Women are prone to gallbladder attacks than men. This is the unanimous information I gathered from different resources in my desire to understand my recent condition.
Last month, I had bouts of excruciating abdominal pains, which apparently were gallbladder attacks. A day later, I was scheduled for surgery to remove my gallbladder and two gallstones that came out of my gallbladder — blocking my bile duct.
According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, “a woman, who have had children, overweight and are over 40” are more likely to get gallstones. That’s me. However, even if you are younger than 40, and had no children, don’t ignore any sharp abdominal pain.
Authors Kenneth R. Hassler and Mark W. Jones (2019), confirmed in their article Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy that “The incidence of gallstones increases with an increase in age, with females more likely to form gallstones than males.” They added that of the age 50-65 approximately 20% of females get gallstones and only 5% are males.
The Gallbladder Attacks
This surgery was unforeseen. For 5 weeks, I had a weekly episode of intense pain in the center of my abdomen close to my chest bone and an extremely crawling pain on my back too. At times, I also feel the pain along my spine. The pain on my upper back scatters, it moves all around my upper back.
I have high pain tolerance, and I rarely take medications. For the first three painful attacks that lasted more than 30 minutes each, I did not take any medications. It just went away. The fourth attacked was so painful that I asked my husband for a pain reliever. I took two Tylenol tablets, and the pain went away, though I still struggled with the pain for at least two hours.
During these attacks, I couldn’t find any comfortable position for my body. Every movement and position was miserable for me. I tried pressing my abdomen on a pillow, curl my body, hang on the edge of the bed nothing helps because as I tend to my abdominal pain, my back pain is beating me up severely too. There were instances that a little bit of pressure on my upper abdomen, and my upper back helps alleviate the pain for a few minutes.
Prior to the last attack, I visited my family doctor and she prescribed antacid for my abdominal pain. She also sent me for bloodwork to check if I have any stomach virus, which the result came back negative.
The last and 5th attack of pain was horrible. I languished for 6 hours at home, only at this point, I wanted to know what was really going on. I didn’t want another attack to happen. The last episode of pain was unbearable. The pain was beyond giving birth without medication.
Prior to the painful attacks, I didn’t notice any symptom. Everything was just a sudden pain in the center of my abdomen and my back and it intensifies until it becomes unbearable anymore.
Role of the gallbladder in our body
As my doctor explains, our gallbladder is a sac that lies under our liver and it stores biles that helps in dissolving fats. Gallstones can be due to undissolved fats or hardened digestive fluid inside the gallbladder. The pain happens when any of the gallstones in the gallbladder slips out and block a duct in your body that is connected to your small intestine. In my case, two of the gallstones are out of my gallbladder and one is floating in the duct close to my pancreas, and the stone is moving back and forth and this causes the gallbladder attacks.
I Was Scared and Worried
As a mother, what suddenly comes to my mind? My children. What will happen to my children when God forbid something happens to me? What if the surgery won’t be successful? These are negative thoughts. I countered it. I stopped and comfort myself with the thought that “their lives are in God’s hands.”
There was nothing I can do to prepare my children or myself about anything that might or will happen during my surgery. I consoled myself with the words of my doctor that, “the surgery is a short one, it will only take 1 hour and 40 minutes.” And, “Only 1 in every 400 or 500 cases gets into complication during the surgery, operations are often successful.” My surgery, alhamdulillah (thank God) went smoothly.
In my desire to understand this condition, I searched the Internet for various resources and I find this one to be close to my reality. It is also easy to understand.