Gallbladder surgery coming up this week

Posted by tennisgolf @tennisgolf, Jun 22, 2019

To my complete surprise I have gallstones (am a 70+ year old female). My symptoms for 7 months have not been devastating; I could live with them. Only had 2 bad attacks (even they were not tremendous pain) – but they were not fun; others were minor. Problem is, you cannot predict when you will have an attack. I have the symptoms: urine that is pale half the time and medium YELLOW half the time; big pressure in upper quadrant of stomach for several hours here and there (longest was 8 hours); weird and diverse stools and a total change in regularity and amount. I was determined to manage this with diet. I had some success but every professional I speak to says “take it out!!”. Once you start having symptoms it is time to act before it gets worse and gallstone gets stuck in bile duct etc., etc. Their point is it is easy to manage “elective” removal than to have many problems if it develops too far. I object! to losing a body part. But I am going to have the surgery. Here’s the dilemma: Laparoscopic is easy with quick recovery – not invasive. However, you have to agree to having OPEN surgery if they have difficulty or discover something else. This is a more serious surgery, much longer recovery time and I guess more follow-up issues. I am very healthy – so I am disgusted to have to invade my body.
My surgeon is young and says he has a ton of experience in gallbladder and other surgeries. 2 doctors I know recommend him. I feel like I should wait until I am really sick; but, again, the common approach is to take it out once the gallstones start causing problems. What would you do?

Liked by debiobrien

@tennisgolf

Thanks to you and to others. Encouragement is very helpful. My surgeon is young – practicing about 10 years. He is a trauma surgeon; a general surgeon – I told him I hoped my case was "interesting enough" to hold his concentration. I suppose that sounds rude, but I am trying to have him see me as ME and not just another patient (ho hum). Yes, I do sound like I am being a bit harsh…..

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he sounds awesome i LOVE the young doctors they are so well trained in all the new techniques and things. they are the best. all my doctors except 1 are all young ones. my gyno doc is 34 and im 64 and she did a total hysterectomy on me last years and it was awesome. i love her and she could be my daughter. shes a great doctor. and yours being trauma surgeon your got the best kind there. your blessed.

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@tennisgolf

Thank you for your comments. I actually do realize they cannot "wake me up" and ask permission for more invasive surgery. My children live out of state, and there is no one else I would ask to be an advocate. I imagine it is just easier for surgeon to "go all the way" if there is even a little issue rather than take a chance on Laparoscopic. I am seeing him today to ask more questions. I had asked how many surgeries he has performed. He said "a thousand". (He has only been practicing 10 years.) But I neglected to ask the # of GALLBLADDER surgeries and also how successful they were or if complications. To respond to you, my primary care internist (for 23 years) says it is better to have the operation now when (hopefully) there are no complications and no emergency. I have to make myself accept that thinking.

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my sister had it more invasive and she did great. went home the next day had stitches out in 10 days and was all healed in about 4 weeks. shes so happy she did it. you will be fine but pray they can do it laparoscopy if not you will still be fine !! its not that big of an incision the gall bladder is really tiny !!

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Gosh – I am sorry to hear that…………best to you.

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@debiobrien

he sounds awesome i LOVE the young doctors they are so well trained in all the new techniques and things. they are the best. all my doctors except 1 are all young ones. my gyno doc is 34 and im 64 and she did a total hysterectomy on me last years and it was awesome. i love her and she could be my daughter. shes a great doctor. and yours being trauma surgeon your got the best kind there. your blessed.

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I liked your upbeat message. (BTW I had total hyst. when I was 41. And, again, have always been active and healthy and in pretty good shape. I never knew if that surgery was overkill (back in 1980's I guess it was a different time) as no cancer was discovered. BUT, I INSISTED I HAVE ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT THERAPY to replace the hormones I lost. My surgeon said NO as cyst could have been hormone dependent. So I went to another fairly well-known gynecological endocrinologist at an excellent hospital in NYC who gave me ERT for about 10 years. (I eventually stopped the Premarin as it became controversial – but continued the Provera).

