My New Bellybutton
Apologies for not having written in a while but, yes, you guessed it: I had my gallbladder removed.
Do you remember on Monday when I went to the ER because of what they discovered was gallstones? And do you remember when the doctor told me to go home and wait until I was in excruciating pain and then go to the ER again? Well, that happened at approximately 2:30pm on Wednesday.
I had actually just finished up commenting on some of your blogs, and I was closing up my computer to prepare to drive to my psychiatrist's (Dr. K's) office for our appointment when suddenly I felt the most pain I have ever felt in my entire life. The worst pain. I figured it would go away in a few minutes, but about 2 minutes later it was only getting worse and I was doubled over on the floor, rolling around, trying to find a position where it didn't hurt (there was no such position). My mom, also a psychiatrist whose office is in the basement of our house, was with a patient so instead of disturbing her I called 911. The operator told me to grab my meds and unlock the door and wait for help to arrive, which I did. A minute or two later a police officer showed up and just stood there. I apologized for looking ridiculous while rolling around on the ground, and he said "Sorry I can't do anything. But if you die I can defibrillate you back to life." Thanks.
Finally the medics arrived. They took my vitals and told me they were taking me to the ER. Just as they were setting up the chair to take me to the ambulance my mom came rushing upstairs-- her patient had apparently left her office and saw the police car and ambulance and went back inside and told my mom about them. So instead of taking the ambulance to a very busy, not so great hospital, my mom drove me to her preferred hospital.
By the time we arrived in the ER it was 3pm. I was triaged and registered immediately, but they were so busy that I wasn't taken into the ER until 5:15pm. (And actually, I was never taken into a room. I had a stretcher in the hallway because all the rooms had been filled.) They gave me morphine at 5:30pm (which was great because it took away the mind-numbing pain I had been experiencing for three hours, but it also made me nauseous and dizzy) and then took me for an ultrasound. After laying in the hallway for another few hours, a surgical resident came over and said that my options were to have the surgery ASAP, go home and schedule the surgery, or go home and wait until my gallbladder ruptures or gets infected which would then warrant more invasive and dangerous surgery. So I chose surgery ASAP because there was no way I was going to experience the pain I had felt earlier that day again.
I should probably mention that when my mom took me to the ER, I called my dad and RU and they both came and met us in the ER. I texted my therapist, D, that I wouldn't be there on Thursday for my session, and he came and visited too, which was nice but uncomfortable.
I finally got a room at 1am on Thursday, and RU ended up staying the night with me. I had the surgery a little bit before noon. I was discharged on Thursday night, and I've been home ever since. I've been mostly immobile, but I've been trying to go on little walks here and there (although I typically don't get very far). The surgery was laparoscopic, so they pumped tons of air into my belly which makes me look pregnant and feel very uncomfortable. Also, I have not pooped since Tuesday or Wednesday (I can't remember which), so my abdomen is even more swollen. I know it isn't "real" weight gain, but it's driving me crazy and I'm having trouble coping with it. But I don't have much of a choice at this point.
I've been trying to eat enough, but it's just plain difficult when any amount of stomach distention hurts. To make matters more complicated, I have to be on a "low-fat diet" which, when I asked the nurse what exactly she meant she said, "You can look it up online," which is probably the worst advice anyone has ever given anyone ever. She elaborated a little and said "No greasy food, no fried food..." which I don't eat anyway (being a vegetarian with an eating disorder), but I've now had to look at all the fat content in my food, which is triggering. The only thing that I have been unable to eat that I usually eat is peanut butter, but boy do I miss my peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches. Luckily this diet is only temporary, but for the time being it's making eating scarier than it usually is.
One final anecdote: When I was taken into my hospital room late Wednesday night (or technically very early Thursday morning) the nurse asked for my weight. I said I didn't know, but that I could ballpark it at about X lbs. She said, "Oh, no worries! Your bed is a scale!" and then proceeded to take my weight from the bed. I asked her not to tell me, which was a challenge, but she didn't tell me. Unfortunately, they wrote my weight all over my discharge papers (ALL OVER my discharge papers), but in kilograms. Now, I know the rough conversion from kilograms to pounds, so I can pretty much estimate what my weight is. I haven't looked it up online though. But now thoughts are running through my head: Is the weight she took accurate? Am I really that weight? Should I check? The bed had linens and blankets on it and I was wearing jeans and a gown-- does that mean I'm lighter than what it said? Did she even write down the right weight? It's driving me nuts.
So, that has been my week. I've been feeling incrementally better each day, but I'm still in pain. They sent me home with oxycodone, so I've taken a few of those, but mostly I've been taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I'm going to try and catch up on your blogs when I get the chance and energy. I would just like to take this moment to remind you to thank your gallbladder for everything it does for you. Eat a peanut butter sandwich today.
[By the way, that picture is my bellybutton, where they made the incision, taken on Thursday a few hours after the surgery. It didn't used to look gross. But hopefully it will heal nicely.]