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Gallstones. Probably.

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Old 03-26-2012, 02:09 PM   #1
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Default Gallstones. Probably.

I'd know if I had insurance, but part of doing this whole wacky weight-loss thing was quitting my job, so, nope, no insurance for me. I mean, have you ever tried getting insurance at 360 pounds? Didn't think so. I knew it wasn't gonna happen.

And, seriously, I've been healthy. I've had maybe one cold this entire time. Maybe two. Or three. No bad ones. My eyes went to crap, but I got that taken care of (sort of) right before I left my job, and any further treatment'd be experimental and not covered anyway. And, hey, I plan on going to my OB/GYN after I reach goal, mostly so I can rub my success in his face. He said I couldn't do it. So very wrong.

The only thing that bothers me is this: sometimes, about 3-4 hours after I eat, I start getting pain. It starts as "kind of uncomfortable" and quickly builds to "oh dear God why?" Tylenol sometimes knocks it down, sometimes doesn't. It's right on my upper right side, below my breast, sometimes spreading to center. I get bloated. I spend a few hours in the fetal position--which doesn't really help, but I think it makes me feel better--and then it passes. Almost as quickly as it came. A few hours total, maybe 4. And then I feel sort of...raw inside there for a couple of days. Sucktastical.

Sometimes it happens after I've overeaten on my cheat days. Sometimes I haven't overeaten, per se, but I've had a large amount of my daily calories in one meal. It happens once every month or so. It's the worst pain I've ever experienced. Complicated otitis externa wasn't as bad--though it lasted much longer, and remains the only thing that I've ever taken Vicodin for.

So, a bit of google research later, and it looks like it's probably gallstones. Well, crap. Not much I can do for those that doesn't involve a scalpel, and I don't think I can exactly afford to have it removed. So I'm boned for the moment. But I can still kvetch, so...that's totally what I'm doing.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:32 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are diagnosing correctly.
I had them and have had the surgery (laparoscopic, four holes in my body LOL)
I can tell you unfortunately it will only get worse, and it will come to a point where you will have to do something about it.

I started out only getting it sometimes randomly and ended up to the point where I couldn't keep plain toast down without vomiting and feeling pain worse than my c-sections.
Guess not being able to eat without severe pain could be good for weightloss. LOL

The right side, radiating pain is telling. Mine would go from my right rib around around to the back of my right shoulder. I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone. ouch!

You may get by for several months, but it will not fix itself. Maybe look into the cost for laparoscopic just so you have a general idea. It was an out-patient surgery, so no hospital stay to pay for. An ultrasound will say for sure if that's what's going on.

Best of luck! It's so hard when you don't have insurance, I went through that for several years.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:53 PM   #3
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I had this same type of pain a few months ago. It hurts like an extremely bad gas pain, especially after eating. Mine was right below my rib cage in the center. The dr ordered and US and it turned out that I had polyps in my gallbladder. I need to go another US in 6 months to see if the size has changed. The pain gradually went away after I reduced caffeine and fatty foods.

And switching to a lower dose BCP also helped.
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:18 PM   #4
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yup sounds like gallstones. I started getting those pains once in awhile when i was 14 or15, id get them regularly for a few months then nothing for months. Then when i was 23 i would get them fairly consistantly until i had my galbladder removed.... A couple suggestions you can try, i noticed that they tended to come on when i was dehydrated so as soon as i got a hint of the pain i'd drink a20oz bottle of water and often it would head it off. Often eating somethingstarchy would kill it as well, a slice or two of bread or a handfull of crackers.
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:05 PM   #5
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I went through the same ordeal with my gallbladder this past Fall, and what everyone else is saying is right - it will only get worse over time. If it starts to become unbearable you can always take yourself to the emergency room. You'll end up being billed for it later, but at least you'll be getting the medical attention you need.

