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  • 21 year old female + gallbladder disease. help!

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    Old 05-16-2008, 11:41 AM   #1
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    21 year old female + gallbladder disease. help!

    A Summary of My Years of Symptoms, Bear With Me
    I'll start off by saying that I have a ridiculous family history of gallbladder removals without gallbladder stones. My mom just had hers out, my aunt had hers out a few years ago, my grandmother's had hers out, and my great grandfather had his out. The only reason my doctor suggested an ultra sound and HIDA scan due to my weird stomach pains and reactions to food was because of my mother's recent gallbladder removal. I'm 21 and otherwise healthy.
    I feel like I have been putting up with these pains for a long time and because of my high pain threshold from being an athlete and stuff my whole life I just never noticed them all that much. Since I was 15 I can remember having this feeling in the center of my stomach between my two ribs. An unexplainable feeling of fullness or something after I would eat. I would also get pains in the center of my stomach, slightly to the left side however(i know this is unusual for gallbladder isn't it?) These dull pains have persisted and my doctor thought they were from an injury I had as a baby where my rib ended up dislocated and is slightly higher and sticks out more than the other one (I'm sure I do get some pains from that injury) however I knew they had to be from something related to food because they would ALWAYS come after eating (sometimes they would, sometimes they wouldn't, sometimes it would be a few hours after, and it was hard to pinpoint WHAT foods caused them).
    In my freshman year of college I believe I had my first gallbladder attack (I didn't know what it was at the time though.) I laid in bed all day long. I came out of bed to heat up some soup and every time I swallowed it I felt sharp deep pulsating pains in the center of my stomach and ribs, slightly left, and I felt absolutely nauseated. It would get better if I laid on my one side (i forget which one though). After enduring this pain for hours I finally walked to the nurse, and the pain dwindled away. They had no idea what to do and pushed on various spots on my stomach forever and I left with no diagnosis.
    All summer long, after that year of college, I kept getting chest pain which I thought were cardio-related. I've had a history of PVCs so my doctor sent me to Johns Hopkins. After a stress test and a 64 slice Cardio-MRI they said my heart looked perfect, so, the result was that it must be acid reflux and/or heartburn. The next year of college I made it without any major ailments. The summer following however, was the threshold.
    I was on birth control pills all summer which I stopped because they caused me extreme anxiety. However, I didn't stop them til September. I was working a job 6 days a week and my schedule went something like this: nightshift, nightshift, nightshift, day off..., dayshift, dayshift, dayshift, day off...., nightshift, nightshift, nightshift, day off...., dayshift, dayshift, off.... etc etc etc...
    My sleeping patterns, my eating habits, and everything were completely thrown off. I had severe acid reflux every single time before I went to bed whether it was 5am(when working nighshift) or 10pm(when working dayshift). I was taking pepcid AC all the time and I couldn't go out to eat with my boyfriend or my family anymore because food just made me sick. Especially all the food you get when you go out to eat like greasy steaks and bacon and eggs. It really took a toll on my relationship for a while because I was always complaining about feeling sick. I would CONSTANTLY have pain in the center of my stomach. It would happen every day.
    Going into my third year of college, I had quit the birth control, I tried to have normal sleeping/eating habits that were on a strict schedule. This worked out really well and I felt good for a while. Occasionally the dull gnawing pains would come back with certain food but besides a few bouts of reflux I had that under control. I was still concerned about the pains though, and started to search online. I finally concluded that I MUST have a stomach ulcer since my pains were slightly to the left and aggravated by food. I scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologist to explore this further.
    One night, recently, maybe a month ago, I had a feast of a frozen bag of family size shrimp alfredo. Yes, I ate the whole thing. I was studying before bed on the computer, having a cup of tea, when suddenly my stomach went absolutely crazy. I was having sharp pains in my lower ribs, and also into my chest. This was exactly like it had been two years ago. I felt nauseated, and I had pains in my back. I endured this from 11pm to 2am when it finally subsided and I finally got to go to bed. This time it hurt me to lay down so I stayed awake hunched up on my computer trying to take my mind off it. I was also feeling pains, I noticed this time, on my right side under my ribcage. When I woke up in the morning I looked/and felt like crap. I was still having small pains, was pale, I was nauseated, I felt traumatized. The pain was just so horrible the night before that I almost drove myself to the emergency room. Even though the morning after was a Thursday, and I had class the next day, I drove myself home from college to make an appointment with my doctor at home. On the way home I was hungry so I stopped at McDonalds (bad idea, right?) I tried to get the healthiest food possible that wouldn't aggravate my "ulcer"... what I thought at the time. I got some crispy chicken wraps with ranch dressing (FAT!). I ate them while I was driving home. BAM! There the pains were again, right in the center. I felt dizzy and I was clenching the steering wheel so hard because the pain was just throbbing deep in my stomach. Also, again, duller squeezing pains on my right side under my ribcage) I was so relieved when I finally got home. I tried to eat something bland for dinner and my stomach agreed with me.
    The next morning I went to my doctor, explained the pains, location of them, the reaction to food (pains/nausea/feeling of fullness/burping/reflux), the Crispy Chicken reaction, etc. Even though my pains are slightly to the left... he said... "hmm typical of gallbladder problems.." He sent me for an ultrasound based on my mom's recent removal. They saw nothing (just a question... does this rule out pancreatic problems/cancerous issues? I'm kinda scared). So I went for my HIDA scan this past Wednesday. When she showed me the screen, before I even received the enzyme injection, she showed me that I was having reflux. Which, I noted, that I could feel. When she injected the enzyme I felt kinda dizzy and confused at first. She said "OK it's 65% in, here goes the rest of it" and all the sudden my palms were sweating, I was clenching my fists, I got those pains on both my left and my right lower ribcage, and I felt like I was going to hurl everywhere. My mouth even started salivating (you know that feeling?)
    The next day, around noon, I get a phone call from the doctors office.
    "Hey how are you Cyan!?"
    "Good! How are you?"
    "Good. Well here, your test shows, from the HIDA scan, that, it looks like you're going to need your gallbladder removed."
    .................................and so on and so on.
    But I was absolutely shocked. My ejection fraction is 40%. My mom's ejection fraction was 50%!!! I feel that I am nowhere near in the amount of discomfort that she was in. (but maybe I am, with high pain threshold and all) She did have adhesions though which were making her pain worse.
    So anyway... I'm 21, referred to a surgeon in June, and I apparently need my gallbladder removed.
    Now, I'm not upset, because for years I have felt like I was dealt an unfair hand with all the pain I've been putting up with. I'm glad I can hopefully get all my symptoms resolved in one clean fix. I am, however, somewhat in denial I think. I just keep considering that maybe the HIDA scan was wrong. Or thinking about how weird it is that I get pains on my left side also. Is that very weird? like... right below my left breast area.
    Does anyone know how accurate HIDA scans are? Could my ejection fraction be better one day than it is another?
    Ugh. I just ate breakfast and I have that fullness feeling and small pains on my right. It feels as though my stomach wants to growl, but it won't. I then burp, and it feels relieved until it builds up again. And these pains under my right rib! Although not severe, they're aggravating.
    What sort of foods are good to eat for the next two months? My appointment with the surgeon is not for a while and I am scared to eat because I don't know what to eat. I just had 3 eggs and 2 turkey burgers for breakfast. Good, Bad?
    Most concerning, I ask again, these pains on my left, are they normal with gallbladder problems??? I guess I just want some support because I'm scared of being thrown into this whole "you need surgery" deal. I cried tears of joy though, because after 6 years of searching, I finally know why I feel like hell all the time! I finally know that I'm not a hypochondriac, I'm not suffering some rare unknown PAIN disease. I actually have a diagnosis. woo hoo.

