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Old 10-16-2004, 10:14 AM   #1
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carol thomas HB User
Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hello all --

My gallbladder was taken out via lap. chole nearly 5 months ago. Seems like 5 years now, but it's not quite 5 months. Recovered well and quickly, I thought. Felt REALLY good from month two through month three, post-op.

But... now I find that I am much more prone to extreme gas attacks (sorry), feelings of fullness if I eat a little too much, and even still occasionally have the brief feelings of nausea that I frequently had before the surg., now that some more post-op time has passed.

I can get peculiar and varying pains all over the abdomen; near where the GB had been located, at lower right quadrant (that's especially bad at times with intestine doing backflips, I swear), mid abdominal pains and nearly every morning I have a slight reflux that tastes horrid. I must eat as soon as I get up because if I were to burp before eating anything (again, sorry) that brings up a taste like what a burning coffee pot smells like if you recognize THAT odor. Is that excess bile????? Forgot to ask the gastro doc about that one.

I did ask the gastroenterologist about the various abdominal pains a couple of weeks ago and he told me nothing I've said about those pains concerns him. Hmm...

Then, two nights ago I was abruptly awakened, just before I normally wake up, with very strange pain/pains in LEFT sided lower ribs, below the breast, as well as encompassing the left breast itself, especially the left side of it. I didn't jump out of bed from agony or anything, but just stayed there, rubbing the areas until the pain stopped, as quickly as it came. It probably lasted less than a minute or two. It wasn't burning or stabbing, just pain. I then got up and (thinking "heart attack" since I am 55 years old) took my blood pressure -- "normal" though I was anxiety-ridden by then.

Since I thought it was angina/heart attack at first, I got a cancellation appointment, called work to say I'd be late, and went to the doctor (cardiologist) a few hours later. He did an EKG, acted perplexed at my description of the pains and said it didn't sound like angina. I had an ECHOcardiogram done two years ago for an episode of severe sternum area burning that radiated through to the back between the shoulderblades -- nothing unusual was found on that ECHO. Now I think that burning behind the sternum was DIGESTIVE, i.e, likely gallbladder related, NOT cardiac. At that time, I had no idea I even had gallstones though I was starting to feel some other mild digestive distress.

My question is: have any of you fellow gall bladder removal survivors out there had various oddball pains around the entire abdominal or even chest areas months AFTER the operation?

At first I thought these new (chest area) pains were heart-related; now I'm thinking maybe not. I know gall bladder pains can mimic heart pains and vice versa BEFORE the GB is removed. I didn't think I'd be subject to all sorts of discomforts AFTER the fact. I know I should be happy I don't have bile salt diarrhea like a few unfortunate people do after GB removal, and I AM very grateful for that.

What do you folks think about these various pains? Anyone think any of this sounds familiar?

 
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Old 10-16-2004, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hi! My gall bladder was removed over a year ago and I still get strange pains all over. People kept telling me it was excess gas and could take a year for me to straighten out, but it is still going on. While I am glad my gall bladder was removed and do feel better overall, I started getting pain under my ribs, both left and right side at times, an occasional pain in the area my gall bladder used to be, especially when the weather is damp and a lot of other aches and pains, that I believe is probably digestive in nature. I also was getting chest pains and had an EKG and an echocardiogram done to be sure it was nothing heart related. I am 46, so I couldn't rule out that possiblity. I truly believe all of these problems are digestive, but never had further testing done. What I really believe is many people who have had their gall bladder out have other issues going on and that's why sometimes even after the gall bladder is removed, they continue to have reflux, gas, bloating and other aches and pains. Have you ever had any scopes done? I haven't and don't want to if I could avoid it. Have you ever had any tests like a colonoscopy done? I know they recommend it after 50 years of age, and sometimes before if you have problems. Some days I really feel okay, but other days I do have lots of complaints. I guess gas would be my biggest complaint right now and was told my rib pain was probably from excess gas in my colon. Based on what you wrote, I don't think anything serious is going on, but probably just some gas problems that I think are really common with people who have had gall bladder problems. I also get nauseous a lot and believe that has to do with the excess acid I have in my system, especially in the morning.

