Gallbladder surgery coming up this week

Posted by AmericanPatriot @USA @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?

@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

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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!

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@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

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