It’s been a year since I got my gallbladder removed. Before I had the surgery, I was in and out of hospital because the doctors weren’t 100% sure what was causing my jaundice at first and my liver function wasn’t great.
My gallbladder was removed in emergency surgery (which I was extremely grateful for) and I’m doing so much better now! I suffered with undiagnosed gallstones for years, which I have spoken about in a previous post.
There are a few things that I learned while in hospital and I’d like to share my experiences, but the post I drafted is SO long, so I’m going to do a series of three posts.
When I was in the hospital for jaundice caused by gallstones, I had to get some tests done. There are generally a lot of tests to get done, which is fair. I had a blood test every day while in hospital, and three or four on the morning of my surgery.
The most exciting one, though, was the MRI. MRIs are massive. You lie on a kind of board (but there were lots of pillows, so it wasn’t uncomfortable) and then that goes into the machine and the technicians use the machine to take pictures of the inside of your body. I had a gallstone that was blocking a duct in my liver, so they were trying to find that after the ultrasound couldn’t.
The MRI was very loud, but I had headphones and kept my eyes closed for most of the time I was in it and, to be honest, it wasn’t a bad experience.
One thing I would recommend is that when you settle on the board before you go into the machine itself make sure to relax. I was so tense that when I had been in the machine for a bit and had begun to relax, I was then having to hold my legs in the position they had been in (you’re supposed to stay as still as possible while in the MRI).
Another, very important, thing I would suggest is to ensure you can get any piercings before you go in. I had fairly recently gotten a helix piercing in my ear, as well as my second ear lobe piercings. I had gotten them done by a professional piercer, so the piercings had to be twisted off.
When I tried to remove them myself, I could not take them out. I raised my concerns and was told that the technicians would be able to remove them when I got down there. They could not.
By the time I was going back up to my room after the poor MRI technician had tried to remove one of the piercings, I had blood running down my ear.
Yeah, it wasn’t great.
I panic messaged the piercer that night asking how to get them off and he was very nice. I never thanked him because of everything that was going on, but if anyone is in the West Midlands and needs a piercer, I can’t recommend him enough. The piercing and aftercare was great on its own, but he gave me helpful advice on how to get the piercings out (and I had messaged him at night, so I really appreciated his response so quickly!).
I let my boyfriend know what had happened and he and his mom showed up that night with a variety of pliers. In for a penny, in for a pound. I really needed that scan.
A nurse turned the lights brighter for them, tactfully left the room, and they got to work. It was a fight with all of the piercings, but they succeeded! (And yes, there was more blood, but I was in the best place to deal with it).
The next morning, I could hear a porter saying “I’ve never had this request before, but they’ve asked me to make sure she’s got her piercings out? Do you know if she has?”
At least it’s a good story now! But I would recommend knowing how to remove your own piercings, even if you’re not due to have an MRI scan. You never know.
You’re going to have bruising
One thing I was surprised about was the number of bruises I came out of the hospital with.
I don’t bruise very easily, but wherever they put a needle I bruised. I had bruises on my arms, a hand, and my stomach.
When I went into the hospital for the second time, the nurse who took my blood was very nice about it (“awh, you poor thing”). She was as gentle as she could be taking my blood, which I appreciated a lot.
If you stay in the hospital for extended periods of time, you wear compression socks and get an injection in your belly to avoid getting clots. Those injections feel like you’re being punched! Worth it to not have clots, though. After those, and the surgery itself, most of my lower belly was bruised.
I had some issues with one of my incisions after the surgery.
It wouldn’t stop bleeding!
I went to a different hospital’s walk-in clinic and the nurse was concerned because of how badly my stomach had bruised. The doctor said it was normal after surgery, though. I was glad when it went away. I eventually had to have anti-biotics to stop the bleeding, which was great becuse it meant that I didn’t have to carry medical equipment with me to work to change my dressings in the disabled toilets anymore.
I had keyhole surgery, so instead of one big incision, I had several small ones. This is great because it means a quicker recovery time and less risk of complications. Although, the surgeons have to put air in my belly so that they could see what they were doing. After the surgery, my belly stayed bloated for a good couple of weeks. It was a bit uncomfortable, but it’s definitely a good thing to be aware of! I knew that I could expect it, so that was helpful.
My last point for this post is to bring snacks! Obviously, if you have a condition where you shouldn’t be having snacks or your doctors advise against it then don’t.
When you have gallstones, you have to eat foods with little to no fat content and have small meals throughout the day. The hospital that I was at couldn’t cater to that particularly well, so I had my own snacks. This was great because I then could eat what I wanted when I wanted.
Before my surgery, I spoke with the surgeons about the surgery briefly, but, for the most part, I didn’t want to know what was happening until afterwards. I was worried that learning about the surgery would freak me out too much and I’d go home instead. I did appreciate other people letting me know what to expect, so I hope this post can help people get a general sense of some things to expect while in hospital and following a similar surgery.
And I think that some of the things that I experienced were hilarious, if slightly mortifying.
Look out for my follow-up post, where I’ll be talking about how I accidentally flooded a shared room (whoops).