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symptoms of a gallbladder attack


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Old 05-11-2003, 10:26 PM   #1
purple2067
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Question symptoms of a gallbladder attack

I first posted about my gallbladder problems in January. I have got several gallstones. Since I last posted, I have had 3 or 4 more attacks that I can document, and I have been to see my GI specialist and with them. I think I am in the middle of another attack right as I am typing this! But my question is this: this attack feels more like very bad indigestion. My pain is in the front, in between my rib cages, kinda in my gut. It is worse on the right side and when I press underneath my right rib cage the pain gets worse. I do feel some burning inbetween my shoulder blades as well. But this time the pain is more in my front, like bad indigestion, and not so much in the back. I have taken gas-x and then about half an hour later I took some Maalox hoping that if it was just indigestion that would help. It has not helped, so I am assuming it is another gallbladder attack. But this one doesn't feel quite the same as the others that I have had, and I am wondering if I am just having a case of bad indigestion which is being compounded by the fact that I have gallbladder problems and that whole part of my digestive system is messed up. I really have bad burning and I feel like I want to throw up, along with the pain under my right ribcage. Being that it is 1:17am I cannot exactly call my dr (if it gets worse I'll leave a message with his answering service). I need to get some sleep and I really don't want to take the pain pills that my dr prescribed for my gallbladder (Percocette) if it is not truly a gallbladded attack. It never fails. My gallbladder attacks ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS occur during the middle of the night., Either right before I am ready to go to sleep, or they wake me up at 4am! I would have been asleep an hour ago if it wasn't for this pain!

I guess I am going to have to take a Percocette. Does anybody know of anything else to do to ease the pain during a gallbladder attack?

I know they can cause diahrrea, but can gallbladder attacks cause bad indigestion, and its that actually a symptom of an attack? Right now I have got what feels like very bad gas, but since the gas-x and the maalox didn't help, I can only assume it is my gallbladder again. Looking forward to getting it removed sometime over the summer!

Thanks a lot,
Elyse

 
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Old 05-12-2003, 05:49 AM   #2
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That sounds exactly what you are having. I don't know of any pain meds that can really help. Have you had any tests to confirm that your gallbladder is the problem? If you know for sure, why are you waiting to get it out? If it's done laporoscopically, you're only laid up for a few days, it's really no big deal. I had mine done on a Tuesday and cooked Easter dinner the following Sunday.

Best of luck and hope you feel better soon.

 
Old 05-12-2003, 08:38 AM   #3
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Hi Elyse. Are you the poster who's a teacher as well? I think I remember responding to some of your previous posts, and it sounds like your GB problems are getting worse. Your symptoms sound very much like GB attacks, and only you can decide how much longer you want to put up with it. Surgery will be your only outcome if it is your GB.

The recovery from surgery is usually no big deal although there are always exceptions. I went ahead with the surgery and ended up with bile salt diarrhea. But that's under control now with Colestid. Would I have the surgery again knowing that I would have chronic diarrhea? YOU BET! I truly feel so much better now that's it gone, and my post-op problems are solved now.

Keep us posted on you progress. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

Katie G

 
Old 05-13-2003, 06:26 PM   #4
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For a while my gallbladder had been OK. I had those first few attacks back in January, then I have very recently, over the past month or so, started getting them more often. I have to wait at least until the end of may because I am student teaching (yes Katie, that was me. ) and I am going to school and I don't have the time to have surgery. I can't afford to be taking any sort of time off right now. As it is I have missed all of the classes that I am allowed to miss, and I have to make up 1 week of student teaching time because I have been absent. I did go to my GI dr about 3 weeks ago because I was actually in the middle of having an attack when he was in the office! It had mostly subsided by the time I got to see him, but he did order some blood tests to be sure all of my enzymes were OK. (all of which were fine.) He told me to let him know if I had another attack, and then we'd have to have a very serious conversation about finding a surgeon. However, I already have a fabulous surgeon. I have had 2 more attacks since the last time I saw my GI dr, and I have an appointment on June 4th to go in and see him. I can't wait that long, so I am going to call tomorrow afternoon and leave a message with the answering service, because I know for a fact that he is in tomorrow night. That way I can tell them that my gallbladder is acting up again, the office can call me back when they get in and I can tell them that he said he wanted to see me if I had any more attacks (which he did say) and they will hopefully tell me to come in tomorrow night. If not I'll try to get an appointment within the next week, or if worse comes to worse I'll just make an appointment with the surgeon.

