Contemplating NOT having suggested gallbladder surgery!

Posted by tennisgolf @tennisgolf, Tue, Feb 26 1:55pm

It is interesting reading the experience of others. I must remind myself we all are of "unknown" reliability. However, here goes: It has been suggested I have gallbladder removal due to surprising symptoms (attack?) that started 5 months ago: tremendous tightness in upper right quadrant, no warnings, "almost" some shortness of breath and vague pressure traveling upward in back/chest/arms (hard to describe), brief cold sweat. Distressing but not SUPER painful. I have only had a few of these "big" episodes; maybe weekly I have a milder version of the above. Ultrasound showed gallstones. I AM ADAMANT about trying not to lose this organ. I just had 3 elective surgeries in 3 years – all successful (2 total knee replacements and 1 dental bridge). I have always been quite healthy and will go to extremes to avoid surgery. Sorry, I am leary of doctors. I am seeking a great gastroenterologist or alternative medicine Dr. as I am determined to not follow doctors' advice. I have read about gallstones that can cause fatal damage if they pass into pancreas, etc. But I am trying to figure out how to manage. Have discovered smaller meals seem to help, choosing proper foods for this condition, eating slower (I think). But, I still cannot predict when an attack will occur. I am fearful of infections because of my 2 knee replacements. I do not get infections actually; am quite healthy, very active physically, intellectually engaged in volunteer projects and teaching. So far I REFUSE TO CONSIDER SURGERY. Please do not stereotype me when I reveal chronological age (78 yr. old female). I consider myself more like 60-65. My attitude is one of shock and annoyance that this problem arose and that surgery has (possibly) been suggested. People say "it is easy"; not a big deal. Shall I wait for more disturbing symptoms? See if I can handle this myself? Get multiple opinions? Thank you for your comments (I realize there is no definite answer.)

Hi tennisgolf. I'm like you in not blindly following advice of doctors and seeking out alternative options. Do you have a Functional MD? Have you been to a cardiologist as you will want to rule out heart attack. We women experience them differently then men do. Where do you live? I'm in Ocala Florida and highly recommend Absolute Health. I'm seeing a gastroenterologist on the 11th of March for pretty extreme IBS that could be worse. I'm 65 and not on any medication (just supplements) and I'd like to stay that way so my hope is to cure myself naturally and hopefully this doctor will respect that. Good luck, I respect your choices but just make sure that if surgery is really needed that you will consider it.

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@tennisgolf I would definitely seek out another opinion. I don't think anyone should have major surgery without a second opinion. If there is a way you can handle your gallbladder problems without surgery, you are ahead of the game.
JK

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@contentandwell

@tennisgolf I would definitely seek out another opinion. I don't think anyone should have major surgery without a second opinion. If there is a way you can handle your gallbladder problems without surgery, you are ahead of the game.
JK

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Thank you. Agreed, I would get 2nd (and 3rd) opinions on potential surgery if I cannot continue to reduce # and intensity of "attacks".
I saw the friendly and young gastroenterologist twice. The entire extent of his advice was: "meet with a surgeon and reduce fats and fried foods". I called back for more detail on diet and steps to take……….no response. BTW, I live near NYC.

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@tennisgolf

Thank you. Agreed, I would get 2nd (and 3rd) opinions on potential surgery if I cannot continue to reduce # and intensity of "attacks".
I saw the friendly and young gastroenterologist twice. The entire extent of his advice was: "meet with a surgeon and reduce fats and fried foods". I called back for more detail on diet and steps to take……….no response. BTW, I live near NYC.

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@tennisgolf If you are close to NYC then you do have great medical care within reach. I live 55 miles from Boston and use Mass General for everything except my PCP. I feel very fortunate to be close to some of the best medical care in the world.
I had a fabulous gastro but he moved to NY Presbyterian. Gastros are all so specialized now, I don't know if he handles gall bladder. I went to him for colonoscopies, endoscopies and Barrett's Esophagus. His name is Chin Hur.
JK

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That is truly helpful! I can get to NY Presbyterian without too much effort. I may look him up to see if he handles gallbladder. Many thanks.

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I had mine removed laparoscopically about 20 years ago. Had been misdiagnosed for a year. It was on the edge of being gangrene. Felt immediately better, recovery was quick. Have never regretted it.

