...aaaaaannd I need to have my gallbladder removed. It turns out the excruciating upper abdominal pains I have been experiencing for the past couple of months are not stress-related heartburn. Who knew, right? If you want the whole down and dirty saga leading up to the decision to ditch my defective organ, drop me an email. The bottom line is - it's gotta go. Since a lot of family and friends have had questions for me, I compiled some information that might interest you (or completely freak you out, whichever). Info from Mayoclinic.com:
Where is my gallbladder and what the hell does it do?
The gallbladder is a structure on the underside of the liver on the right side of the abdomen. The function of the gallbladder is to store bile that is produced in the liver before the bile is secreted into the intestines. Bile secreted into the intestines helps the body digest fats.
What are gallstones?
Like many people, you may have gallstones and not know it. In fact, gallstones — solid deposits of cholesterol or calcium salts that form in your gallbladder or nearby bile ducts — often cause no symptoms and require no treatment. But some people with gallstones will have a gallbladder attack that can cause symptoms such as nausea and an intense, steady ache in their upper middle or upper right abdomen. In some cases, the pain can be severe and intermittent.
How do I know if my gallbladder is crapping out on me?
You may not know you have gallstones until they're discovered during tests done for other reasons. But sometimes gallstones may cause certain signs and symptoms:
- Sudden, steady and moderate to intense pain in your upper middle or upper right abdomen. This may signal a gallbladder attack. The pain may occur one to two hours after eating but may also occur at other times — even at night. It can last from 15 to 30 minutes to several hours. Gallbladder pain starts in your upper middle or upper right abdomen and, on occasion, may shift to your back or right shoulder blade. After the pain subsides, you might have a mild aching or soreness in your upper abdomen that can last for up to a day or so. Gallbladder attacks tend to occur infrequently — weeks, months or even years apart.
- Nausea and vomiting. These signs and symptoms may accompany a gallbladder attack.
What is the treatment?
Laparoscopic surgery. Most often gallbladder surgery is performed using a laparoscope, a pencil-thin tube with its own lighting system and miniature video camera. A surgeon inserts the laparoscope into your abdomen through a hollow instrument (cannula). Only small incisions are required. The video camera then produces a magnified view on a television monitor of the inside of your abdomen. This allows the surgeon to see the surgery in detail. To remove your gallbladder, he or she uses tiny instruments inserted through several other small abdominal incisions. Because laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) uses smaller incisions, you'll likely have less postoperative pain, less scarring and an earlier return to your normal activity — often within just a few days. Laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder is effective in the majority of cases.
Is the surgery safe?
Every year, about 500,000 people have their gallbladders removed. The gallbladder is not an essential organ, and even today, only surgical removal of the gallbladder guarantees that the patient will not suffer a recurrence of gallstones.
When are you having your surgery?
Not sure yet. I should know in a day or two. I am also not sure if I will need to have it before or after I leave Denver for Austin. Stay tuned to the ongoing saga of Shannon's gallbladder...