Gallstones only

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/15/2005 12:50 PM (GMT -7)   
If you have gallstones and that is it no pain etc.
do they make you cough? are they ok in there.
God Bless You All

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 11/15/2005 1:16 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Mazie,
Welcome to the site! :-)
I don't have gallstones (nor have I had them) so I can't really help you.
I just wanted to welcome you... I hope someone will come along shortly who can answer your question.

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 11/15/2005 1:23 PM (GMT -7)   

If you're not having pain, vomiting, etc. and you do have gallstones, you don't necessarily need to have the gallbladder out.  Asymptomatic gallstones rarely have to be addressed surgically.  If you start having episodes of biliary colic (intense pain, nausea, vomiting) then it would be more prudent to get that sucker out.

I had mine out in August of this year after a couple of very intense episodes of biliary colic and am suffering with that no more.  But surgery is always risky and if you're not having symptoms, I would try to avoid it!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 11/15/2005 3:58 PM (GMT -7)   
Actually, I have read that they usually do want to remove gall bladders when they find stones because a stone may move out of the gall bladder at any time and lodge in the bile duct. The timing of that can be most inconvenient, to say the least. I have heard that gall stones are about the worst kind of pain you can have. I had a dysfunctional gall bladder and it hurt plenty bad on its own! If one of those stones lodges in the bile duct, you will be instantly out of commission; you will not be able to move from the pain, let alone do anything. Most people who have that happen end up going to the hospital and having an emergency gall bladder surgery. If you lay around and wait to see if you'll get better--if you mistake it for stomach flu or food poisioning--then it will probably wind up infected and then you'll spend a few days in the hospital on i.v. antibiotics until it's cleared up enough to have it taken out. Also, in an emergency, you are less likely to be offered the choice of having it done laproscopically. You can go back to office work a week after laproscopic surgery; an incision will take three-six weeks to heal and will naturally involve more pain. You are also more likely to require an overnight hospital stay after an incision versus laproscopic surgery.

Ask yourself these questions: Can I afford to get it taken out now? Will I still be able to afford to have it taken out at a later time? Can I afford an emergency room visit and emergency surgery? Am I in good health now? Can I afford to have a major incision and subsequent scar? Will I be traveling in the near future, especially to a foreign country? Do I live alone and would my family be unable to reach me quickly in an emergency? Can I afford to have my life interrupted at any moment? Do I have a low tolerance to pain?

If you can afford to have it out now, then you should consider it. If you can't afford to have it out, then you're probably best off waiting until you can procure the money and/or insurance. But I would make that a high priority in case an emergency does arise. If you forsee losing your job and/or insurance in the future, I would have it out now to save you from having it out when you have no coverage and/or money (my surgery was $12,000, give or take a few hundred). If you are in good health, you might want to consider having it out (oddly enough). If, however, you are suffering from some other illness at this time, you will want to hold off until you get better and are fully recovered. If you can't afford to have a lot of time off work, then you might want to think about having elective surgery since you'll only miss about a week versus much longer if it gets bad or requires an old-fashioned incision. Also, if you are a model, you won't want that long scar. If you travel frequently or will be going out of the country, especially to a country with poorer standards of care than your own, you may want to have it out, lest something happen to you while you're off in some strange place alone and worse, you distrust your medical providers. If you have children or care for someone else solely, then you may want to consider getting it out now as opposed to having it crop up and leave you in desperate straights for arranging for someone to care for your loved one(s) while you are in great pain/ill. And lastly, if you are adverse to pain, better to have it out before it causes you problems; post-op pain was NOTHING compared to gall bladder pain. I was sore for two, maybe three days after my surgery, then I was fine. My biggest problem afterwards was adapting to the new digestive problems.

There are some alternatives that you can find by looking on the web. There is some sort of prescription medicine that has some success in dissolving smaller stones, but it can't stop them from forming, so you'll have to take it constantly and your stone problem may still get worse and you may still end up with one lodged in the bile duct.

Mind you, I'm biased in favor of having it out because I lived with sickness and extreme pain with mine for 5 years. I was beginning to seriously think about just paying out of pocket to have it taken out because I knew that was what was what was wrong with me, even though my tests kept coming up negative. Believe me, you do not want to be that kind of sick. And you don't want to be like me, in a foreign country, alone, and too sick and in too much pain to go out of the house for three solid weeks except to limp up the street to a doctor's office.