Now, I've just got this constant burning and aching in my side underneath my right rib cage, and a ton of gas and indigestion in general.

I did have a Hida Scan which showed the gallbladder to be funtioning normally, but that was also back in January. Although, even though it was functioning normally during the time of the test, that doesn't mean that it's not just generally inflamed or that my stones are not moving around causing attacks.

The only thing that I do for the pain when it gets really intolerable is to take a Percocette. I have only done that once or twice though over the last few months. And the only reason is that I need to sleep, and they always happen in the middle of the night! My dr told me to go ahead and take it if the pain is that bad, but also if the pain is bad enough that I need Percocette, to make sure I let him know!

Is it true that you can still get attacks from eating fatty foods even after you have the gallbladder removed?

How long is the surgery? How long do you have to go under ansethesia for?

I'm not too worried about the recovery period because it doesn't sound that bad, and I have the entire month of June to recover. That's why I want to get it done soon, so I have to get in and see my dr sometime this week. Plus, there's all that pre-op testing, etc...

 
Old 05-13-2003, 06:39 PM   #5
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Sorry you have to wait for the surgery, I hope you'll be okay in the meantime. Sounds like you're having a rough time of it. You're only laid up, if you can say that, for a couple days, so if you had it done on a Thursday, took Friday off and rested the weekend you'ld probably be okay to go back to work on Monday with some mild pain relievers. But, it's up to you and your doctor, just don't wait too long because it will only get worse.

Actual surgery is only about an hour; was awakened shortly afterwards. Of course, your actual time in the hospital may vary depending on how quickly your surgeon gets to you. I stayed overnight in the hospital, only because that's the way my surgeon does things, and went home the next morning. Kind of glad I did because I got sick to my stomach from the anesthesia and made a mess all over the bed..was embarrasing but at least I didn't have to try to clean it up! But that's just me, I always throw up after my surgeries so I kind of expect it, but it doesn't mean you will.

As far as digesting fats..every now and then if I eat something greasy or very high in protein like eggs with sausage I can get a touch of diarrhea, but it's nothing bad with bad stomach aches or anything...you just have to make a dash to the bathroom real quick. It doesn't happen much anymore as I limit the fats in my diet only because I just don't want to eat that stuff anyway. Sometimes I get phantom pains like the gallbladder is still there, but that has eased up considerably, also. Other people I've talked to that have had it out suffer no consequences at all, so eveyrone is different.

Hope you don't have to suffer much longer, let us know how it goes.

[This message has been edited by Dianek (edited 05-13-2003).]

 
Old 05-13-2003, 08:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the info. My surgeon told me it would probably be a 7-10 recovery period, but that I'd be up and around before that. The thing is, being a student teacher I am on my feet 6 hours a day with no time at all to sit down. So I can't exactly do this right now! My student teaching will be finished in about 10 days, and in the meantime I am going to talk to both my dr and my surgeon and see when it can be done. I think that sometime in early June is the perfect time to do it. After graduation, but before summer classes start. I'm rather young to have gallbladder problems (only 22) but if I have it now, it is only going to get worse as I get older. My diet has been pretty limited. After the first attack, which was the worst one I have ever had (I had a low grade fever, diahrrea, and was doubled over in pain in the ER for about 6 hours) I was on pretty much a liquid diet for a week, and then ate only very little solid foods for the next 2-3 weeks. I lived on juice. In the meantime, I still had another attack. Fortunately I did not have to have it removed as an emergency, because all of my enzymes came back normal when I was in the ER. So, once the pain subsided they let me go home with the promise that I would come back if it got worse. But now I am back in NY (as I said in my previous posts, I was in Maryland, 4 hours from home for my first attack!). I have my own drs taking care of me and so far they've been in no extreme rush to take it out. But I can hardly eat anything anymore. Today I did not eat anything that I can think of that had more than 4-5 grams of fat in it in one single serving, and right now I have the same bad indigestion and gas and some of the same upper-right quadrant pain as I had all along. It's not nearly as intense, just sort of an ache. But it's there. I'm calling my dr tomorrow and telling him that I want it OUT!! In the meantime I am just really being careful not to have anything with too much fat in it. But since the gallbladder works no matter what you eat, I'd have to pretty much stop eating to be sure I won't get another attack.

