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 Pre-Op is the second part in the series.
If you haven’t yet, make sure you read the first part of this series, about my diagnosis to catch up!
After my doctor called me and broke the news about my stones, she told me that a surgeon would be in contact to set up an appointment to talk about options with me. After already waiting over a month to just get to this point, I was frustrated and in pain and just plain tired of all of it.
Almost 2 weeks after my ultrasound I got a call from the surgeons office and make an appointment for March 5th at 11am. I met with Dr. Gregory Imler, at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, California. Doctor Imler made me feel immediately comfortable – despite my crazy questions and concerns and he broke down my options for me.
- I could have the stones removed, but it was a very good chance they would continue to come back.
- I could drastically change my diet for a few months to see if anything changed, but still live with pain.
- Or, I could have the surgery and remove the source of my pain and live a totally normal life without pain.
I chose the last option since I was already pretty much living without a gallbladder – Dr. Imler explained I had a small gallstone that was stuck between the gallbladder and cystic duct, which was making my gallbladder overworked and tired.
I didn’t know what any of that meant and so he broke it down for me.
When you eat food, your body signals to the liver to help aid in digestion by creating and administering bile to the small intestines. Overflow of excess bile is then stored in the gallbladder where water is removed and the bile is concentrated. There is stays for when you need a little extra help, after a particularly fatty or heavy meal. With the little stone blocking the passage way, my gallbladder was trying to work, but was clogged, therefore my gallbladder would essential “cramp” or “seize” and cause my intense stomach aches at night. I was basically giving my gallbladder a Charlie Horse.
If we removed the stones, they would eventually come back. If changed my diet, I would still have the pain and occasional attacks. If we removed the ineffective gallbladder, I would have a bit of a learning curve for awhile, but the pain would be gone, the attacks wouldn’t happen and within 6 months I would lead a pretty normal life again.
Not removing the gallbladder could result in the stone being passed through the bile duct, and being lodged into the pancreas, causing even more pain and possibly a trip to the ER for an emergency Cholecystectomy. Removal seemed like the most effective option.
I was told that surgery would take roughly 1-2 hours and most times it is done laparoscopically – though on very rare occasions a large 6″ incision was necessary. I was told that it is considered an outpatient procedure, but with the time of my surgery appointment (1:30pm) and my history of Von Willebrand Disease, that most likely I would be staying overnight. Anything under 24 hours in the hospital was still considered an “Out Patient Procedure” though.
My surgery was scheduled for March 18th with a 11:30 check-in time for my 1:30 procedure.
My Pre-Op appointment was scheduled for March 16th at 9:15 to go over any last minute questions, take vitals, get my prescriptions and talk once more with my surgeon.
I was told not to eat anything the night before after 9pm or take any sort of vitamins or aspirin products. I was also supposed to take a Prevacid the night before to help with acid reflux after surgery. I was sent home with a prescription for Vicodin to fill, and some paperwork to finish for the day of surgery.
Dr. Imler explained what would happen during the procedure on Wednesday. They would make 4 small incisions in my abdomen, and fill me with carbon dioxide gas – which lifts the abdominal wall and allows the doctor to see everything more clearly. The surgery will take place, I will lose a faulty gallbladder, then I will be stitched up and sent to recovery overnight. I was to expect to take about 2 weeks off of work, and have at least 3 days of bed rest – but everyone is different. He asked me if I had anymore questions and I shook my head no.
I left Dr. Imler’s office feeling very confident, but scared as well. I had never had surgery before this, and I had never been put under general anesthesia – let alone had a tube put down my throat to allow a machine to BREATHE for me, so suffice to say, I was pretty freaked out. I was glad that I had him for a surgeon and I was totally recommend him for anyone reading this who lives in San Diego and needs surgery. His bedside manner is fantastic, he LISTENS and he explains everything so you can understand. He also took the time to answer a lot of my questions for an interview in a later post. Very awesome, cool guy and a great doctor too.
My next post will focus on the actual surgery day. What happened and what it felt like, and pretty much just the entire day on Wednesday the 18th. I hope these posts are helping you if you’re about to have a Cholecystectomy, or think you might need one. Or just if you’ve never had surgery and might be getting anything done soon.
Until next time!