Thursday, October 9, 2008


For the past several years, I have been dealing with bouts of abdominal pain that last for hours and are very uncomfortable, resulting in lots of bloating and referred back pain as well. Seems that I was defying medical diagnosis for quite some time until I was referred to a GI specialist.

Over the course of the past three years, I have had numerous blood tests taken both during these attacks and not. My pancreatic enzymes were up for discussion, looking for pancreatitis. Negative.

I have had two gastroscopies - where the doc sprays local anaesthetic in your throat and gets you to swallow a honking big hose that contains a camera, for a good look around your stomach to make sure there aren't any ulcers or tumours. Has a little nipper thing he can slide down there too if he needs to take a tissue sample for biopsy. Negative on that front also.

I have had to drink liquid barium, an xray contrast medium that is like drinking liquid chalk. Least they could do is flavour the stuff, but noooo... just chug the whole glass then lay down on the table so they can watch what it does in your stomach. Then every 30 minutes you get to go back and get zapped by radiation again and again while they follow the barium all the way through to your bowel. That took four hours... four very long hours. Because I have had previous abdominal surgery, they were looking for strictures of scar tissue that might possibly be wrapped around my bowel causing the pain. Negatory.

Then on to the Ultrasound. Twice. A year apart. Absolutely nothing abnormal showed up on either of those. The attacks continued, not really influenced by what I ate (ie: high fat foods) and usually occurring in the late afternoon or evening. Go figure.

So then I got referred to the GI guy. Finally.... Really nice doc. I had done my research and determined that I had biliary colic and the GI guy agreed with me, after reviewing my file. So he sent me for an MRI to get a better look at what was going on in my belly and it showed I have sludge in my gall bladder. Not stones, but sludge.

So apparently, the sludge would slide around in my gall bladder and cause it to spasm. Which could be pretty intense and not always relieved with things like Tylenol #3's and Gravol. But never so severe that I was willing to sit in the Emergency Room for hours on end to get a shot of Demerol or Morphine, because by the time I would get in, the pain would be gone. So I would take what I had at home and stick it out. Sometimes, that would be up to 6 hours.... talk about a major belly ache!

The GI doc wanted to put me on some medication that might (and I repeat, might) dissolve the sludge. So for six months, I took three pills a day that did absolutely nothing for the attacks. I felt no different. Went back at the end of those 6 months for a repeat MRI and guess what? The sludge was still there!

So the next step was referral to a surgeon to get the offending organ removed. Saw him in August and had the surgery two days ago - laparascopic cholecystectomy.

It all went as expected and no unusual complications but I did puke a fair bit after because of the morphine they gave me. That settled about 4 hours post-op so not too bad. The thick feeling in my ears was from the anaesthetic and that didn't clear until last night some time.

So today, two days post-op and I actually feel pretty good except I have a sore belly. I look like a stabbing victim though! I have four holes in my belly. But I am not nauseated and I have a relatively good appetite, although I am being careful about what I eat. Don't want to load my system with fatty foods and end up in the biffy in an hour with everything exiting in a hurry! I haven't experienced that but do know that some people don't tolerate any fatty foods at all once the gall bladder is gone.

For those of you with an interest, this is a link to a video of an actual lap choley. Not mine though, because the hospital I had it done at doesn't have the capacity to tape the procedures - or at least, that is what they told me. I would have liked to see what I personally look like on the inside, but that is just the nurse in me coming out, I think.

I am keeping my fingers crossed now that this will mean an end to the attacks of abdominal pain. I asked the surgeon to have a good look around at the parts he could see when he was in there to make sure nothing looked amiss. Will get his view of things when I see him in three weeks. Until then, I am just hangin' out, healin' up and takin' it easy.


  1. Oh dear lord that must have been a terrible ordeal. I don't know how you could tolerate that for so long you must be very tough!

    I'm glad that it all went well and hopefully this will solve your discomfort..

    when do they go back in to retrieve the clamp that they always forget on TV shows.

    You had Morphine! I am so jealous. Did you get any post-op Slam?
    I'll really be jealous if you got Salm?

  2. Donnnn: yeah, I am tough - it's all that Viking blood running through my veins, I guess!

    Wow! That's quite the beard - all hippy-dippy cool, you are.

    It went well and I am feeling not too bad - just sore and have a back ache from them bending me on the OR table to get at the gall bladder.

    Morphine yes, but no Medazolam (or however you spell it) - is it way better than morphine? That stuff works for the pain but makes me puke my guts out. Good thing it passes quickly - it sucks when you can't even turn your head without need to heave.

    The clamp will emerge from some orifice in a couple of years and there will be a big lawsuit - I will make all the headlines. HA!

  3. Wow, that's full-on. Must have been awful, all that time being ill and not knowing... and all those procedures... wow. Glad you're ok now though!! Excellent :)

  4. Donn: Apparently, I did have Midazolam but not post-op - it was in the pre-op cocktail they gave me - so no SLAM! Just wish they had given me some Gravol or something so I wouldn't puke so much. I hate that about morephine...

    Stace: It was rough and I am glad the surgery is done. Sure hope this is the end to all the belly aching I've done over the past few years!

  5. I'm so glad someone finally did something about the problem. I have never heard of sludge in one's organs. That sounds kinda icky. I hope all your stab wounds heal quickly. Be sure to allow your loved ones to care for you and help out.

    It sucks a little that this happened just before Thanksgiving. What's Thanksgiving dinner without overeating? ;)

  6. Anna: Thanks - things are coming along without too many issues. I have not had the "everything-I-eat-that-has-any-fat-at-all-going-straight-through-in-an-hour" syndrome, so I think I am safe from that. Some people have to be extremely careful with the fat content of the foods they eat because it causes near-instant frothy diarrhea! Eeewwww!

    I will be attending Turkey Day at my sister's tomorrow and am baking two lovely pumpkin pies (oooohh yummy! my favourite!) in honour of the occasion and the family gathering. I'll watch how much I eat - not back up to normal quantities yet but that is not a bad thing (LOL!) Don't think I will be overeating tomorrow, even if I wanted to!


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