A Fairly Unreliable Medical Primer

This post was on my friend Kim’s site, All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something. She was out of commission getting her evil gallbladder removed.


The first rule of Gallbladder Club is you don’t talk about Gallbladder Club.  That’s because any talk of gallbladder dysfunction leads to talk of ‘bathroom’ dysfunction, and no one but your gastroenterologist and the internets want to hear about that.

Anyway, Gallbladder Club is a terrible club.  You do NOT want to join, but gallbladders are insidious, and you cannot stop them from their evil plan to keep you away from popcorn at the movies.  (This was one of the things my evil gallbladder tried to deny me.  It did not work.  I’d rather eat popcorn while watching a movie like a normal person and then bitch about the pain later.)

As you may or may not know, dear Kimberly is but one more unwilling member of this club.  She has the added distinction of having a tumor on hers, so she gets a free t-shirt.

No, it is a tumor. God, you never listen.

When I had my gallbladder removed, it was basically the only thing the idiot gastronenterologist could think to do to get me to stop coming to his office.  He had already put my gallbladder through a testing program more vigorous than what they put astronauts through before shooting them into space.  I had of course had an endoscopy (tube down my throat) and a colonoscopy (tube up the other end).  I actually had them both the same day, and I asked the doctor to please do the one in my mouth first, for obvious reasons.  Doctor Asshole told me he found some polyps and just removed them but not to worry.  Okay, sure.  But it still hurt when I ate anything more exotic than white rice.

I had taken medicine for ulcers just in case that was the problem.  It wasn’t.  I had this freaky test where I had to drink approximately 458 gallons of liquid chalk and then some dude watched it inch its way through my digestive system.  The only thing I got out of that one was a broken toilet and a day off work.

My least favorite test was the MRI.  It was actually what I call an Extreme MRI because it required them to shoot nuclear waste (Or something, I wasn’t listening.) into my body via an IV.  My veins are bigger jerks than my gallbladder, so this required multiple stabs before the IV was in place.  Once I was on the table with a needle in my arm about to be shoved into the machine, the nurse tells me that I will have to also hold my breath.  Multiple times.  While not moving and staring at 2 tons of medical equipment hanging over me.  Also?  My arms were strapped down over my head.  Being a somewhat wayward Christian, the only prayer or hymn I could recall was the Our Father, and I said it in my head 210 times until the Extreme MRI was over.  I’m pretty sure Doctor Asshole made up that test because he hated me.

Now, I’m sure Kimberly has asked many questions and is fully prepared for dealing with the aftermath of a gallbladder exorcism.  I did not and was not.  My mother had asked me what would happen after it was removed, and I told her that I’d be able to eat chicken wings and cheesy fries again.  She was skeptical.  And smarter than I.

Turns out your gallbladder is not exactly like your appendix. (Just a little FYI, I don’t have that anymore either.  Some day I’ll tell you a story of how it ended up in a bucket with about five inches of my intestines.)

Here is what WebMD says about your friend the gallbladder:

“The gallbladder is a small pouch that sits just under the liver. The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver. After meals, the gallbladder is empty and flat, like a deflated balloon. Before a meal, the gallbladder may be full of bile and about the size of a small pear.

In response to signals, the gallbladder squeezes stored bile into the small intestine through a series of tubes called ducts. Bile helps digest fats, but the gallbladder itself is not essential. Removing the gallbladder in an otherwise healthy individual typically causes no observable problems with health or digestion yet there may be a small risk of diarrhea and fat malabsorption.”

Um, how about you change that to a 100% chance?  For six months I lived as I had before, terrified of fatty foods and always on the look-out for the nearest bathroom.  It’s like the ghost of my gallbladder was haunting me.

Eventually I was able to eat a more regular diet and get back to shoveling crap into my gaping pie hole to both celebrate the good and cope with the bad.  I can do this with only twice the normal dosage of antacids, a huge improvement.

I hope this surgery gets Kimberly back on her feet and downing fatty foods again.  I hope she pees fast after the procedure so she can get the catheter out.  I hope they give her good pain meds.  I hope I haven’t cost her more than one or two readers.

So, I was going to wrap this post up with another Fight Club reference, the “I am Jack’s raging bile duct” quote, and a picture of Edward Norton. Then I saw this picture of Ed and got distracted. You’re welcome.


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