Well, I hope you feel better and if you have any other questions I can help you with, please write.

 
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Old 10-16-2004, 11:51 AM   #3
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carol thomas HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hi Staci -

Thanks for your great reply. I relate to everything you said as well... and appreciate the comments about abdominal and chest pains/aches.

I DID have a colonoscopy -- a year before the gall bladder removal. This was only to pacify my internist, who kept saying "you're over 50, you need this!"

In fact, I didn't have my big GB "attack" until a few weeks after the "scope" (which revealed NOTHING, by the way, and is an easy test if they totally knock you out for it with the lovely drugs they use now. The preparation is nasty and time consuming but not a big deal). I would certainly recommend colonoscopy for anyone over 50, if they want or need it.

As for post-surgical aches/pains resolving in about a year -- that's what my gastro doc said, too, just a few weeks ago. In fact, he finally revealed he, too, had his GB out many years ago and while he was told he'd be good as new in six weeks it took him about a year to stop having bizarre pains from time to time. I hadn't had the chest pains yet, at the time I saw him.

But it makes sense -- gas buildup since the surgery seems a lot worse and more frequent and I know gas pains can crop up anywhere in the abdominal/chest cavity. I even had some quick sharp upper chest pains when preparing to leave the hospital that the staff pooh-poohed as remnants of the anesthesia.

By their own admission afterwards, the staff in the OR joked that they had to give me a "boatload of drugs" to keep me asleep during the 30 minute surgery. I had put the fear of using too much anesthesia into them because I do have a six year history of "benign arrythmia" (common in mid-life, especially in wome) and, separately, was given too much anesthesia 17 years ago for hysterectomy and nearly expired in the recovery room! So...for the GB they started out with minimal drugs and had to keep adding more. On the plus side, there were zero bad effects from the GB surgery itself.

Like you, I am glad to be rid of the diseased GB, but sure don't enjoy the rest of it now that time is passing.

As an aside, a friend of mine had HER colonoscopy not long after I did (she was age 53 at the time) and she also thought it was easy. Her big beef is that ever since -- a year and a half now, she has MAJOR gas problems that she never had before the procedure. She said she is nearly as bad as her DOG (who is adorable but passes gas constantly and with a big doggie smile on her face!)

Between the time of my colonoscopy and the GB removal, I did NOT have the same gas problems my friend describes. But there must be some connection; it's not likely that someone with no gas problems would suddenly develop them immediately after the procedure if there wasn't some connection. Who knows? I am certain the doctors would deny it.

All I know is that I am sick and tired of "doctoring" and would just like to stop seeing any more medical professionals and having tests. My friends and I joke that a few years ago we went out with lipstick and a brush in our purses; now we have entire pharmacies at hand at all times. Geesh!

Thanks for writing; it's good to have others who know what we are experiencing and you are just a few years behind me so we are in the same general ballpark, so to speak. I feel a lot better now ----

 
Old 10-17-2004, 11:49 AM   #4
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Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

I too have right and left rib pain. (If you look back on this board you can read "my GB story", as I had alot of complications). I see a few different gastro dr's now. the first one said it was prob. IBS and trapped gas that was making my colon spasm.(causing sharp aching pains) he said this is very common post GBS. but i've had IBS for about 15 years and know this was not it. so i saw another dr. he said he would send me for a mri and a mrcp. (still waiting for results) he said it could be a few different things... spincter of oddi (the muscle at the end of the common bile duct is not working properly) or there is scar tissue there or there are stones int the common bile duct. but for me he thinks it is a ucler on the common bile duct, because i already had a spincterodomy and my bile duct flushed out. and i've read of people with the same pain on the left side and it was an ulcer(by the way when i told the dr anout all this i didn't mention the left side pain, not sure why) i have heard of people getting reflux after the GBS and its because to much bile is flushing through and flushing back to your stomach. I would really try to find a dr who is willing to look into this. From experence i've learned to never puch medical stuff aside. when i find out my results i'll let you know..
jaclyn

 
Old 10-17-2004, 02:00 PM   #5
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carol thomas HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Thanks for posting, Jaclyn!

