The story of gall: Part 2

Imagine if you will the two old men sitting in the stalls heckling Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear and all the rest. I believe their names were Statler and Waldorf.

Well these two characters were in the beds across from me in my BLESSEDLY short stay in hospital.
No. It was not the drugs. They really were.
Statler there on the right was quite partial to walking around in his pjama top and – after his surgeon came around and removed his catheter (thankfully with the curtains pulled) – a pair of adult absorbent pants.
I only know this because the doorway to the bathroom was beside my bed and he only went in there about one hundred times in the 24 hours I was there.
I am certain I would have slept the sleep of the dead was it not for this apparition passing by my bed every other hour clearing his throat/muttering/farting/sighing/muttering/farting. Dudes, I kept waking myself up for fear it wasn’t the morphine but some rohipnol he’d slipped into my clear beef broth (do NOT get me started on how a clear fluids diet almost killed me*) and that I was going to find him trying to slip into my bed.
At one stage, somewhere around 3am when the wonderful nurse was doing my obs he wandered passed in this delightful garb and she just shook her head in disgust and wondered out loud what it was about men and their complete inability to show any level of decorum.
I did feel a bit bad because at the midnight obs he was regaling her with tales of the army manoeuvres that had been carried out on the helipad earlier in the night when in fact it had simply been some car hoons fanging it up Pittwater Road. When I was telling her this she said she’d simply put it down to him having bad dreams as he had been in a labour camp during the war and apparently had some whopping nightmares earlier in the week. Cue mega guilt moment.
Also, I had heard him tell anyone who would listen the day before that at 85 he and his wife had decided they’d had a wonderful life and had the injections and decided they would leave this world together. I don’t know how I feel about that. Sad? Worried? Charmed by the love and life this couple must have shared? When he said this to his surgeon it was not dismissed but just how does one respond when the 85 year old patient you’ve just operated on and have just whipped a catheter out of says something like that? As I was leaving yesterday two other doctors came to see him and they went down to another room to talk to him so perhaps they were called in to talk to him about support when he leaves hospital?
The other dude, Waldorf, was less of a mutterer but what he lacked in verbal output his arse sure made up for. At one stage I thought he was trying to push out a showtune. Between that and the shorty short dressing gown, he was quite a curio.
In the bed next to me was an elderly woman who was having a colonoscopy and gastroectomy the following day. She was in overnight as she’d been in a few weeks earlier for the same thing and they’d discovered an irregularity with her heartbeat so didn’t want her having to drink the three litres of hideous fluid you have to drink for these things at home. She was cranky. Maybe as cranky as I was getting when – after they’d moved the curtain rod over to my side she still insisted on walking on my side of the curtain every time she went to the bathroom, which was about every 15 minutes.
Her and Statler up there were tag teaming the bathroom and I was saying many a prayer that despite being on a drip and drinking copious amounts water my bladder would expand to the size of a small lake and require no toileting whatsoever. *shudder*
It’s around this time that I’d say I am firmly of the belief that the part of growing old which fucks with your body really really sucks. Let’s not even touch on the part that plays with your mind.
The next morning Statler decided he was going for a walk and one of the saints nurses said, ‘well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!’ to which he replied he was going for a walk. No, more, ‘oh, I just taut I vuld go for a valk’ to which she suggested they get some pants for him. ‘Oh sorry! sorry’. She was very lovely with him and just pointed out that perhaps no one needed to see his bottom. Oi.
By now I was feeling ready to go home, for no other reason than the fact I don’t really like green jelly for breakfast. Don’t like green jelly at all really.
I’m feeling quite sore but really am up and about.
And that, my friends, is that.
* I don’t care if it was just for dinner and breakfast, a clear fluids diet is just so so sad.

