Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gallbladder

January is almost over.

It's been brutal.

[If you don't want to read about my gallbladder and/or vomiting, just turn off your brain and enjoy these cute Charlie pictures.]

In the first two weeks of the month, I had three gallbladder attacks. I have never felt such unbelievable pain in my life.


I had my first attack on New Year's Day. That morning, I couldn't keep any food down. I finally managed to keep down an apple and some water. The Zofran managed my nausea, finally, but suddenly and quite without warning, I started to have a very painful stomachache. At first (overshare alert), I thought maybe I was experiencing really bad trapped gas. The pills I take to control nausea cause some major constipation (say hello to Metamucil, my new bestest buddy), so it wasn't out of the realm of possibility. But no amount of stretching, resting, or trying to use the bathroom would alleviate this excruciating, stabbing pain in my upper abdomen. It was way worse than being in labor.

I'd also suspected for about a month that I had a urinary tract infection, even though I didn't have any of the usual symptoms, and my most recent test at the doctor was normal.

Anyway, Mike took me to the ER. All my blood and urine tests came back totally normal. And by the time we got settled in the exam room, the pain that had plagued me for 6 or 7 hours that day was long gone. I did throw up once in the room (because I have extreme nausea while pregnant; I wasn't in pain at that point), so they put me on fluids, more Zofran, and Phenergan, which made me feel drunk and absolutely out of control. The PA peeked at the baby via ultrasound, but didn't examine my organs. We went home and I finally got to rest after a long day of agony.


Three days later, on a nice lazy Saturday, we stopped at a cute drive-in called Holly's in Post, TX. I had the most delicious bacon cheeseburger of my life, but I paid for it dearly. About five minutes after I finished eating, I felt this horrible pressure up by my ribs again. I started to feel panic flood my whole body. We were a good 40 minutes from home, and this was happening again, and we'd already gone to the ER once only to be sent home without answers.

Mike packed us up and started toward Lubbock as fast as he dared. It honestly felt like we were rushing in to deliver a baby: I was moaning, almost unable to speak, clutching my stomach. I had Mike stop at a McDonald's off the highway about two-thirds of the way home so I could throw up my lunch. I hoped this would provide some relief, but it didn't. I staggered back to the car and we made it home. I writhed around in bed like a crazy woman for a while before finally falling asleep.


I called my doctor bright and early Monday morning, and luckily his office managed to squeeze me in.

It's so hard to go to a medical professional and declare that a) you are not currently experiencing any symptoms, b) another medical professional already passed you off as fit as a fiddle, c) you're pretty sure your gallbladder is misbehaving, and for good measure, d) even though his lab disagrees, you're confident you have a UTI.

But this is why I like Dr. B. He listened carefully, ordered an abdominal scan to check on my gallbladder and my pancreas, and sent me to the lab for another urine test.

And wouldn't you know it? I had a UTI. I started meds for that right away and scheduled my ultrasound for a week later, the following Monday.


Then, Saturday, I had another attack. Of course it had to happen during a beautiful three-course meal some friends prepared for us. I threw up the first course (spinach and acorn squash salad with a maple vinaigrette) but managed to keep down the second course (pork tenderloin, polenta, and roasted parsnips and carrots) long enough to drive to Walgreen's for baby Tylenol and a thermometer. (Why, you ask? Oh, because Charlie got a high grade temperature all of a sudden. That lasted for six days. Fun party.)

I lost the second course of the meal in the Walgreen's parking lot, then drove back to the lovely dinner, where the rest of the adults were eating this incredible homemade ice cream. I choked down about half of mine, knowing I'd lose it as soon as we got home. Poor Charlie was absolutely wiped out by this sudden fever, so we called it a night and headed home.

At this point, I was in debilitating pain again. This attack lingered the longest of the three, and the vomiting was the worst with this attack. I collapsed into bed at about 10:30, having completely empty my stomach of absolutely everything. Every. Thing. Even water. I turned to Mike and asked him to go fill the blasted Phenergan prescription. At the very least, I hoped it would knock me out. My sweet husband went across town to a 24-hour pharmacy for me.

I'm not really sure how the night ended. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning absolutely starving. I ate something, threw it up, and fell into bed again.


I was feeling great by the time my ultrasound appointment came on Monday. Of course. The tech hinted that she wasn't seeing gallstones. My doctor confirmed this later in the week at my regular OB appointment. My gallbladder, and my other organs, all looked excellent. The absence of gallstones, combined with the fact that some of my attacks happened without a super greasy meal to trigger them suggests that I have a lazy/weak/failing gallbladder.

To test this further would require extensive radiation. Dr. B. and I agree that we'd like to avoid anything extreme until after the baby is born. And so we wait.

By some miracle, I haven't had an attack for two and a half weeks. Before the ultrasound appointment, I was very careful about what I ate, to avoid further pain, but since we've ruled out gallstones, diet isn't really a factor at this point. Obviously, I'm not eating fried foods anymore, but I'm not eating like a rabbit either.

Also, Charlie is looking more and more "little boy" every day, isn't he? Our scale still says he weighs less than 20 lbs. Little nugget. He starts nursery in a few weeks. I can't wait!

2 comments:

  1. Now that sounds like a Shipley dinner! I am sorry you've been so miserable. I had a friend with gall bladder failure during pregnancy--no fun. Hang in there!

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    1. It was definitely a meal worthy of the Shipleys! We are blessed with multiple foodie families in our ward. Thanks for the good wishes!

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