There are just so many of us out here with similar problems, it seems, and it's helpful to share experiences. I, and others -- no doubt, look forward to hearing results of your recent tests when you get them.

Perhaps several different doctors should be consulted instead of relying on just one. I changed gastro docs after the colonoscopy because I didn't care for the demeanor of that person. The doc I've seen since after the colonoscopy and after the GB surgery, (the one with his own gall bladder story) seems a lot more interested and can undoubtedly relate better to what goes on with us, post-op GB surgery.

I, too, will report anything further that may be of interest to our fellow sufferers.

 
Old 10-18-2004, 05:27 AM   #6
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Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hi again Carol. I guess there are a lot of us suffering from these type of problems, but hopefully it isn't anything too serious. I had to laugh when you wrote about you and your friends carrying lipstick and brushes and now you carry about a pharmacy full of drugs. I also laugh with my friends about similar things since before we got into our 40's we would talk about different subjects and now we talk about what is ailing us and what doctor or test we have to go for next. I guess it is all part of the aging process.

I have to tell you I am really scared of having any of those scopes done, from either end. As for an endoscopy, I am really afraid of having tubes down my throat as I gag really easily and am afraid that if enough drugs weren't used and I was awake I would panic. I am also prone towards panic attacks and take xanax as needed. I can't even swallow a tiny little pill, let alone a scope or a little camera. As for the the colonoscopy part, well that also really scares me, even if I were put out for it. You see, my dad had a colonoscopy over a year ago and never came home afterwards. He had a heart condition and had to go off his comadin, which is a blood thinner to have the test done. Shortly after the procedure he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away, and I really have to believe there was some kind of correlation between having this test done or maybe going off the blood thinners for a few days and what happened. While I don't have a heart condition like my dad and I know most people come out of these procedures just fine, with any type of procedure there is a certain degree of risk involved and that's why they make you sign a consent form before undergoing any kind of testing. I know my fear is probably not logical, it is still there so I really dread the day I am told to have a colonoscopy or an endoscopy. If it weren't for these fears I probably would have seen an GI specialist about my problems by now. My internist just tells me I have gas and that it is nothing, but he isn't the one living with this discomfort. While I am glad he doesn't push a lot of tests on me, sometimes I think he is too relaxed and laid back about my complaints.

As for anesthesia, well I really don't like it because of the way you feel afterwards, but I would rather be asleep for any invasive procedure than awake. Before I had my gall bladder surgery, I told the doctors I didn't want to wake up sick like so many people do after having anesthesia, so they told me they would put something in my IV to help with that. While I didn't throw up afterwards, I did feel nauseous even with whatever it was they put in my IV. I remember waking up not feeling great, and my back really hurting me. Maybe that was from the gas they fill you up with when you are having laproscopic surgery. I remember after a little while I was given some crackers and gingerale, and I felt better about about an hour or so and then I went home. I feel I recovered from the gall bladder surgery really well, but that's when the gas and rib pain began and now I just live with it.

I have to say I am not sorry I had my gall bladder removed since I didn't want to sit back and wait for a full blown gall bladder attack. I am sure whatever is going on with my digestive system now is not all because I had my gall bladder removed, but is probably something that would have happened anyway. I was always prone to gas and being nauseous, especially in the morning when I first get up when the acid is building overnight.

I hope you feel better and if you learn anything new, please let me know and I will do the same for you. Thanks.

Staci

 
Old 10-18-2004, 07:07 PM   #7
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Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hi Carol,
I had my GB out via laparoscope when I was 18, and about 2 weeks after, I began experiencing symptoms similar to that of someone having a heart attack (severe chest/upper abdominal pain, pain between the shoulder blades, pain radiating down left arm, sweating, salivating, nausea). The surgeon just shrugged and said not to worry. Well, this still happens (12 years later) usually once every 6 weeks or so. It comes on suddenly, without warning, and disappears just as suddenly. The "episode" usually lasts about 20 minutes but has, in a few terrible cases, lasted for 12 hours. I have found no triggers for this, and the only thing that helps to bring relief is to lie down on my side (I have been known to lie down on airplanes, on the floor at work, in my car, etc..) It is the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced, and I've given birth twice. I have since consulted numerous doctors, and they say, based on my symptoms, that I am experiencing esophageal spasms. I know that something they did during my GB surgery caused this. I also have that acid thing you describe, and I have recently been prescribed zantac,which seems to work.
I hope you find some answers to your symptoms!
Lynne

