Gall bladder removal. The whole story. 

Apr 3, 2016 | Personal | 2 comments

Way back in September I went to bed on a normal night after a particularly difficult day at work. I had been working for at least twenty hours and nothing was going right. As I fell into bed a pain in my torso began to build. Within half an hour the pain was so bad I couldn’t lie still. Half an hour after that I was on my feet pacing around the house trying to regain some composure . I have never felt pain like it and with Judo I’ve had some very painful injuries so that’s saying something! The pain was so bad that I actually called my mother to ask her what I should do. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Irish man. Call his mother when things go wrong. You would probably be right however. My mother has a great way of thinking through potential medical problems. It probably comes with raring four children and growing up in a family of 11. Either way, I was desperate so would have done anything to make the pain go away. 
Anyway, a few weeks later, I had another very difficult day and when I went to bed the pain hit again. This night I had such irrational thought’s that I even considered just plunging a knife in to the sore area just to try to stop the pain. I know that wouldn’t have improved things. I know that was an incredibly stupid idea but at the time the only thought going through my mind was that something needed to stop the pain. 

A few more nights like this and I knew that I had to get medical intervention. I spoke to my GP and asked him if it was stress related. He didn’t think so and instead sent me for an ultra sound. A few months later and I got the results.
I was told that I had several stones in my gall bladder and as the gall bladder contracted it was pushing these stones into the neck. I won’t go into the whole thing, but I was told that the only solution was to have the gall bladder removed.  
There are a few disadvantages to this. There’s a potential of digestion problems and generally it can cause you to put on some weight. Both potential problems aren’t too appealing to me so I put off getting anything done about this for about two or three weeks.  
Back in early March I had five days of discomfort. It wasn’t bad in terms of pain but I couldn’t eat, I had absolutely no energy and I generally felt unwell. after the five days I was talked into going to the hospital to get it checked out. The doctors explained that it was the gall bladder causing problems and they offered me what they deemed to be an emergency appointment for the following month to have the gall bladder removed.  
That wouldn’t really suit me as I’m starting a new job in April so taking time off at the start of this wouldn’t present the greatest first impression. I therefore decided to go private. On the 12th of March I arranged an appointment for the 21st of March. When the doctor in the Hermatage saw me he booked me in for the surgery on the 23rd of March.  
That’s the background of this story.  
It’s now a week and a half after the surgery and I’m doing absolutely brilliantly. Let me give you a general idea of how it went. 
Firstly, the day of the surgery was interesting. I was in the Hermatage hospital by 9AM. They gave me a private room within a few minutes of arriving and within the first twenty minutes they had asked me to change into the gown, they had taken a blood sample and they had explained the plan for the day.  
After that I was left alone in the room to get comfortable. Every so often doctors and nurses came in to verify information and check the state of my gall bladder. They needed to ensure that there was no inflamation or other potential problems before beginning the surgery.  
A few hours later two nurses came down to tell me the surgeon was ready. They asked me to lie on the bed to be transported down. I hate that though. I find it very disorientating. Once I can get there on my own, that’s what I’m going to do. So, as they wheeled the bed down, I grabbed onto one side and followed along. They thought I was a bit strange I think as most people would be happy to just take the easy way.  
We got to the operating theatre and again, they asked me the same questions a few times. Name, date of birth, address, procedure and doctors name. Like before, they also checked both identification bands on both my wrists to ensure all the information matched.  
I was finally allowed to go into the theatre. The doors on the way in were very large electronic sliding doors. The floor was very smooth and the air was actually a little cool. From what I could gather, the room was very large with a lot of electronic fans for cooling equipment. There was very little noise within the room other than this quiet hum. I was led over to a very narrow bed that was up at chest height. The sheet on it felt like thick paper. The mattress was minimalist and the frame was thin metal with plenty of electronics below it. Obviously I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the room but instead of being nervous, I found myself very curious about the technology in the room.  
They decreased the height of the bed so I could get onto it. When I lay down I was instructed to shuffle over slightly to my right so I was centered. Once that was done, an anesthetist on my left and his assistant on my right got to work. The man on my left put in the line. This went into my left arm at my elbow. The man on my right strapped a blood pressure monitor to my arm and put an oxygen tester on my index finger. As this was happening, the man on my left asked me to pump my fist a few times. Then the man on my right moved a solid side into position. This enclosed the right side of the bed perfectly so that my right side was securely leaning on it. The man on my left was mean while pumping some kind of drug into my system. This caused me to feel cold and light headed. While this was happening I could hear the static of a large electronic instrument right above me. When all of this was done the person to my right held a mask that smelled of clean plastic over my face. I was becoming groggy so without thinking I put my hand up to feel what I could smell.The person on my left was placing something over my legs and he put my hand back down by my side. I don’t remember a single thing after this until I woke up after the surgery.  
When I woke up I could hear the blood pressure monitor on my right buz to life and soon after I felt the squeeze on my arm. It kind of reminded me of a friend of mine who tightly grabs my forearm when he’s saying hello. At the same time a female voice to my left asked me how I was. In a very cheery voice, I happily responded that I was fantastic. I followed this up by asking her how her day was. Hahahaha. It is funny thinking back on it. I hadn’t yet figured out that I was just waking up and my first answer to her was still in auto pilot. “I’m fantastic! How are you keeping? Are you having a good day?” 
