Elysha's World

Elysha's World

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Gall of Bitterness - Gallbladder Pain

Today was a very interesting day. I realize now that in some of my other posts I have talked about getting sick and getting my Gallbladder out, however I’ve never described in detail how excruciatingly painful gallbladder attacks are. 

I’ve done my research and have found that young people don’t usually have problems with their gallbladder, or at least they normally don’t.  This organ has a purpose, and a lot of people don’t start having problems with it until they are in their 30’s or 40’s, at least that’s how it has been in my family.

Today I had an experience that reminded me of all the past pain and I figured I’d write it down just in case some person was trying to do some research online and somehow comes across this obscure blog. The one thing I know for certain is that everyone has similar but completely DIFFERENT symptoms when it comes to the gallbladder. 

I had my gallbladder out in 2012. It's been three years, and I'm pretty happy and healthy most of the time. Every once in a while I get these "phantom" gallbladder pains and they are excruciating! I did some research on them today, and besides the fact that people are talking about them online I am 100% sure that they are real. In the little research I found about 10-15% of people have these phantom attacks.

I had one today, and it'd been so long, I wasn't sure what was happening. After it happened it reminded me of all the pain I had been in a few years ago. Unfortunately, I was in a quiet public place, where it wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to curl up in a ball and lay on the floor. I started having immense pain in my abdomen, right under my ribs.  I could hardly sit up straight; I had to hunch over and practice breathing. This pain is like a long intense cramp that runs from the middle of my body all the way up my back. It starts out as a dull throbbing. At first I wondered if I just had air in my stomach or, actually, it kind of feels like the feeling I get right before my stomach growls and the person next to me can hear it. Then instead of growling, it silently screams at my stomach and heart. No one can hear or see anything, but I suddenly become very still, don’t move, and I look flushed. My heart starts to flutter and any breathing at all causes pain, especially deep breathing, so I stick to small quick breaths.

When I got sick back in 2012 which I talk about a little in this blog Coming Home Early -Don't You Worry Child. I started having hot flashes all of the time. That’s not supposed to happen to someone in their 20’s, that’s what happens to old people! They've never completely gone away. Today they came like a wave, one after another, after another, about 5 in a row. I wanted to get up and leave, but I was in a class and couldn’t. Besides that, even if I wanted to get up I didn’t know if I had the energy or if I would faint from all of this overheating. Most of the time all I can do is shed as many layers of clothes as is socially acceptable, roll up my sleeves, fan myself, and then I’ll feel a little better.

I realized my body was warm and I had sweaty palms, which has never been a problem for me. I'm usually cold all of the time. My problems started when I was in the MTC. My companion had to have leg surgery, and while at the hospital we found out that they’d taken 6 gallbladders out that week from missionaries in the MTC. My problems went away and then started up again while I lived in Taiwan for about 9 months. I think it probably had a lot to do with all the oily food there. The most prevalent and persistent thing that happened through my mission was nausea. I don’t often throw up; I have maybe 10 times in my entire life. However I was constantly nauseous on my mission.

I also never have had gallstones. For a long time they weren’t sure how to diagnose me. We did blood tests and told them all of my symptoms, but none of them really went together, so they had no idea what was wrong with me. Some people started to question if it was all in my head, and if I had in fact always looked the way I looked when I came home.  Eventually my brilliant angel of a mother with her nursing background put all of the symptoms together. The following list I found online, but changed it and added some of my own symptoms.

·  Severe abdominal pain
·  Pain that extends beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back
·  Pain that worsened after eating food, particularly fatty or greasy foods
·  Pain that feels dull, sharp, or crampy
·  Pain that increases when you breathe in deeply
·  Chest pain
·  Diarrhea
·  Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas
·  Pain gets stronger at night
·  Vomiting, nausea, fever  
·  Tenderness in the abdomen, particularly the right upper quadrant
·  Shaking with chills

Once we put all of the pieces together, we went to the hospital. They did all the tests, but they came back clean. So we did our own tests.  I can never remember the names of the tests you have to take, before you can get your Gallbladder taken out, but my mother documented all the tests and took pictures. Instead of rewriting all of the information, I’ll direct you to her two posts about them. Click here to read about that- This is the rest of the story: Gallbladder problems from a mother's perspective._ and Princess 2's Surgery Blessing

Back to this afternoon: I immediately started thinking over what I'd eaten in the last 24 hours. I couldn't think of anything out of the ordinary. (I would like to make mention that the pain in my back by my shoulder blade has never gone away. It just builds up until it's extremely painful and I have to have someone rub it. A lot of times I'll also put icy hot on my back before I go to sleep, to help me sleep and ease the pain.) Then I remembered what it probably was. I had gone to a friend’s house for breakfast, and she had made us toasted apples and told me to put some cream on top. I usually don't eat cream, and I’m slightly lactose intolerant. I weighed the options in my mind, “I eat sour cream and cream cheese. Both of those items have cream in them, so I’m sure this will be fine. However, I know if I eat half-and-half I feel extremely awful and bloated. I'll just use a little and I'm sure I’ll be fine.” I decided to try some. Besides, what would a little cream do to me? (Side note: I can eat ice cream if it's thin, like a shake, but I can't eat a lot of it, and I don't eat Cold Stones because of how creamy and thick it is.) I’m guessing that this little drizzle of pure cream is what made my body go crazy!

 I ate the cream at around 10am and the pain started out of nowhere at around 12:30pm. It's now 8:30pm and there is still a little bloating and radiating pain. However the pain is mostly gone. That’s how these attacks work, they come, they radiate, and they leave. (For those of you who missed it, that was in a Bugs Life movie reference kind of quote. “They come, they eat they leave.”)

I came home and laid down while I drank a small Coke. It helped me feel better, but the pain has lasted all day. When I first came home from Taiwan I couldn’t sleep at all; partially because of the time difference, but mostly because I was in so much pain. The only way I could find to help myself not focus on the pain, was to put on a movie, preferably Disney on low and drink a cup of Coke ( I don’t know if it’s the carbonation or caffeine that helps) and lay down in the fetal position while trying to focus on the movie instead of the pain. (Once home, this happened for about 3 months)

After editing this post it's now 9:40pm and I feel great! It's almost like it never happened. I can usually eat whatever I want, but every once in a while if I'm not careful, they come on fast and strong. Usually this happens if I've eaten something with a lot of oil or cream. These attacks happened a lot right after my surgery, but now it happens maybe 2 times a year tops. The rest of the time I'm able to eat when, where, and what I want.

This blog wasn’t written to get pity or sympathy, but rather to help others who are suffering and can’t find answers. My situation was unique to me, but perhaps by putting my story online, it may help others find some answers, or at least some comfort in knowing that they’re not alone in their trials.

Feel free to share this story with anyone who you think may benefit from it.

1 comment:

  1. I love the picture at the bottom, I haven't seen that one before. You are beautiful and amazing but of course, I am the "angel mother" so I may be bias. :-)