My unexpected hospital adventure

2022 May 10

I have one less gallbladder than before.   :-)

Last Tuesday I woke up with the preoccupying ache of a gallbladder attack. Since the episode did not seem to be ending by evening, I went into urgent care, and they were very busy. However, the nurse I talked to had been concerned that I might be experiencing something with my heart, and I think that increased my priority in the queue.

It wasn’t my heart. My gallbladder which in 2016 had some dozen stones in it now looked like a gravel beach. That was the problem, and so I elected to get it out.

By the end of that day, the pain finally did subside and my emergency had passed. They kept me overnight though for observation, with the plan to have surgery the next day. However, the next day they were slammed with surgeries. After a conference with the doctors, they scheduled me to return the following day.

When they called me in on the next day, it was the usual hospital gown and the Stryker bed, but new to my experience was a blanket-like thing on the bed hooked to a warm air blower. The blanket was silvered on the top, and when it was put over you it suffused you gently with warm air. (Lindsey called it a bear-hugger blanket.) It was FANTASTIC.

Everyone there was great. They told me what they were going to do and then asked if I had questions for them. Their system for updates was excellent. As Melanie waited for me, she was supplied with text notifications about my progress and was able to pass them on to our family message group.

After surgery I had a great conversation with the recovery nurse. She had learned a bit of Japanese when she lived in Australia. ( ! ) I told her about my experience in Japan, and riding the train for 3 1/2 hours by myself as a first grader to go home on the weekends. When she went out to talk to Melanie a bit later, she apologized for being delayed because she got distracted chatting about that with me. :-)

Next day I took a couple of short walks in the neighborhood. Each time I was tired and took a nap right away. My surgeon said that people usually reported tiredness for a while after this particular surgery much more than for other similar ones (like appendix removal).

This was a laparoscopic procedure, so I have four short incisions on my belly. However, they didn’t use stitches to close me up (at least externally). Instead, there is a glue layer over the incisions that fully seals them, so that I was able to take a shower right away. After a couple of days, I was off pain meds, and each day I have noticed improvements.

In the end, I don’t recommend this adventure for others. For me it was necessary, although it wasn’t bad.