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Gallbladder Attacks

Updated on May 24, 2010

Gallbladder Attack! What does it Feel Like? My Story

It's 2:20 a.m., you woke up from a deep sleep with an eerie unusually "full" feeling just below the breastbone. It feels like severe pressure. A few minutes later, nausea sets in, and sometimes vomiting. The pain intensifies, and is the most uncomfortable pain ever felt. The pain sits directly under the breast bone, and may move slightly under the right rib.

You can't get comfortable, sitting hurts, laying hurts, standing hurts, nothing helps. This can continue for several minutes to several hours.

The pain intensifies, you then rush to the ER.

The pre pain to my first attack was simply nausea, and bloating, but not bloating in the lower part of my body, more at the belly button and above. I couldn't eat.  Everything I ingested felt "wrong". The first time it happened, I drank Senna Tea, and it seemed to ease the discomfort. But as the bloating, pressure and uncomfortableness increased, the Tea worked less and less.

This odd feeling went on for about 2 weeks. The pain below my breastbone increased with each "attack" - Deep belching occurred at odd times and I began to think I had a Peptic Ulcer. (I researched my pain and symptoms on the Internet, and self diagnosed myself).

The last of the attacks occurred over a 24 hour period. Saturday morning at 2:00 a.m., I woke up with a more intense pain than I have ever felt. I waited a few minutes, and woke my family up to inform them of my ER visit. Once I arrived to the hospital, I was in tears, and could not get comfortable, the pain hurt so bad. And when I say pain, it is the most excrusiating pain a human can possibly endure. They had me lie down on the stretcher, and ran a series of tests. I was injected with 2 mg of Morphine, didn't touch the pain. 2 more mg of Morphine, still didn't do the trick. Then they decided to give a lovely concoction of what they call the GI Cocktail, after drinking this gross mix of lydocane, and who knows what else, the pain increased and was much more severe.

They did a chest x-ray while I was in the bed. That was an interesting device, from what I can remember. I just had to sit up, and it took a picture - of what, I'm not sure but I was charged $2500.00 and it apparently didn't diagnose or assist with anything.

The Dr. came back in and realized the morphine was not doing it's job, and I was injected with Dilouden - 1mg at first, and then a 2nd. That did the trick. By 7:00 a.m. I was being wheeled to my car to go home. (I couldn't walk after all the pain medication they gave me). I was instructed to eat nothing for 24 hours.

We arrived home at 8:00 a.m. - I vaguely remember asking my boyfriend what the difference between a sea lion and a seal were, but I'm not sure I remember too much. We did turn right around, and get in the car to head to my son's soccer game - we made it there at 8:45 a.m. - just in time. My boyfriend had to escort me (well, carry me) down to the field, where I preceeded to fall in and out of sleep in my very comfortable folding chair. They won the soccer game, and we came home.

I slept from 10:30 until 1:00 p.m., when I remembered the Herb Show being held at a local Park. I insisted that we attend. We drove to the show, and I shuffled around trying to look like a normal individual, and focusing my attention on the herbs. We selected our herbs, as it began to rain, and headed back home. Another bright idea of mine was to stop at a Nursury to check out more plants, we did - at that point, I was so dizzy and nausious, I couldn't walk any more.

We came home and I slept.

The next day was Sunday. I felt much better, however the pressure was still there. I was informed to drink clear beverages, broth and bread - this was supposed to be ok. Carbonated beverages were ok as well, as long as they were clear.

I put the Izze Esque to my lips, and savored the sweetness, I drank a few sips more, and the pressure immediately started to increase. I ceased the drinking of the carbonated awesome beverage. I felt dizzy all day, and was very tired. I went to bed around midnight...... at 2:30 a.m. - the pain began again.

I waited, it intensified, I woke the family up and informed them of yet another trip to the ER. This time, I was in tears before I walked through the doors of the ER, they immediately took me back to a room. As I paced and cried, and tried to find a comfortable position, a female Dr. entered the room. As I explained my problem to her, she looked at me with her eyes half closed, as if she was trying not to fall asleep. She preceeded to do the exact same tests that the ER Dr. had done before, even after I told her the tests had been done, and gave her the results from the last ER trip - she wanted to do "her own" diagnosis.  Agin including the GI cocktail making everything worse. She refused to give me any pain medication, probably because she thought I was a druggy coming in for another fix, however, at this point I was ready to pull her hair out of her head.

She ignored my beeps, her nurse ignored me.  I had to pull my heart monitor apparatus off my chest to have them return to check on me.  She flat out told me she was not going to give me anything for the pain. This was all while they waited for my blood work to come back.  Her last check on me, she decided to do a fecal test.  She informed me that my stool was hard, and she wanted to see if there was any blood in it.  I informed her that if there had been any blood anywhere from that part of my body, I would have been in the ER much sooner.  I also told her that the peptic ulcer medication they were giving me caused constipation - she was just an idiot and had to "see for herself" - which she came in later to tell me I had no blood in my stool.  Really? 

At 5:00 a.m. she decided to do a CT Scan, I was thankful for a test that had not yet been done. The nurse brought me the die to drink, and mixed it with Sierra Mist. She told me to drink the 3 glasses. I remembered the carbonation and said - can I have it in water? She said no, but maybe apple juice. I explained the carbonation reaction to her. (Now, I was charged 290.00 twice for the 2nd dose of the die I had to drink for the CT Scan) - Even the apple juice hurt. Still no pain medication. As the X-ray tech approached, he said something to the nurse, and they gave me 2 mg of Morphine, well, we already knew this didn't work, but that is all she was going to give me and at that point, I think I would have been happy with anything.

After the CT scan, the pain started to subside. I was able to lay still and allow my eyes to close. When I returned to the room, another Dr. was on duty. He gave me a little more Morphine, and asked me how I was feeling. I was so happy to see him instead of that wench of a Dr. earlier. (And wench is me being extremely nice).

He reviewed the scan and said - you have a Gallstone. He said that was probably the problem and he wanted me to visit a surgeon. He referred me to a very nice group, and told me to be on the BRAT diet until I met with the Surgeon.  The Brat diet is Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.  I scheduled the surgeon appointment for the upcoming Friday. 

I was prescribed an interesting mix of Belladonna & Phenobarbitol, and the always trusty Vicoden.  I cannot take pills, so these were used very minimally.  I began to research Gallbladder Attacks, pain etc.  I found that there are quite a few foods that can irritate the gallbladder.  (These will be in a second part).  I researched the risks of stones, etc.  I became the Gallbladder expert!

My appointment day came, and I was eager to see the Dr.  I went in, he asked me what my problem was, and I explained.  He said according to the CAT Scan, he could not confirm gallstones.  He asked me questions, felt my belly and listened as well.  He said he could see no signs of gallstones.  However, to be on the safe side, he wanted to do an ultra sound.  So, I scheduled the ultra-sound.

Now - quick history of me - nothing works on me as it should, pills usually have the reverse effect, and I do not vomit.  I get nausious, but I think I've thrown up maybe 2 times in my life. I also had no belly pain when the Dr. pressed on the location of my gallbladder.  I think he didn't beleive that I had issues either.

I went for the ultra sound and the tech said my gallbladder was "packed" meaning, I was a time bomb waiting to happen.  The strange thing was, is now I had gone 2 weeks without an attack.  I followed an introductory diet (where I introduced foods daily) and followed a vegetarian, low-fat diet.  I walked after each meal, and drank 12 cups of water per day.  The pressure went away, the pain also went away as did the belching.  The only thing left that I could feel was movement in the gallbladder area.  It didn't hurt, but it felt weird.

The Dr. called me once the ultra sound was reviewed, and he said "You have to have your gallbladder removed"  I asked to come and see him before having this done.  That was a waste of 190.00 because he told me the same thing as I was sitting in his office.  I scheduled the surgery for the following week.

I have not had an attack since the ER visits.  I have decreased the amount of fat and cholesterol in my foods.  I have increased my activity and water in-take, and while I do feel things on occasion, I still have half of the prescribed medication and have only taken it when I "think" an attack is setting in. 

I did some more research, and I'm contemplating cancelling the surgery.  I really like having all my organs, and I don't want to uneccesarily have something removed.  My surgery is tomorrow at 5:45 a.m. - I just got off the phone with the pre-op nurse, and I guess I have a few hours left to decide if I do the surgery or not.

The one thing that sticks in my head is being afraid.  I'm afraid to have another attack.  I'm constantly starving, and I'm really tired of walking 5-6 times per day.  I also really miss fried pickles, and damn-it a Cheeseburger would be awesome about now.

So, if I want to stop the being afraid of the attacks, I guess surgery is my option.  However, in either case, I don't get fried pickles.......


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    • profile image

      sam oberlin 

      4 years ago

      i did not have mine taken out and i dont regret it

    • profile image


      5 years ago


      How about an update? I'm in the position you were, just started having these attacks, very scary, been to the emergency room 4 weeks ago. Since my Doc put me on Prevacid, and I went on a low fat diet, lost 22lbs, stopped drinking alcohol, started working out (running, biking, lifting weights), and haven't had an "attack" since then. I have had the queasy feeling, but it hasn't turned into a painful attack. How do you feel since your surgery?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for this. I have been to the ER twice. Pretty sure I meant the wench. I am scheduled to see the surgeon Monday morning. My ultrasound showed one large gallstone. I like having my organs, too. I am curious about any after effects. Most people say they don't have any trouble as long as they don't eat fried foods. I am a little fearful of being put to sleep, and also having to sprint to the bathroom. Any advice?

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I ended up having the surgery


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