The Physical Ailments Archive

On Gallbladders and Complications

Posted October 21, 2021 By kmarrs

September 2021 was rough. Maybe not quite as rough as March 2021 when it came to the medical emergency, but still rough. And depending who’s opinion you ask, I sort of almost died in an obnoxious way.

I had my gallbladder surgery on August 25. It had been acting up again for days no matter what I did and did not eat, to the point they almost yoinked it early. But I assured them I could hold out until the 25th. I did not want to miss work before my planned absence. By the time they did get in there though, my gallbladder was so inflamed and angry, what is normally a 30 to 45 minute surgery took 2 hours. But they got it out and sent me home.

I was in pain so I went heavy on the pain meds. Only, I forgot about the stool softeners and they didn’t send me home with a script. So I just didn’t take any. I’m not sure if they reminded me in post op or not, but either way I didn’t even think about it. Until I was so constipated I was in pain. I bought OTC stool softeners and laxatives. They did nothing. I tried a horrible drink made if water and epsom salt which never fails. It failed. I went to the ER and told them everything. They gave me an enema. I pooped. I continued with the stool softeners. I was pretty ok there.

Only I was still in a world of pain. I was at a 10 on the pain scale. But I had been at like a 12 (numbers don’t stop at 10) and I assumed this was normal for having removed a very angry gallbladder. So the pain isn’t why I went back to the ER.

See, I had this cough. I wanted to be sure I hadn’t caught post op pneumonia. So off to the ER I went for X-rays. Only, their concern was a blood clot in my lungs and they threw me into a CT machine.  They scanned my chest and my abdomen.  My lungs were fine.

But there was a huge (huge) pocket of fluid in my abdomen about where my gallbladder used to be (which explains why I looked and felt 10 months pregnant) and my white blood count was double what it should be which meant I was septic. I was quickly given heavy doses of every antibiotic ever and transported to the hospital where I’d had the surgery. (I had gone to a standalone ER that isn’t attached to a hospital because I figured it would be an in and out matter.) They installed a drain so they could get the fluid out and determine what it was. The good news is it was just bile which meant my liver was protesting the ordeal of the angry gallbladder and surgery and was leaking. While this, of course, isn’t ideal, it stopped on its own and the drain did its job of collecting it. I was in the hospital for a few days for observations. Once the output had slowed down enough to indicate it would for sure eventually stop on its own, they sent me home drain and all. Which hurts like a bitch, btw.

But it did eventually stop and the drain came out and here I sit about a month later at work perfectly fine. But it took a lot of time, and a steady stream of pain meds (paired with the stool softeners) to get me here.

In annoying, though not deadly, news, where my belly had more swelling than I realized thanks to the cancer and angry gallbladder, now that both have been dealt with, I’ve gone down a pants size. I’ve also somehow lost hips and ass. So my pants and skirts that fit perfectly are now too big and the clothes that were already a little big after March’s surgery but stayed on thanks to my hips… well… there ain’t damn thing keeping them up. So I need new jeans, shorts, skirts, the works. I’m kinda pissed about it, honestly. I also lost tits and my favorite dresses that were already a little too big… well… I swim in them now. My heart broke over that one. I have replaced them though. I live in that style of dress so I invested in 3 to replace the 2. I don’t want to even talk about the 4 bras that I JUST bought and that fit PERFECTLY 2 months ago being too big now.

Alright. I’m going to try and go back to writing weekly again now that things have calmed down. So hopefully that pans out. Meanwhile this post was written on my phones please excuse lack of proper editing. This app and my phone are struggling to get along. So this post is what it is.

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Overdue

Posted September 9, 2021 By kmarrs

I owe a long post over what has proven to be a complicated gallbladder removal and recovery.

I’ll get it written soon. But after my brief hospital stay.

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Certifications

Posted July 15, 2021 By kmarrs

I’m currently working towards getting certified in basic first aid and CPR. I feel these will make me a better caregiver to the elderly, but also a better prepared mother.

I achieved my first aid certification last night. Most of the class was online lessons, but there was an in person demonstration of how to use an EpiPen which is an important skill that you don’t have time to stop and read the instructions for when in the heat of the moment.

Next week is CPR. That course is fully in person. I’m looking forward to it.

I still want to get my EMT certification. Again, I feel it’ll have me better prepared in an emergency, but also I want to volunteer my services at things like pride. Or even street medic protests. Though my best friend will beat me to death with a flip flop over that last one.

I enjoy learning. I really enjoy learning useful things. And has my brain heals from brain damage from prolonged lack of blood, I’m finding myself capable of learning again.

Speaking of healing, I say my cancer doctor the other day. I am confirmed in remission. I bought us cake about it.

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Gallbladder

Posted July 8, 2021 By kmarrs

Sorry I missed last week’s post. I was physically not OK and spent my usual time to sit down and write napping.

I’ve known for a while my gallbladder was in rough shape. I actually decided in the fall of 2020 that I was going to look into getting it removed this year. Then the whole cancer thing happened. I decided to put it off because it wasn’t exactly hurting me, it just felt like pressure under my lower right ribs. On the pain scale, we’re talking the occasional 2 or 3. Enough to make me want to take my bra off, but that’s it.

Then around 2 am on what was officially Thursday the 24th of June, I started getting the worst heartburn. The worst. I don’t have breakthrough heartburn often, but when I do, it’s a doozy. Only, it wouldn’t go away. I drank a bottle of Pepto, ate a container of tums, tried my hot pepper trick. Nothing.