Liked by debiobrien

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@astaingegerdm

@tennisgolf – yes, you can still get gallstones after surgery. I ended up with “sludge”. They just made the bile duct opening larger- was fine. If I eat certain fatty foods I still get cramps and pain for a while. Just avoiding certain fats nowadays.

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i have never heard of this happening. i had no problems after my surgery and it was in 2012.

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@tennisgolf

Thank you for your comments. I actually do realize they cannot "wake me up" and ask permission for more invasive surgery. My children live out of state, and there is no one else I would ask to be an advocate. I imagine it is just easier for surgeon to "go all the way" if there is even a little issue rather than take a chance on Laparoscopic. I am seeing him today to ask more questions. I had asked how many surgeries he has performed. He said "a thousand". (He has only been practicing 10 years.) But I neglected to ask the # of GALLBLADDER surgeries and also how successful they were or if complications. To respond to you, my primary care internist (for 23 years) says it is better to have the operation now when (hopefully) there are no complications and no emergency. I have to make myself accept that thinking.

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@tennisgolf I know you will be seeing your surgeon this week or so. Perhaps you will discuss timeline and when the surgery might happen. Yesterday I was at a kidney disease support group meeting, and we discussed preemptive kidney transplants, that is a living donor transplant before getting on the transplant list. Two attendees, one over 70, one late 60s, are in the process of doing just that. We all agreed that having the surgery when you are in a better physical shape, able to tolerate it, is preferable. Your recovery will be easier. So, I thought of you and your situation, and figured I would pass it along.
Ginger

Liked by lioness, debiobrien

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@tennisgolf

I liked your upbeat message. (BTW I had total hyst. when I was 41. And, again, have always been active and healthy and in pretty good shape. I never knew if that surgery was overkill (back in 1980's I guess it was a different time) as no cancer was discovered. BUT, I INSISTED I HAVE ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT THERAPY to replace the hormones I lost. My surgeon said NO as cyst could have been hormone dependent. So I went to another fairly well-known gynecological endocrinologist at an excellent hospital in NYC who gave me ERT for about 10 years. (I eventually stopped the Premarin as it became controversial – but continued the Provera).

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well every female in my family had gotten endometrial and cervical cancer as we have B lynch syndrome which is a mutated gene that causes many kinds of cancers. I started bleeding and she did a biopsy and i had pre cancer cells. so it was time to get the surgery and pray they didnt find any cancer and it was great NO cancer. so i'm the first and only one who didn't get the cancer. almost everyone in my family has had 1 to 4 different cancers and been thru chemo and radiation but me and my brother. I hope it stays that way. I did not do any replacement therapy i was given a wild yam cream to put a pea sized bit of it on my belly every morning and i have had no menopause or any kind of issues at all. just had my year check up after the surgery and she said everything was great. so i use the yam cream every morning it seems to be working great.

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@imallears

@tennisgolf
Hi,

Gallstones that are in the biliary ducts can occur after gallbladder removal and, of course, sometimes , there are stones left behind after removal. If you are in reasonably good health with no gastrointestinal problems and have had symptoms only for less than a year, I wouldn’t wait until it got worse. My gallbladder was filled to the very top and some into the bile duct. Couldn’t believe the imaging pictures that I remember to this day. I can eat anything I want and have no intestinal problems whatsoever. You may be overthinking this and stressing yourself out . There are risks with every surgery. This is a common surgery. Asking questions is great but I don’t know what else he can tell you.

Doctors don’t generally practice holistic medicine and treat the patient as a whole. You are just another gallbladder. If you trust him and he has had mucho experience then go for it. My cataract surgeon left me cold personally but he had done thousands of cataract surgeries so I picked him. Also, everything you read on the internet is not true. If you want to find the worse things that can happen…Goggle will find it for you.