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    Old 05-16-2008, 07:56 PM   #2
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    Re: 21 year old female + gallbladder disease. help!

    it would be interesting to know why your mother had her gallbladder removed as an EF of 50% is not abnormal, what was abnormal about her HIDA scan, and what your mother's gallbladder pathology showed ? chronic cholecystitis/procelain gallbladder ?? ... 2nd, what was so abnormal about your HIDA scan, again an EF of 40% is not abnormal either, most labs consider and EF of 35% the low end of normal ...

    have you had a full GI workup .. are all your abdominal labs normal, LFTs, amylase, lipase, check an H.pylori normal ... have you seen an GI doc, ? of an EGD(upper endoscopy), PH probe testing ... not all GERD is 2o/2 acid reflux, you mentioned that they observed reflux during you HIDA scan, which would be suggestive of bile reflux, for the most part that's not very well treated with a PPI/H2blocker as bile is not acidic it is in fact basic .. so I would make sure that you have good reason to have your gallbladder out because cholecystectomy can often make bile reflux worse ...

    best of luck

    Old 05-17-2008, 05:01 AM   #3
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    Re: 21 year old female + gallbladder disease. help!

    The EF wasn't 40%, my mistake. What I asked, was, "what level is my gallbladder functioning at?", and they said 40%. They said I'm having symptomatic gallbladder contractions. My mom was "functioning at 50%"... and she had bad adhesions and was in a lot of pain. I don't know if this whole "functioning" and "ef" are interchangeable, but the doctor seemed to be very alarmed and thought I definitely needed it removed. I'm going to call him and ask for a med for bile reflux. I have a feeling my left abdominal pain is from gastritis due to the bile reflux. Does that sound plausible? I noticed last night when i put my hand on the exact spot where it always hurts, that every time I had a pain, I'd feel a gas bubble release. It feels worse than just gas pain though. It's a deep aggravated pain.

    Old 05-19-2008, 05:16 PM   #4
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    Re: 21 year old female + gallbladder disease. help!

    I had gallbladder disease 7 years ago! It rocked my world! The pain was excruciating when I ate anything fried, spicy, or greasy! The attack was so bad that I immediately went on a bland diet prevent further attacks. I was given pain meds in case I had another attack before my surgery but I never had another one. It is common to have pain under the ribcage, in the center of ones chest or on the right side of the chest. I couldn't wait to have it out of me since it caused me so much pain! I had the surgery and I would do it again to stay away from pain like that. My doc never got into what level or how much my gallbladder was functioning he just said that I had stones that needed to be removed!!! The surgery went fine and the healing process was quick. I hope you heal quickly and feel better soon Cyan!

    Good Luck!

    Old 05-20-2008, 09:06 AM   #5
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    Re: 21 year old female + gallbladder disease. help!

    I had my gallbladder removed nearly 4 years ago. The pain was atrocious. I was post-partum, and, for some reason, that seems to make the pain worse. Anyway, I went through 6 weeks of literal hell - near constant pain and very little sleep/food. The doctors just kept saying "It's post-partum IBS" or "you have gastritis". My doctors were extremely negligent, and let this continue for nearly 2 months, until I was admitted to the hospital because my liver was beginning to shut down.

    As far as pain, mine felt like a hot stab through my sternum once it got extremely severe. Before that, though, it was like a tight (again, hot) and pointy band around my rib cage.

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