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.


To Die For

My husband took the children to the car at the silent request of the other diners.  I scarfed the remaining chili con queso. My stomach hurt quite a bit as I inhaled that fine Mexican feast, but I just couldn’t stop myself.

Turns out, that was the queso that broke the idiot’s intestines.

The following morning brought no relief. I dropped the boys off at my mother’s and went to the doctor. It was a check-up for a previous incident. I could barely stand up for the exam but did not mention the pain. I assumed it was gas, and I was too embarrassed to tell the doctor. I believed a nap and a good fart would clear it all up.

The nap did not help. No release of any gas came forth. I decided I had a real problem and drove to a ‘doc in the box’. When I arrived, I was hunched over and sweating. I approached the receptionist and tried not to sway. She explained that it would be best if I left a phone number so she could call me back in a couple of hours to return.

“That’s not going to work. I’m in too much pain. I probably shouldn’t be driving.”

Her glare told me she thought I was just trying to jump ahead in line. I stumbled to a chair in the waiting room. People came and went but none looked to be suffering. I hated them all.

A little over an hour later I was called back. The nurse asked personal questions about my recent bathroom habits. She had me lie down to see if the pain would ease. It did not. Finally a doctor came in and repeated the bathroom survey and physical examination of my abdomen. He then ordered a quick x-ray just to be sure.

There was more waiting and finally another appearance by the doctor. He said the x-rays were clear though there was one spot that looked suspicious.

“It could be a bowel obstruction or scar tissue from one, but that’s pretty rare. You’ve never had one of those have you?”

“Um, yeah, I have. I had one after the birth of my twins two years ago.”

Oh. That changed everything. He insisted I go to the hospital right away. I drove myself there while calling my mom to tell her she won the keep-my-kids-longer lottery. I was slumped over the steering wheel and praying for green lights.

When I arrived, I showed them my ER VIP card (yes, really) and was taken back immediately. My father arrived with a serious face. They gave me relief from the pain via an IV. There were more x-rays and more serious doctor faces. My husband arrived just in time to see me get a nasogastric tube shoved down my throat.

Then, around midnight, a surgeon cut out five inches of my intestine and my appendix for good measure.

I don’t blame the queso. I blame myself.

This post is part of the yeahwrite summer series.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Bad Apples

I refuse to eat brown apples. Or apples that have the potential to turn brown. Or with any indentations or imperfections of any kind.

AND he didn’t wash it or check for bruises. Dumb ass.

I am a Fruit Snob.

The good news is that this affliction does not seem to be genetic. Mostly. One twin will eat any apple you put before him, and the other needs only a few modifications (flappy skin parts cut off, brown edges removed). There was that weird time when they loved eating a whole apple with no help at all and then all of a sudden wanted cut-up apples with no skin. But, they got over that and are pretty good about either eating a whole apple or a cut-up one covered in skin.
It boggles my mind and very sensitive palate.

What’s even more strange is that they don’t smoother it with peanut butter or pair it with cheese to get through the whole thing. It’s like I’m raising aliens.

You should see how I butcher any strawberries I give them. If they had their way, I’d just wash them and hand them over without even checking for mushy places! Or, dear Lord, making sure it was the right shade of red. Thankfully, I am the master of the fruit and am able to quickly ‘pretty up’ the strawberries before consumption. I’m kind of a fruit beautification bad-ass.

I love you perfect strawberry.

My son Jack loves blueberries in his morning cereal. I have to stop my gag reflex when I watch him eat that mess. I cannot stand the thought of the texture of them, let alone eat them raw. I like my blueberries in a nice, crumble-topped muffin, just as God intended. I have no idea how both boys came to love fresh blackberries either. It was not something they learned from me. Sure, I buy them, but I don’t partake. I just watch and shake my head.

I’ve given up on my boys. This is just one character flaw I can’t fight. So go ahead, give them an orange slice with slimy, stringy things hanging off it. They’ll eat it up.  I’ll just be over here eating my ‘orange’ Fruit Roll-up and drinking a grape soda trying not to watch.

Don’t care if this lime is not perfect. I can’t be uptight all the time.

In Which I Exercise

Um, March is the beginning of the new year, right?  Like, it’s normal to begin improving yourself at that time?  Gyms see their biggest increase in membership in March, right?