Anyway, nothing interesting happened after that. I was left there in the recovery room under close supervision for about 45 minutes. They then wheeled me back to my room. I had absolutely no problem staying in the bed at that stage! 
I felt incredibly weak for the remainder of the day after the surgery. Even pouring a glass of water seemed too much for me to handle. Fair play to the nurses and doctors though. They couldn’t have been more attentive.
My parents came up that night. I have never been as appreciative to have visitors before! Having people there who can see makes such a difference! I consider myself to be very independent but before the surgery I didn’t feel comfortable enough in the environment to independently explore the room. There were too many people just checking in and asking a lot of questions. After the surgery there was no way I could have explored independently. I wasn’t actually that bad. I was able to get up and walk about three hours after the surgery but I was a bit disorientated so needed a bit more help than normal. When my parents arrived at around 8PM they went over and sat on a couch. I didn’t know there was a couch there. I was just delighted to hear this! Lying in the bed for so many hours was uncomfortable so sitting up right was a nice temporary reprieve. I also didn’t know there was a fridge in the room, there was also another reclining chair and a locker that I could leave stuff in. Even something as simple as plugging in my phone. The sockets were up just above head height. There was no way I would have found them independently at the best of times! Never mind after surgery! 
I told Emma, my wife that she wasn’t to visit. With two kids it wasn’t practical for her to come up. There was no need as I was only in hospital for one night. 
Moving on, the night of the surgery I didn’t sleep much at all. I just couldn’t get comfortable. I also think I had slept too much after the surgery so simply wasn’t tired. I got up and sat on the couch for a few hours listening to podcasts and some training material that I want to study over the next few weeks. I also had a lot more energy so went exploring around that are of the hospital. 
That morning the doctor in charge of the night shift called in at 6AM to check the bandages and all that kind of thing. I was checked again by another doctor at 8AM and just before 9 I was checked a third time by the surgeon. As everything went as well as expected, I was discharged and home just before 11.  
That day came and went. I spent almost all of it in bed either a sleep or just taking it easy listening to podcasts, training material and interesting ted talks on Youtube. Sleeping that day wasn’t particularly comfortable. I spent all of my time on my back.  
Friday, I.E. Day two after the surgery was much better. I couldn’t really stand up straight and getting in and out of chairs was hard but it was really not that bad. I certainly had no problems eating. By later on the previous day I was able to eat normally and this continued. The pain in my stomach where the stitches were healing was annoying but it wasn’t particularly limiting. What was limiting me was the advice given by everyone around me to take it easy.  
Saturday was a continual progression on the previous day. One thing I’ll say though is after this surgery, going for a poo can be really uncomfortable! You’d be surprised at how much you use your stomach muscles when pooing! I went between two stages of very constipated and very ….. Not constipated up to that point. Sorry to be too descriptive but one of the purposes of this blog post is to help someone that is at the start of this process.  
By Saturday night I could comfortably sleep on both sides. On the previous night I could sleep for a short time on each side but it wasn’t comfortable. One tip I would have is to drink Sprite. Yes! Sprite! They pump you full of air when they are removing the gall bladder. I don’t know how or why but sprite helps the air move. A glass or two of sprite and I felt like an entirely new person.  
On Sunday I made a really stupid mistake. Firstly, I showered for the first time since the surgery. I was nervous about this as stepping into the bath on Saturday would have been uncomfortable. However, on sunday it was absolutely fine. It surprised me how much I improved from day to day. After the shower I attended a church service for the commemeration of the 1916 rising. Following this I participated in a march for just over a mile to a local monument. This was very hard work. I still wasn’t standing up straight at this point. It was the walk back that really started to get difficult though. I made it about half way back but I had to call Emma to ask her to collect me. I just ran out of energy. There was no way I could have made it back. Oh. I should explain that I also hadn’t had breakfast that morning. I also didn’t take the anti-inflammatory that had been proscribed either. I really should have know that this wasn’t going to end well.  
I got back to the house, took the tablet, eat some food and felt like myself again.  
Later that day as tradition requires we took the kids to my parents house for the afternoon so they could play with their cousins . This was tiring probably because the morning had been more of a challenge than I would have liked but it was still very enjoyable. Sorry. I should say to people reading this that the Sunday I’m referring to was Easter Sunday.  
Knowing that life needed to return to normal on Tuesday, I spent Monday doing very little. I slept until about 1PM then did nothing else other than enjoy the company of my wife, son and daughter for the remainder of the day.  

By Tuesday I was able to stand up completely straight. I’ve been able to get in and out of the car with absolutely no struggle at all and life really has returned to normal.  
I removed the bandages on Wednesday and I’ve begun lifting things again today 9 days after the surgery.  
People keep warning me to take it easy but I like to think I know my own body. I don’t feel sore other than the occasional twinge. I’m being careful to take things a little slower than normal but I’m not shying away from anything.  
This surgery has been a great success I think. I no longer feel any small pain in the evening under my left lung and just over a week after life is back to normal. a picture of me on the hospital bed giving a thumbs up 


  1. Jenny

    Was that one of your challenges??
    A bit extreme don’t you think?

    Seriously though, glad the recovery is going well. Congradulations on the new job as well. I meant to congradulate you sooner.

    • digitaldarragh

      Thanks. Just a bit over a week to go before the big change. Looking forward to it. But I’m a bit nervous as well.


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