Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and am in no way licensed to give medical advice or treat any sort of medical issue. Always talk with your doctor before doing anything. I am just a girl who’s been there and wants to share my story in the hopes it might help someone!
This is part of a 5 part series chronicling my Gallbladder removal. Cholecystectomy Surgery is the third part in the series.
Let me start this off by saying that I have NEVER had surgery, well not until I had it for my gallbladder, so I went into this a Surgery Virgin and NO IDEA what to expect at all. The most info I have ever had about surgery was just people telling me about theirs, or watching dramatized sequences on TV. So needless to say, I was completely clueless about my Cholecystectomy Surgery.
The morning of Wednesday, March 18th came bright and early. I had packed my hospital bag the night before, gotten Abbey ready for a few night stay at my mother-in-law’s house, and hadn’t had anything to eat since around 7:00 on the 17th.
Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t at all hungry, but that might have just been my nerves.
My mom came and picked me up at 10, and we dropped off Abbey at her grandmas house and then we headed to the Out Patient Surgery Center in San Diego. It’s right next to Mary Birch, if you’ve ever been there and the facility is insanely nice. I checked in early – I was supposed to be there until 11:30, but we got there around 11:10 – and they were quick with checking me in, taking my paperwork I had filled out, getting my payment info, and had me answer some basic pre-surgery questions, and sign all the legal stuff.
I was then taken to a Pre-Surgery waiting room, where they took my vitals and had me empty my bladder into a tiny cup – they checked for pregnancy -Negative! – and whatever else they needed all my pee for, and had me change into a beautiful blue hospital cap, and super sweet looking green hospital gown, with NOTHING underneath. I got a comfy reclining chair, a warm blanket and my mom sat next to me, buying seeds on her iPad.
The first person to come in was Nurse Adam. His job was to sit with me, and answer any questions I might have, so I took full advantage of that, and just asked him literally everything I had on my mind…
What is the odds of me getting the anesthesia, then getting that weird twilight effect, where I can feel everything going on but like I can’t move or talk and I am totally awake and in agony the entire time? Slim to none.
What’s the difference between local and general anesthesia? One is localized in a location on your body and you’re just “asleep” and the other you are completely “out” and we use a breathing tube and machine to breathe for you.
Suffice to say, he had a good time humoring me and answering all my ridiculous questions.
I hopped on Instagram and shared some hospital selfies… I texted my husband and friends and shared some more photos, made some jokes, and took the nervous edge off a bit.
Then another nurse came in and she set up my IV in my arm. She was very nice and gentle and prepped my hand in like 5 minutes. Super easy, but I still hate needles. Back to Nurse Adam…
Do you like your job? Yes
How long have you been a nurse? 13 years
Is this a nice place to work? I like it
Then Doctor Imler popped his head in and waved, let me know he was here and we were going to have a great surgery, and I probably wouldn’t remember seeing him again until tomorrow. Deep breaths and forced smiles from me. It was getting down to the nitty gritty. Less than one hour til surgery time. So I bothered Adam more…
How routine is this surgery? We do a lot of them here.
Has anyone ever died from it? Not that I’ve ever experienced.
When can I get something to eat? A couple hours after surgery you should be OK to eat.
The anesthesiologist came in next and he explained everything that would happen with the general anesthesia, what to expect and what he would be doing.
One last good Instagram moment before imminent doom.
“Nice nurses uniform, guy…”
All of a sudden, a surgeons assistant came in, introduced himself and said he was going to be taking me to Cholecystectomy Surgery. It was 1:24. 2 hours had FLOWN by. I remember being VERY concerned about walking down the hall with my naked butt showing, so I got to wrap my blanket around my waist, said goodbye to my mom, put my almost dead phone away and gave her my hospital bag.
Then it was the long walk to the operating room. I can’t even tell you how much like a TV set it looks like. I wish I could have taken photos of my Cholecystectomy Surgery, but… yeah.
I introduced myself to my surgery team, and made more jokes, explaining that humor is how I deal with nervousness and uncomfortable situations and they laughed and helped me on the table. One doctor hooked up my IV while another covered me in warm blankets. Hospitals are SUPER cold y’all. And in less than 10 minutes I was prepped for surgery. An oxygen mask was placed over my face and I was told to inhale deeply. I felt my hand get really warm and I got really sleepy and then that was it. No weird twilight where I was awake for the whole thing and not able to tell anyone while I felt them cut into me. No complications, no emergencies, no unexpected discoveries. Just good ol’ plain normal gallbladder removal.
I woke up an hour or so later, my eyes fluttering open and closed, unsure if I was ready to be fully awake and I heard my mom’s voice next to me. I was out of surgery, everything went perfectly and the first words out of my mouth were, “pain…pain, pain…” cuz I guess I am a big ol’ baby!
But you know what? I was cut into FOUR TIMES! Saying “pain!” over and over is like, totally normal and expected. I was given some Percocet, and sent to my recovery room. My mom came with me and called my husband to let him know what room I was in and when he showed up, she left to go visit my sister who had just gotten out of the hospital the day before.
I had been put on a “clear fluids only” diet, and can I just tell you that after almost 24 hours without food, that wasn’t going to fly with me. My nurse snuck me a chocolate pudding, and after I ate that with no problems, she called and had my ban lifted. I called down to the cafeteria and I swear to you, I ordered one of everything. You should have seen my husband’s face while I was ordering my dinner! I even ordered extra of stuff to keep on my bedside table as “snacks” for later!
Maybe it was part being STARVING, or maybe it was because the hospital legitimately has good food, but dinner was delicious! I had roast beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, soup, a roll, ice cream and a brownie. It was amazing. It tasted so good. I can’t even explain it. Maybe Sharp just has a great chef because I remember thinking the same thing after I had Abbey and I ate hospital food then too.
I remember being very sore and very tired as well as very hungry. When my food came about an hour after ordering it, Charlie left and let me rest. I was definitely feeling the effects of the meds, and I was very thankful for them because beneath all that medically induced calmness, I was a big ball of intense pain.
After I ate, I was able to get some more meds, settle in for a nice night and get some rest. I had some leg massagers on my calves to help prevent clots and it was insanely relaxing, I passed out almost instantly.
I won’t say my recovery at the hospital was easy, but I will say that I was VERY THANKFUL that I was able to spend the night. I had so many people telling me the surgery was so easy, and they were up and moving the next day, but unfortunately for me, that was not the case. In fact, when I talk about my recovery in the next installment of my gallbladder series, I will tell you just how difficult it was for me.
As always, if you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments! I am happy to answer any that you have to the best of my ability!