Eventually, I went to urgent care for their heartburn cocktail. They gave it to me, along with an EKG, and sent me on to the emergency room. There, they did more testing on my heart, but they also scanned my chest and belly and found my gallbladder full of stones and angry as can be.

It took a full week of managing fat intake very carefully and giving up any remaining carbonated drinks in my diet, but I am finally pain-free again and have been almost a week now. Meanwhile, I also have a surgery consult. I’m looking to schedule my surgery for the very end of August or early September. By then I’ll have a week’s paid vacation at work so I’ll only be short 1 week’s pay in my recovery.

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How March 2021 Began

Posted April 15, 2021 By kmarrs

I wasn’t feeling very good leading up to March 1, but I honestly thought it was food poisoning that lingered. After all, I’d just had a set of iron infusions so my hemoglobin should have been going up, not down. And yeah, my stools were black and tarry, but iron can do that. Plus I’m a whole entire dumbass due to brain death from repeatedly not having enough blood over the span of 4 years. That doesn’t help.

After 3 days of feeling rotten and not getting better, and having lost the ability to walk more than 100 feet without having to sit down to catch my breath, I called my mom and had her take me to the ER. Here is a key thing though. Usually, I go to the Ohio Health ERs but I was getting more and more upset with the entire Ohio Health system. So this time we went to the closest Mt Carmel hospital.

Mom found a wheelchair, wheeled me in, and we got situated in the waiting room. Triage called me back and I explained everything. By that point, I was figuring it really was blood in my stool and my hemoglobin was probably down to a 6 or 7. They took some blood to send to the lab, and I sat and waited.

I don’t know exactly how much time passed, but it was pretty much exactly how much time is needed for my blood to go from ER to lab, the test to be run, the alarms start ringing, and the lab to go “Oh Shit!” and call the ER with a stat report. They immediately found me in the waiting room and rolled me to one of the rooms reserved for cases that can’t wait, talking about immediate blood transfusions.

Fam. My hemoglobin was a 4. Now some of you have been here for a while. Some of you are new. I don’t want to assume prior knowledge anywhere. So I’ll go ahead and gently remind you that as someone who was assigned female at birth, my hemoglobin should be between a 12 and a 16. I’ll further remind you that when my hemoglobin dropped to a 6 a few years ago and my doctor called me in the middle of the night and told me to get my ass to the hospital stat, it was explained that at a 6 I basically had half as much blood in me as I’m supposed to.

It was March 1, 2021, and with a hemoglobin of 4, I had about 1/3 as much blood as I needed to survive. I should be dead. That is not an exaggeration. Luckily I basically refuse to die and despite such a low amount of blood, I hadn’t even passed out. I have, however, over the years suffered a consistent lack of blood and oxygen to the brain and this most recent episode really was pretty harsh, so I have suffered some amount of brain death not yet determined. I’m a touch salty about that. I used to be really smart. I can tell the difference. So can those who have known me a while and who talk to me regularly. So I wasn’t passing out but mentally I was suffering.

Anyway, they gave me blood pretty much immediately and found me a room on the surgery floor. The next day they did an endoscopy and found nothing at all. They had a colonoscopy in the plans, but that would have to wait a day so I could do the prep. They decided before they started the prep, they would do a CT of my abdomen.

They found a mass of something attached to my lower bowel and I was immediately scheduled for exploratory surgery the next day, March 3.

The surgeon and co were reassuring that the odds were it was a clump of blood vessels that shouldn’t be there but would be an easy enough thing to fix. It was a reasonable source of bleeding and would likely explain the anemia. So they opened me up to check it out and remove it.

They did not find a clump of blood vessels. They found a tumor that was confirmed to be cancer in the days that followed.

They removed all of it, and along with it, about 5 inched of my small bowel. The pathology shows that it was a slow-growing tumor. On the spectrum of how aggressive cancer can get, this is cancer that isn’t likely to spread and once gone, isn’t likely to come back, since they removed enough of the surrounding bowel. So it’s currently gone, and it is probably gone for good.

As of the oncology appointment I just had on April 13, I consider myself in remission. I won’t even need chemo or radiation. Just the one aggressive surgery and regular CT’s of my belly for probably the rest of my life, just to be sure.

So that’s good.

When I was released from the hospital, after like 6 or 7 units of blood total (along with proving I could use my bowels as intended post op), I had a hemoglobin of 7.9. 6 days later when I checked in with my brand new, Mt Carmel affiliated PCP, I had a hemoglobin of 10.3! Guess who can make their own blood after all! It turns out I’m even really good at it!

Which really pisses me off.

I was seeing a cancer specialist for 3 years and he refused to run any further testing to figure out what was wrong. He assured me some people just don’t make their own blood and gave me iron infusion after iron infusion along with the occasional blood transfusion. For 3 years I asked time and time again for this test and that, always affirming and reaffirming that it couldn’t be cancer. He assured me it wasn’t cancer, but ran no tests to prove it. Apparently, there is a really simple test he could have run checking for cancer markers what would have told him I had cancer somewhere so that we could have started the search for it. That test was never run.

3 years later, a little over 4 years after this all started, I almost died of cancer. Almost doesn’t even cover it. I was a day or two out from dying of cancer at most. I was down to a hemoglobin of 4 and was still losing blood. I had no time left in me when I showed up in that ER.

Mt Carmel saved my life where Ohio Health left me to die. One of my Ohio Health PCPs even implied my real problem was I was just fat.

So anyway, that’s how March 2021 started. But that was just the beginning.

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Death Had Another Near Max Experience

Posted March 5, 2021 By kmarrs
I’ll tell you all about it next week when I’m out of the hospital.
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