Gall Bladder & Gallstones
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Gall Bladder & Gallstones
I just got a call from my daughters doctor and she told me that my
daughter has a large gall stone. I am so worried. What does this
mean, what causes this, how can it be treated, is surgery the only
option? The doctor said she will refer us to a specialist.
My daughter is seventeen and suffers from Polycystic ovarian
syndrome. she was just put on the pill for a year to see if her
periods will regulate.
Any answers will help a lot.
About a decade or so ago I experienced my first gallstone 'attack'.
It was very painful. I went to my doctor and got the diagnosis. She
recommended surgery to remove my gall bladder. She said that I didn't
need my gall bladder, and that it was likely that the single gallstone
I had would only get larger in time. I changed my diet - no more
fried foods, much less fat, but I experienced two more painful attacks.
When the 4th one struck, the pain never went away. I finally went to
the emergency room, and the following day had my gall bladder removed.
The stone had become stuck in the bile duct, and the tissue of the
gall bladder had died. In other words, by waiting, I ended up with an
infection and spent three days in the hospital.
I did not want to have the surgery, but now I wish that I had had it
sooner. Had I been camping or traveling where I couldn't have gotten
medical treatment, I could have died from the infection.
That said, I don't know what current treatment options are, so check
with your doctor. There may be a new treatment. Any surgery is
'serious' in my book, which is why I avoided it. The gall bladder
can be removed laparoscopically, so the recovery time is pretty short
- a week or two.
One thing I learned was that becoming even slightly dehydrated can
trigger a gallstone attack, so if you and your daughter decide
against surgery, be sure that she carries water with her wherever
I've recently been diagnosed with a 3 cm gallstone after becoming
very ill during the holidays. Since the diagnosis I've
eliminated red meat from my diet and fatty foods to prevent
further attacks and it's working. My doctor has recommended I
have my gallbladder removed as there are too many risks in
keeping it. I'm just wondering if any one has had a similar
experience, if you had the surgery and if you suffered any
consequences because of it. It's really hard to go under the
knife when you feel healthy, but I certainly don't want to have
another attack and it would be nice not to have to worry about
eating the wrong thing. Should I seek a second opinion? Do any
of you have gallstones but have decided to live with them without
Missing a good steak.
Ugh...gallstones! After an excruciating first attack when I was
7 month's pregnant, I was diagnosed with gallstones. Of course,
since I was pregnant, the GI doc told me I'd need to wait until
after I delivered but that I should get it removed because once
my body starts making these little bastards (sorry, the pain is
still oh so clear in my mind), it'll continue to make them.
I did a little research to see if I could live with them - and
then some more about the actual surgery and decided to go ahead
with it. The surgery is actually relatively easy (for the
patient anyway). As I'm sure you've learned, they now do it
laproscopically so all you're left with is a few tiny marks on
your abdomen. I stayed one night in the hospital and had almost
no pain. BUT...I guess I'm one of the unlucky few who after
removal of the gallbladder experience chronic diarrhea...ugh.
Fortunately, I can control it by taking this powder every other
morning and supposedly, when my body finally ''gets it'' that I
don't have a gallbladder anymore, I won't need it.
Anyway, I'm sure if you decide to have the surgery you'll be
fine - guess I was just unlucky. I did lose a lot of weight on
the ''gallbladder diet'' before I had the surgery but man, did I
Best of luck to you.
If I would have gotten a proper diagnosis when I first had gallstones and knew then
what I know now I would have had my Gallbladder removed immediately! I suffered
tremendously and unnecessarily for years w/ fleeting severe pain and by the time I
had to have my gallbladder removed I ended up with two separate surgeries which
required months of recuperation. My gallstone blocked my pancreatic duct which
resulted in some very serious problems such as other organs starting to fail and the
formation of a pancreatic cyst! Undergoing a simple laproscopic operation to
remove the gallbladder which would have resulted in a life without excruciating pain
and long-term affects years later would have been a welcome alternative! Don't
assume having gallstones is merely a nuisance.
I had surgery to remove my gall bladder about 5 years ago. I had
one gall stone attack, and that was enough for me. I could not
stand worrying about what I ate all the time and waiting for
another one (ironically, I had the attack after losing about 25
lbs on Weight Watchers, which did not seem fair!). It turned out
that I had a 4cm gall stone. I have never had another issue with
my gall bladder (or lack thereof), and do not regret having the
surgery. Good luck with your decision!
