Monthly Archives: March 2013

Gall bladder continued…

The wife still hurts, after all, it was surgery.  Yesterday and today are supposedly the most painful days of recovery.

Going back to the story, we went home from the HIDA scan pretty sure that surgery was our best option, but we had a few days to wait before our appointment to talk with the surgeon.

So we did our internet reading and found out more about the gall bladder, more than we ever thought we’d need to know.

Bile.  Also know as gall, hence the name gall bladder.  This is the fluid that comes up last when repeated vomiting has taken place and there’s nothing else left in the stomach.  Disgusting right?  We are left with a negative impression of bile.

But bile is essential to our digestion, well our digestion of fats.  It is created by the liver and is stored in the gall bladder.  The gall bladder is also referred to as the bile-sac (why not the bile bladder, it sounds better).  When the body realizes that we’ve eaten fat, a hormone, cholecystokinin, is released by the small intestine.

(cholecystokinin  from Greek chole, “bile”; cysto, “sac”; kinin, “move”; hence, move the bile-sac (gallbladder)) is a peptide hormone of the gastrointestinal system responsible for stimulating the digestion of fat and protein)

This causes, or is supposed to cause, the gall bladder to contract, squeezing out the bile.  This contraction, when something is abnormal in the gall bladder, causes pain, possibly a LOT of pain.

The next four days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday,  were spent trying to find tasty non-fat food.  This is a healthier diet anyway, right?  Non-fat Greek yogurt, fruit and vegetables are the best.  Bread products and crackers all have fat, except for a loaf of sourdough bread that we found in the Veggie store.  Very tasty and very expensive.  Of course there is a certain amount of boundary pushing and testing.  The wife decides to try just a little bit of cheese and crackers, resulting in sharp pains in her abdomen.  Good to know there is some consistency here.

Tuesday morning at 8:30 we meet with the surgeon, Dr. C.  He’s very no nonsense and tells us all signs point to the gall bladder and recommends removal.  No surprise right?  He’s a surgeon.  But all of our research has told us the same thing.  When can you do it the wife asks.  Tomorrow if you want the surgeon replies.  We talk it over and decide to do it… we’re going for it!  Scary.

We’re scheduled for a pre-op meeting at noon to finish up paperwork and get any more questions answered, but first the wife needs to have an EKG done.  We head over to the hospital and it is worked out that we can do both at the same time.  The mobile EKG machine is in the office where the pre-op meeting is taking place.  A tech comes in during the briefing and does the EKG, no problem.  Everyone is so nice though all of this so far.

We are scheduled to come in tomorrow at 9 AM.  We go home to prepare.

To be continued…


Thanks for the good wishes everyone!

The wife is home again.  A little sore, a little groggy, but home.

Modern medicine can be amazing!

But you have to pay attention to your body.

The wife had been feeling pain in her midsection after eating for about the last six months.

The thought it was tension or nervous stomach and didn’t want to be a complainer, so she stopped mentioning it to me.

I had been worried but since she stopped talking about it, I mostly forgot about it.

Last Thursday at work she had an attack so bad that she almost couldn’t drive home.  She’d called me and let me know and I told her I would come pick her up, but she thought she could make it.  She did.  And came home and curled up in bed in agony.  This continued for about four more hours.

I talked to a friend, a retired RN, and he told me probably gall bladder but take her to the ER.  I managed to talk the wife into it and off we went.

Back when we lived in Los Angeles trips to the ER were nightmares!  Crowded and long waits were the norm and that was the good visits.  We had to take a kid to a county hospital ER once… A six hour wait I believe.

Now we live in a smallish town in the southwest Washington state.  We have a Providence Hospital within twenty minutes.  So, we got to the ER and they talked to us right away, taking her name and our insurance.  Five minutes later a nurse had her in a room taking vitals and getting info.  Five more minutes and we were in a room.  Five more minutes and a very nice doctor was examining her.

Gall bladder, probably.  She should have an ultrasound to check things out.  Half an hour later the wife is getting an ultrasound and I got to watch.

“Can you tell if it’s a boy or a girl?” I asked.