When I posted this topic a few days ago, I was in the middle of an attack. I did finally break down and take the Percocette. If anything, it just knocked me out so I could get some sleep, and it lessened the pain enough so that it wouldn't wake me up, and in the morning it was gone. I can actually say that I slept through part of my gallbladder attack! But the next day I felt like I was hungover, because I only got about 7 hours of sleep. I'm imagining that with something like Percocette you need at least 10-12 hours for it to completely wear off. I refuse to take it unless the pain gets really bad. Now I have just decided to start going to bed a little earlier, that way if I do wake up in the middle of the night with an attack at least I have had a few hours of sleep!

Does anybody find that using something like a heating pad helps with the severe cramping at all? I find that it helps me a little bit sometimes.

Hopefully I'll get to go to the dr sometime this week and talk about the surgery. I'm pretty much going to tell him that I WANT to get it taken out, and see what he says. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks again,

Elyse
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Old 05-14-2003, 06:25 AM   #7
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Good luck to you Elyse. I'll be thinking of you. Let us know when you have surgery scheduled - it sounds like you're going to need to get that GB out! Surgery is no big deal - doc removed mine in about 45 minutes and I woke up in recovery about 20 minutes after that. I stayed overnight in the hospital like Dianek, but only because my surgery was at 4:30 p.m. If I'd had surgery in the a.m. I would have gone home the same day.

Being on your feet for extended periods of time may slow your recovery. I took a week off from work (at the time I was a speech therapist in a hospital setting), and just going from room to room to see patients was EXHAUSTING! I didn't feel like myself again until about a month after surgery. So maybe waiting until student teaching is done would be best for you. However, it's hard to wait when you're in misery.

Like Dianek too I occasionally have phantom pains, but nowhere near what they were when the GB was in. As you know from my other posts, my biggest post-op problem was bile salt diarrhea, but that's all fine now with Colestid.

I wish you well and hope that you can get through the next few weeks ok. Keep us posted.

Katie G

 
Old 05-14-2003, 02:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the support and advice. Unfortunately I could not get an appointment to see my GP (who is also my GI specialist) tonight, but I did get an appointment to see the nurse practicioner in his office. So I'll see her, and then she'll hopefully call him in to examine me as well. But regardless of who I see, we ARE going to discuss surgery tonight. I am not dealing with this anymore. I tried avoiding fatty foods, and it just doesn't help. Today I had a cereal bar for breakfast, which has 4g of fat, a package of snackwells cookies which have 5g of fat, a chicken ceasar wrap for lunch, which could not have had more than 8-10g of fat, a fat free pudding, and a fruit cup, also fat free. So far today, I have not had any more than 18-20g of fat, and included in that fat are probably just 1-2g of saturated fat. Is saturated fat worse than unsaturated fat for gallbladder problems? So anyway, even with the low fat content, I still have a ton of excess gas, a lot of burning, and some cramping. Sounds like gallbladder to me. I took some gas-x which helped get rid of the gas for a little bit, but as usual, it came back within an hour. One would think that if it was just from something I ate (what?) that the gas-x would make it completely go away. It's got to be from my gallbladder. Anyway, I also bought a small bottle of Coca-Cola (machine was out of ginger ale) and let it get warm and flat and drank that. It seemed to ease the burning a tiny bit for a few minutes. But once again, it has to be from my gallbladder. My student teaching will be over on May 23rd, my college graduation is thursday, May 29. I'd like to have my gallbladder out May 30th! If not, then sometime in very early june. I am taking a summer class which starts on July 1, so I want to get it done very soon so I can be 100%, fully recovered. Plus, I'd like to get a job over the summer. And I really don't want to have to suffer with this for any longer tha absolutely necessary.