I had my gall bladder out after deliberating a bunch. I can't
say whether I would have been happy had I kept it, but I can tell
you about my experiences since. It was explained to me that the
inability to store bile for high-demand times (high-fat meals,
etc.) causes a response to fats much like the response to olestra
- no digestion of the fat, and therefore loose stools. I have
certainly had this side effect, and notice that when I eat a
low-fat diet I am fine. Large, fatty meals give me bathroom
emergencies the next day.
I have had no other problems, and happily no more nasty abdominal
pain. I'm certainly better off with a low-fat diet, but that
doesn't really answer your steak craving, now, does it?
You might want to consider a 2nd opinion with a great
acupuncturist named John Nieters in Alameda. He worked with me on
my gallbladder and said that gallbladders are often removed too
quickly, when diet and herbs can really help.
Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the chance
of future gallstone problems safely and naturally. A high-fiber
diet with lots of beets is also recommended. (Delicious
soluble-fiber supplements are available at any drugstore.) And,
even a small amount of exercise every week will reduce the risk
of gallstone problems further. Once you have attained a healthy
weight, an occasional steak should not be a problem.
I was recently diagnosed as having a 1 cm gallstone and was told
that gallbladder removal through surgery, although not crucial at
this point, is a very common solution. I opted not to have
surgery, and am wondering if anyone has been successful with
diet/nutritionist advice for treating gallstones. I would also
appreciate hearing from people who have been treated with
traditional chinese medicine, homeopathy or any other so called
alternative medicine. Thanks! D.
Pick up a copy of Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford (published
in Berkeley by North Atlantic Press).
He outlines the popular gallstone cleanse with apples - you could also
look it up online, I think Hulda Clark had a version too.
I haven't done it yet, but I know a lot of people who have (even ones
who kept their stones in a jar to show off - yeech!).
Homeopathy was very helpful in treating my gallstones. I had a fairly
severe case with frequent trips to the ER for unbareable pain. Surgery
was recommended, but I was pregnant at the time and wanted to avoid
anesthesia. My homeopath gave me a constitutional remedy and a remedy to
take during pain episodes.
I took the emergency remedy during pain episodes and was then able to
avoid the ER. My last sono showed no stones. My homeopath is very
skilled, she is also a nurse. Her prices are reasonable, her practice is
in San Francisco but she often makes home visits in Oakland and
Berkeley. Her name is Lori Nairne and she can be reached at
415-751-1261. She also cured my son of eczema and sucessfully treated my
youngest son's recurrent ear infections. With her help my youngest son
was able to stop all of his asthma medications. I highly recommend you
give her a try before going to surgery.
no experience, but wanted to recommend mothering magazine's health and
healing forum, for lots of mamas with alternative medicine appreciation
ooh, here's a thread: ''gallbladder probs- can they be dealt with
naturally?'' with 42 posts.
if you register, you can use the search function to find things in the
forum. otherwise you can lurk as a guest. good luck.
After an ultrasound for side abdominal pain, I've been told I
have polyps in my gallbladder. Apparently polyps in the
gallbladder are quite rare and are normally benign. But the
nurse told me, and I confirmed this w/ research on the
internet, that polyps over 10 mm are usually malignant and the
gallbladder is usually taken out as a precaution. One of my 3
polyps is 11 mm. I am going to have a consultation with a
general surgeon, but in the meantime was wondering if anyone
has had any experience with this. I do not have gallstones and
am in my early 40's.
trying not to be nervous
Gallbladder surgery these days is a pretty easy surgery -
usually laparoscopic with three little incisions that heal
quickly. If it were me, I'd just have the gallbladder taken
out. Then they can send it to pathology and make sure it's
benign...my 2 cents.
I have been feeling pressure (not pain) under my ribs on my
right side for some time now. It comes and goes and has on two
occasions been painful. It is the same feeling as when I was
pregnant and the baby would stick his foot up there while
stretching. I have had an ultrasound to check for gallbladder
stones and it was negative, but the result said ''physiologically
distended gallbladder''. I have searched the internet and have
found nothing very informative. I asked my doctor what that
meant and she simply shrugged.
