I have a gall stone. This is galling.
About 6 weeks ago or so, I took my mother to have a cataract repaired. Part of the Cataract Package includes lunch post-op, so we went to Cheeburger Cheeburger which, as I’m sure you know, is where 4 out of 5 docs recommend you do a bit of post-op recovery. Milkshakes are good for recovery. We had a delightful lunch, even if I had to have lunch with a lady wearing those “old bat” sunglasses — you know the ones, the kind that wrap all the way around your head and are square and very fashionable (not).
Lunch was at noon, and the patient was brought home to Princeton to sleep off the effects of both a cheeseburger AND the anesthesia. I carried on with my day — driving and picking up, policing homework, etc.
Around 5 pm, heartburn set in. This was odd, since I hadn’t eaten since noon and was about to eat dinner with my peeps, but I shrugged it off. (I often play in pain, so this is not new.) The heartburn intensified, and fistfuls of Tums did not help, and nor did the delightful PeptoBismol aperitif. If anything, it increased. So, seeking relief, I decided to lie down doubled over and hope for the best.
My mother, patient-but-now-back-on-duty-RN, came up to check on me and after a bit of questioning and poking (“does this hurt?” “Um, YES STOP DOING THAT!”) determined that I was having a gall bladder attack. “After all,” she said (somewhat cheerfully too, if truth be told), “you DO fit the profile. We used to say in nursing school that you could diagnose using the 4 F’s — fair, fat, female and 40.”
Um, huh? I think my mother just called me fat.
Seeking reassurance, I texted a doctor friend. I relayed my symptoms and also mentioned my mom was diagnosing me based on the 4F’s. He texted back something to the effect of “I think your mother is right. Feel better.”
Huh? I think my friend just called me fat. So, even if I’m not having a gall bladder attack, my self-esteem is taking a beating.
At any rate, the symptoms abated by the next day. And I promptly forgot all about it.
Fast forward to this past week when I had a routine physical. I mentioned the event in passing to my doctor, and she agreed that it could have been a Gall Bladder Event (herein known as GBE), and recommended I get an ultrasound of the GB just to see what was up. Chronic inflammation would be seen on an u/s and could possibly dictate treatment as a result.
The good news/bad news is that yes, there’s a gall stone. Good news is that it hasn’t caused me more upset, and there’s no evidence of chronic inflammation requiring immediate action. Bad news is that it is 5mm big, and the bile duct is 2.1 mm big. (You do the math. OUCH.)
For the time being, we’re watching and waiting. Maybe I will never be bothered again. (Sadly, this is unlikely.) I spoke with a pediatric GI guy today (which is a whole OTHER story that I may or may not tell here, depends….) and he provided me with sketches and a brief anatomy/digestive lesson that, frankly, scared the hell out of me. See the diagram, below.
Bottom line friends? More salad, less french fries. Because, shockingly, it turns out that “more salad and less fries” is better for you as a general rule. Dammit.