Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holy Choley OR Choley 101

Cholecystectomy is the scientific name for gallbladder removal surgery. And when you have your gallbladder out, all the doctors and nurses call it a "choley" (pronounced Ko-lee). In fact, they even referred to me as a choley. As in, "Doctor E, your choley is prepped and ready for the OR." Ha.

Actually, there are a lot of funny things that are said in hospitals. When you're being prepped for surgery, several different people will ask you if you know what type of surgery you are having. I can only assume that's either to keep you from accidentally having the wrong surgery or maybe it's a quick psych consult. I really, really wanted to say that I was having a vasectomy or a boob job, just to see what kind of reaction I would get.

It seems that it's a requirement nowadays to explain what will be done during your procedure. I guess that's to give you one last chance to back out. Typically, it's a very dumbed-down version. One nurse even explained my choley to me this way, "We're gonna make a few poke-holes in your belly and take your gallbladder out that way." Clearly they don't know me...I'm one of those people who comes in with a list of questions written down just in case I'm given a sedative prior to having the opportunity to ask questions.

In all seriousness I cannot say enough nice things about the staff at Rex Hospital. Throughout all three of my hospital stays this year, I have had wonderful care from the nursing staff to the radiology department to the orderlies who wheeled me all over the place for testing.

Since my choley I'm doing pretty well and honestly, this has been nothing compared to the two surgeries I had back in May. I'm still a little sore but should be as good as new in a few more days.'s what nobody will tell you about having your gallbladder removed: You can actually continue to have some of the same symptoms after surgery. Well, isn't that just great.

There are actually a couple of promintent websites that are quite dedicated to trying to convice people not to have a choley. The reasoning is that you can manage your gallbladder attacks by not eating things that bring them on. Simple enough. Their recommendation is changing your eating habits in a major way...consuming mainly fresh, organic foods (we already know that's a healthy thing, right?), completely staying away from high fats and fried food (ok, that wouldn't be such a bad thing), and also removing any processed foods from your diet. What?! No protein bars? No teddy grams? No frozen pizzas? Ah-haha. Not happening. As much as I would love to say that I could make that kind of commitment, it's just not realistic.

So, how can you still have gallbladder attacks with no gallbladder? Let's back up. The gallbladder's job is to store bile that's been made in your liver. When you eat, the gallbladder releases the amount of bile you'll need in order to digest the type of food you've eaten. When you have your gallbladder removed, the bile duct is then attached directly to your intestines so that you still get the benefit of digestion. So, once your gallbladder is gone, they're no longer gallbladder attacks, but an issue with the right amount of bile being released for digestion. That means that the gallbladder itsself is not always 100% of the problem. The problem can lie in faulty bile ducts that supply the bile, thus resulting in poor digestion.

I'm totally not going to explain what I mean by "poor digestion." Use your imagination. The task at hand for me though, is to now figure out what I can eat and what I can't. From what I understand from other choley patients is that it's trial and error. Also, factor in the idea that the amount of bile production can vary, dependent on which way a butterfly flaps its wings on it's way to spend the winter in Mexico.

So when you notice that I'm not enjoying a doughnut with everyone else, be proud of me for having good self control. But if you notice me running for the bathroom after eating that doughnut, please remember that I'm only human!

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