I am concerned. The feeling is uncomfortable. Sometimes very
uncomfortable. I'm worried that it is a precursor to something
Has anyone else experienced anything like this? If so, did it
resolve and how? Is there anything else I can do? My doctor is
just not interested.
Dya think the ligaments or whatever that hold the gallbladder in place
were stretched or something during the pregnancy? Here are two people
who will take an interest in your case, I'll
wager: Leah Statman, a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner in Albany (like
Japanese-style acupressure) 525-5080; and Dr. Jim Otis, a neurological
chiropractor on Pill Hill 832-6848. Leah has me on a regular regimen of
''gall-bladder flows,'' and Dr. Otis recently helped me raise my
''dropped kidney'' that was giving me back pain. Far fetched, maybe,
but it helped right away. Both will probably have dietary suggestions.
You might also be interested in the writing of Dr. Hulda Clark (find her
on line) who proposes an herbal/mineral regimen for clearing stones from
the liver and gallbladder. I haven't tried this yet, but it's almost
next on my list.
It's great that you looked at the report and followed up on it with your
doctor. I've found more often then not that reading my records gives you
a lot of information and a base knowledge to talk to your doctor.
I had a very similiar reaction from my family doctor recently.
She sent me results without comment that were not normal and required
follow-up. What I did was looked my problem up on medline and on some
sites that are well respected and got background information to ease my
mind. Since this was not the first time that sloppiness had gotten in
the way of treatment, at the same time I am looking (again) for another
physician. It seems from your e-mail that you recognize the docs
reaction is not working for you. You have other options that can be
guided by your relationship with the doc. You could discuss your
concern about their lack of concern. Maybe gallbladders aren't their
speciality or maybe they don't get concerned unless they need to be
removed. You have a lot of options. There are specific diet guidelines
that a nutritionist may be able to help with. But my feeling is that
even if the physician is not personally concerned, they always be
willing to take the time to explain your question. It's also helpful to
try to gather some info yourself. Good luck.
I've had something similar for a few months.
Have you also had a liver function test? (it's a blood test)...sounds
like you may have given the extent of testing you've had.
So....lets assume your organs are all fine.
You might have a rib slightly out of alignment. That could cause similar
discomfort. You might have overused a muscle...your internal or external
oblique ab muslces, the muscles in between your ribs could have been
Do you have a chiropractor you really love and trust?
I can highly recommend Dr. Charlie Prins on Solano Ave in Albany.
It's also possible that you don't have gallstones, but maybe your
gallbladder is irritated due to overdoing something in your diet. THe
things that can irritate liver and gallbladder are coffee(caffeine),
chocolate, SUGAR, high fat foods (too much), refined carbs-white flour
Just some ideas for you to work with.
I've often found that when there is nothing obvious the medical folks
aren't willing to investigate further and just shrug it off.
The archived Berkeley Parents posts on gallbladder attacks have
been a tremendous help. I have some questions not addressed there.
As far as surgery goes, is the laparoscopic operation surgery one
for which one should very carefully choose the surgeon? Or are
most surgeons going to be just fine at this? (I'll likely be at
CPMC or UCSF if that makes a difference.)
Is the surgery typically done under general or regional
anasthetic? Do you have to fast and take an enema (yuk)
beforehand? Any tips for gas and constipation post-surgery? (I
had surgery recently and wish I'd been told about this!)
I'm currently nursing, too, and am wondering if any others out
there had surgery while nursing. What sort of pain medication
did you take and did it interfere with nursing? What
difficulties did you have holding and lifting your baby
afterwards and for how long?
A million questions I know--thanks for answers or suggestions to
any of them!
I had laparoscopic gallbladder surgery a few years ago. Many
surgeons are not trained in this technique. So the question
you need to ask your potential surgeon is ''HOW MANY of these
surgeries have you done?'' You don't want to be a guinea pig.
I had no problem with gas or constipation afterward, and just
minor incisional pain managed with Tylenol. (My surgeon
prescribed Vicodin, but I didn't need it) The main complaint I
had was just general tiredness and weakness for a week or two,
which is to be expected.
no more pain
I had the surgery about five years ago and not only was it easy
but complication free. I am also familiar with both the
hospitals you mentioned and I think any surgeon performing! this
laproscopic procedure would be just fine. It is performed
under a general and there is some gas in the belly afterwards.
