I'm Back...... Minus a Gallbladder | Modern Mummy

Saturday, 7 June 2014

I'm Back...... Minus a Gallbladder

Feeling better in the sunshine yesterday!

So you may have noticed the dubious sign off from my last post; that I was off for minor surgery and would be out of action for a while. In actual fact I was booked into the Royal Surrey County Hospital for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (that's gallbladder surgery to you and me) last Saturday morning. I thought I'd write a little bit about it as I've met quite a lot of people on Twitter that have had the same surgery, or are on the waiting list to do so.

As an avid believer and promoter of eating healthily - my diet is largely plant based and organic, and I juice daily - I was pretty horrified when I was diagnosed with gallstones at the end of last year. I had been led to believe that they formed as a result of a bad, processed diet and high cholesterol, neither of which I had, and I was devastated to think I had done something wrong in my quest to live and eat well. 

In actual fact I discovered that one in ten people have gallstones, although only a small minority of them develop symptoms, and women (mothers in particular) are twice as likely as men to get them due to hormonal changes that take place in the female body that affect cholesterol levels. I was just one of the unlucky ones that had the little buggers that wanted to cause me aggro.

I found out about my gallstones just after Christmas, after a couple of years of bearable pain and four months of not-so-bearable pain. I suffered from a mixture of heartburn and indigestion pangs, quite high up in my abdomen, and usually on the right hand side, as well as severe stomach cramps that sometimes involved sickness or nausea or diarrhoea or constipation. During the course of the time I went undiagnosed (I was actually being tested for Crohn's and coeliacs diseases as both run in the family) I worked out what triggered my attacks and it all became fairly manageable - to the point where I seriously considered taking my name off the NHS waiting list for surgery once we'd discovered the cause, and carrying on as I was. I cut out fat entirely, most refined sugars and some dairy and plodded along fairly happily for a long time. Then the pain increased again, I restricted my diet even more (to no avail), I succumbed to medication (a high dose of omeprazole - which I didn't like taking) and I decided enough was enough.

After my surgery the Registrar told me that my mine had been the most infected and scarred (from previous infections) gallbladder that she had ever seen and was full to bursting with stones, so it was a good job I went ahead with the surgery really; I don't think any amount of healthy eating could have sorted that mess out. (Sorry if you're eating).

Post op, I've been given some very conflicting advice from the health professionals, although the general consensus is to give up high fat meats, cheese and butter, and highly processed junk food. 

Through fear of having dietary 'issues' (ahem - see below) post surgery, I've sought advice from professional nutritionists, as well as my consultant, and am opting to cut out fats and dairy entirely, minimising gluten intake for four weeks (there has been research in America to suggest that gallstones and gallbladder disease are directly related to gluten intolerance) and then very gradually reintroducing foods, one at a time, to see how they fare on my digestive system. So basically, right now I'm eating fruit, veg, seeds, pulses, nuts, eggs, chicken and fish (not too dissimilar from when I used to do my annual detox so it's not hard for me). 

I didn't want to resort to surgery but I'm glad I did - and I'm hoping that by keeping to a low fat, clean and natural diet it won't have too much of an impact on my life.

Anyhoo, I'm now one week into my two week recuperation period (HELP ME I CAN'T STOP INTERNET SHOPPING!!!) and it's great to be back! I've missed you xo

PS for those of you that have asked me what does the gallbladder do and how will I function without one, here is a bit of info for you, taken from the NHS website.

"The gallbladder is a small, pouch-like organ situated underneath the liver. The main purpose of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate bile.

Bile is a liquid produced by the liver, which helps digest fats. It is passed from the liver through a series of channels, known as bile ducts, into the gallbladder.

The bile is stored in the gallbladder and over time it becomes more concentrated, which makes it better at digesting fats. The gallbladder is able to release bile into the digestive system when it is needed.

You can lead a perfectly normal life without a gallbladder. The organ can be useful but it is not essential. Your liver will still produce bile to digest food, but the bile will just drip continuously into the small intestine, rather than build up in the gallbladder. This can cause sickness, and some people who have had their gallbladder removed have reported symptoms of bloating and diarrhoea after eating fatty or spicy food. If certain foods do trigger symptoms, you may wish to avoid them in the future."


1 comment

  1. Sounds like you had an awful time of it but I'm glad it's all sorted now! Get better soon x


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