I know it's hard to justify having surgery when you're feeling perfectly well, especially when that surgery will most likely mess up your digestive tract function--which is probably working for you just fine right now--for the rest of your life (why I'm on here). But once they go bad, that's the end of them. And unfortunately when the end comes, you'll hurt so bad you'll be begging someone to take it out. And you'll have already become accustomed to the digestive problems. Your gall bladder may go bad tonight, or ten years from now, but it will eventually crap out on you. Unfortunately those stones never go away on their own, except through the bile duct.

If and when it does come out, have a doctor write you a prescription for Welchol (some people on here also recommend Questran, but Welchol is what I personally take). You may have to see a G.I. in order to get it, because a PCP might not know what it's about. Oddly enough, it is a cholesterol medicine, but it has an interesting side affect in that it binds up bile. When you have no gall bladder, your liver drips bile into your intestines constantly. If it drips steadily and your intestines don't react to that, then you'll have no problems with food. A lot of people post-gall bladders don't have problems most of the time. But a lot of people do have problems most of the time, and pretty much everyone has problems at some point. I don't know if it's because the liver suddenly produces too much or if it hangs out in the intestines somewhere and builds up to toxic levels, but when you get sick, you'll be sick! That's when you pull out the Welchol. You will know you are having a problem when you have yellow (maybe even green) diarrhea that burns you a new one. Or if you being vomiting inexplicably (and if it's yellow or green too). That's too much bile in your intestines/digestive tract. Take a Welchol, give it 30 minutes and you should stop having diarrhea (I assume it works for vomiting as well, although, thankfully, that's not something I suffer from). One pill almost always works for me during an emergency. Although those biscuits and gravy I had about 2 years ago really did me in; I took 3 or 4 pills before I got that episode stopped. That was the last biscuits and gravy that I had too, I can tell you! If you are like me and have problems most of the time, you can take Welchol daily and it keeps you from having problems. You can also take it before you eat something (like pizza) that you know from experience will cause you problems.

I know this sounds extremely dark and apocolyptic, but it's based on my own personal experience and from the personal experiences of the many people I know who have had their gall bladders go bad. I had doctors brush my symptoms aside for five years before I finally got it out and got some relief; make sure your decision not to have it out is your decision and not your doctor's. Don't be brushed aside. Feel free to ask him why you should and shouldn't have it out; voice any concerns you have about the possiblity of emergency surgery later. And if you decide you want it out and he tells you no, then find another doctor. Always look out for number one--yourself.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/4/2007 8:37 AM (GMT -7)   
I have just found out that I have gallstones and im going to do the surgery laproscopic. Does this mean Im removing the whole gallbladder or just the stones? Also what type of problems did you find after having it removed? Does this require spending any nights in the hospital or is it a day surgery procedure? Im very nervous about this. Im from Toronto, Canada.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 6/5/2007 3:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Someone new on here mentioned that her doctor might just remove her gall stones, but I had never heard of that before, nor do I know how they can even accomplish it.  Normally any surgery performed is to remove the gall bladder entirely.  But your doctor/surgeon should have made that crystal clear to you from the beginning.  Shame on him. 
I don't know if Canada and its NHS has any rules about surgeries and hospital stays, but in the US, this is an outpatient procedure, which means you are never admitted to the hospital and you don't stay the night.  I went in for my surgery at 6 in the morning, or so, and was out by early afternoon.  The surgery itself only lasted an hour or an hour and a half, but it took me a few hours to sleep off the anastesia. 
You will need 6-8 weeks to full recover from the surgery.  While the pain should be gone in a week or less, it will take 6-8 weeks for your body to adjust to not having a gall bladder.  This usually means a lot of diarrhea, and a very small food palate, consisting of a lot of low fat, bland foods, and little, if any, meat.  After 6-8 weeks are over, what you are left with is pretty much what you can expect for the rest of your life.  You can find out then what you can and cannot eat (and what you can't eat then will pretty much be something you can never eat again), and you will figure out how bad your symptoms are.  The vast majority of people who have their gall bladders removed either develop acid reflux or diarrhea, or both.  Some may experience constipation.  Some people have these problems every great once in a while, while some people have terrible problems every single day.  But once you are finished with the adjustment period, then you will know what it's going to be like from here on out, and you can medicate as needed.  But during that adjustment phase, anything's possible.  For instance, pork and beef both gave me diarrhea during that period, but after I adjusted, I was able to eat them again normally.  Caffeine, however, has never been something I have been able to go back on (I had to get off it when my gall bladder was still in because it made it worse even then).  As I said, keep it bland, low-fat, and only chicken and fish until 6 weeks have passed, then start adding stuff back into your diet to see what does and doesn't make your symptoms worse. 

Be sure to come back here when you are adjusted to get recommendations on meds to take or things to do to help whatever symptoms you wind up having permanently. 
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