In the meantime, eating a very bland/no fat diet should help to avoid those attacks. I ate nothing but toast, applesauce, steamed veggies (or raw), brown rice, plain chicken and hard boiled egg whites for a month while I waited for my surgery date. It was super boring, but at least I lost 12 lbs and kept those nasty pains away!
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:49 PM   #6
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I had insurance but was afraid of the surgery. Was able to put off another 18 months by eating an extremely lowfat diet (The gallbladder activates to assist in fat digestion).
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:06 PM   #7
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My experience-- I was diagnosed with gallstones 3 years ago and elected not to do the laparoscopic surgery. I've completely eliminated high fatty foods such as burgers, cream based soups, and anything fried from my diet. I’ve also reduced the food portions as consumption of large quantity of food can also trigger an ‘attack’. I have learned (the hard way) which foods to avoid. I've found that I can better manage by eating at home. If you go out, stick to grilled dishes. Trust me. You will want to do whatever it takes to make sure that you don't have an ‘attack’. I now rarely have an attack. If I do, I try to learn from it and add whatever I think may have caused the ‘attack’ to my ‘no no’ list. Some of the things I’ve learned that I can share with you, substitute ground turkey or lean ground beef for your burgers, go light on the cheese (you may not be able to eat cheese at all), use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, make roasted potatoes instead of French fries. Absolutely, at all costs, avoid fried foods. Best wishes to you and please make sure that you consult with your doctor to make the decision that best suits you.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:45 PM   #8
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See, the odd thing is, what I had yesterday--which is when it happened last--was basically the same thing I've had every day for the past few months. I mean, literally the same thing--I am a creature of habit, and so my diet ends up being pretty monotonous. Which is good for me, because it gives me structure and comfort.

When I was on vacation in January, I had an entire cheat week. And, lemme tell you--I cheated like a cheating cheater that cheats. I had Carl's Jr. and I had ridiculously rich chowder and I had pizza. And I didn't have a single problem. It's just so bleeping random, you know?

And I've looked into the cost. Unless someone's interested in my mortal soul, though...no-go.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:50 PM   #9
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Ditto, I have suffered from gallstones for the past three years.

A low fat diet is necessary. The function of the gallbladder is to produce extra bile to assist in breaking down fats. It `clenches' to release the bile and, if you have gallstones, it can expel them and they lodge in the ducts of your liver. Worst case scenario is that one will lodge in your pancreatic duct ... which is extremely dangerous and the reason why gallbladder sufferers should be cautious. Pancreatitis can be deadly.

Fatty liver can go hand in hand with gallstones. This impairs liver function.

Gallstone attacks are not merely painful, they are dangerous.

If you do have an attack you need to make sure that you do not become jaundiced. IF there is the slightest suggestion of yellow in your eyes then you must go to hospital. That is the rule I was taught.

I have probably had about five attacks in the last three years, two really bad. Symptoms are as you describe and can also involve nausea, and vomiting (quite violently).

Aim for no more than 5grams of fat in any meal. You do need fats. You will learn what to eat. Some people can tolerate nuts, and almonds are `good' fats. Use olive oil only, not other cooking oils and very sparingly. No margarines or butter. No cheese.

Take milkthistle tablets or capsules and artichoke capsules before supper. These assist your liver and add bile without your gallbladder having to function. And pure apple juice provides bile (I drink a glass with most meals but, of course, applejuice can also upset your stomach so a week on juice with meals, a week off juice then is what I found suited me.


When you have gallstones you absolutely have to look after your liver, too.

I do not anticipate having to have my gallbladder removed. I am generally very careful with my diet now, although every now and then I get lax and then I am reminded, with an attack, that I have strayed too far.
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:15 AM   #10
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I know this sounds crazy but a woman I know said that she cured her gall stones by taking shots of olive oil and lemons. In a certain order and at a certain time. I will email her for the specifics and post them. I had to have my gallbladder out as well and those attacks are so painful I would try anything to make them better. If I had known that she had some non surgical way of curing them I would have tried it in a heartbeat. I will post as soon as I hear back from her.
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Old 03-27-2012, 01:48 AM   #11
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I recently posted here about similar issues and many told me it was probably gall stones. That got me scared because both of my parents had to have theirs out, and upon further reading it seems to be common in pregnant women (I didn't know at the time if I was but have been actively trying). The pain usually hits me from eating something deep fried immediately after being on a health kick, but in the past couple weeks it seemed completely random, appearing after I'd eaten something my body has already been used to having lots of. I became scared to eat anything at all! The non-stop pain became unbearable and I went in to Urgent Care on Friday night expecting the worst.

