthetist and surgeon themselves, who talked me through the procedure and how I might feel and the risks involved. A bit scary. I also had blood taken but I’m not sure why. After a couple of hours of waiting (I was actually the first on the list), I had to walk to theatre and lie on the table, which is pretty scary. I got a canula in my hand (which took 2 goes, ouch) and I got some anti-sickness medicine, some pain relief (which made me feel really, really drunk) and then finally the anesthetic. The last thing I remember is saying ‘I feel like I’m at University’. Then, what seemed like seconds later I woke up and asked to see my husband.
Post-op: I kept on sleeping and waking up throughout the day, not deep sleeps but little naps. The nurses kept coming in to take my blood pressure and pulse and to check on the IV drip. My heartrate was a bit fast (in the 120s) but they said it’s common to be slightly raised until the anesthetic wears off. I also had an irregular pulse for 24 hours but apparently that’s a fairly common reaction. I also felt ‘tipsy’ and dizzy for the day and into the next day as well. I was given some juice and a sandwich to eat, which I managed some of, but I was too dizzy and sleepy to eat I think. My fingers swelled up from the IV and my stomach looked pregnant from the gas they pump you with but I couldn’t feel any sort of pain or discomfort in my belly until the next day. I was discharged at 10pm the same day and as you can imagine, slept like a baby.
Pain & recovery: I was very sore for 4 days and I wasn’t given any painkillers so I kept taking codeine and paracetamol and took it easy. You have to keep moving your legs to prevent DVT but I spend the first 2 days in bed or on the sofa, just getting up for a wee (and due to the IV I had to wee about 20 times in the first 24 hours). I had to get Chris to help me sit up, as it’s really sore trying to use stomach muscles. I didn’t have much gas pain, but I was bloated for a while (still am, really) but I was warned that the gas pain is worse than the stitches! By the 3rd day I was able to move about a bit more and by the 6th day I could move as normal, but still not sleep on my stomach or lift anything heavy. I have four incisions – two where my gallbladder was, one further down and another in my belly button.
Food, etc: I can manage small meals but if my stomach gets completely empty it really hurts, so I’ve been eating little and often. I can eat chicken, potato, baked beans, salad, ice lollies, small amounts of sugary things (I had some birthday cake and a candy cane), some crisps, some vegetables and bread. I can also eat small amounts of dairy but haven’t tried a lot of dairy yet. I can’t eat jelly, rice or oily or greasy things – it causes a lot of pain and sickness. Hopefully it should go back to normal within a few weeks because I really want a Chinese takeaway…! I can’t wear anything too tight, like jeans, because it constricts my stomach too much and I’m still bloated.
Gosh, this was a long one, and one for a niche audience. If you have any sort of questions at all, even super personal ones about the op, don’t hesitate to comment or you can email me using the ’email’ section in my blog menu!