Okay, I know that’s not true, but I need it to be to have a valid reason for what I’ve done.  I’ve started a fitness program.  I am one who is getting fit.

When we moved to Poland in 2011, I realized that skinny jeans were a must if I was to become fully Euro, and I also knew that my body needed some tweaking to pull that off.  Luckily, just carrying groceries up three flights of stairs and not liking new food in a strange country helped me lose some weight.

But still, the urge to be fit was there.  It was some sort of call from the dance classes of my youth and the cloggy places in my arteries.  I had shed my fast food habit (because they have only one option here), and my body was getting all, “Hey, what if you actually used this time to get TOTALLY healthy?”

The October before we moved I went with several friends to a women’s fitness retreat also hoping to kick-start some healthy.  It began with a night around the campfire drinking beer and belly dancing.  (Also? Me falling down the hill on the way to sign in and getting to hear the director say, “Hmmm, we didn’t think we’d need first aid at registration.”)  The next day we did a million cool fitness things.  There was yoga, Zumba, rock climbing, canoeing, trail running, and the like.  We were all, “Girls are powerful, and they can be so fit even after a night of drinking!!!!!”  It was so great that after the lunch break I took a nap and missed my sports massage.  I was totally pumped and ready to try these things in a non-retreat setting.  But we were moving, and no one can take a small excuse and ride it out like me, so I decided to wait.

….the possibility that running today negates the calories I will inhale tonight…..

Then, it was the dead of winter in Poland.  I was not going to be a hero.  What if I got cold or wet while running?  Um, no thanks.

Then all of a sudden it was summer, and who the hell STARTS working out in the summer?  It just isn’t done.

And then before I knew it, it was winter again.  See above.

But low and behold, it is spring, and I’m ready to really do this healthy thing!

But first?  Shopping!

My first purchase was a Zumba DVD set.  I liked this class so much when I tried it at the fitness retreat.  Also, someone had told me I looked good when I did it, so I let vanity drive me.  The DVD set came with some hand weights and five different workouts.  (My husband saw the weights and asked if I bought Shake Weights.  He thought he was about to make his fortune on YouTube.)  It includes an ab workout and toning with the weights in addition to the funky and awesome dancing.

Next I needed shoes.  Duh.  I got Zumba shoes AND running shoes.  Why two different pairs you might ask if you are male?  Well, the Zumba shoes need to be flexible for the kick-ass dancing.  Also, I Zumba inside, and we do not wear shoes that have been outdoors inside.  Too many people in Poland let their dogs relieve themselves right in the middle of the sidewalk.  I had no clothes for these new activities either but quickly added them to my haul.  A GPS/running app was added to my phone, and I was fully equipped to be fit.

I started with the hour-long Zumba instructional video.  I had to roll up the area rug and got winded.  This made me nervous.  Still, I proceeded.  I did not warm up and neither did the people in the video.  We just went right to learning moves.  They really broke down each step, and we just did it up to speed for a brief time.  I felt like I might have needed medical attention afterwards.  But I did it!  I Zumba-ed! And I still have the hip pain to prove that I did not warm up or cool down properly.

The following week, I did the 30 minute real workout.  Again, it was not a pretty sight as I began sweating the second the conga beat got me.  A man I can only assume invented Zumba appeared in this one and told me to really feel the music.  I totally did.  But, to be honest, my favorite part was when one of his perky back-up dancers corrected his pronunciation.  Take that muscle man; I talk gooder than you!

Then, I moved on to running.  I chose the first day of spring and was rewarded with clouds and a random mist hitting me in the face.  But I couldn’t back down.  It was written in ink on the family calendar. I looked super cute and very sporty with my pink running jacket and earbuds streaming motivational running music and my new white shoes announcing my rookieness.  I am proud to say I ran/walked a little over two miles.  And I had to go uphill on the way back to my house after.  I’m not even making that up to sound like I had rough when I didn’t because it’s like 100 steps up that hill, and I was tired and wheezy and red-faced.


Though I limp now after sitting too long, thereby angering my left hip, I think this is going to be great.  I’m aiming for working out three times a week.   Then, I’d like to run a 5K with a decent time and then a half-marathon.

I’d also like to eat all of the things on our visit to Texas this summer and not gain seven pounds like I did on our visit last December.  Because that is what being healthy is all about.