Put a gallstone over here and a gallstone over there

Put a lot of mid-sized gallstones sitting at the bottom of your gallbladder everywhere everywhere,

It’s a let’s take your gallbladder out kind of day kind of day,
It’s a gallbladder kind of day.
So, there’s about 8 mid-sized gallstones sitting in the bottom of my gallbladder.
Don’t be alarmed, apparently about 1 in 10 adults has gallstones and the best way to deal with them is to whip that pesky pear-shaped organ out.
Pay attention, there’ll be a quiz later. First prize will be one of my gallstones. Bronzed.
Anyway, the gallbladder sits on the underside of your liver on the upper right hand side of your stomach. If you get a fairly regular pain on that side, up under your ribs, a gnawing kind of discomfort pain where you feel like you can’t really get a good deep breath, go on and make an appointment with your GP.
What happens is the gallbladder squeezes bile into the small intestine every time we eat. If you have gallstones then that bile can’t flow smoothly as they block what’s called the cystic duct and you get associated pain in the upper abdomen, back pain, nausea, vomiting and other delights.
Things can go significantly awry if the stone moves down to the common bile duct and you’ll end up with jaundice and pancreatitis, by which time you’re in real trouble.
So what’s in these little stones of joy?
Cholesterol apparently.
Which is interesting considering my cholesterol is sub-normally low at 2.7.
But get this, gallstones have been linked to:
– multiple pregnancies (tick)
– obesity (tick)
– rapid weight loss (tick)
– ageing (sigh. tick)
– gender – more women than men get them (tick)
– some ethnic groups (brrrrr)
Apparently, when you’re pregnant the consistency of your bile changes (it gets thicker and more crystalline) and makes it more predisposed to form stones.
Combine that with the fact you need eostrogen to make gallstones and voila! here you go Ms allconsuming, your gallstones are ready. My surgeon suspects that I’ve produced a couple with each pregnancy. Awesome. Stretch marks, weight I can’t shift, droopage of everything and gallstones.
Because I’ve had pain on and off for the last 10 years (shut up, I just thought it was because I’d over-eaten or was too fat or something) and that this year the symptoms have been a lot more pronounced and consistent (the pain, the nausea, the vomiting, the bloating, the my GOD I am so attractive right now) these puppies have to come out sooner rather than later.
So basically, they make four small incisions, pump you full of carbon dioxide, dig around your insides and suck all the relevant parts out, hopefully don’t leave any medical gear in there and then stitch me up. This is called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. I call it one of the many miracles of modern surgery.
If the stones were smaller and floating around, then my surgeon would have whipped me in next week due to the whole risk of pancreatitis but as mine are mid-sized and are all having a snuggle together at the bottom of my gallbladder it’s when it suits me.
Yeah, like any surgical procedure of any nature whatsoever is ever going to ‘fit in’ with my life.
Combine this with the fact I’d only just upped our health insurance to cover private hospital as well as public (which meant we took a much higher excess) so they won’t cover me in a private hospital and I was going to be hit for the higher excess (more than double our previous cover) to go to a public hospital, I was all ‘so I’m screwed’.
Then – after a delightful hour on the phone with my insurer – when we reworked the new cover to a lower excess I rang the surgeon’s secretary to say we’d have to do it at the local public hospital and she was all ‘oh, well you’ve got a bit of a wait’ – to which I was thinking, no shit sherlock – and then gave me a date in August.
Sweet. In that oh my goodness I have to go to hospital and have a general but at least I’ll stop feeling so crook after eating anything kind of way.
Then I asked her about some plan which would mean I wouldn’t be hit for any of the surgeon’s fees and she said it didn’t matter anyway as I’d be in as a public patient. Oh right. Sure.
Sweet. In that awesome I don’t have to even fork out my excess kind of way.
And that, my dear friends, is that.

Doogie Allconsumihowser MD

So –

Multiple mobile gallstones. Largest measures 12mm (is that good? what’s the standard for gallstones?).
Fatty liver.
Sub-normally low cholesterol (2.7).
This last fact was in the category of AWESOME for my GP. He was all ‘I’ve never seen someone with cholesterol that low occurring naturally’ and ‘it doesn’t make sense’ and ‘I have no explanation for you on that one’ all with multiple exclamation points and excitement.
Have I told you how much I love our GP – he has a wacky name, is around our age and always gives you the whole picture – explaining why and how and so on.
We had a chuckle about me being a medical mystery.
You see, apparently, if you have gallstones it is pretty much a given you will have a fatty liver and high cholesterol. But somehow, my Jedi mind tricks worked on part of that threesome.
The fatty liver is because I am fat and because I like a drink – it wasn’t too bad and that is probably due to the last six months of me trying to lose weight and the last two years of me not drinking that much, if at all.
Next stop, specialist.