Good luck
FL Mary

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I had another appointment with my General Surgery doctor. I tend to ask too many questions and I can aggravate doctors I am afraid. But I do it so I know I have covered as much as possible and have done due diligence. Well, this young doctor has performed about 100 gallbladder surgeries in a year (but I do not know how many TOTAL). He has performed other surgeries as well. Recently he said 1,000 surgeries overall. He said all the gallbladder surgeries have been successful. I believe he is truthful and I like him. He said he is confident. He has been practicing for 6-10 years.

He graduated from 2 good medical schools.
BUT HERE IS A MORE PERPLEXING PROBLEM. I thought changes in bowel movements were related to gallbladder. He said no – not related. So I have been researching all day and, I know this sounds over-the-top, but I am thinking I have signs of colon cancer OR colorectal cancer. (NO! I am not typically a hypochondriac!). I have always considered myself quite healthy and am VERY active physically and mentally.
I have not had a colonoscopy in 6 years – even though my primary care said I should get with the program.
I have to call my gastroenterologist who also wants me to have that procedure. If colon cancer is a possibility – I have to decide whether to address that first or go ahead with the gallbladder surgery tomorrow.
SIGNS OF COLON CANCER I IDENTIFY WITH: (1) stools that have an odor of "chemicals" or "iron". It is not a terrible odor, but it is a weird odor. I have mentioned this a few times to doctors in addition to the fact that (2) my bowel habits have COMPLETELY CHANGED IN THE PAST 7 MONTHS. I hope this is not too gross, but………….. for my entire 70 years I have had regular bowel habits, more or less identical daily – and 1 a day. But now I have 2 or 3 a day and some days none. Different consistencies (soft, ragged edges, pellets, and some well formed , a few smooth but must with "pellets" mixed in – a whole range of types and sized from little to BIG). Color is medium brown. I am rarely constipated. I have always had flatulence (this is embarrassing!! sorry). But now I have MUCH MORE – much more frequent and "powerful" or "strong". A little to a lot at a time. My whole pattern has changed completely. Two things: my diet is same as ever, but I drink much more water now, much less milk, eat more fruit and veggies than usual. And if I had to say when digestion started to change, I would say 2 years ago when I started the Jenny Craig diet for about 4 months. The first month, all the raw veggies I consumed made my stomach feel sort of "empty". But I always felt fine overall and it went away and I think their processed food is very good (I only lost 6 lbs. in 4 months – but I stopped the diet). A year later I tried Nutri System and I had a different adjustment period and feelings. Their food is good – but not as good as Jenny's. I discontinued it after 3 months.

Anyway, moving on, I think my b.m. habits did not have the consistency of all previous decades. Anyway – should I stop the gallbladder surgery and investigate the colon cancer concerns? I apologize for lengthy diatribe. (PS – my appearance is very healthy; I am usually energetic; I have never smoked, but (full disclosure) I enjoy wine almost every day with dinner or socializing – probably too much, but I have it with food and I think it is GREAT and FUN! and not excessive any day). Re wine – it is not only the appealing taste with food, it is the whole "ceremony" of sitting down to relax, opening a new interesting bottle, and using a nice crystal wine glass. The ritual has a pleasant sophistication. I feel it agrees with me, but, maybe wine has caused all these changes?!

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@ tennisgolf

Hi,

We are not Doctors or diagnosticians here but can share our experiences and what expertise we have and offer suggestions. Have your gallbladder surgery ASAP.
Then get a colonoscopy. You’ve waited 6 years anyway. You can also get a mail order fecal testing kit that some insurances pay for if you are that concerned about colon cancer. I’m not sure you are listening to what people here are advising. Don’t waste anymore time researching. It’s proactive to be vigilant about your health but I do think you are obsessing about a simple surgery.

Take my comments in the spirit they were intended. I’m in your age bracket too and love my daily wine just as I enjoy how my meals are presented even though I am cooking just for myself. I can’t add anymore comments to your concerns and I think everyone here has been very helpful.

Regards from FL Mary

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@tennisgolf

I had another appointment with my General Surgery doctor. I tend to ask too many questions and I can aggravate doctors I am afraid. But I do it so I know I have covered as much as possible and have done due diligence. Well, this young doctor has performed about 100 gallbladder surgeries in a year (but I do not know how many TOTAL). He has performed other surgeries as well. Recently he said 1,000 surgeries overall. He said all the gallbladder surgeries have been successful. I believe he is truthful and I like him. He said he is confident. He has been practicing for 6-10 years.