Can I ask you all a question? When you had your gallbladder removed, did they take out your appendix as well? My surgeon said that is how they used to do it. If they were already in there, even during laproscopic surgery, they would take out the appendix as well just to eliminate any future problems. Is that still how it is done?

This is the first time that I will be having any sort of surgery, (with the exception of sinus surgery, having a few teeth pulled, and having some minor in office procedures done on my eyes.) So of course, I am very nervous. But I know it has to be done. Even if my GP tells me to wait a while longer, I am the one who has to make the decision, and my decision is to call the surgeon tomorrow and make an appointment to see him so we can discuss surgery!!!

 
Old 05-14-2003, 07:10 PM   #9
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OK, scratch that idea..... now they want me to have a Hida Scan with CCK. I wound up seeing both the dr and the nurse practicioner. She called him in when I told her that he and I had been discussing surgery. Back to the Hida Scan... I didn't have CCK last time because the place I went to didn't have it! (why on earth would they not have it?) Apparently there is only one place in this area that does it with CCK. I'm going to call tomorrow for an appointment...I'll tell them it's an emergency. If they tell me it is going to be more than 1 week to get an appointment then I am going to call my dr back and tell him to either find me another place to get it done, or forget about the Hida Scan and lets call the surgeon. In the meantime, my drs office gave me an appointment for 2 weeks, so that by that time we will have the results of the scan and can make a decision once and for all. I have pretty much decided that I want the surgery, but my dr said he still isn't positive, and that he wants to see the scan with CCK, to prove without a doubt that I need the surgery. I like that he's beinf cautious, but I don't want another attack and I don't feel good!! Like I said before... if they can't do the Hida Scan sometime this week or next, then forget about it. I can't have the surgery before the beginning of June anyway, so if they can get me in for the scan sometime soon, why not just do it?

[This message has been edited by purple2067 (edited 05-14-2003).]

 
Old 05-15-2003, 05:19 AM   #10
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Gosh, what a time you're having! I sure hope you get some answers soon so you don't have to suffer anymore.

As far as the appendix being removed during surgery, I kind of doubt it as I think that is quite a ways from your gallbladder. I had a c-section with my second son and as far as I know, my appendix is still there and that certainly would have been the time to take it out seeing as it was in close proximity. If I did have it out, the doctor didn't say anything about but I rather doubt it as my surgery was an emergency and then I had an artery break loose during it where I lost a lot of blood, so I think removal of my appendix wouldn't even be considered. I think nowadays, it's not standard procedure to have it removed like it was before.

Update us when you can and know you're in my thoughts.

 
Old 05-15-2003, 10:50 AM   #11
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awww, thanks Diane. You have all been great.

Last night I had another horrible attack. I slept about 1 hour the whole night. It was the mother of all attacks! With the exception of my very first attack, it was the worst I have ever had. It started around 2am and lasted until almost 7 this morning. I had about an hour of relief from the Percocette, but even that didn't last very long. I didn't vomit or anything, but I never want to have another night like that again.

I called my GP very early this morning and he said that it is pointless to wait anymore. I called the surgeon and we have decided to schedule surgery for June 2nd. My surgeon is going to be away, so hopefully I can wait that long. If not, I'll have to go to the Emergency Room and let my GP tell them who to call. There are a few surgeons around here that I wouldn't let operate on my DOG (if I had one!).

I am still going to go for the Hida Scan with CCK, because they were able to get me an appointment for this coming wednesday. But I have already scheduled the surgery. I am just waiting for the surgeon's office to call me and tell me if he wants to see me before the actual date of the surgery, or if I just need to go to the hospital and get the Pre-Op testing done.

