Stoned again

When I was pregnant with both girls, I had multiple gallstone attacks. We confirmed the presence of gallstones back in 2006 or so, but since I was pregnant, it wasn’t ideal to remove the gallbladder at the time. But then life happens, and when you’re not having symptoms outside of pregnancy, it’s hard to make yourself go in and say, “Hey, cut me open, will ya?” So I decided to take a wait-and-see approach to the gallbladder — I’d return to the doctor and do something about it if I started having attacks again. I had one in the fall of 2014, but nothing else, so I continued to look the other way.

But then I had an attack when I was in Kansas City visiting my sister in early August. Then a week before Thanksgiving, I got the initial dull pain in just the right spot that indicated an impending attack, but that time it didn’t go into a full-blown attack. However, on Thanksgiving night, after enjoying a wonderful meal with my loved ones, my gallbladder decided to protest, and I was woken up at 3 a.m. by that too-familiar pain. I’d classify it as a moderate attack, with nausea and vomiting toward the end, and it lasted until 6 a.m.

Hrm, perhaps it was time to stop ignoring my angry gallbladder.

I had to go to physical therapy for my ankle at 7:30, but I called my family doctor after that, and made an appointment to be seen late that morning. I was hoping they might be able to do the ultrasound to check for stones that day, so I skipped eating since I hadn’t felt up to eating earlier that day anyway. The doctor said it did sound consistent with stones (especially given their presence years ago, as well as a strong family history of it, with my mom and sister both having theirs removed around 2005 or so), and the nurse started calling around to find somewhere that was open that could get me in that day. They finally found one place that could take me, but not until 3 p.m., which made for a long afternoon of no eating or drinking. Since I had a pretty major headache, I went to take a nap to help ease that and also to pass the time until I could go there.

The ultrasound itself went fine. Thanksgiving leftovers didn’t seem so appealing anymore, but I took a plain turkey sandwich with me to the ultrasound so I’d have something I could eat as soon as I was allowed. I only managed to eat half the sandwich before my stomach revolted, though I did make it home before it all came back up. I still had my headache, and my stomach was very unsettled, so I went to sleep for a couple hours and woke up feeling weak but overall better. Unfortunately I had to pass on some holiday activities with my sister and her family that night, but I didn’t want to push it too much.

The family doctor’s office called on Tuesday morning, and they said my ultrasound was positive for gallstones (no surprise) and that the wall of my gallbladder was thickening, which, from what I’m reading, seems to often be a sign of gallbladder disease. They said they will refer me to a general surgeon, and that office should be calling me “within the week.” I was hoping to be able to get in this week since I’m on vacation, but as it’s Friday afternoon and I still haven’t been called, that ship has sailed. If I haven’t heard from them by Monday or Tuesday of next week, I’ll call my family doctor to find out where I need to follow up.

At this point, I’d say removal is not likely to be done this year. It would be nice since I’ve met my OOP max for the year and it would be free, but I also know that plenty of other people have the same thought and doctors tend to be pretty booked at the end of the year (not to mention them taking vacation time around the holidays). So, I’d say just after the first of the year is most likely, which might be better anyway because I’ll have new sick time available to take. And hey, I’d reach my OOP max pretty early in the year next year, which definitely has some advantages.

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