Getting Stoned, Part One: The Day My Gallbladder Betrayed Me

That’s it. Tomorrow I’m calling the doctor and we’re going to figure this shit out.

I say this to myself while I lie in our guest bed, clutching my belly and moaning with every breath.

Inhale. Moanexhale. Inhale. Moanexhale.

It feels like my insides are being simultaneously inflated and twisted. Sharp pains pierce different areas, like a hot poker is being thrust into my midsection. Dodo is trying to lie on me, possibly to comfort me, but at this moment I’m more convinced that she’s one of those cats who can sense when someone’s about to die and sits with them as they cross the bridge into the next realm of existence. But she can’t lie on me, because the weight of her on top of me makes it feel like the lava-filled balloon that is my gut will pop under the added pressure.

I haven’t slept at all tonight. Thank God we’ve got a guest bed now, so Joe can get a good night’s sleep while I watch 24 episodes of Frasier on Netflix and try not to think about the fact that I’m almost certainly dying. Although I’ve survived this attack several times, this is the worst one I’ve had — there’s clearly something wrong with me.

I’ve had five or six attacks before this one, all starting at exactly 2:00 a.m. The pain wakes me up, and then I sit there writhing in pain for exactly four hours, at which point the pain dies away and I feel fine, albeit exhausted.

This attack, however, started at about 10:00 p.m. last night. I had a feeling it was coming, and sure enough, the pain slowly crescendoed until it reached its typical 2:00 a.m. glory. Ah yes, here we are, I think. It’s oddly comforting that I know this pain — that we’re like old friends instead of strangers. Because if I’ve felt this before, it means I’ve also survived this before. But I’ve had enough of it. I consider waking up Joe and telling him to take me to the hospital, but ultimately decide to grit my teeth and hope to God it passes at 6:00 a.m. like the other times. Thankfully, it does. And as soon as the doctor’s office opens, I call and make an appointment.

When I get to the doctor, she orders a slew of tests. Blood work, an abdominal ultrasound — even a poo test (collecting that specimen is a lovely at-home procedure, by the way). I go in the next day for the ultrasound. The tech spends a lot of time taking pictures of my right side. Not so much on the left. I find out why a couple days later.

My upper right abdomen currently houses a ginormous gallstone. Time for more tests.

{Disclaimer: The ultrasound pictured isn’t mine}

{Ready for Part Two? Go here.}

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3 Comments

  1. Oh I feel your pain (literally). I was eventually given cocodamol by my doctor to take when having an attack and although it’s not perfect (it means I can’t take my usual medication, so lie awake all night, plus it causes paralysis of my upper body for hours), but what a relief when it eventually kicks in and prevents the pain from REALLY escalating, which I’d suffered several times previously. Once I made the mistake of going through it alone and my family were furious that I hadn’t wakened them (like you, I just took myself off to the spare room and sat up trying to sleep, trying to take my mind off it, but ultimately being in agony and thinking I was dying). Several times I’ve begged them to knock me out because the pain was so bad and I just couldn’t take any more. The very first time we phoned an ambulance (unheard of in our house, but I really thought I was either dying or about to explode) and then the pain went the moment the paramedics came in. I was mortified! The first few times I experienced that, where suddenly the pain would just go and the relief, oh my goodness, it was so nice but strange considering the agony I’d been in moments earlier. All the other attacks (and I think I’ve had around 15 now) haven’t had that “phew, it’s gone moment” just after a while it gets easier to breathe and I feel confident I can move around. Sorry for the influx of comments, it’s been such a relief to read a similar story today x

    • Elizabeth | Take on E

      Yes, I got an earful from several people the next day: “Why didn’t you go to the hospital???” Lesson learned!

  2. Karen Michaelson

    Have it out and be done with it. If you put it off you can get complications (like I did) and then you will have a giant scar all the way up your middle instead of a tiny slit.

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