 
Old 10-21-2004, 05:00 PM   #8
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lookin2bfree HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Wow...I can't believe this. After 3 years of these types of pain and countless hours of research that turned up nothing, I finally find others that are experiencing the same symptoms as me. I have chest/upper ab pain at least 4x a week. It usually happens when I sleep...just like the GB attacks did, but its different. It doesn't matter what time I'm sleeping or where. If I take a nap sitting up in the recliner it will hurt when I wake up, just the same as if I sleep on my side in my bed. I haven't yet been able to link it back to any particular type of food or anything like that...which frustrates me to no end. Now I'm starting to have the pain while I'm awake. I've had it for the last two days as a matter of fact. I went to the ER for it about 6 months ago and they said it is GERD. I take Prevacid, but the pain is still there. I've also started getting pain behind my bellybutton. This is a new pain, but the chest/back pain has been around since about a month after the surgery. I have the awful diarrhea and the doctor that I met with today gave me a RX for a medicine that will help with what he calls "dumping"...its a med that is normally prescribed for high cholesterol. So hopefully I will be rid of one of the last side effects of the surgery. My husband says that I haven't been the same since the surgery. I had awful GB attacks for a long time because they could never find anything on the Xrays or scans. Finally blood work during an ER visit revealed the GB problem. I felt fine most of the time...thought I was gonna die when I had a GB attack. Now I feel like crap all the time and feel like I'm gonna die some nights when the chest pain starts. I believe mine is probably more esphogeal spasms than GERD...sometimes I can feel tiny spasm deep in that area. I also believe that my large chest contributes to the problem. It puts more pressure on the area when I am sitting if I don't pay attention to my posture. So I feel its a problem that started after the GB surgery and that other things are contributing now. Sorry for such a loooooong post...I am just so relieved (and sad at the same time...I wish we could all enjoy pain-free lives) that I found others that are experiencing the same problems as me. I've been uninsured for the last 2 years, but I have insurance starting Nov 1. I will be taking all of this up with my dr. again. If I come up with anything that will help you all, I will definitely pass it on.

 
Old 10-21-2004, 07:42 PM   #9
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LynneJW HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

I had that aweful diarrhea (although mine only started last year) as well, and was prescribed the same cholesterol medication you have just been prescribed. It worked really well. Mine was powder that you mix with juice. It tastes nasty, but it sure did the trick for me. My diarrhea was so bad that my intestines started to bleed (sorry for the graphic description ). Now I'm doing a lot better, in that respect, so I don't take the meds anymore (only if I;m having a flare-up). But oh that chest pain is the absolute worst thing , you really feel as though you are going to die. Occaisionally mine will start while I'm sleeping, and then I know it's going to be a bad episode, since usually lying down helps. When it starts during the night, that's when it lasts for hours on end. It is quite sad that there are so many consequences to not having your GB. Why many people (my father and grandmother, for example) do just fine without it, while others seem to suffer, is quite baffling.

 
Old 10-22-2004, 12:19 PM   #10
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cheer up HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hi Lynne --

Welcome to our happy little group of GB surgery survivors! It seems various symptoms can appear immediately after surgery or decades later. They can last a short time or interminably and require no attention or a lot of it, including meds and follow up surgeries.

Katie G, elsehwere on these Digestive threads, has an amazing story of all she's been through and she, too, uses the cholesterol lowering drugs to keep the diarrhea "dumping" syndrome at bay. Why it takes some doctors so long to recognize the need for this is beyond me. To date, and at just a few months post-op, I don't have that problem but if I ever do, I won't wonder why and will ask -- or make that DEMAND -- the drugs!