Hopefully the Hida Scan will show something, but it won't induce a terribly painful gallbladder attack. Unfortunately I can't have it done at the hospital b/c they don't have CCK, so I better not have an attack or a bad reaction to it! I'd much rather have it done at the hospital!

I'll let you all know what the results of the Hida Scan are. (not that it really matters anyway, because I'm getting the surgery regardless.)

Thanks a lot,

Elyse

[This message has been edited by purple2067 (edited 05-15-2003).]

 
Old 05-17-2003, 09:30 AM   #12
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Good luck with your Hidascan. Mine made me pretty sick for the day it was done. The nausea and stomach pains were pretty bad.

 
Old 05-17-2003, 10:24 AM   #13
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Just wanted to say good luck. I have been in an attack for over a week. Going Tuesday for Xray and ultrasound on my stomach. Can't figure out why they aren't doing one on the gall bladder, but oh well. The doc didn't give me anything to take, is that normal? Mine isn't so bad if I don't eat, but it still there, and by night time is much worse. Eating jello-yuck hate jello, like eating nothing.. And drinking alot of juice and water, which don't help, but feel I have to keep hydrated.

 
Old 05-19-2003, 08:23 AM   #14
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Hey Elyse - I'm thinking of you. I hate to say this, but the CCK may elicit a terrible attack - it did for me, and that's the only way the doc could prove it was my GB, because supposedly my ejection fracture was within normal. But as soon as the CCK got into the GB, the tech and I actually saw the GB spasm on the monitor and the pain was HORRIBLE! Just like a typical attack and it lasted all day.

I so hope you can make it until June 2nd. I know it seems so long off, but hopefully the time will fly, and your attacks will be minimal during this time.

Please keep us posted on your recovery,
Katie G

 
Old 05-22-2003, 11:37 AM   #15
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Well... I didn't make it until June 2nd.

Last week I was only eating Jell-o and drinking water and juice. Then THAT started giving me gallbladder attacks! Friday, 5/16 I ate Jell-o for lunch and within minutes I was having a really bad attack. I had to call my mom to come pick me up from student teaching, because I was in so much pain that I couldn't drive. Once in the car, we called my surgeon who said that he would meet me at the ER so he could examine me, because he didn't have office hours that day. So, he met me there and they did an ultra-sound and ran some blood tests. They had to give me morphine for the pain. My ultra-sound came back OK and only showed one stone, but my blood tests were all screwed up. My liver funtion tests (LFTs) were extremely high. My liver was very enlarged. So they admitted me. My surgeon had to go away for the weekend but the house drs took care of me. However, my surgeon had ordered IV anti-biotics for me and the other drs decided that since I had no fever and a normal white count, I didn't need it. Turns out I did need it, really badly. They kept me NPO (nothing by mouth) for the entire weekend. Sunday afternoon they let me try some jell-o, which illicited another attack. My LFTs kept going up and up. When my surgeon came back that monday he immediately started me on anti-biotics and got in touch with my GI specialist (who was also off that weekend.) They had told me that my surgeon was going to operate on me on monday, but nobody had ever asked HIM! He said that no, he wanted an ERCP first to make sure there were no stones in the common bile duct. So very early tuesday morning, my GI specialist did the ERCP. He found a TON of biliary sludge that was blocking my bile duct. Basically, no bile was getting to my liver. So immediately, that afternoon they operated. It turned out that my gallbladder was badly infected and had at least 9 more stones in it that weren't seen on the ultra-sound. It was also stuck to my small bowel. They had to make a larger incision in my belly button to get it out. My surgeon said it was very "touch and go" for a while but he was able to go it laproscopically. Then wednesday morning they gave me solid foods, and viola, no gallbladder attack! And no indigestion either! Now I am home and very glad that it is over! I have to take oral anti-biotics for at least one more week, and I see the surgeon next week and my GI dr on june 4th. I'm in some pain but I am up and walking around. It's not terrible. I'm just thrilled to be home from the hospital! And they said that my LFTs are already coming down to normal.

 
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