I have a very low threshhold for discomfort and I found the
recovery to be easy. The key is not to get up and back to your
routine right away. Give yourself at least three days with
help in the house so that you have to do nothing but gently
move from bed to couch. The mistake I made in recovery was to
get back to my routine within 48 hours and thus felt really
crummy on days 3-6.
I had laproscopic surgery for gall stones a decade ago. I think
by now it's pretty basic, you might want to find out if the
surgeon has had any incidences of nicking livers - which can
create a lot more problems than the gall stones.
I don't remember any gas problems after the surgery. The
recovery was very quick.
Regarding nursing, see if you can talk to the anesthesiologist.
They have a variety of pain relief measures they can use that
won't get passed through the milk (or only in small amounts).
I'm sure I took pain meds for a few days after, but no more
than after I gave birth (motrin, maybe)!
I had gallbladder surgery when my son was 3 1/2 months old, and I was nursing
him full-time then. From my research it seemed that any of the typical pain
medications I might get would be ok (like Tylenol with codeine etc.), but they also
tell you to ''pump and dump'' for I think the first feeding after the surgery itself.
Your pediatrician should know, and so should the staff at the hospital. I let the
hospital know in advance I'd be pumping and they brought over a hospital pump
from the NICU. I had bottles of milk in the fridge at home and frozen, and felt a b! it
better about my son having that milk than laced with the pain-killers. Sure, it was
''fine'' (ie not dangerous) for him, but I do think it made him a little woozy! The
other thing to think about is that it is a dilemma how much to expose your baby to
the hospital setting. I think it tends to depend on the unit where you're recovering
(I'd check with the nurses there to see what they think). I had no problem lifting and
caring for my son pretty soon after the surgery (done laparoscopically), but certainly
in the first couple of days at least I needed help. The best thing is if you can find
surgeon who will push the gas out of your belly, it is the thing that makes you most
uncomfortable, I found. It is very important to find the best surgeon you can, I
would definitely do some asking around. The reason is that, even though this is a
very common procedure, there are of course some common mishaps that can
You should absolutely have your surgery laproscopically. It
makes the recovery time much easier and quicker. And
absolutely, not every surgeon is created equally! I recommend
going to a younger surgeon (in their late 30s early 40s). Lap
surgery hasn't been around that long so the older surgeons
don't know how to do it and the younger ones were trained right
from the start! You should do just fine at either UCSF or CPMC
(I get all of my healthcare at UCSF).
They have to use general anesthesia. The only time they can
use regional anesthesia is if it is in the pelvic area and
below. They will tell you not to eat or drink after midnight.
No enemas! That is only for intestinal surgery. Try taking
colase right before and after for constipation. It is an over-
the-counter stool softener.
In terms of nursing, you can take any medication that is giving
to women who have c-sections. Vicodin is usually okay. You
may find that you only need motrin, which is harmless. If your
baby is heavy, you might not want to lift the child for a
couple of weeks until you wounds heal.
I just found out I have gallstones and will have to have my
gallbladder removed. Does anyone know a good surgeon who has a
lot of experience doing this kind of laparoscopic surgery (as well
as a good track record)?
new mom in berkeley
I'd call Barry Gardiner, MD.
He is affiliated with San Ramon Regional Medical Center
He is a superb general surgeon, wonderful person and
''wrote the book'' on state- of- the- art laproscopic
There is no one better.
My husband had his gall bladder taken out this past November by
Dr. Catherine Forest at Alta Bates. While she is a very nice
woman, and I am confident that most of her procedures go very
well and without incident (In fact we know two people who had
successful procedures with her), my husband's went very badly. He
ended up with a leaking cystic bile duct that took three
procedures to repair and was in the hospital for nearly a month
recovering. He was incredibly sick and we were very, very
worried about him. Like I said, this is likely atypical of her
successes over all, but it was a pretty bad experience.
I had my gallbladder removed laparascopically shortly after the
birth of my daughter by surgeon Barry Gardiner, who at that time
had an office in Oakland near Summit Hospital (where the
operation took place). He is now medical director of San Ramon
Regional Medical Center's Minimally Invasive Surgery and Robotic
Technology Program. Not sure if that's too far for you, but he's
excellent...was very patient in explaining the operation and his
followup care was wonderful.
