As I sit in bed, here in Victoria, browsing through Navo, and contemplating my purpose pushing through my 4th Gallbladder attack (3rd in 8 days), I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in case it helps others in the future. I am NOT a doctor so this is not medical advice, just some awareness as it might help expedite someone giving clear feedback at ER to get you on to pain management as quickly as possible.
We named my Gallbladder ‘Curtis’. I don’t remember why, but Curtis he is. I don’t like Curtis very much.
Gallbladder attacks hurt, A LOT (I’ve had several women tell me it is as bad or worse than childbirth … and there is no beautiful little child that arrives at the end of the adventure, just anxiety about ‘when’ is the next one?).
I can now detect I’m having a gallbladder attack within about 2 minutes of ‘hmm, this is uncomfortable’ to ‘oh my god, where is a hammer so I can knock myself out for a bit until this passes’? You will want to address an attack very quickly because when it is at max pain, you won’t be able to Google that shit…
The gallbladder is about the size of your thumb I’ve since learned. And it is a little asshole.
Recognizing we are all different and likely experience pain differently, I’ll share what it feels like for me, in case it resonates with someone in the future.
The short version is ‘it feels like what I imagine a heart attack would feel like‘, only slightly to the right of the chest, vs the left (and I read somewhere that 40% of ER visits that don’t turn out to be a heart attack, are gallbladder attacks).
It goes like this (for me, at least):
- At first (maybe 1-4 minutes), it feels like a muscle strain, on the inner right side of my chest and felt more on the back than the front
- Then it starts to balance out equally between the front and back, pain wise. Much like someone is standing on my chest – and no position I put myself in changes that. It is persistent and takes my breath away. Walking seems to help a little, but only like 5% help
- It gets worse and worse at this point, tightening the chest, adding anxiety because I start to have trouble breathing (or at least I feel like I’m struggling breathing)
- It becomes an unbearable tightness and throbbing pain, like perhaps being stabbed in the stomach and the knife keeps turning, while someone is standing on your chest at the same time
Yep, it’s sucks.
Today, I seem to (finally) have the right ‘cocktail’ to head it off at the pass as quickly as possible. I’m now sitting in bed, semi-stoned, and a bit nauseous, but I’m grateful it wasn’t the alternative of more than 4 to 6 hours of excruciating pain (having gone through it 3 times before already) as that sucks … hard.
I popped the following today thanks to Dr. Doogie Howser at Vic Gen (young guy, great bedside manner, patient and wise), and that includes:
- 2 x 5mg tablets of Dilaudid (Hydromorphone HCL) – this is the painkiller
- 1 x 500mg tablet of Naproxen – this is the pill that tells the Gallbladder to chill the f*ck out and let go of the gallstone (I have 2 of them I think)
- 2 x 50mg quick dissolve chewable Gravol tablets – this is to try to fight the nausea introduced by the other pills
- Drink lots of water
My amazing wife also made me the following ‘portable fire extinguisher’ I now carry in my pocket until Curtis is taken out January 31st (they’ve looked into moving that date up but so far they’ve been unable to find me a different date). So this is my life right now. Avoiding all fats, keep the fire extinguisher close and when I take them plan on writing off 2-5 hours of productivity as I’m unable to focus or concentrate. Just wait it out or go to ER if after 6 hours it hasn’t improved.
Without a doubt, some folks will tell me (as they have already) to try seeking alternatives (naturopaths, etc.) but I’m done with this. I liked the idea of changing my diet (even further, I’m already a pretty good boy) but this is no way to live so Curtis is coming out! One can’t be perfect forever.
So there you have it. Maybe this helps someone in the future.