Saturday, 10 October 2015

Life Without A Gallbladder

Two year's ago today I was in surgery getting my gallbladder removed, I was terrified about having the operation but now two years later I am so glad that I had it done. When I was 32 week's pregnant with Sophia I was struck down with my first gallstone attack, no-one knew what was wrong and I was admitted to hospital for almost a week while they ran tests to see what was making me so ill. Eventually, they discovered I had gallstones and there was nothing they could do whilst I was pregnant, I wrote about gallstones in pregnancy when I first started my blog. 

When Sophia was two week's old I was struck down with another gallstone attack, that lasted a week. I could not eat anything without being in pain and lived on painkillers which ended up making me ill, I begged the doctor to do something and I was referred to the hospital where it was agreed that my gallbladder needed to be removed. Six weeks after meeting with the doctor I had my gallbladder removed. 

Apart from the two attacks I had I never actually had any other bother from my gallbladder due to being very strict with my diet and sticking to a low-fat gallbladder diet. I was so miserable though as I could not eat much and could no longer eat out, every time I ate I always had the worry in the back of my mind that I would be struck down by that awful pain again. If you are unsure of what a gallstone attack is like the only way I can describe it is like one big long contraction type pain around your ribs that lasts for five to eight hours. It is awful, I have had three children two of which were painful inductions and gallstone pain is 100 % worse than childbirth without a doubt.

I knew surgery was the only way to get rid of the pain and to get my life back as I was constantly on edge every time I ate worrying about the pain, it was no way to live. I nearly cancelled my operation so many times as I was terrified, thoughts such as what if I die or what if things go wrong and I am still awake when they operate on me plagued my thoughts. I knew that if I wanted to be happy and enjoy being a mum to girls that I had to go through with it though. 

The morning of my surgery arrived and I got a taxi on my own to the hospital at 7.30am and made my way to the surgical day unit. The other half was at home with the girls taken Chloe to school and Sophia to his mums for the day. I was so nervous as most people had someone with them, I was shown to a bed on the ward gave a gown and stockings to wear and had the usual hospital checks done. I thought I would have ages to wait but I was first on the list to surgery, I remember walking down to theatre and feeling sick with nerves as I climbed on the bed and was wheeled into theatre.

I was taken to a small room just outside the theatre, the staff did an amazing job of distracting me by talking to me about my girls before I knew it I was hooked up to all the machines, a cannula was in my arm a mask was on my face and I was asleep, just like that. The next thing I knew I was awake in the recovery room an hour later shaking and being sick, I was injected with medicines and wrapped in a heated blanket and taken back to the ward to rest. 

I felt awful off the operation, I was not in any pain I was just feeling awful of the anaesthetic, I was told to sleep it off which I did on and off. By tea time I was up and dressed and allowed to go home with a bag full of medication and strict orders to rest. The first few nights were uncomfortable as I had to lie on my back to sleep which I am not used to but other than that I had no pain. I had four keyhole surgery scars on my tummy and it just felt like I had done loads of sit-ups rather than being painful. 

I had my operation on Thursday and by the Monday I felt completely back to normal and was out and about. The best thing was I could eat whatever I wanted without that awful pain, two days after my surgery I enjoyed a Chinese takeaway which I had been dying for the last six months. 

So what is life without a gallbladder like? Obviously, your gallbladder is an organ used to store bile which breaks down fat in foods which you need for digestion. I no longer have a gallbladder so bile just drips from my liver into my intestines now. This normally results in people having side effects like not being able to eat fatty foods, having digestion problems, having a bad tummy etc. I was really lucky that I had no after effects at all straight after my operation, I could eat what I want, I had no pain, no digestion problems and my stitches healed really quickly. 

However, I fell pregnant with Jacob just a few weeks after my surgery which probably is not recommend after having surgery on your stomach. I had no problems at all when I was pregnant though, the only slight problem I had was the scar above my belly button and under my rib cage become more noticeable but that was probably due to them being recent scars and now I have scar tissue. The two scars on my side are tiny they look like tiny very faint stretch marks, in fact, one is so tiny I can't actually see it any more. 

Since my pregnancy ended I have suffered some problems due to not having a gallbladder, I have noticed that I am unable to eat certain foods as my body just does not seem able to handle them and I get really bad stomach pain. The foods I struggle with are fibre rich foods like Weetabix and fibre rich cereals, if I ever eat these I am doubled over in pain so I now avoid them. Also sometimes I can not eat fatty foods or I will get bad pains and the food just goes straight through me. We went out a few months ago to Frankie and Benny's and I ate burger and chips, as soon as I ate the food I had to leave and rush home as I was ill as I just can't eat those type of foods any more. 

They are only minor things that I can live with, the main bad thing about having the surgery is that I have put on a lot of weight. Since having my surgery to straight after I had Jacob I was four stone heavier, which is shocking really but I think I used the pregnancy as an excuse to eat what I wanted after having to be so strict in my previous pregnancy. I have lost almost two stone of that weight but it is taken a long time to get the weight off. 

So am I glad I had the operation? Two years on the answer is yes. If I never had the operation I probably would not have had my baby boy Jacob, as I would never have put myself through another pregnancy suffering gallstones. I am so glad that I never have to experience that awful pain again and that I can almost eat what I want again, I can go out for meals and not have to worry any more. Yeah, I have put on weight but that was my own fault for being greedy and I have learnt the hard way that losing weight is harder than putting it on. 

If anyone is unsure about getting their gallbladder removed then I would say just do it, it really was the best thing that I have ever done. I was terrified of the idea of surgery, I really was such a nervous wreck but it honestly is such a quick hour-long operation. The recovery is fairly quick, the scars are tiny and you will get your life back again and not have to worry about when that awful gallstone attack pain will hit you again.  

If you have ever had your gallbladder removed how have you found things? 



  1. Sounded like an awful time. Lots of pain then surgery cant be nice at all, glad you got through it and feel all the better for doing it. Great blog :)

    1. Thanks Diane, it was a horrible time but at least I lost weight I sometimes think I should have kept my rotten gallbladder and I would be nice and skinny by now and wouldn't have to go to slimming world haha xx


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