To the new mom-
I had my gall bladder removed two years ago. Research found us
Robert Fowler, kind of the ''king'' of laproscopic surgery, we
were told. He got mine out that way, and it was plugged with a
large stone and very bloated and therefor very large. Minimal
scarring, minimal fuss. He is in Berkeley, in the Colby Street
medical building. Good luck. By the way, my acupuncturist told
me later that acupuncture has a good track working with gall
stones. Mind blew up overnight, never thought to call her when
I was in such acute distress, went right to the doc and
hospital. You might consider that first. Can always take it
our later if all else fails.
Barry Gardener/Gardner, M.D. invented the laproscopic technique
for taking out the gallbladder, so I would encourage you to go to
him. He is located in Oakland as well as having some other
offices. He is hugely respected locally as well as national
After several years of digestive problems, I've just had an
ultrasound and it was discovered I have multiple, but smallish,
gallstones. Surgery has been suggested although it would not be
a large incision; rather a small incision and use of a long
tool. Has anyone had this surgery? Did you feel much better
afterward? Any complications or new problems? How was your
recovery from the procedure? Many thanks.
I had my gall bladder removed last January using laproscopic
surgery, which sounds like what you are talking about. I had
had only one attack, but it was decided that removal was the
best treatment (and I am glad I did, as I turned out to have a
4cm gall stone, which would have inevitably caused further
problems). The surgery itself was very straightforward, and my
only complication (which sent me back to the emergency room two
days later) was really due to an extremely painful buildup of
gas. I had two friends who had the surgery about the same
time, and neither one of them had that problem and both were up
and about the next day. Interestingly, both myself and one of
my friends had just lost 20-25 pounds on the Weight Watchers
program when we started having problems, so I am convinced
there is a connection (which does not seem fair!). It has been
almost a year since my surgery, and I have not had any further
problems and have not had to make any significant dietary
I believe you are referring to laparoscopic surgury to remove
your gall bladder. I had this done about six months ago and it
was very easy. It was a day procedure so I was home in by the
mid-afternoon. I was mildly uncomfortable in the abdomen area
for a couple days and I felt completely back to normal within a
week. I now have four very small scars.
Gall bladder attacks for me for almost unbearable -- extremely
painful and I would never know when they would occur and how
long they would last. Since the surgery, I've had no more
I had undiagnosed pain for 18 months before my situation became
acute and I had to be admitted to the ER because my gall bladder
was inflamed, and I had stones. I had laproscopic surgery to
remove the gall bladder and have felt much better ever since - my
mysterious 1.5-year old pain finally went away. Because the
surgery was laproscopic, recovery was really pretty quick and
easy - probably not even a week, and the scars are amazingly small.
Best of luck!
I had laproscopic gall bladder surgery when I was 20 weeks
pregnant (ugh). I had developed good-sized gall stones and I
had one sitting in whatever that duct is called that goes to
the liver, so I was told I had to have the surgery in spite of
the lousy timing. The surgery went well, recovery was pretty
easy (though the first day post-op was, I must say, not that
much fun). I was feeling quite good after about a week. I
haven't noticed any difference in what I can eat--I adore bacon
and other fatty foods and I've had no trouble eating them.
It's been almost 2 years and I haven't had any problems. Good
luck to you. Gall stones are a drag.
I had my gall bladder removed in 1999, after several excruciating
gallstone episodes. I also had it removed by ''tube'' with four tiny dot-
sized incisions. I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia and had a day of
incessant vomiting after the surgery, but other than that my recovery was
fast and easy. I haven't had an problems since then, and before that I
had had what I thought was an ulcer. But it turned out to be related to
the gall bladder, because after I had it removed, I never had the ''ulcer''
Had mine out four yrs ago w/ laser surgery. Quick recovery,
minimal scarring. I certainly don't miss the pain -- thought it
was worse than labor -- so there's no question I did the right
thing. The only residual effects I've noticed are that I'm more
susceptible to weight gain from eating fats and for some reason
pickles now give me mild indigestion (maybe completely unrelated
Good luck w/ your decision
I developed gallstones during pregnancy and I had my gallbladder
removed three weeks after having a c-section. Both the surgery
and the recovery were really quite simple. You will have three
small incisions, including one in your belly button and the
biggest hassle will be keeping your incisions dry. Immediately
after the surgery I remember feeling like someone was sitting on
my chest, but after drinking some hot water and burping, I felt
better immediately. I recovered very quickly from the surgery
and talked my way out of the hospital that evening...I didn't
even have to spend the night. Unfortunately, two weeks later I
began having symptoms again, like a gallstone attack. So yes,
there can be complications. During the surgery, as they pulled
out the gallbladder, a stone or two came lose and lodged in my
common bile duct. I had to have a second procedure called an
ERCP that unfortunately gave me pancreatitus and a 5 day stay in
the hospital. But even given all of my complications, I'm glad
I had the surgery.