He graduated from 2 good medical schools.
BUT HERE IS A MORE PERPLEXING PROBLEM. I thought changes in bowel movements were related to gallbladder. He said no – not related. So I have been researching all day and, I know this sounds over-the-top, but I am thinking I have signs of colon cancer OR colorectal cancer. (NO! I am not typically a hypochondriac!). I have always considered myself quite healthy and am VERY active physically and mentally.
I have not had a colonoscopy in 6 years – even though my primary care said I should get with the program.
I have to call my gastroenterologist who also wants me to have that procedure. If colon cancer is a possibility – I have to decide whether to address that first or go ahead with the gallbladder surgery tomorrow.
SIGNS OF COLON CANCER I IDENTIFY WITH: (1) stools that have an odor of "chemicals" or "iron". It is not a terrible odor, but it is a weird odor. I have mentioned this a few times to doctors in addition to the fact that (2) my bowel habits have COMPLETELY CHANGED IN THE PAST 7 MONTHS. I hope this is not too gross, but………….. for my entire 70 years I have had regular bowel habits, more or less identical daily – and 1 a day. But now I have 2 or 3 a day and some days none. Different consistencies (soft, ragged edges, pellets, and some well formed , a few smooth but must with "pellets" mixed in – a whole range of types and sized from little to BIG). Color is medium brown. I am rarely constipated. I have always had flatulence (this is embarrassing!! sorry). But now I have MUCH MORE – much more frequent and "powerful" or "strong". A little to a lot at a time. My whole pattern has changed completely. Two things: my diet is same as ever, but I drink much more water now, much less milk, eat more fruit and veggies than usual. And if I had to say when digestion started to change, I would say 2 years ago when I started the Jenny Craig diet for about 4 months. The first month, all the raw veggies I consumed made my stomach feel sort of "empty". But I always felt fine overall and it went away and I think their processed food is very good (I only lost 6 lbs. in 4 months – but I stopped the diet). A year later I tried Nutri System and I had a different adjustment period and feelings. Their food is good – but not as good as Jenny's. I discontinued it after 3 months.

Anyway, moving on, I think my b.m. habits did not have the consistency of all previous decades. Anyway – should I stop the gallbladder surgery and investigate the colon cancer concerns? I apologize for lengthy diatribe. (PS – my appearance is very healthy; I am usually energetic; I have never smoked, but (full disclosure) I enjoy wine almost every day with dinner or socializing – probably too much, but I have it with food and I think it is GREAT and FUN! and not excessive any day). Re wine – it is not only the appealing taste with food, it is the whole "ceremony" of sitting down to relax, opening a new interesting bottle, and using a nice crystal wine glass. The ritual has a pleasant sophistication. I feel it agrees with me, but, maybe wine has caused all these changes?!

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@tennisgolf I can only add this to @imallears post. Get your gallbladder surgery. You are in optimum health now for an uneventful recovery. Then get a colonoscopy. Your Dr said "Get with the program" and get one. Did they find anything at the last scoping? A gentle reminder here, that all your stressing and obsessing can cause your entire body to overreact, including your digestive system. That plus increase in fruit/vegetable intake can cause changes like you described.
Ginger

Liked by lioness, imallears

REPLY

To Ginger, imallears and all,
Totally agree. I am obsessing. (BTW, that was me telling myself to "get with the program".) But everyone's points are well taken and appreciated.
…….. Namaste!

Liked by lioness, imallears

REPLY

@tennisgolf I haven't contributed much to this converstation as I agree with imallers and gingerw . You can talk yourself right into a crisis of some kind . The gallbladder operation is a simple procedure , don't make more of it then you know and don't look for trouble elsewhere .