Every so often I find myself suddenly incapable of consuming any form of dairy – even as minor as a dash of skim milk in my cup of tea. It’s as sudden as flicking off a light switch.

I have realised over the last few weeks that this instant incapacity for cow juice coincides with a general malaise predominantly involving feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin, some impressive stomach bloating and this pain on the right side of my body which reaches around my back and takes up the whole upper right quadrant of my back. It’s similar to that pain you get when you’ve squeezed yourself into that bra that is really too small but you just can’t bring yourself to wear the same one again for the third day and where the hell have all my bras gone anyway. You know that sort of mildly gripping pain you get where it feels like you can’t really draw in a deep breath. But removing the bra does nothing to alleviate the pain. Or more discomfort really.

I mention this in passing to mum, as I’m making us a tea and offer her a green tea as that is what I’m drinking while the whole milk thing turns my stomach. And she is all ‘it’s your gall bladder, you can’t eat anything fatty or rich anymore, it’s what Jannie had and she got very sick and now she’s a skinny minny and the sky is falling. You know, how our mothers do better than anyone else in the whole wide world.

But I think she’s right. I get the pain if I eat anything overly rich or high in refined sugar* or dairy based. And no it’s not indigestion – I am well versed on that having incubated four times with a propensity for foetuses to hang around under my ribs rather than my hips.

I’m going to go and see my GP this week to see what he thinks.

I mentioned it to my neighbour the other day who on seeing us heading off on the walk to school joined us and she has exactly the same thing.

Funnily enough, she said she’s really pulled her diet into line over the last 12 months and now she can lash out every now and then without many ramifications but she still can’t eat yoghurt and that is something she really misses. Over the last few weeks the one thing I’ve really missed eating is yoghurt.

The upside of all this however, is a renewed drive to lose weight with a whole new perspective and attitude. You see, the trying to lose weight from a position of self loathing had only resulted in my creeping up the scale rather than down it and eating a really bad diet. Blackbird suggested that perhaps I say to myself that while I’m not pleased with this body right now, this is the body I have and that did much to shift my mindset.

So I’ve returned to an eating pattern/lifestyle/diet that worked for me 12 years ago when I lost 20 kilos eating that way. It was a ‘diet’ recommended to my by my GP at the time who had also lost something like 25 kilos following the ‘plan’ by a French guy called Michel Montignac. Back then I followed what he laid out in his book Dine Out and Lose Weight but may lash out on one of his more recent books to see what has changed over the last decade.

The main thing it does for me is return me to a more ‘whole’ food diet with far less refined sugar and a lot less fat to what I’ve been scarfing down of late. And I LIKE eating this way. It’s so STUPID that I fall out of the habit of it when it clearly works for me and my body.

So I started this month and have lost 2.4kgs. Just like that.

I’m trying to focus on that rather than the cold hard reality that my baking has not only made me fat but pissed off my gall bladder.

*oh the injustices of the world – after consuming three oat and raisin biscuits the other day such was the pain I had to go and lie down.


You can all relax, I rang the dentist. The next available appt is 1 May. HAHA ha ha ha.

I saw the GP this morning – yes, my eardrum did burst, but it’s healing nicely thank you.

I also snuck Jasper in – you see, the not really eating much and the massive vomit all over me last night indicated perhaps he wasn’t that well. He’s got an ear infection and probably a virus. Probably the one that struck me on Monday when I felt all clammy and nauseous on and off all day and had a kip in the middle of Meet the Robinsons (which was actually pretty good but did seem to be really long) and that hit Felix that night when he said he felt like he was going to vomit but wouldn’t.

I’m actually finding it kinda funny – the myriad health issues and chronic bumbling from one illness or ailment to the next. And I haven’t even started the happy pills.

(chuckling as I settle back to wait and watch for Joke to morph into his own mother)