CommunityPam's House Blend

Blogmistress on the mend: thanks, everyone

I’ve been online for about a total of 10 minutes since my gall bladder surgery (Cholecystectomy) last Thursday. I’m doing as well as can be expected — very sore, sometimes nauseous, very sleepy because of pain meds, etc. — but looking forward to feeling better in a little while. For once, I’m actually staying in bed like I’m supposed to, and getting up and walking as required, rather than doing something insane like getting in the car and driving because I’m stir crazy.

I am slowly but surely healing, I wanted to thank all of you who sent me emails of support and advice, tips in the tip jar and well-wishes in Facebook before and after the surgery. I was really shocked on Saturday when a package arrived from Mike Rogers of BlogActive and PageOneQ. He apparently put out a call to folks on a couple of listservs I’m on, and they signed onto a sweet get well card and gift. Kate can testify that I was genuinely touched and shocked that folks out there cared enough to do that — after all, I just bloviate across your screens each day, I’m not saving the world or anything.

Thank you, Blender contributors and diarists, for posting during the holidays.

OK. Do you want to see the gall bladder? Of course you do. For the squeamish, I took the liberty of placing the pic (and the description of surgery) below the fold…So, as I did with my kidney stone diaries, I’m putting down my recollections. Not that they’re all that interesting to folks out there, but I just do these things to entertain myself. Here’s an appealing shot of the gall bladder being removed:

So, my surgeon filled my abdomen with gas (CO2), in order to insert the tools used to see and remove the GB.

*  General anesthesia is utilized, so the patient is asleep throughout the procedure.

   * An incision that is approximately half an inch is made around the umbilicus ( belly button), three other quarter to half inch incisions are made for a total of four incisions. Four narrow tubes called laparoscopic ports are placed through the tiny incisions for the laparoscopic camera and instruments.

   * A laparoscope (which is a long thin round instrument with a video lens at its tip) is inserted through the belly button port and connected to a special camera. The laparoscope provides the surgeon with a magnified view of the patient’s internal organs on a television screen.

   * Long specially designed instruments are inserted through the other three ports that allow your surgeon to delicately separate the gallbladder from its attachments to the liver and the bile duct and then remove it through one of the ports from the abdomen.

   * Your surgeon may occasionally perform an X-ray, called a cholangiogram, to exam for stones in the bile duct.

   * After the gallbladder is removed from the abdomen then the small incisions are closed

The gall bladder was twisted around the liver and the surgeon had a tough time pulling  it out and it was polluted with sludge and stones (nice!). All my incisions were glued shut, no stitches. I wasn’t cleared to shower until Saturday, and even then, I can’t scrub those areas for a while.


After surgery, I was pretty much out of it when they wheeled me to the post-op room where I stayed and was monitored overnight. I had some difficulty keeping my oxygen levels up and staying hydrated, so I was on oxygen and fluids by IV most of the time. That wasn’t a surprise to me since the last time I had minor drive-through surgery (that involved general anesthesia)  I ended up back in the ER for those two specific problems; it’s why I insisted on staying overnight after this surgery.

Every four hours or so, the nurse came in to check my vitals and to help me get up to go to the bathroom. THAT was an ordeal. Getting out of the bed, even on morphine and whatever else they were pumping into me, hurt like hell. I had visions of Alien with the beast bursting out of my abdomen, tearing me open and making that ghastly sound. Alas, no alien came out of my bloated belly. The gas they inflated me with to scope around has to dissipate on its own, so I looked pregnant from the swelling. Oh, and getting back in the bed was even worse. The nurse had lowered the bed flat and when I laid down, it was like someone stretched my abs and jumped on them. Fun fun fun!

Needless to say, more pain meds were shot into the IV, and I passed out. By the morning, I was exhausted from being awakened so often and those excruciating trips to the bathroom. I was thankful, though, for the fine care by the nurses there, and for their equally fine care shown to Kate, who stayed in the room with me all night on a recliner next to the bed.

I managed to eat a few packs of saltines and drink Sprite Zero without nausea at various points during the stay, but I really didn’t want anything more. Around 9:30 AM, Kate helped me get dressed and they wheeled me out to the parking deck and I folded myself into the Subaru  with a pillow strapped to my abdomen, and we went home.

Once home, we had the bed all ready with extra pillows to prop me up, and I went to sleep, and started the ritual of sleeping, getting up and taking my temp, blood sugar levels, eating a small snack in order to take meds, drinking fluids and back to bed every 4 hours or so. In the evening on Friday I got incredibly cold, as in my teeth were actually chattering and my body was shaking. I took my temp and it was 101.8. I took a bunch of Tylenol and went to bed, Kate covered me with 3 double folded blankets. Eventually it went down (between 100-101) before it finally returned to normal sometime on Saturday. Thankfully that hasn’t happened again.

On Sunday, things were uneventful; I continued my ritual, adding graham crackers with light cream cheese, along with some applesauce for breakfast. So far nothing has made me feel like hurling, a common issue post-surgery. I do still feel bloated and a bit dehydrated despite a large fluid intake, and thankfully, the pain meds have not, so far, caused the nasty side effect of my digestive system slowing down.

Pain level: well, I’m always testing myself on that front, so if I go without meds for 6 hours or so, it’s about a 7 out of 10 (10 being kidney stone-level pain). With pain meds about a 3-4. I expect that to get better in a couple of days; and I’m going to just try going with Tylenol during the day and the hard stuff at night so I can sleep. Let’s put it this way — it took quite a while for me to type this entry up.

I’m slated for my follow up visit with the surgeon on January 8th to check on the incisions, and at that time she’ll clear me to drive if all looks good.

As far as blogging goes, I’m probably going to steer clear for a few more days or else I know I’ll get myself into trouble, staying up all night padding away while not particularly lucid, leading to some entertaining but embarrassing posts. I just wanted to blog this to let folks know that I’m ok, and that I’m glad to be back, even if a bit sliced and diced. At least the nasty GB is gone. 2008 will definitely be better than 2007!

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding