My Gallbladder Surgery Experience (With Far Too Many Details)

Warning: I’m an oversharer.  If medical stuff makes you queasy, skip this post!  I’ll try not to be gross or graphic!  The takeaway is that I’m out of surgery and doing well.  I’m in a little pain, but much of it is just muscles getting used to being used in different ways than normal.

My hospital does a pre-surgery appointment to fill out paperwork and do any final labwork, so I went in for that yesterday.  I have to say that the St. Joseph staff is made up of absolute rockstars.  From the volunteer who led me upstairs to the nurse that worked with me on my paperwork, I left feeling totally confident in everyone there.  Mimi (my nurse) was incredible.  She’s one of those rare people who you can just tell really cares about her job, really believes in what she’s doing and was just made for the job she has.

The day of my surgery, I was instructed to come in at 7:30am.  I showed up and they took me to a Pre-Op “room” (all of the rooms are like little curtained off nooks along a hallway) to change.  The gown was paper with a plastic liner, which hooks to a machine that blows air into it for temperature control.  I had a vagina air conditioner!  Somebody needs to make this technology available for everybody.  I felt like I waited forever.  A nurse stopped by to take my vitals and after several minutes, a nurse came by to do my IV and some prep stuff.  I think I was there nearly an hour before my boyfriend and mom could come back to sit with me.

When they finally wheeled me back for surgery, the set-up staff (all female) was fun to chat with.  They all seemed super nice and really personable (again, ROCKSTAR staff.)  I scooted onto the table and they gave me an oxygen mask.  I don’t even remember them mentioning giving me anesthesia, but they instructed me to take a few deep breaths and the next thing I remember, I woke up with a nurse beside me in Recovery, asking me a few questions.

The new anesthesia is SO NICE.  I had a tonsillectomy when I was fourteen, and I woke up feeling like six shades of hell.  I was groggy, foggy and hung-over.  When they marched me out of the hospital, I felt like a petulant, overtired toddler.  This time?  Totally different story.  I woke up feeling a bit like I’d overslept, but I was pretty lucid within minutes.  I was ready to get up and pee within five minutes–but I said I wanted to wait until I was in post-op, which was probably a mistake.  They didn’t have a post-op room ready and someone across from me needed to be intubated because her vocal cords snapped shut.  It had to be 45 minutes or more before I got moved.

When I got to post-op, they gave me an ice pack that I couldn’t even feel and a pillow to clutch over my wounds when I move.  They gave me some pain medicine that didn’t seem to do anything for me.  I’m not sure if I had a gas bubble stuck or what (they inflate you with CO2), but it hurt a lot below my lowest incision.  I would learn later (nobody told me this) that my gallbladder was distended and pretty nasty, so they had to make that incision larger than usual.  I was crying with pain, which the nurses blamed on the anesthesia, but I was having none of it.  They brought me another pain pill, which still didn’t help.

Each wound was covered with pads and gauze.  When I got up to go to the bathroom, I felt drips all over my front.  I assumed I had been sweating, but it turns out my incisions had been seeping under my gown.  No one told me this would happen, and it was still a problem well into the night.  I got to go home the same day–around three or four?  I wasn’t really sure.  Driving was uncomfortable.  Curves HURT.

Getting up and down is pretty uncomfortable.  They instructed me to clutch a pillow to my incisions, but it’s hard to cover them all and it hardly helps.  PLUS, how the hell does one clutch a pillow and still manage to get up without using stomach muscles?  I usually have to have my boyfriend push my pillow in while I push myself up.  I slept pretty much sitting up, which made it hard to get any rest, but I know I’d never be able to get up if I were to lie flat.

The pain is mostly where my gallbladder used to be and around dat FUPA.  I’m using some new muscles when I move now, so those are sore.  Only my belly incision really hurts.

No diarrhea yet, no nausea, no visible bruising, no bleeding.  All in all?  Doing okay.  I’m much more alert today and feeling pretty okay.  I’ve been consuming Chex, applesauce, water and ginger ale.  About to try a biscuit.

6 responses to “My Gallbladder Surgery Experience (With Far Too Many Details)”

  1. Way to go Dootsie! Sounds like the staff weren’t the only rockstars there…

  2. Go easy on yourself and give your body plenty of time to heal.

  3. […] I had my surgery back in July.  I anticipated the worst after that sucker came out, but things actually went really […]

  4. […] I had my gallbladder removed in July 2013. My digestive reality has changed a lot since then. I thought I’d share a bit about how I’m living without a bile reservoir! […]

  5. […] out to be an expensive headache, I realized I needed to buckle down and really adult-up. When I had an organ removed, I knew I had to pay my bills, so my purse strings tightened […]

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