At the beginning of March i began to suffer crippling stomach knots and cramps in my right abdomen,the pain was so intense i struggled to breathe.I thought it was due to me being anxious at the time,i had experienced this kind of pain when i was 18 and 22.Both were anxious times in my life and the symptoms disappeared after an hour,so i wasn’t particularly worried at this point.I lay down with a hot water bottle and took some strong painkillers to help get some relief.
Four days passed, i could hardly stand up,i had a boiling hot water bottle constantly pressed against my stomach to ease the pain,which was effective in all the wrong ways. I wasn’t getting rid of the pain,rather swapping the cramping for the pain of being scalded (never do this,i still have red marks over my stomach 5 months later). I became bed bound and started vomiting bile,i hadn’t eaten since the pain began and i couldn’t keep sips of water down. After a visit to my local walk in centre to get checked over,we were told to go to a&e,which i was devastated by.Paul drove me there but had to stay with the kids and sort out his work schedule,so i had to wait on my own.
After waiting 6 hours in a&e,not knowing wtf was wrong,i was eventually seen by a Dr who took some bloods and gave me some painkillers.My results came back within an hour and i was told my liver was in serious trouble and i was going to be transferred to another hospital in the town over for more specialised care.
After being transferred and 8 failed cannula attempts (one in my foot!) later, i met a Dr who after a quick examination,told me it was likely from the pain i was experiencing, i had gallstones.Relieved i had some type of answer but at the same time worried about what it meant in terms of treatment.I had an ultrasound,which confirmed the presence of stones.
This is where it gets a little confusing,i was due to have my gallbladder removed that day but as i went down to theatre,the surgeon refused to go ahead because my ALT levels were raised.Alt levels are normally around 7-56 units per litre,mine were 456.A mild infection can cause levels to reach 200,as mine were 9 times the norm,operating could be fatal.I was discharged after this,still in the same pain if not worse from taking so much codeine and i needed to await another appointment for treatment in the post.I moved house the following week and redirected my mail.After a week i received my letter,it wasn’t for surgery it was for an endoscopy in May!Not a endoscopy to remove the stones,it was scheduled to “just have a look at what was going on”. After a really upsetting phone call with the Dr’s receptionist,i made the decision to go to my local a&e.I’d moved just short of a two hour drive from the hospital that had been treating me and as i wasn’t scheduled to have surgery i’d had enough.I wasn’t going to be bed bound for a further 9 weeks!
I took my discharge letter to the hospital,still vomiting and extremely disorientated and i was seen within 20 minutes…20 minutes!I was given some morphine and told to stop all codeine medication,as this was aggravating my liver!The nurse asked me why i was discharged from the hospital with such high levels, i explained my ALT levels were too high to operate safely on and she was disgusted that they’d sent me home with only codeine.
I stayed in the hospital for 6 days,having morphine every 4-6 hours by injection and sometimes orally,along with other painkillers and antibiotics. I had another blood test on day 2&3 to measure my ALT levels again, the results were high but now around the 250-300 range.I was scheduled for surgery on the 16th of April but it was delayed till the 17th.I was shaking with nerves,the anesthesiologist cracked a few jokes and as i said each of my childrens names,i drifted off.
Waking up was horrendous,i was still in pain and now sore from keyhole surgery,four incisions,the biggest above my belly button.
As the nurses tried to get my pain under control,my breathing faded,i went to 2-3 breaths a minute but yaay for no pain!After around 4 hours post-op i felt good,although i needed help to pee,bedpans are no fun when it’s your time of the month and you need to pee every 30 minutes!
The next day i went home,feeling fine,i had a huge bag of painkillers and i got lots of cuddles from the kids,especially my 1 year old.Two days past and slowly the pain came back.I booked a Drs appointment for the following week and asked for more morphine,he gave me a list of food to avoid,although i hadn’t eaten much for months now.It didn’t matter though,i ended up back in hospital with a rogue stone in my liver duct.A week in hospital to get the inflammation down and discharged for a week until my endoscopy appointment came around.
I ended up having two endoscopies.The first endoscopy removed the stone and inserted a stent into my pancreas,to stop the tube narrowing again.The procedure was ok,i had sedation and don’t remember anything.It was painless and i definitely felt the benefits.I had an x-ray the following week to make sure there were no more stones.The following month i had my stent removed,i had sedation but not as much as the first time around,felt everything but only remember parts of it.Again i felt the benefits,i had been getting cramps on my left side but once the stent was removed they soon disappeared.
It took around 3 weeks until i started to feel better,i still can’t eat much and i’ve lost a total of 4 stone.Dairy and gluten give me cramps,i can’t eat any red meat and i miss ice cream so much,but i’m getting there…
It’s actually quite common to get gallstones,i’m young to get them at 26 but it’s not unheard of although the exact cause is unknown.Poor diet or an imbalance in the production of bile are the main two factors.If you’ve experienced gallstones or had your gallbladder removed please share your experience in the comments.x