We’re only 25 days in, and I can already say that 2017 is not at all what I was expecting!
I’ve changed my mind on so many things, from how I feel about things, to what I am prioritizing, to what my goals are for this year (and beyond!). And some thing changed that I didn’t even get the chance to think about.
Last week started with a nasty cough and three days of out-of-town meetings, and ended with a trip to the E.R. and surgery to have my gallbladder removed. One crazy week led into a week of sitting on the couch, barely able to remember what I did 10 minutes ago, still coughing while I clutch my abdomen in pain.
Oddly enough, I can’t help thinking how incredibly grateful I am that all of this happened. I’ve been suffering with (what was assumed to be) gallbladder pain since at least 2011. That’s when my medical records show my doctor schedule my first ultrasound. The pain would come on suddenly, usually in the evening, and last anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. It may come back night after night, lasting for weeks on end. Or it may be intermittent for months. And just as quickly as it came on, it would be gone. Maybe for a few months. Maybe for a year. And then it would be back, without warning.
There were certain foods that always led to an attack for me: Greek yogurt. Bloody Mary’s. Oatmeal. But most of the time I’d eat something that usually wasn’t a problem and BOOM! Indescribable misery.
This time it was actually because of the chest cold. Or, more accurately, because of what a big baby I am when I’m sick. Yep, pain I can handle. But give me the sniffles? Look out! So, even though Bryan and I have been doing fairly well with a cleaner diet, being sick made me want comfort food. At first I was all for some soup. But then Bryan pulled out a box of Zataran’s Beef Stroganoff. Extra seasonings. Sub extra milk for the water. A little bit of sour cream. I didn’t even give him the chance to reconsider.
Granted, that might as well be the recipe to induce a gallbladder attack. But it’s never given me issues in the past. That was Monday night. By Thursday afternoon, I made the trip to the doctor’s office. Scheduled the obligatory ultrasound (for the following Tuesday), and resigned myself to the fact that my pain wasn’t being taken seriously, and I’d just have to wait it out. Again.
Except, something snapped later that night. As I sat wondering what was safe to mix with the muscle relaxer and Advil I’d already taken, along with every stomach remedy we had in the cabinet (even though I knew it wasn’t my stomach). As I researched “natural remedies” (I don’t advise drinking 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar straight), and read about people dealing with gallbladder pain for 30+ years. As I clutched the toilet bowl in our upstairs bathroom, I decided enough was enough: I changed out of my pajamas and drove myself to the E.R.
Of course, I still felt like a complete hypochondriac. Which is why I didn’t call Bryan away from the bartending shift he’d picked up at a friend’s pub. Even though he was about to get off work anyways. He’s still a little sore about that. I was surprised that the E.R. nurses took my pain seriously. Things moved very quickly once I was there. Or, at least, they seemed to: They gave me morphine the instant they put me in a room. But I’d barely been wheeled back from ultrasound, where I was met with Bryan’s less than happy face, when I was given the diagnosis: A severely infected gallbladder that was filled with gall stones.
The diagnosis was actually a bit exaggerated: It wasn’t “severely” infected, just slightly infected, and it turned out to be more sludge than stones. But even still, it had to come out. And I’m actually really glad it did. Yes, the gallbladder does serve a function, even though you can live without it. Yes, I’ll have to relearn what I can eat without having an adverse reaction. My doctor has already regaled me with stories of how I’ll never poop the same again. But even with the pain of surgery, and the horror of having a chronic cough after surgery, I still feel worlds better.
More importantly, I finally listened to my body, and took my own pain seriously. I put my health above my fear of being a hypochondriac. I feel like this experience has taught me a lot. I feel like 2017 has taught me a lot. And, hopefully, I’ll be able to remember what I’m learning, and carry it with me as I move forward in life.
And we’re only 25 days in!
- Cindy W.