There are so many after-effects we can have, GERD, dumping syndrome, esophageal spasms, ulcers, colon problems, gas and or gas-related pains, "phantom" pains where GB was located and well as back pains, chest pains and more, that it seems many of us will never be free of some suffering from the surgery.

It does help to know we are not alone and to not get scared when some new symptom crops up. Thank goodness for these Boards where we can share stories and help ease each other's minds. What did we DO without the internet?

 
Old 10-22-2004, 12:29 PM   #11
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Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

I still have many problems after galbladder was removed. I'm on 3 meds for my stomach. My doctor tells me since my galbladder is gone, the bile ends up in my stomach now. I have GERD, acid reflux and an ulcer. Glad to know I'm not alone.

 
Old 10-23-2004, 12:00 PM   #12
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carol thomas HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Alone? Oh no, you'll never be alone with gall bladder related symptoms! Welcome to the crowd here -- just reading each other's stories is helpful, I find, and very stress-reducing.

Even my own gastroenterologist had HIS gall bladder removed years ago and is now willing to discuss his problems with me, which he says lasted a year or more. Some people suffer for decades. I'm only a few months out from surgery, but find that if eat too much chocolate, my favorite food in the world, I have problems. That's not surprising given the fat content in chocolate!

YES, that old bile is just falling right into the stomach now because the GB (storage unit) is gone and can no longer squirt out just the right amount to aid in digestion. I think of all of it as just bad plumbing.

We aren't really "sick" as with an infection or disease -- we have "disorders" now as a result of having the faulty organ removed. Thinking about it that way is helpful to me. I don't like to think of myself as "sick" all the time.

 
Old 10-23-2004, 02:51 PM   #13
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Count me in too!

I had lap GB surgery August 10th. No one told be that I would have to live like this!!!

GB pain was aweful but I had such high hopes of feeling better.
Have lost 25pds, acid reflux and burning throat soooo bad,
right should pain just under breast bone
chest pain
cannot eat anything- water is my mainstay.
tight chest and very tight in throat!!

I have not had the runs (thank you Jesus!) like I have heard others have- and that is a blessing.

but this is really ruining my life! I am out on medical leave because of the severe shoulder pain. I use right arm in job a lot and the pain is immense.

My question to GBGB surgerys (gallbladder gone bad surgery) is have you persued the doctors and went for more test???

my body could not handle anymore poking around I am afraid it would kill me.

so those that have persued this......what have been the results?

are we doomed?
BB

I take zantac and prilosec to no avial.

 
Old 10-23-2004, 03:32 PM   #14
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LynneJW HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

Hi babybet,
I think that the first few months are rough in terms of pain, especially the shoulder type pain, it can take quite some time for all the gas they pumped into your abdomen to be reabsorbed. The gas bubbles press on your diagphram and irritate the nerve endings there. This gives a type of referred pain that is usually felt in your shoulders.
I still, 12 years later, have bouts of chest pain, but no more shoulder ones. I did suffer a long time with bile-acid induced diarrhea, but that is easily taken care of. I still have GERD, and I think the esophageal spasms are induced by the bile going backwards. Zantac (75mg taken at night) has helped a great deal .
I have had, over the past year, ultrasounds, sigmoidoscopy, Upper GI xray with small bowel followthrough, all of which was normal. My doctor said that these post-gb-removal-problems aren't serious (not that that makes me feel any better when I'm lying down in the back seat of my car on the side of the road, writhing in pain from those esophageal spasms), and that medication and diet can help relieve them.
I'm sure that as time passes, you will recover from the pain, just be on the lookout for those other symptoms of no GB, so that YOU can tell the doctor what's going on (it took a resident to figure out my problem, even though the chief of family medicine at my hospital knew all my history..he still had no clue.)
Hope you start to feel better soon!
Lynne

 
Old 10-23-2004, 07:36 PM   #15
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babybet_7 HB User
Re: Strange symptoms/pains, months after gallbladder removal

thanks so much for the reply- I think these health boards telling me that I am not crazy are the only thing that is helping me from going nuts.

why do the docs play so ignorant? the muscle spasm in my throat is exactly my problem. when it relaxes I feel better. wonder if zanax would help this?
BB

 
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