I woke up at 4AM on Monday morning with nausea. Hubby was up getting ready for work, and I ran into the bathroom only to dry heave over the toilet. I crawled back into bed, trying hard to fall back to sleep for the next two hours, but something wasn’t right. I propped the pillows up so I wouldn’t feel the nausea so strongly. As Hubby was going out the door, I ran back into the bathroom to begin the process of emptying my stomach (Gross alert—!)
I threw up a few more times, accompanied by diarrhea. I was in the shower, still contemplating whether or not I was going to go to work when I threw up again. As this point I decided for sure that I was not going to work, only because I did not want to vomit in the middle of a meeting. I dressed and headed to the boys’ rooms to get them ready for daycare. I was crying at this point because I was so nauseous and in pain, and Gadget kept telling me he would make it all better. Of course, the night before I had volunteered to carpool with a co-worker, so when she arrived and saw my red and watery eyes, pale face and shaking hands, she immediately refused me to drive her to work and helped me put the boys in the car.
After dropping off the boys, I headed straight to the nearest urgent care center. I was seen immediately, which was a shock. I guess it was slow on Monday morning. I explained my symptoms: It felt like I was having a gallbladder attack, except I no longer have my gallbladder. You see, three years ago I had my gallbladder removed, and that story goes like this:
If can you imagine the most painful thing you’ve ever experienced, and concentrate it all in the pit of your stomach, then liken that feeling to my gallbladder disease. Gallbladder disease? What was a (then) twenty-six year old doing with gallbladder disease?
I had my first gallbladder attack the day before New Year’s in 2005. I was eight weeks pregnant with Gadget and glowing on the inside. Hubby’s mom was in town for Christmas, and we’d driven to Virginia to celebrate old years with some friends. The day we arrived I was starving with the I’m-pregnant-and-hungry-so-I’m-fully-entitled-to-eat-whatever-I-want kind of hunger that convinced me to eat an Arby’s bacon cheese burger, curly fries, and top it off with some McDonald’s french fries. Not a smooth move on my part at all. This meal came with plenty of warning from hubby, the “Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can eat anything” type of warning.
That night I couldn’t sleep. My back started a pulsing pain that grew from nauseous to full blown, excruciating, let’s call the doctor at 5 AM type of pain. I lost count on the number of times dinner came back up. So sorry if that grosses you out. The doctor said that nausea and vomiting were normal in pregnancy, but at this intensity and frequency I questioned him??? He sounded so tired and annoyed that yet another new mom was in shock while experiencing the common pregnancy symptoms. Only, this time he was wrong.
Water would not even stay down, and hubby helped as much as he could. I was so embarrassed because we were staying at someone else’s house, and I was sicker than I’d ever been before. I didn’t like to throw up, let alone possibly have people I’m not that close to hear it! My back was sore for over a week after that episode. My second episode occurred the day my one million dollar in capital project was to launch at work. Great. I stayed up all night with my bucket, and then drove to work the next morning. Again, what was I thinking?? I could barely keep my eyes open on the rode. I remember pulling into the parking lot at work, opening the door and emptying my stomach some more, going inside to bathroom to empty it even more, and then going to my boss’ office. My eyes were red and watery, I’m sure I smelled like green slime. He sent me home, thank God.
The third, fourth, fifth, sixth… episodes occurred on such a regular basis I think my boss planned not to see me once every two weeks. The OB prescribed every type of pregnancy-safe anti-nausea pill on the market. I figured out throughout the course of Gadget’s pregnancy that any food with oil in it set off the reaction.
After Gadget was born all my symptoms disappeared. In February of 2007 since I was still exclusively breastfeeding, we managed to get pregnant and not realize it for several weeks. For Mother’s Day (my first mother’s day), we went to Bahama Breeze for one of my favorite meals, Cuban Bread and Habanero wings, yum!
By the time we got home, the back pain had started. It was like a bulls-eye magnifying a target, and pain was the shooter. I thought, I absolutely positively CANNOT go through this again. I asked hubby to call 911. He didn’t want the whole neighborhood in our business, so hubby drove me to the ER instead.
I was crying, moaning and yelling in pain, partly because it hurt that bad, and partly because I was hoping it would speed up the wait time. I saw nurse after nurse and explained and re-explained my symptoms. Finally, after about eight hours in the ER, I saw an actual doctor. I explained (again) my symptoms and he immediately asked if the pain was concentrated on my right side. Hmmm…..I had never considered… why yes, yes indeed it was. He knew instinctively, and ordered an ultrasound. On my scan the technician pointed out my gallstones. There were several, some big, some small. This scan officially diagnosed me with acute and chronic gallbladder disease. I was so glad a doctor had finally figured it out!! But so angry at all the different OB’s I had seen at Garden State OBGYN. They ALL wrote me off as having regular pregnancy symptoms. I counted, I did not eat for 22 days of my pregnancy with Gadget due to my gallbladder.
After I had my gallbladder removed, all my negative symptoms disappeared… until this Monday morning. I was reliving the horrible experience all over again and asking God, begging God, please not again. I thought maybe it was an ulcer, a hidden gallstone, I don’t know, but it had to be major. When the urgent care doctor suggested it was just a stomach virus I challenged him and made him doubt himself so much they admitted me to the hospital. I refused to go through years of pain again because I was not in charge of my health care. I had my first catscan and the results came back clear.
I had mixed emotions about the results, because I knew something had caused this episode, but glad that I would not be on an operating table later that afternoon. I was scorned by irresponsible doctors and felt as though I had to demand preventative measures this time. I was adamant that it was not just bad food making me feel this way. They discharged me and told me to come back if my symptoms worsened. I was given Zofran to stop the vomiting, so when I returned how (after hubby left work early to pick up the boys), I filled my prescription of pain killers for my stomach and headed home. I was starving my dinner time and had an orange, a rice cake and a glass of water. I know I wasn’t supposed to eat the orange, but it calmed a gallbladder episode, so I was hopeful. I spent the next hour regretting that decision. In the morning, I was faint and weak from not eating, and asked hubby to bring something stomach safe. I had a bite of toast and apple juice, and again it did not stay down. I was so disappointed because I was really hungry and exhausted.
Against my parents and husband’s advice, I went to work, only to be shooed out of the office by caring co-workers. It was an eventful Monday, one I hope to never repeat.