Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My first surgery

I had the misfortune last month to discover I had developed gallstones in my gallbladder. (Had they developed anywhere else, say my left foot, I am sure the doctors would have been more interested at the ER.) I went to Holy Cross hospital's ER in Silver Spring on April 18th. This was about a week after Easter and I had been feeling ill for most of the week but it got worse that Saturday. At first I thought it was all the chocolate I was shoveling down my pie hole. I had given up the sweet treat for Lent and went on a major chocolate bender that week. Well, after about six hours of increasing pain I convinced my roommate Don to drive me to the hospital. After waiting to be seen for an hour or two, I got in and they did a bunch of tests, the most interesting was the sonogram. I had not realized they use this on anyone but pregnant women but it was kind of cool. And it did turn out I had a bundle of joy! Or rather a bag of stones. It turns out that there is only one way to get rid of gallstones, and that is to remove the gallbladder. The gallbladder rests under the liver and really doesn't bother anyone most of the time. One of the gallstones got stuck in the neck of the gallbladder which was causing a back up of bile and other wonderfully nasty things. Turns out the gallbladder is in charge of helping people process fatty foods. Like chocolate! Or fried foods, ice cream, cheese and all sorts of food I love so bad. So the doctor, who was nice but busy treating gun shot wounds and people who were in car accidents (real emergencies) sent me on my way (sans $75) about 5 seconds after he told me what the problem was. It was not life threatening so they didn't take it out right away like they would an appendix.

At this point I had to find a doctor that specialized in removing gallbladders. At least that's what I thought I needed. It turns out I needed someone who is a laparoscopic trained surgeon. This is important to ask before you see a "specialist." I made an appointment with a doctor who I found on my insurance website but ended up not being trained in laparoscopic surgery. That was a $20 waste of time. Eventually I found a great doctor in Takoma Park. Dr. Ricky Bobby (really his name is Dr. Bobby David but I could not help calling him Dr. Ricky Bobby all the time). It took almost a month from when I was first diagnosed, but on May 11th I had the surgery. I arrived at 6:45 a.m. and was on my way home at 1:45 p.m. the same day. The surgery itself started around 9:30 and was over a little more than an hour later. I was very nervous the week leading up to the procedure. I even had a penultimate supper with my friends "just in case." Most people agreed I was being a bit over dramatic but this was my first surgery so I think I deserve to be a little freaked out. What if they nick the O2 and I catch on fire? According to Steve, this was a 1-4 chance. (Never listen to your friends when they tell you anything like that.)

All things considered, the surgery was a success. The gallbladder was removed without any problem. It was apparently inflamed and filled with a ton of gallstones and I'm glad it's gone. The only problem the doctors had was getting the breathing tube down my throat which apparently delayed the start of my surgery by some 10-20 minutes. But I didn't notice. I was out like a light about 1 minute after the IV drip started and woke up in the recovery room. I remember the anesthesiologist telling me it might feel like I had a couple of beers but I was out before I could tell him "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." It's the only way to fly! My mother and Steve were both there when I woke up and I was happy to see them. Even though I looked like this:

The rest of the day I felt really good. I didn't even think I would need to take any of the pain pills (oxycodone). But by the end of the day my stomach was really feeling bad and I took my first pill so I could sleep. These are really good pills! I woke up in the morning, still had pain so took another pill. Felt better, went out with my mom while running errands. Now I am sitting on the couch and writing this blog post. I'll update later but for now all is as well as can be expected. I can't workout at the gym for three weeks, it hurts when I laugh or cough, but other than that I am doing fine. I really thank the doctors at Adventist Hospital in Tacoma Park. Best of all, the surgery cost me NOTHING! All covered by my insurance. The only thing I had to pay for was the $10 for the pain pills. Which I would have paid $100 for if I knew how great they were! Oxycodone is a Hell of a drug!

If you want to cheer me up (and I know you do) leave a comment or tell me about any of your medical maladies.



Unknown said...

I'm really amazed at how quickly you have recovered!

Papi Saffle said...

Well, day 2 is worse than day one. I think that I was high on endorphins or something yesterday. I have been laid out most of today. But all in all I know it could be worse. I hope to feel better tomorrow. Time will tell.