To my surprise, it wasn't gall stones at all, it was actually gastritis, which means my stomach lining got irritated and became swollen. I could feel pain/pressure all throughout my upper stomach area, through the center and especially on the right, and all the way through to my back. The doctor gave me prescriptions for the pain and nausea, and recommended taking a Mylanta liquid equivalent according to the directions on the package.

I'm almost back to normal today, and am being very careful about what foods I choose and especially my portions. I obviously can't diagnose you, but since you can't afford the doctor anyway perhaps it wouldn't hurt to try the Mylanta (or a generic version like I am) and give it a few days to see if that helps? And if it comes down to it, give Urgent Care a try if you have it in the area. It's cheaper than the ER but will give you similar care. If you do end up needing surgery, they can refer you to the cheapest place, and you can most likely arrange a payment plan. I had a miscarriage a couple of months ago in-between insurance carriers and was scared to death of the bill. But I was able to call them up and make payment arrangements so it hasn't been as bad.

Remember that your health is priceless . . . I know how scary it can be without insurance (I went without for about 16 years) but there's no reason to put yourself through so much uncertainty and pain.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:44 AM   #12
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IF your pain is coming from gallstone attacks, be careful to get treatment if your symptoms get worse during an attack. Like a couple others have said here, be aware of what to watch for that indicates you need to go to the ER. The docs have told me that if I run a fever, to go to ER because that it a sign of infection. Also, signs of jaundice need immediate attention. The attacks usually pass, but there is also a chance that the liver or pancreas could be affected, so just be careful to get medical treatment if you need to. If it's gallstones, the "intense" heartburn style pain often radiates to the back, between the shoulder blades. (That's how the ER doc initially diagnosed mine). And when you lay down, if you put light pressure on your right side, right under your rib cage, it will be painful.

I'm trying to avoid gallbladder surgery too. At home I'm fine because I eat a very low fat diet in small portions. When I eat away from home I tend to get attacks because I eat higher fat and larger portions. Totally kills a vacation! Cheese caused my worst attack so far. I can't imagine laying down in a fetal position.....I pace and can't get comfortable, in between trips to the bathroom to vomit. (Sorry). On the bright side, the fear of attacks makes it a lot easier to stick to a lowfat diet!

Have you checked your area for low cost or free clinics to be diagnosed? I know my city has them for unemployed or uninsured people. If you see a doctor the day after an attack, your gallbladder (and possibly liver) will probably still hurt when the dr puts pressure on them. Also, most medical facilities have one price for those who are insured and another price for those without insurance. Also, hospitals write off a certain amount of the patient bills each year, so if you do have surgery, after you receive the bill, it's worth telling Patient Billing that you're uninsured and asking them to write some of it off.

Some people claim you can get rid of them by drinking olive oil and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Usually it's preceded by an apple juice fast. It's false; I researched it. Then I asked my GI doctor. The globules they are passing are the fat globules from the olive oil. Someone just posted on this forum about it in the past couple days, warning not to do it. They found the info on a quack site. The study I read about was by a bunch of college medical students. Stones sink; the greenish fat globules people are passing float.

Best of luck to you. Hope you can get it resolved. A super low fat diet helps a lot if it's gallstones.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:08 AM   #13
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The olive oil thing is supposed to purge the stones. However, gallstones are not like kidney stones and are not easy to pass, plus the damage to the liver ducts if you force this may do extreme damage.

Applejuice or cider vinegar are not intended to purge. They simply act like bile and assist the liver to break down fats and are recommended before meals so you are not putting strain on your gallbladder. As with everything, there is a side effect of drinking applejuice, and certainly vinegar. Neither are good to your stomach if taken to excess.
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:03 PM   #14
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I was told I needed to have gallbladder surgery because I had gallstones, but I haven't had it and I don't plan on having it.

My BCP caused me to have the gallstones and I immediately went off them. I haven't had any problems with my digestion (finally! I was having problems all the time!) and my health improved dramatically.

If you're taking BCP, you may be exacerbating the problem.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:56 PM   #15
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I was diagnosed with gallstones 5 years ago? I just ate a low fat diet and eventually went vegan and haven't had an attack since.
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