Haven't had the surgery myself, but my sister had the old-
fashioned kind and had a long, painful recovery. My sister-in-
law had the new kind within the same month(tiny incision, long
tools) and was up and around really soon, with no complications.
I had this surgery when my babe was just 3 months old because of
the intensely painful episodes when a stone gets stuck. The
stones developed during my pregnancy, which I understand is not
uncommon. I wish we had figured it out earlier, as the overall
effect on my digestion was severe and I could hardly eat
throughout the pregnancy, gained little weight, and was
unspeakably miserable. Getting to your question, the surgery was
a breeze. I highly recommend my surgeon, Dr. Katherine Forest. I
didn't even spend the night in the hospital and only missed one
breastfeeding. I felt better immediately, like my old self, and
it was a beautiful transformation. I had forgotten what it was
like to feel good and eat with an appetite. I was a little sore
for a few days, but didn't even have enough pain to remind me to
take my Advil. Good luck!
Two teachers at my daughter's preschool recently had a gall
bladder surgery like what you described (small incision, etc.)
They both said it was a simple procedure and they had little
discomfort. They took only a few days off and were back at work
as if nothing had happened.
I had my gall bladder removed almost 4 years ago. It was
laproscopic surgery which left 4 small scars, each about 1/2''
long: 3 across my abdomen and 1 across my navel. It was done as
outpatient surgery at California Pacific in SF, but I spent the
night as the surgery was done in the mid-afternoon.
I could only eat the blandest foods before the surgery and it
took about a month before I could eat normally again. I still
need to severely limit high-fat foods (for me real ice cream &
tortilla chips), but seldom experience the pain of before. As
for general recovery, I think I stayed in bed for the next 4 or
5 days but didn't need much pain medication.
The gas they use to expand your abdomen causes most of the after
surgery pain. I woke up feeling like someone was standing on my
chest so asked for more pain meds. Make sure you get up and pee
when you wake up the first time as the IV is just filling your
bladder and it can expand beyond your muscle control - not fun.
I had my gall bladder removed a little over a year ago. Before
that I had three gall bladder 'attacks' about 18 months apart.
After each attack I had an ultrasound that revealed a single
gall stone that grew over time. After the first attack, my
family doctor advised that I have my gall bladder removed - she
said that I 'didn't need it' - but I had never had surgery
before, so it seemed like a big deal at the time.
The surgery that I had about a year and a half ago ended up being
emergency surgery because the gall stone had become lodged in the
bile duct, and the tissue around it was starting to die. I think
the four hours I spent in the emergency room before being
admitted was the worst part. I was kind of out of it for about
five days after the surgery, which I think is not unusual in
general. I didn't drive for about a week. I have three small
scars, but they are getting smaller or lighter over time. It
took several months for my digestion to settled down, but I
didn't have any severe diarrhea or anything like that.
The advantage of having the surgery is that you don't have to
worry about being stranded somewhere and having a gall bladder
attack. The first attack I had was the day before I had to go
somewhere on a plane so I was worried that I wouldn't be able to
go. The second attack occurred while I was vacationing with my
daughter, and I was really worried about what would happen to
her if I had to go to the hospital. The third attack occurred
just after a two-day camping trip.
Recently I talked to someone who has gall stones, and she eats
an apple a day and takes a food additive whenever she has a
fatty meal. It's a food additive, not a drug. So there are
some doctors out there who recommend non-surgery alternatives.
You can email me if you have questions.
