My Gallbladder Journey

out of order text on persons belly

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

When my gallbladder was removed in October of 2017, I thought it would solve so many of my digestive issues. I have gotten better but it took me much longer than the surgeon or all of my doctors thought it should. This has been a very trying (and expensive) 10 months but I have finally turned the corner and wanted to share my discovery with you.

Before my surgery, I would describe my eating as almost intermittent fasting. If I ate anything during the day, it was a small amount and low carb/keto (a bit of meat or cheese … something like that). My biggest meal was dinner with my husband and, to get in all my calories, it was a pretty big meal.

After my gallbladder was removed and I was healed, the surgeon said, “Go back to eating like you normally do.” So, I did and that was a HUGE mistake. I did my best to slowly ease back into my typical eating pattern but once I did, it was awful! It would vary between instant nausea as soon as food touched my stomach to feeling like I had a giant boulder in my gut. My stomach was distended and painful, lasting for up to 6 hours at a time.

black horse lying on green field

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I was little I was told that a horse’s intestines could get knotted up when they rolled around on the ground (I still don’t know if that’s true … never bothered to look it up). This is what went through my head after I had my gallbladder removed: I thought there was something terribly wrong and my intestines would just explode if I kept eating anything solid. I finally went back to the doctor and that is when the expensive part of this “adventure” began.

First, my gastroenterologist told me to eat low-fat, no solid meats, and low fiber (I have a friend who describes this as the “white bread diet”).  So, that’s what I did, eating ground, low fat meats, eggs, cottage cheese, rice, potatoes (without skins), etc. It did ease some of my symptoms but it caused others (like a 20 pound weight gain).

Next, I had an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, upper endoscopy, colonoscopy and so much blood work that the lab technician knows me by name. So, what did they find? I have a minor hiatal hernia, GERD, and had 2 polyps removed. Were any of these the cause of my specific gut issues? Nope! None of the doctors knew (or know) what has caused any of my symptoms but I think I have figured it out (thanks to Google).

I tried digestive enzymes. I tried ox bile. I tried apple cider vinegar (this and the ox bile gave me instant heartburn). Then, while frantically Googling, I finally discovered what was causing my issues: I was eating too much food at one time. See, The gallbladder stores bile. When we eat fats/protein, the gallbladder releases enough bile to aid in digestion. Without a gallbladder, bile is slowly released constantly by the liver. So, if you eat a lot of fats or protein at one time, it takes more time to digest.

So, I started eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of one giant meal. Then, I slowly started cutting back on my carbohydrates and adding fats. This has made a huge difference and has enabled me to finally lower my carbohydrates back down to below 20 grams total for the first time in over a year! I read that, over time, my body may adjust on its own (by maintaining a higher level of bile in my digestive tract). This seems to be the case because last week I was able to eat a large T-bone steak without any discomfort at all! Overall, though, I am happy with eating 6 or so small meals per day.

I may never be able to ever do intermittent fasting again but I am thrilled to be able to eat my glorious fatty meats again!

Next week, I will share about my next major health hurdle: atrial fibrillation.

Advertisements

Doctor Day! My Results Are In!

After 10 years, I am still med free and can officially say I no longer have type 2 diabetes!

A few months back, I went into the doctor weighing 207 with an A1C of 6.9 (normal is 5.6 and below). Keep in mind, I hadn’t been to the doctor in over 5 years and had been eating just about anything I wanted. His instructions were to lose 20 pounds and fix my diet.

So, I pretty much gave up all carbs during the day and ate whatever I wanted for dinner (but stopped eating almost all sweets of any kind, including sugar-free). The first thing I noticed was my desire for food began to lessen. I am now at the point where I may eat a meal and a half to two meals per day. I am just not hungry during the day but I eat something so I don’t get ravenous (and start shoveling any food into my mouth).

Today was my follow-up visit and I managed to lose 17 of the 20 pounds and brought my A1C down to 5.8! Do you see that? I am .2 above normal! It was so funny: he was reading through my blood test results, “kidney function is good, liver function is good, no diabetes … ” and I yelled, “WHAT?” (I think I scared him a little). The rest of the results were perfect. This time, his instructions were to keep doing what I am doing and mostly focus on my weight (I will mostly focus on what I put in my mouth and maybe incorporate some actual exercise if it ever cools off here in Central California).

There is one issue that it turns out I have had since I was 18: gallbladder. I had a CT scan in July and there was a gallstone. He asked about pain, I described the intermittent pain I get, and we came to the conclusion that I have had a messed up gallbladder for 30 years. I have gone to multiple doctors over the years for the pain but they all said there was nothing wrong (even went to the Emergency Room out at County about 15 years ago and after doing no tests, the doctor told me my pain was an ulcer). So, I am waiting for a referral to a surgeon. If I can get this taken care of, I will be even more unstoppable! 🙂