the “after” ultrasound

I had an abdominal ultrasound this morning, to see if the gall bladder cleanse did anything.

The result?

The cleanse did nothing, except perhaps make it worse.

“Oh,” the ultrasound technician exclaimed during the exam, “your gallbladder has like a million stones in it!”

She went on to point out that the gall bladder seemed to be contracted, with no bile in it, and appeared to be packed full of stones. Looking at the ultrasound, it was very different from the one a month ago. Back then, the gall bladder was clearly visible, with some stones at the bottom.

Now, the gall bladder wasn’t even visible, the stones inside were so dense, the sound waves were blocked, creating a dark patch on the ultrasound, obscuring the gall bladder and everything behind it.

“They seem to be tons of small stones,” she said, “those are the more dangerous kind, they are more likely to clog ducts or end up in the pancreas than if you just had a few giant stones.”

Before, my gall bladder was enlarged, with a few stones. Now it is contracted, and packed full of stones. It could be that the number of stones is the same, the gall bladder has just fully contracted. Or there might be more stones now, in addition to the gall bladder being contracted.

So perhaps the flush did nothing, or perhaps it managed to form stones, or move stones from the liver to the gal bladder. No way to tell. All I know for sure is that it didn’t do anything helpful.

I think a lot of people do the flush, and see “stones” getting passed, but the “stones” are in fact not stones at all, but pseudo-stones formed from the olive oil they drank. An ultrasound is the only way to know scientifically if the flush did anything, and I think I’ve established pretty well here that, at least in my case, the gall bladder flush is at best ineffective, at worst, harmful.

So I guess the schedule for surgery stays as-is, with an information session an preliminary exam on Monday (Sept. 29) and the actual surgery on Friday the week after (Oct. 10).

I’ve had a few people tell me they think I am rushing in to surgery as an option – believe me, I’ve researched all the options. Despite what people seem to think, there is no magic alternative I can summon with a snap of my fingers. “Why do surgery at all,” some people say, “if it might be weeks or months or even years between gall bladder attacks?”

Well, let me tell you, a gall bladder attack is seriously the most painful thing I have ever experienced. The pain is so great that during attacks, I’ve eyed scissors and kitchen knives, and wondered how hard it could be to remove the gall bladder myself.

Believe me, I don’t want surgery, and I still think doctors should do more research around prevention, rather that just jump to the “slice and dice” mentality. In general, prevention doesn’t seem to interest the medical community much. I’ve asked my doctor for advice in the past, and he’s like “you’re healthy, just keep doing what you’re doing” — well, obviously that advice didn’t help my gall bladder.

When talking to my surgeon, I asked about the reason I had gall stones. He said, “with gall stones, who knows?” Despite it being a very common affliction, there seems to be very little research, and little understanding.

So as it stands now, my two options are: surgery, or deal with attacks periodically.
People will probably think I’m stupid or weak for doing it, but I’m taking the surgery option.

6 thoughts on “the “after” ultrasound”

  1. Well, that’s disappointing! I did read on one of the websites that had testimonials about the gall baldder flush a warning they had posted. One person wound up getting a blocked duct from the flush. It was worth a try. I was also shocked by how little is known about gall stones and how they form. Surgery of any sort continues to seem to me to be a pretty primitive solution. Even though they have fancier ways to deal with it. Amazing what we still don’t know about the human body! I hope all goes well. Do you have someone to drive you to the surgery?

    love J.

  2. I don’t know who is telling you that you are rushing into surgery or that you are “weak” or “unhealthy” because of this, but they are wrong. And you just shouldn’t listen to them. Period. I agree that it’s a confounding issue- the whole gall bladder thing. I also agree that taking it out is the sound approach at this point. I’ve seen you during those attacks. They are horrible. Also, let’s not forget that one of the outcomes of stone blockage is pancreatitis- which CAN KILL YOU. (ER nurse addition here!) So surgery isn’t some little “oh you’re having pain we’ll just alleviate it”. It’s also a potentially life-saving measure. That said, I know that surgery is a huge deal. I will see what I can do about getting time off to help you. Drive you, take care of you afterward. Oct. 10 is the surgery? I’ll see about getting that day off- if I can’t, I’ll try to get the next day and come up that night. I’ll get to nurse you well…maybe you’ll even get a sponge bath! 😛

  3. Ditto what Sara said. You seem to have a few heartless or thoughtless friends. Let me know if Sara can’t take the day off. I can come down & drive you, etc.

    love J.

    1. It’s not that anyone is heartless, they are just trying to be helpful, but don’t realize the amount of research I have done and thought I have put into it – like Neil a few weeks back, when he called to scold me for not taking this seriously enough.

      So recently I’ve had some people be like “Wow, surgery? Shouldn’t you get a second opinion? Why not check out alternatives? Seems like you shouldn’t jump into surgery if you can help it.”

      They are trying to be helpful, but it just makes me feel bad about going with surgery.

      It’s not like I WANT surgery, but it’s better than horrible pain… of course surgery has disadvantages, too – besides the risk of complications, there is a 20% chance of developing serious long-term digestive issues (a fact kept mostly hidden by the medical community), which can range in severity, but could essentially mean giving up all enjoyment of foods (some people suffer uncontrollable diarrhea from anything with fat, or spice, or dairy, or caffeine, or alcohol).

      So it’s lose-lose. Whatever I choose will be wrong, and whatever choice I make, people will disagree with it and think less of me for it.

  4. Hmm. Well, I for one won’t think less of you. (Though I suppose, technically, there will be less of you to think of:) ) And it could be a win situation if the surgery goes faultlessly, you heal quickly, and are one of the 80% who have little problem afterwards….and no more painful attacks. Let me know if you want me to come down.

    Love J.

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