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Life Without a Gallbladder: The Battle Continues

Updated on January 30, 2013

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!

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    • profile image

      Ally364 20 months ago

      Hi. I would just like to say how relieved I am to hear that I'm not alone in my symptoms. Its been 6 months since my GB surgery and the only good that came out of it was no GB attacks. But I, like you all, have had HORRIBLE stomach issues like severe diarrhea, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and GB-area discomfort. Hope we can all find some hope of a solution soon.

    • profile image

      vanessa 2 years ago

      After having my gallbladder out its been a nightmare! The pain I get where my gallbladder use to be the gas in my stomach hurts so bad and a few other things. I hope you find out soon what's going on. I got mine out in 09.

    • profile image

      JuliaGulia 3 years ago

      My gallbladder and I parted ways almost 7 years ago, and I was pretty much the picture perfect patient for a long time. I have been very lucky to not have to change the way I eat or exercise at all. Granted, I have been an ovo-lacto vegetarian for about 20 years, and have always been fairly active.

      Over the last 6 months or so, I've had a few days where I've had what I can only describe as phantom gallbladder attacks; from reading several blogs and articles, it sounds like this is not entirely uncommon.

      I think that it's very important to understand that your body is now missing an organ that used to perform a necessary function, and it's very possible and likely that you'll have to change the food you put in in order to compensate to regain 'normal' functioning; modern medicine can only do so much.

    • profile image

      Cindy 3 years ago

      I had my gallblader out a 1 1/2 ago. I've been in so much pain since, sometimes feels like labor pains. I can't eat or the pain will become worse. Ive lost 35 pounds. My body is weak, have no energy. Ive been having the same test again that I had before when they found out my gallblader needed to be removed. My days n nights are spent laying down with a heating pad on my tummy. My life is forever ruined with chronic pain. My pain meds do not work, only constipate me more than I already am.

    • profile image

      Mel 3 years ago

      What is your email address. I think I can help you. I am hoping that myention of Beano has helped and maybe that's why you are not responding? We are on the SAME boat. I think we can help each other. Lately I have been a lot better.

    • profile image

      Mel 3 years ago

      You sound like me! Two years. The sad part is, it happened immediately after having my son and I spent his first two years and still in pain every day. But pain that has made me depressed and angry. The pain even stopped my esophagus from working normally and they went down a route that was scary, mentioning scary diseases but then no signs of these diseases that they assumed popped up except that I have a brain hernia and well, overlapped with removing an organ, my body couldn't handle it. Sedatives were the only thing that helped and even so they didn't. It's not fun drugging yourself every day in order to be a responsible parent! Honestly Beano, amtriptyline and iron seems to do the trick in the last week for me. I am afraid to scream for joy. They also found sludge in my small intestine.'something they missed in my first endoscopy. I am guessing that you have sludge! Did you try Beano? Did you try Uroasil? Not sure if I spelled it right? Nerve medication as well? We need to talk

    • profile image

      beso1 3 years ago

      i was recently found with gallstones and scheduled for an operation next month.i have been doing some research on the situation and the side effects of surgery. now having read the comments what would be the best solution to treating the gallstones if surgery is not recommended.i really don't know what to do. my parents are against it to they say once you undergo surgery your life is never the same

    • profile image

      mahendra fr india 3 years ago

      Hi ii am. Mahendra from india.in last week. I had gallblader surgery I don't have any problem but I am confused regarding food

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are welcome. I haven't gone completely off wheat--I had none for a few weeks, but I eat some like every other day. Anyway, maybe you could search "after gallbladder removal" seems like there are many people with this difficulty. Maybe you could write a few more hubs on it and help yourself and others. I'm trying to get good oils in me and off the bad fats. Flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil, probiotics, yogurt i'm trying to add daily. Good luck! If I come across something particularly helpful, I''ll write.

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 4 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      Yes, it was awful. It was incredibly painful and uncomfortable. I'm so happy it's over, though! The only downside is that I went through all of that to be told that I'm fine. :( I wish I could figure out what's causing all of these issues. I'm stubborn in a way and swear that there has to be some way to stop what's going on.

      I love bread, too! I don't think I could go without wheat or gluten completely. I find it really hard to just accept that I should change the way I'm eating in order to try to resolve whatever is going on. I have a lot of built up resentment towards the doctor, and can't seem to accept the fact that I probably shouldn't blame him completely. I guess I'll never get better unless I keep trying different things that might help. I appreciate the advice!

      Thank you for your compliment about my writing. I will look over it and see what I can do about breaking up the story. That's a good tip, thank you.

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      CALNY---OMG--a colonoscopy while awake? So sorry...I see you did try pro-biotics--I'd not give up on them. Sometimes the celiac tests don't tell the whole story. Have you tried cutting out gluten? I think it is more than wheat. I think it is oats unless they say gluten-free--mainly because the process it with other grains including wheat. I'm no expert on this but I think that might have been part of my problem--too much wheat and gluten. I love bread--eat it all the time. Have cut way back and feel this may be helping too. As I say, I'm no expert but have read on these subjects and know others with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Oh, wanted to say I enjoy how you tell a story. have you thought about adding photos or captions to break up the type?

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 4 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      Hi,

      Wow! You are so lucky to not have had any problems since! I envy you! I barely cut down on fatty foods - which I know I should have - but it's not only fatty foods that cause problems for me; it's everything! :( I do exercise as well, but nothing I do seems to help.

      Thanks for your thoughts and concern. I'm trying everything I can to figure this out! Hoping for the best!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi! I got my gall bladder removed some 20 years back, by the method of laparoscopic surgery. I have not faced any problems as such. Although I have cut down on fatty foods and do regular exercise and walking etc. after the removal of gall bladder.

      I am sorry to hear about your complications. You should seek good medical advice in this regard. Wish you all the best of health.