Life Without a Gallbladder: The Battle Continues
It has now been four and a half years since I underwent gallbladder removal, and the side effects have not improved. There is not a day that goes by that I don't regret going through with that surgery. As mentioned in my previous hub regarding gallbladder removal, since having it out I have had more problems than I did prior to the procedure. Granted the gallbladder attacks that I went through were some of the most painful things I have ever been through, and obviously removing my gallbladder has relieved me of such attacks, but the embarrassment and discomfort that I go through now makes me wish that I had somehow come up with an alternative to getting it removed. One can only wish.
In order for me to elaborate, I'd like to summarize the issues that my previous hub explained. Six months after having my gallbladder removed, I began to develop a "phantom" gallbladder attack, where I would get an intense burning and cramping sensation where the gallbladder used to be, almost every single day. About six months later - hitting the one year mark - the phantom attacks became much less frequent, but instead I began to suffer from bloating and gas almost constantly, along with the occasional urgent trips to the rest room after eating. Gas appears almost instantly after eating (most times) and is always occurring within 5 minutes of waking up every morning. Sometimes are worse than others, but it is still a daily occurrence and it's one that was never an issue before the surgery. This is what I have been dealing with for the past three and a half years.
Well, about a year and a half after the surgery - about six months into having gas issues - I went to see an internist. I had other problems at the time, so the gas wasn't exactly my main concern. I did mention it to her, though, but never received any sort of answer or explanation of a cause. About another six months later, I ended up going to a urologist for another issue. When the urologist was out of the room, I had a moment to speak with the nurse. I don't remember what would've compelled me to discuss my digestive issues, but I do recall her drawing a diagram and explaining to me that even after you get your gallbladder taken out, your body will create a new one over time. The diagram was something about the bile passing through a tube, and after time the tube starts to cave in and create a storage space. I have never spoken to another doctor about this nor have I tried to research it, so I do not know how true this is.
In February 2011, I came to teach English in Korea. I don't know if it was the food, the water, the atmosphere, or what, but my gas issues escalated. It got so bad to the point that it was happening literally all day and all night. I tried over-the-counter medicines from the U.S., as well as whatever the pharmacist in Korea gave me to no avail. Nothing, I repeat, nothing relieved my symptoms. It was to the point that I would stare at so much as a yogurt and dread eating it because I knew I would begin to feel more gas build up inside of me almost instantly. I was right every time. So, finally, because healthcare in Korea is so cheap, I found a gastroenterologist and went to see him. I know I had mentioned this in my previous post, but he felt my stomach and told me that my organs were distended (meaning they were so full of gas that they were enlarged). He gave me a week's worth of medicine, which didn't cure me, but it definitely helped a bit.
A few months later, when I went back to the States, I was excited to be able to meet with a gastroenterologist whose first language was English. I felt that maybe I would get a better answer. He was actually worse. Between his brushing-it-off manner and blaming the surgery, I left his office even more depressed. He told me to try probiotics and Prilosec, and neither of them helped at all. He also had me get tested for Celiac Disease, parasites, and take a lactose intolerant test. All of them came back negative.
Then, after being back in Korea for a few months and still having these problems, I went to see another doctor. He gave me medicine which surprisingly worked for the first 4 days. I felt like a whole new person! I was ready to jump up and down! But, unfortunately for me, 4 days later the medicine stopped helping. So, I went back, again. I ended up being given the same medicine, but with one new addition, which supposedly was digestive enzymes. They didn't work.
Finally, the doctors told me that if I wanted any sort of definite answer, I would have to undergo a colonoscopy. I figured since healthcare is so much cheaper here, I might as well since I'm determined to get to the bottom of this! So, I had the colonoscopy one week ago and should find out the results in one more week. Speaking of colonoscopies in Korea, I don't recommend getting one! They gave me a sedative, but they didn't put me out! I can't even begin to explain to you what having a colonoscopy while conscious felt like. It was so weird and uncomfortable and at some points so incredibly painful! I ended up yelling and bursting into tears several times. But, anyway, back to the results; I shall see if I will get any sort of answer in one more week. Here's hoping for the best!