Drama or just life-as-we-know-it? And, is there a difference?

Thirty years ago I experienced a full-blown gallbladder attack. It was pretty bad. So, I went to the local hospital and they said they’d schedule me in for immediate surgery. I declined, “Unh, I would prefer to keep my organs, ya know?”

The ER doc replied, “You won’t feel that way at 2:00 in the morning.”

At 2:00 a.m. the pain was so intense, I cancelled the ambulance Sal called because I was sure I’d be dead within minutes. I lay prostrate before the great Porcelain God and passed out. But instead of my passing really out (dead), I only passed the stone and fully recuperated. Mind you, it felt like I had experienced a hot spear stuck in my chest for the better part of six hours prior to that. All in, from start to finish, my first encounter with Gall stones was something like 8, maybe 10 hours.

Last week I got some kind of chest pain/inflammation and that, coupled with inexplicably intense bursts of pain, made me think about Shingles! Don’t ask why…that was my first thought. The next few thoughts got impressively bleaker. But, after a few days of increasing discomfort, I realized that I was experiencing yet another gall bladder attack. And every day the pain got worse. By last Saturday night, I was not surprised when the hot spear feeling returned…with a vengeance. I called the local doctor.

Long story short: a ton of heavy drugs (with a large handful of Oxycodone before midnight and Morphine injected at 3:00 am) and I ‘rode out the worst of the storm’. But this time I did not pass the stone…..probably just dislodged it back into the bladder…..only to have it likely rise again another day.

You do not want to eat anything at a time like that. And that has been going on now for almost four days. I drink only mint tea. Sal gave me the shots (and two other injected muscle relaxants as well). On the superficial face of it, it was kinda macho, true grit, OTG stuff.

“OOooohh…I could never live way out there without a hospital nearby or something…”

But here’s the surprise: my local doctor said that common initial therapy has the patient infused with pain killers and relaxants for a period of time (72 hours max) and this often results in the stone passing of it’s own accord. If the stone does NOT pass, they go in and take out the gallbladder.

In other words; if you had a gall bladder attack in the city they would ‘process you’ the exact same way as I was. The only difference is that my stone eventually subsided and I stayed home the whole time. You would be first going to see a doctor and waiting patiently in the waiting room, then going to the hospital, then you would have waited patiently in the hospital emergency room forever and then you’d be on some gurney for a few hours and then they would have sent you home or, in 10% of the cases, to the surgery.

I dunno…I’ve been down both roads now on gallbladders and this way strikes me as the more sane.

I do not feel good enough yet to feel ‘pleased’ about whatever the outcome might eventually be and I still have to go for scans and ultrasounds and crap but medicine OTG is not a great deal harder or worse than in the city*. And that is NOT the way we think about it, is it?

* I think it is actually better because our local doctor knows us all personally and acts in a manner logical and consistent with the circumstances and constraints we are all under. And he never wanders off during an examination. During those same days, we had the ‘big storm’ and even tho I would go anyway if I had to, he was aware that traveling in a storm using small boat and logging roads would be uncomfortable. He simply transferred the hospital treatments to me and Sal. The ‘drug deal’ took place half-way from his house to Sal in the middle of the forest just before dark. It helps that Sal worked in a hospital for decades. That kind of relationship is HUGE!!!!

13 thoughts on “Drama or just life-as-we-know-it? And, is there a difference?

  1. Good to hear that you are better . You are both really amazing and a example to us all! Off course you have Sal to take care of you when things go wrong! So you need to get a checkup anyway soon to check if the stone is still there? I can’t imagine what it would have been like if you should have been forced to make the trip to the hospital in the middle of such an attack. Take care!


    • Not really amazing at all, Wim! I just compared my gallbladder attack to my previous one and also to what urban folks would go through. In the end (as much as I hated the pain), my path turned out to be as good if not better than what another would go through in the city. Admittedly, I went over 40 hours and even with waiting in every doctor’s front room and the slow-as-molasses non-action of hospitals, the urban person might have been quicker. But I got to stay home. The hospital did NOT have a chance to make it worse (they do so often) and the innocent/ignorant when offered surgery may take it. I got to keep my organs. I was just surprised that the first treatment protocol can be done at home.


  2. Gall stones.
    Oh the joys.
    I had a friend that was in extreme agony for days until he passed a kidney stone the size of a grain of sand.
    Another friend passes kidney stones the size of peas on a regular basis and it gives him mild discomfort…?

    Gotta love those pain killer/relaxants… 🙂


    • Gallstones ain’t fun. We all get ’em, it seems, but most folks pass ’em when they are small. If you let ’em get big, there is hell to pay. Some people avoid the hell and remove their gallbladder at first pain. Seems a bit stupid to me – I would like to keep what I had built into me. Mind you, in the middle of the pain, it seems like a good idea.


  3. You are one gnarly dude and a true frontiersman. This malady sounds like something I’d wanna avoid. It’s not all sunshine and roses here as Lois is limping around bone on bone waiting for hip replacement. Next week I get a cystoscopy. Shoulda listened to my mom who told me , “Don’t get old .” Anyway I’ve come up with a plan to help you endure your difficulties and learn new things too. Because you have trouble grasping my use of figurative language, I’m forwarding Figurative Language 101. It’ll introduce you to metaphorical terms and interpretations of similies . The spectre of ignorance will no longer haunt you and the sunshine of a good friend’s concern will pierce the fog of your journey to a new awareness. Don’t mention it.


    • So kind of you. Rest assured – I will not mention it. But I am looking forward to sunshine enlightening my ignorance and awareness of a good friend’s concern. Hmmm…cloudy and rain, so far…..


  4. In our part of the world you can wait months for a gall bladder operation. My husband got his out after over a week of agony. By then the bile duct was blocked, inflamed, infected and not responding to antibiotics.
    Commiserations to you, Dave. Gallstones can be excruciating. I hope you don’t get another attack for another 30 years. If you do though, don’t leave it too long to be processed. A blocked and infected gallbladder can lead rapidly to pancreatitis. You probably know all that.


    • You are right. Of course. My local guy was a bit nervous of me ‘dragging things out’ for those very reasons and, like I fool, I did not know of the danger of septicemia or Pancreatitis until he told me when I made the decision. The decision: I figured to try the drug-and-relax technique till the last minute. How long is too long? I may have stretched the limit a bit. Yeah, in 30 years I can afford to do this dance one more time.


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