There has been a lot of discussion about gall bladder surgery. Could
someone explain what the pain of gall stones feels like and where it is
usually localized? It seems most people take a while to determine that
gall stones are the problem, so knowing a little more about others
experiences might be helpful.
I had one attack and lived in fear of another one before
getting my gall bladder out. It came on about an hour after
eating some fast food french fries, and I would have to
describe it as the worst pain I have ever felt (even including
childbirth!). It is an intense, constant, twisting pain in the
abdomen, and there is no relief, no matter what position you
move into. You may feel like you would feel some relief if you
vomit, but you don't necessarily have to, and that may not
help. I was lucky, and mine only lasted about 15 minutes; I
have had friends whose episodes lasted hours and had to go to
the ER. If you believe you have had this type of pain, visit
your doctor and they will likely send you for a sonnogram.
I had two episodes where I experienced excrutiating back pain, which I
attributed to my pregnancy. After the birth, I experienced two more
episodes (a few hours each time) of lower back pain. This time I wrote it
off thinking that I had overdown it on one of my walks up Marin Ave in
Berkeley, carrying our newborn in the babyfront pack. When it
happened yet another time (this was probably all within a 10 month
period) I finally went to the doctor who diagnosed it right away as gall
bladder, and was quickly confirmed with a subsequent test. Although I
had scheduled surgery, these episodes all led up to the big one just
prior to surgery when I ended up in the emergency room because the
pain became so excuriating that I could no longer take it (having given
birth to 2 kids without so much as a whimper, for me to admit that it hurt,
is a slight understatement) I ended up with a morphine drip and passing
a gall stone (which the ER doctor kept insisting was a rarity). I avoided
emergency surgery and opted to follow up with the planned date, some
3 days later. Hindsight is always 20/20 and had I known what I was
experiencing, I would have gotten to the doctor sooner and avoided a lot
I was told I had the classic gallstone attacks, so here is the
The attack would start between 10 - 11 pm and be a tightening
behind my right breast. The pain would progress within an hour
to be so uncomfortable that I would get out of bed and just walk
around the house; there was no position that was comfortable and
no pill could ease the pain. The attack would last until 2 or 3
am. I went to the emergency room once where they did an EKG and
then decided it was major heartburn, so gave me something for
that. I also had a migraine during one attack and was thankful
for the sleep that brought on!
The frequency of the attacks went from less than once a month to
several times a week in about 10 months. Once I saw a doctor
about it, the gallstones (actually mostly sludge) were diagnosed
by an ultrasound. By that time I was only eating toast and
A friend had a similar sludge-gallstone problem, but resolved it
with a regimen of fasting, then lemon juice and olive oil, which
was suggested by her doctor. Easier than surgery!
Gall bladder pain typically starts in the mid back and radiates
around to the front. When I had the pains several years ago, it
was difficult to figure out what was the problem. I was a student
at the time and so I figured that I was carrying too many books
and that it was making my back hurt. This went on for a very long
time. It wasn't until I had a real attack that I realized it
wasn't back pain. I had eaten a peanut butter granola bar and that
made the pain very intense. As I recall, the doctor said it can
start on either side, but mine was on the right side more than the
left. Good luck and hope you don't have gall stones!
Although I've never given birth, I can't imagine anything more
painful than my gallstone episodes. It usually kicked in around
midnight and ended up with me in the Kaiser ER, where a shot of
painkiller in the butt brought relief. I also thought vomiting
would help, but couldn't. I would describe the pain as having a
pipe rammed through your midsection -- just below the sternum.
It's not a stomach pain. My doctor said it occurs when you eat
something with extra fat and the gall bladder tries to squeeze
out bile to help with digestion. When the stone blocks the duct,
it hurts (think of a clogged squeeze ketchup bottle and how hard
you sometimes have to squeeze to get the stuff out). Because I
was a 33-year-old male, I didn't fit the standard ''4F'' profile
(female, fertile, fat, 40) and I had to convince Kaiser to do
the ultrasound. I had one stone the size of a small foil-wrapped
easter egg. My dad had a handful of pea-gravel-sized stones,
while my mom's were like aquarium gravel. Yes, it's hereditary. I
had the old-style surgery because Kaiser considered the
through-the-navel procedure ''experimental'' at the time. I have a
6-inch scar, but it was worth it to avoid the painful attacks.
this page was last updated: Feb 13, 2010
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