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@tennisgolf

I had another appointment with my General Surgery doctor. I tend to ask too many questions and I can aggravate doctors I am afraid. But I do it so I know I have covered as much as possible and have done due diligence. Well, this young doctor has performed about 100 gallbladder surgeries in a year (but I do not know how many TOTAL). He has performed other surgeries as well. Recently he said 1,000 surgeries overall. He said all the gallbladder surgeries have been successful. I believe he is truthful and I like him. He said he is confident. He has been practicing for 6-10 years.

He graduated from 2 good medical schools.
BUT HERE IS A MORE PERPLEXING PROBLEM. I thought changes in bowel movements were related to gallbladder. He said no – not related. So I have been researching all day and, I know this sounds over-the-top, but I am thinking I have signs of colon cancer OR colorectal cancer. (NO! I am not typically a hypochondriac!). I have always considered myself quite healthy and am VERY active physically and mentally.
I have not had a colonoscopy in 6 years – even though my primary care said I should get with the program.
I have to call my gastroenterologist who also wants me to have that procedure. If colon cancer is a possibility – I have to decide whether to address that first or go ahead with the gallbladder surgery tomorrow.
SIGNS OF COLON CANCER I IDENTIFY WITH: (1) stools that have an odor of "chemicals" or "iron". It is not a terrible odor, but it is a weird odor. I have mentioned this a few times to doctors in addition to the fact that (2) my bowel habits have COMPLETELY CHANGED IN THE PAST 7 MONTHS. I hope this is not too gross, but………….. for my entire 70 years I have had regular bowel habits, more or less identical daily – and 1 a day. But now I have 2 or 3 a day and some days none. Different consistencies (soft, ragged edges, pellets, and some well formed , a few smooth but must with "pellets" mixed in – a whole range of types and sized from little to BIG). Color is medium brown. I am rarely constipated. I have always had flatulence (this is embarrassing!! sorry). But now I have MUCH MORE – much more frequent and "powerful" or "strong". A little to a lot at a time. My whole pattern has changed completely. Two things: my diet is same as ever, but I drink much more water now, much less milk, eat more fruit and veggies than usual. And if I had to say when digestion started to change, I would say 2 years ago when I started the Jenny Craig diet for about 4 months. The first month, all the raw veggies I consumed made my stomach feel sort of "empty". But I always felt fine overall and it went away and I think their processed food is very good (I only lost 6 lbs. in 4 months – but I stopped the diet). A year later I tried Nutri System and I had a different adjustment period and feelings. Their food is good – but not as good as Jenny's. I discontinued it after 3 months.

Anyway, moving on, I think my b.m. habits did not have the consistency of all previous decades. Anyway – should I stop the gallbladder surgery and investigate the colon cancer concerns? I apologize for lengthy diatribe. (PS – my appearance is very healthy; I am usually energetic; I have never smoked, but (full disclosure) I enjoy wine almost every day with dinner or socializing – probably too much, but I have it with food and I think it is GREAT and FUN! and not excessive any day). Re wine – it is not only the appealing taste with food, it is the whole "ceremony" of sitting down to relax, opening a new interesting bottle, and using a nice crystal wine glass. The ritual has a pleasant sophistication. I feel it agrees with me, but, maybe wine has caused all these changes?!

Jump to this post

@tennisgolf I think the responses you have gotten are good, and I have one more thing to offer. I had a huge change in bowel movements a couple of years ago, assumed it was from my medications. Indirectly I think it was, I think the medication (immunosuppressant) triggered a lactose intolerance in me because the problem started right after I started taking them.

When I narrowed it down to lactose causing my problem I did a lot of research and discovered that lactose intolerance gets more common as we age, our bodies do not produce as much or any lactase. I had terrible smelling gas and bowel movements similar to what you describe. If this is what is causing your problem, then it is a very minor problem and corrected by eliminating dairy from your diet. Don't despair if you like cheese, you can still eat aged cheeses. Some people can still eat yogurt that has active live cultures in it, I cannot.

I presume the doctor who would be doing the gallbladder surgery is a gastroenterologist, is he not? If he is then he should be able to help you with this problem also.
JK

Liked by lioness

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