The day my gallbladder wasn’t removed.

I’m going to tell you the moral of the story straight up:


I know you hear it all the time, but when it comes to your health, you’ve really got to listen.

Sharing personal stories like this is not comfortable but it may be helpful for someone going through something similar. So here we go…

Ever since I had my kids (2008), I’ve experienced BAD period pain. The kind that would leave me doubled over, very bloated, sweating and feeling really crappy for a week. I’d never experienced painful “periods” before the triplets and so I just thought this must be what everyone else goes through. When I say “periods” I didn’t actually bleed either. I’d get all the symptoms but no blood loss.

Over the years I’d also get these “gallbladder attacks”. Sometimes I could manage them with high strength prescription drugs at home, but numerous times I’d end up in hospital. I’d go to emergency, and they would dose me up on drugs and then send me home with instructions to book in for various tests: ultrasounds, endoscopies, MRI’s, CT scans…. I’ve had them all numerous times.

The reason they would send me home was entirely my fault. I’d always say that the pain was now bearable and I could manage it myself. I had kids at home that I needed to look after, work to be done, classes to teach… I guess the typical mum that doesn’t want to let anyone down.

So I’d go and get these assortment of tests but by the time I had an appointment, I no longer had any pain and they could never find anything wrong with me. Everyone kept thinking that it had something to do with my stomach: bad indigestion, reflux, stomach ulcers, food intolerances etc but I kept insisting it was my gallbladder, even though all the indicators would show that it was normal.

The last 6 months these “gallbladder attacks” had become a lot worse and a lot more frequent. It had been going on for so long with no answers and I was fed up with being in constant pain. I knew that the only way I was going to find any answers was to get these tests done when I was in pain, and the only way to get tests done STRAIGHT AWAY, is to go to the hospital emergency.

Feeling great on morphine

Last week I had another one of these episodes and went to the hospital, but this time I didn’t play the tough guy. I said that I was convinced it was my gallbladder and needed tests done now while the pain was still there. *You can read more about my morphine experience on the FB page.

Finally I got some results showing that there was a “thickening” of the gallbladder lining, however they didn’t know why as there were no stones or any other indicators as to the cause. I didn’t care at this stage, I just wanted it out! It had been going on for too long, they’d done every test on me known to man and this was the closest we’d come to finding a cause for the pain.

I had a meeting with the specialist and he wasn’t convinced that the gallbladder was the issue BUT surgery was the only option we hadn’t tried (and the last resort too). The operation was booked for the following day and I was so excited that finally my gallbladder was going and I would be pain free!

Fast forward to the following day and after surgery…

When I woke up in recovery the nurse told me that my gallbladder hadn’t been removed. I. WAS. LIVID! I was so excited to get the damn thing out and it was still in there ARGGGGHHHHHH. As it turns out, funnily enough, there was good reason to leave it in. I finally have answers to all my medical issues and it’s not my gallbladder.

Apparently I have severe endometriosis and blood is pooling around my organs and getting trapped around my gallbladder! (I hope no one’s eating at the moment). This would explain all the pain, bloating, lack of appetite, loud gurgling noises coming from my chest, and generally feeling like a bag of crap. Which means another round of surgery for me, but that’s for another story.

My new scars

So now back to the moral of this story: listen to your gut instinct! When I was in hospital emergencies all those times over the years, I should have insisted on getting tests done then and there. I should have not tried to solider on and I should have accepted the help that people were always offering to look after kids and to help with work. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

I’d like to finish this story by placing blame on someone other than me (because let’s face it, that always makes you feel better) and I choose to place the blame squarely on my children, who have managed to stuff something up in there. I’ll be adding all the associated costs, time wastage, pain and suffering etc to each of their IOU’s that they’ll be issued when they leave home.

Which means pretty soon Ben and I should be sailing around the Bahamas in our new yacht whilst feasting on lobster and sipping on champagne…. which I don’t even like but will be drinking anyway!


Author: Sally Brouwer

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