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I got three recommendations before I had my surgery. After the most painful night of my life, my family physician said it was consistent with gallstones and sent me for a sonogram. The sonogram revealed sludge, but no stones. I was very hesitant at removing it with no stones present so I sought out opinions from varied physicians/surgeons. Three months later I went ahead with the surgery and it revealed that a gallstone had been lodged in my main bile duct. I had passed it at home before the sonogram. I was told that it could have killed me. Judging by the amount of pain I was in that night, I believe it. You will read a lot of negatives in this forum regarding removing the gallbladder, but I have to say it changed my life for the better. I didn't realize that I braced for pain each time I ate until afterwards when I tested out a cup of broth and braced…nothing. No pain. That was the first time I realized how much chronic pain I had been living with. Three weeks after the surgery I could eat anything I wanted with no negative effects including fatty foods. I think you should get multiple consults and make your own decision. If you feel wonderful perhaps your decision will be different from mine, but I would like you to hear from someone who had a huge improvement in quality of life after having it removed. I have regretted losing some other organs, but for me losing this one is "good riddance".

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Welcome to Connect @tennisgolf and @ocala626. Your attitude of trying to figure things out and explore all options before making a major decision is truly admirable! I’d also like to bring in @bertbiz @kozlo52 @sharonda00 @harliegirl @billjn3 @alanny for their insights on gallbladder surgery.

Here is what Mayo Clinic has to say about gallstones. I thought that you might find it helpful in answering some of your questions. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gallstones/symptoms-causes/syc-20354214

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Yes, thank you, I had read most of that during my research on MAYO and other sources. I want to gamble and see if I can stop the attacks through appropriate diet, smaller meals, eating more slowly and hopefully finding an alternative medicine professional. While my attacks are uncomfortable, they are not excruciating (like child birth can be); they are not as devastating as others mention. Only a few attacks have I had slight shortness of breath, brief chill and some sort of pressure in upper body/shoulders. Most attacks last 5 to 30 minutes. One lasted 1 hour and one for 5 hours (I hurriedly ate a lot of dry, sugary cookie mix of all ridiculous things). Sorry to bore folks with details, but the 1 hr. one was after quickly eating 16 ounces of turkey chili with sauce and beans. The other day I experimented and ate at the same thing, but only 8 oz. and I ate slowly. No problem!
So far I can deal with the discomfort. My concern is putting myself in jeopardy if a gallstone passes into pancreas, etc. resulting in serious complications and possible fatality. In other words, I do not feel problems are severe enough (yet) for surgery. I just need to understand the probability of serious complications at this point. There does not seem to be a reliable warning system. Apologies for being so wordy.

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@tennisgolf

Yes, thank you, I had read most of that during my research on MAYO and other sources. I want to gamble and see if I can stop the attacks through appropriate diet, smaller meals, eating more slowly and hopefully finding an alternative medicine professional. While my attacks are uncomfortable, they are not excruciating (like child birth can be); they are not as devastating as others mention. Only a few attacks have I had slight shortness of breath, brief chill and some sort of pressure in upper body/shoulders. Most attacks last 5 to 30 minutes. One lasted 1 hour and one for 5 hours (I hurriedly ate a lot of dry, sugary cookie mix of all ridiculous things). Sorry to bore folks with details, but the 1 hr. one was after quickly eating 16 ounces of turkey chili with sauce and beans. The other day I experimented and ate at the same thing, but only 8 oz. and I ate slowly. No problem!
So far I can deal with the discomfort. My concern is putting myself in jeopardy if a gallstone passes into pancreas, etc. resulting in serious complications and possible fatality. In other words, I do not feel problems are severe enough (yet) for surgery. I just need to understand the probability of serious complications at this point. There does not seem to be a reliable warning system. Apologies for being so wordy.

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@tennisgolf No need for an apology, your post explained things well, not leaving the reader unsure of where things stood.
I can definitely understand wanting to avoid surgery. I had no idea that gallstones could lead to what you indicate here:
"My concern is putting myself in jeopardy if a gallstone passes into pancreas, etc. resulting in serious complications and possible fatality."
If this was me, I would want the opinion of a doctor in whom I had confidence and trusted. You don't want to put yourself at any unnecessary risk. At your chronological age, surgery does tend to require a longer recuperation so that is definitely a consideration, IF not having surgery will not cause problems down the line.
JK

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