I wanted to write a blog post answering some of your questions about gallbladder surgery. I get a lot of questions regularly on Instagram and thought it was a good idea to put it my answers somewhere that could be found easily.
My Health History prior to Gallstone Surgery
It is important that I start with not only my health history but my mother’s health history. I am part Native American, my mom is full, and Native American’s have the highest rate of gallstones in this country due to a genetic disposition.
My mom was 35 and just had my little sister. At the time she had a massive gallstone attack that put her into Intensive Care and ultimately into a coma for over two weeks. She was given a 50% chance of surviving and thank god she made it through. I am so grateful she is a survivor and that her health returned for the most part. The side effect of having a severe gallstone attack was losing her pancreas as well as her gallbladder. She is now a type 2 diabetic and has to give herself insulin several times a day. She does have an insulin pump but she also has to take several medications to help to balance her sugar.
It’s a brutal reminder to be your own advocate when it comes to your health. The doctors thought my mom was fine even thou she was having gallbladder attacks during her pregnancy.
Being Pregnant with Gallbladder Attacks
My story is somewhat similar to my mom’s, except I was able to have surgery without having a severe attack. I got pregnant and was immediately sick with severe morning sickness, and could barely eat. Again I resorted to takeout and was not completely educated at the time on what a pregnant body needs in terms of nutrition. Anyways by 15 weeks, I was having sharp pains in my upper right side every time I ate something high in fat, but I thought maybe it was just symptoms of being pregnant.
My First Gallbladder Attack
I will never forget my first gallbladder attack. Tony and I were about to go canoeing and at this point I was 20 weeks. By the time we had carried the canoe to the water I was doubled over in pain, it was a blinding pain that radiated from my right side and took my breath away. It was so bad I almost called the ambulance right then and there, but got the strength to go to my parents who later took me to the hospital. My mom knew instantly what was happening and she made sure the doctors did an ultrasound to confirm I had gallstones. She was right!
Note: I would suggest if you’re having pain in your right side under your rib cage to make sure you go for an ultrasound because the doctors didn’t think it was my gallbladder. I’m so thankful my mom knew and was there to ensure I was properly taken care of.
Your Questions about Gallbladder Surgery
What is gallbladder surgery actually like?
I hated the idea of going for surgery and of course I pictured the worst-case scenario. The day of my surgery I went to the hospital, got changed into the hospital gown, and was brought into the pre-op room by my self. I had anxiety at this point and a nurse came in and gave me a couple of little pills that were like lorazepam and it made me feel a lot more calm. It really was a simple surgery about a 1 hour or so, and I woke up feeling bruised and my chest hurt. After the surgery, I was brought into the post-op/recovery room and was there for another hour until I recovered and I was released to my parents who then brought me home.
Were you in a lot of pain after the gallbladder surgery?
I had a few quesitons about gallbladder surgery and this was the one I really wanted to know because I just expected it to be a lot worse than it was. Anyway, right after the surgery I was pretty out of it because of the medications, but within a couple of hours I started feeling better and was able to walk around but I definitely still felt really sore. The worst part was the pain between my shoulders and my upper back from the air they use to blow into your body to remove the gallbladder. My incisions kind of stung a little and I felt like I had a really bad bruise.
How long after your gallbladder surgery did you feel better?
This is one of the questions about gallbladder surgery that I get asked the most. Everyone wants to know when they can return back to their normal schedules. For me personally, I felt sore but I could do what I needed to by the second day. I just did things a little slower and avoided picking up my child. After 24 hours the medication was out of my system and I was allowed to breastfeed my daughter again. But it wasn’t for almost 2 weeks after my surgery that I started to feel complete back to normal.
What is my diet like now that your gallbladder is removed?
I try very hard to stay away from anything that has too much fat in it, and I eat higher-fiber foods. For the most part, I don’t notice a huge difference except when I have dairy and take out, so I make a lot of meals at home and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. When you eat too many fatty foods your gallbladder is no longer there to filter the fat out and you end up either being bloated, gassy, or have diarrhea. I suggest lots of water and high fiber to make sure you don’t feel like that.