So, you’ve got a rock garden?

If you just come here for the food pictures and have no interest in what goes on in my personal life, please don’t read this post. There’ll be a new food photo post tomorrow evening.

Just when I thought I was sort of managing finishing the thesis while trawling daily through job ads, writing job applications, dealing with the realisation that the last three years have been a waste of time (but I’m not getting into a discussion about that right now) and grandma being back in hospital (she’s okay for the timebeing), we can add another little drama to the list: Jac will probably be having surgery soon to have her gall bladder removed.

Last Sunday night Jac went to bed feeling a little soreness in her abdomen. The pain grew worse and she couldn’t get to sleep. She began to feel queasy and threw up at around 1:30am, but that didn’t make her feel better. She couldn’t get into any position where she felt comfortable – the pain was intensifying and the nausea wouldn’t go away. The pain was now radiating round to her back. She’d taken some painkillers a little earlier but had thrown them up. At this stage we did not know why she was feeling this way, but I realised that it was something more serious than a case of food poisoning – something I and we could not do anything to appease – she was now in so much pain she was crying from it.

I woke VR up and we took Jac to the hospital. Thankfully it was not busy in the emergency room and we didn’t have to wait long. They gave her something for the nausea and morphine for the pain. At this stage the nurse said everything Jac described sounded like a gallstone attack. At around 4:30am they told me I should probably go home as the test results from her blood and urine wouldn’t be back until later that day, and since they were just focusing on managing the pain and things looked like they were settling down, I may as well go home and get some sleep. VR and I went home and by the time I got to bed it was 5-something. I was exhausted (I’d had a disturbed sleep while Jac had been tossing and turning, and then I’d been trying to look after her) but I was really quite stressed out, so it took me a while to stop worrying and thinking and fall asleep. The poor cats were so confused, and Pixel was also visibly tired. If we have a late night, she just crashes out the next day, like a little kid. It’s very cute, actually.

At 6:30am, the phone rang. It was Jac, still quite doped up with morphine, telling me they’d handed her a phone and told her to ring someone to take her home. They’d treated her pain and didn’t want her taking up a bed, I guess. I rang Jac’s mum to tell her what had happened, and she and I went to bring Jac home. The doctor had given her a referral for an ultrasound with the advice “Get the ultrasound if this happens again” to which we all thought “YEAH RIGHT! Like we’re going to wait until she goes through that all over again!” The doctor said he thought it was some mysterious gastro-intestinal thing – obviously he thought Jac was just a pain wimp. Jac says the pain was excruciating and absolutely agonising – the worst pain she’s ever felt, worse than when she broke her leg. From what I’ve read on the net, some women who’ve had babies have said gall stone pain felt worse to them than the pain of childbirth. Anyway, I urged Jac to get the ultrasound ASAP anyway to see if it could be gallstones. Jac’s parents both had gallstones and surgery, so it seemed a likely scenario.

Jac had the ultrasound on Wednesday. It showed multiple large-ish gallstones, and something that looks like a gallstone possibly lodged in her common bile duct (CBD). Well actually, the ultrasound looked like one of those murky Loch Ness monster photos that could be anything as long as you were looking for it (I find baby ultrasounds just as murky). I’m just paraphrasing what the ultrasound person told Jac. We went to our GP and talked about the gallstones, gall bladder surgery bla bla and got a referral to a surgeon, whom we saw this afternoon. The surgeon sent Jac off for a liver function test (done via a blood test) – he reckons if the liver function test comes back normal then it won’t be necessary to worry about the gallstone-possibly-lodged-in-the-CBD. If the liver function test is abnormal, she may need further tests or a cholecystogram (x-ray of the gall bladder), and possibly a separate surgical procedure to remove that stone before having the procedure to remove the gall bladder. If the liver function tests are normal, then she’ll just have the gall bladder surgery – it will be done as key hole surgery (laproscopic cholecystectomy, otherwise known as lap chole) amd the recovery should only be 1-2 weeks at most (providing there are no unexpected complications, which may of course blow out the recovery time). Poor Jac is already thinking about all the hockey and karate she’ll have to miss out on (oh yeah, I never mentioned the karate before, did I? I’ll tell you about it another time, maybe).

I’ve done lots of reading about the cholecystectomy and gall bladder/gallstone problems and know all about gallstone flushes (no, she’s not going for that as an option) – I’ve talked about it all with Jac and we discussed it at length with our GP. I’ve also talked with a couple of people who’ve had the surgery and asked about their recovery, how this has affected their lives, eating habits and health etc (thanks, especially to Pam ;-)). Right now to avoid any possibility of another pain attack, Jac is staying off fatty and rich foods and large or heavy meals – all of which are known to bring on attacks. Poor thing, this means no cheese, most dairy foods, and no bacon, just for starters… I’ve been eating low fat dinners with her, only eating stuff that she can’t eat when I’m not having a meal with her e.g. tomorrow I’ll be hopefully having Hainan chicken rice at uni. VR loves grilled fish and salad or vegetables, and we’ve been eating lots of that.

A few random things to note:
Apparently there is a strong hereditary link where gallstones are concerned.
Jac’s probably been making these stones and carrying them around for years and years.
There has not been a single conclusive answer as to what causes gallstones.
Some people have them but never have any pain symptoms.
Some people have had the stones removed (and kept their gall bladder) but then got more stones again later.
Some people have had their gall bladder removed but still suffer gall bladder-like pain attacks later down the track.

We won’t know the results of the liver function test until later this week, and then we should know more about what will happen regarding surgery etc.

So good-bye to fast food, pizza, chinese home delivery, bacon and eggs and meat pies for a while!
The positive side to this is that we’re eating less fat, which is of course a good thing. Of course, we know it is essential to have some fat in the diet – the good fats. Don’t worry, I’m making sure Jac stays healthy and I’ll make sure she takes it easy when recovering. Nursemaid tfp is ready to go!

Feel free to ask questions, but if it can be Googled, I strongly suggest you do that before asking.
e.g. What is the function of the gall bladder? (You can Google this!)
What is a gall bladder flush? (You can Google this!)
Are you worried about Jac’s surgery? (You can’t Google this!) The answer here is yes and no. Yes, of course, I’d prefer it if my partner never needed to have surgery for anything – there’s always some risk involved, no matter how routine or common a surgical procedure may be. But no, at this stage, I’m not freaking out about it. I’m feeling a little stressed out with everything that’s going on right now, but I’m okay.

I have to get to bed now, but I’ll post more food photos tomorrow. I’ll reply to comments tomorrow evening too.

I have been calling Jac “Stoney” (only when we’ve already been talking about the stones – she doesn’t seem to mind :)). I hope they give her the stones afterwards. I’m kind of curious to see them. Jac’s mum said “Damn, I threw mine out years ago when we moved house, otherwise we could compare!” LOL.

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