My gallbladder got taken out and I’m going mad with pain

I haven’t been able to cry much, and that makes it even worse, because I get no release.

I had a lot of trouble with my gallbladder in the last few months, so, last Wednesday, I had it removed.  It’s the first time I ever had surgery in my life.  The previous days I was very anxious, thinking I wasn’t going to ever wake up from the anesthesia, what if the surgeons screw up, what if… what if…

I have been in an operating room at least a 100 times, and I always hated it when I was a student. It was very long and boring once I got over the first few “OMG I’m helping a real surgeon in a real operation!”. That doesn’t last long.  Surgery from the point of view of most people in the care team is mostly routine and kinda boring. Sometimes I was so tired I envied the patient lying on the table.  I wanted to lie down too. Of course, I knew my envy was irrational.  No one wants to be as sick as to need surgery.

The day of my surgery, surprisingly, I wasn’t as nervous. I had to fast so the predominant mood was hungry.

Before I was put under, they had to insert the IV lines into my veins. Now, I am not particularly afraid of needles. Actually, I have this habit of looking at the needle as it goes inside my skin as I’ve found out it hurts less that way.  So I sat in my hospital robe, with nothing under, planning to do the same as I saw the nurse successfully put in the IV on the patient sitting next to me.

But when my turn came,  I stared into the fat needle piercing my flesh… and then the nurse said “oh oh”.  She painfully dug around without meeting the vein, even though the insides of my arms are so pale that you can see the greenish blue veins right there.  The nurse then took the needle out, and went for another vein on the side of my wrist, digging around as I winced.   She gave up, and called another nurse. They then told me it was my fault.  That I was too nervous and for some reason that translates into my veins being evasive.  I went WTF in my head, but I couldn’t bother to argue, I just wanted to stop the piercing session.  I wasn’t so lucky.

They tried FOUR different places in both my arms until my -very dark- blood finally started coming out of the other side of the needle, and someone brought the IV fluids to plug in.  No victory yet though. They went “oh oh” again. The vein had lost them once again.  I sighed.

I was starting to feel irritated at how everyone kept telling me to calm down, as in my head, I was perfectly alright. Looking around, analyzing the environment, obviously in pain from the poking… but not particularly nervous.  You’ll be fine, they said, don’t worry, nervous girl. I looked at them in amazement.  They must have seen something, because seconds later, my vision started blacking out, cold sweat covered my skin and my strength left me out of a sudden.  Someone was commenting on how pale I was. Hands were holding me. I felt like I had no blood in me at all.  Next thing I knew I was lying down on a stretcher with my legs up.  Someone said please leave the poor girl alone for a while.  And so they did.

They finally brought the chief nurse and she painlessly inserted the IV on my right wrist and moved on.  I barely felt it.  Even now, I have huge green bruises on all the poking places except for the successful one.

I stayed on the stretcher for about an hour and a half while they operated on someone else.  I was feeling pretty lucky I had a place to lie down, as I was so sleepy. The rest of the patients had to sit while they waited.  I snoozed for a while. Then they took me in.

It was a familiar view, the operating room, but from a different angle this time. The anesthesiologist put the blood pressure cuff on my right arm, attached sticky things to my chest for the EKG and clipped the pulse oximeter on my finger.  I could barely see the screen with my vital signs, but I remember they were fine. My heart rate wasn’t particularly high, my blood pressure was a bit low but it always is.   The anesthesiologist tried to make some conversation with me but I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t know him or the surgeon that I never saw because he only went in the room after my consciousness was gone.  I just remember the anesthesiologist saying something about how I had a difficult airway because of my short neck (I’m just short all over).  I promised myself I was going to be conscious until the last minute. I was going to remember things.  Then I looked at the lights on the ceiling and I was gone.

I woke up on a stretcher. I opened my eyes and did a quick check.  Everything seemed fine.  I hadn’t had dreams. I was a bit lost. I touched my stomach and felt the bandages on 4 different places. I still had the IV in.  Then I saw a smiling nurse asking how I was doing. I suddenly realized I really wanted to pee and my stomach started to hurt.  I asked to go to a restroom, she smiled and brought me a metallic bedpan instead.  I didn’t even care. I really needed to go. But I couldn’t. I have never done this anywhere else than in a toilet since I was a baby.  I struggled but it wouldn’t come out.

To save more gory details, I had to be catheterized. Twice. It hurts.

Apart from that, the initial recovery was very good, I barely felt any pain and I was taken to a very comfortable room in the fifth floor, with a private bathroom and tv.  I slept and slept. A day and a half went by and I thought “this is easier than I expected”.

Then I was discharged.  I felt great, so I stupidly started eating normally, you know, stuff like hot dogs.

I should have known better.

Since last saturday night, I’ve been in constant, unbearable pain. Unable to sleep, unable to eat. All I’ve had in over two days has been tiny pieces of fruit and water.  I gag at anything else.  I rate my pain at 5/10, which would be bearable if it hadn’t lasted for so many hours without any break.  It just doesn’t go away.  It’s not the wounds that hurt, it’s inside, the remainder of my bile ducts, inflamed because of my irresponsible eating.

I can’t find real reasons to go to the hospital for this, I would be sent back home with pain meds, which haven’t worked.  Secretly, I’m also afraid to go and be told I need to be opened again.  I just can’t handle that.  I don’t want any more surgeries or complications. I want all of this to be over. I want the pain to go away.  I’m so tired. My depression was getting better before the surgery, but with all this pain and feeling useless and horrible, my nightmares are back, my bad thoughts are back and my suicidal ideas too. It’s doubly debilitating.  I’m going mad mad and my mental state gets worse the sicker I feel physically too.

  1. #1 by albinorealm on February 28, 2011 - 11:26 pm

    I cannot believe the nurses. I was WTFing the whole time. I know you believe that you do not handle situations well but I beg to differ. You show your strength and perseverance in everything you do.

    This was a rather long entry for you and I’m very proud. Sitting and writing can be hard when you are deeply depressed much less recovering from surgery that makes sitting in your dining room chair extremely uncomfortable to say the least.

    I am looking after you. I know you are afraid but I am going to hold your hand the entire time. It is okay to cry. As I mentioned earlier today, crying does not mean you are not strong. It means it hurts.

    It is not your fault for eating that hot dog. You do not have a menu to choose from. You did not look at the healthy options and decided to bypass them for that hot dog. You had not eaten in a while. You had to eat something. I am angry and disappointed that your family has not been taking better care of you. You have been handling the situation so well but you do not deserve this. You deserve so much more.

    I hate to see you in pain. The extent of it is more severe than what I went through. I am very concerned for you. The plan is to get yourself checked out tomorrow if the pain does not recede.

    Lastly, you are never useless. You are an entity whose presence is so wonderful that it is a privilege to experience it. It does not matter in what state you are in. You are always someone whose company I never want to part from.

    I love you. You are not alone. Never again.

  2. #3 by hystericalconfession on March 5, 2011 - 11:29 pm

    I hope you are recovering well. I also had my gallbladder removed about two years ago now.

    Maybe this is TMI, but I totally relate to your bedpan troubles. I completely forgot about it until I read this post, but… yeah. It just wasn’t gonna happen. haha

    I hope it’s okay that I read this. If you don’t want me reading your blog, just let me know.

    • #4 by purplesapho on March 6, 2011 - 1:00 pm

      It’s alright! this blog is public 🙂 thanks for reading and commenting. Hmm, I need to make a new post with updates.

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