“That’s her liver,” was the response.

Gall bladder

Gall bladder

Everything looked good, no blockages, no weird lumpy things.  By the way, the gall bladder isn’t green, it’s red.  If it is green, like in the above diagram, that is a bad thing, it’s probably dead, maybe gangrene.

Back to the room and another very nice doctor.  He gave us great explanations about what was probably going on, drew us diagrams and told us what was next.  Pain pills and a new exam, a HIDA scan.  It’s a gamma ray camera that tracks radioactive particles injected.  See here for more info:  HIDA scan   That was scheduled for Friday, the next day.

But the doctor took an extra step, he also scheduled an appointment with a surgeon, just to talk with him in case things went that far.

So we got sent home, did some more internet investigations and showed up the next day at Nuclear Medicine.  The HIDA scan is a 2+ hour procedure.  It’s not supposed to be painful, but you have to lie still for two hours.  The painful part was when they injected a hormone, cholecystokinin,  that stimulates the gall bladder into thinking that fatty food has been eaten and go to work.  It’s the going to work part that was causing the wife the pain, and it kicked right in again, as bad as the night before.

B, as I’ll call B****, said that he’d only seen that happen a few times in the thousands of times he’d run this test.  B was very good and informative throughout the whole procedure.  He’s ex-army and sounds like it.  Other than the pain, everything looked normal, but in his opinion the pain was the key.  He implied that surgery was probably the answer, and we went home looking forward to our appointment with the surgeon next Tuesday, four days from now.

To be continued…

Catching up is hard to do

Sung to the tune of “Breaking up is hard to do”.

Don’t take your likes away from me
Don’t you leave my blog in misery
If you go then I’ll go blue
‘Cause catching up is hard to do

Remember when you followed me tight
And you viewed me all through the night
Think of all that we’ve been through
Catching Up Is Hard To Do

They say that catching up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of catching up I wish that we were posting up  again

I beg of you, don’t say goodbye
Can’t we give our links another try
Come on baby, let’s start to view
‘Cause catching up is hard to do


I’m behind:  On my blog, on my classes, on my writing, on my guitar practice, but not on my bills!

I’m reorganizing, so I hope to catch up.

Thanks for waiting…

But not in shame…

This is Stella.  We, the wife and I, were settling in for a nap.  The past couple of days have been exhausting.

Stella napping

Stella hiding her face while sleeping.

Stella normally comes up on the bed as we’re settling down, but when I put my book away, or move around to get in sleeping position she tends to jump off the bed and settle alongside somewhere.

Today, with loud grumbles like a grumpy grizzly, she settled in with her face jammed between the wall and the extra pillow.

Tough when a family member is hurting.

Gall Bladder.

Seems like a stupid name.  Maybe I shouldn’t insult it because if can cause such pain.

Who has suggestions for a non/low fat diet?

I know more about the gall bladder than I ever thought I would need to know.

Sensitivity alert here – going to get into an icky area.

Bile… I never thought about it, but you know when someone vomits enough so almost nothing comes out, just bile.  Evil smelling ugly stuff.  Why is it even there?  It’s the last stuff to come out, why?

From the little I know, the liver produces bile.  Then it is stored in the gall bladder until it is needed.

When is it needed?


What does it do?

Bile is used to help digest fat, the animal fat that you eat.  When your body recognizes that you’ve eaten some of this fat it sends a message to the liver for bile.  The gall bladder is notified and is supposed to squeeze out the bile to the common duct, that leads to the intestines.

When the gall bladder is not right, this causes pain.  And it can be intense pain.

Some people live with pain like this for their whole lives.  I heard a story of a lady, grandmother, who is 79, just had her gall bladder removed.  She’d been suffering pain from it for over 40 years… and now she can eat without pain afterwards.  Why did she wait so long to do something about it?

Anyway, I’m tired… I haven’t been writing for a couple of days and I’m falling behind in my classes.  Today I’m going to try to catch up.  But I have shopping to do and I need a newspaper.  Blah blah blah…

I did write a bit about the waiting room in the hospital, so I did use some of the time profitably…