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I woke up one morning last June with an intense pain and discomfort through my upper back, side and rib area. I had done a new hot yoga class the day before, so initially thought I pulled a muscle because it was the only thing that felt like it made sense. I tried to re-adjust my sleeping position, moved to the couch, walked around, but NOTHING was helping. Eventually I started throwing up and the pain was becoming so intense that I decided to bring myself to the ER. I felt silly going to that extent, but I’m glad I listened to myself. My mom told me it could be a kidney stone, but I wasn’t having any of the typically symptoms.
One of the first things the doctor asked me was if I still had my gallbladder. She pressed on my stomach around my ribs and it was really sensitive, so she said that she thought I had gallstones. I had never heard of this before, so I was completely clueless to it even being an issue. My pain was not going away and I was continuing to throw up (which was the only time I felt some sort of comfort). They gave me painkillers which just made me more sick. They eventually took me in for an ultrasound, and there were a handful of gallstones rolling around and apparently getting ‘stuck’ in the opening. I was in the ER for the better portion of the day until the pain subsided and I felt that I could finally go home. They told me that because it was not inflamed, there was no need for any surgery. They said to stay away from greasy and fatty foods, but that it could also come back at any point. Some people never have an attack again or it could be something that continues to come back until you remove it.
I left and made my best effort to eat non-greasy non-fat foods. I had no lingering symptoms and literally felt fine the second I left as if it never happened. No more than a month later (I think it was 3.5 weeks) I woke up early morning feeling the same pain again. I packed a bag and took myself to the ER thinking they could simply give me painkillers again helping with the pain (in hindsight I think I went back because I needed SOMETHING done). It was not the type of pain you could just wait out or use a heating pad to help. It was extreme. I ended up throwing up on the street before even making it into the ER and was non-stop getting sick while waiting for the doctor. The pain this time was so much more intense than the first and nothing was helping it go away. I couldn’t keep a liquid down and was beyond nauseous the whole day. Eventually, they had a surgeon come down who told me that my best option was to remove my gallbladder, as this would keep happening. It was still not infected, but in order to prevent this from happening again it was my only option. They said they would take me in that day, but I decided to wait to schedule (looking back, I should have just gone in for it – but the idea of going into surgery unexpected was scary and foreign to me).
I scheduled my surgery at NYU for the following month and was so strict about my diet leading up because I did not want to experience that pain if I could prevent it. I ended up having a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and was in at 6am and home by noon. The first few days were uncomfortable to say the least, but honestly the idea of never having to experience the pain I was having again was beyond worth it. I was able to walk and get out of the house by the 4th or 5th day of recovery. In addition to the pain of my stomach recovering, there was so much gas in my body from the surgery itself that those bubbles caused a lot of pain and discomfort in the shoulder area.
I kept my diet clean for the first few months, but now I eat as I wish. I still experience some symptoms that feel like what I would call IBS, but I am not sure if that is related because I have had this for what feels like forever.
All in all – I am very happy I was able to get this taken care of in a quick manner. If anyone experiences a pain like this and you have the option to get the surgery, I would highly suggest it.