Things are looking up…

Hello, friends.  (Or is it now strangers?)  As you know, I’ve been M.I.A. for a few months now, but it seems we’re finally getting to the bottom of why.  As many of you know, 2015 was not my year.  I was sick most of the year, and in fact, there were only three times throughout the entire year that I lasted as many as five days without throwing up!

The odd thing was, I didn’t have pain, per se, but as soon as I ate something (other than waffles and grilled cheese sandwiches – literally ANYTHING other than that), I felt a weird fullness in my belly, and I HAD to get that food out of there ASAP.  The only thing that made it feel better was vomiting.

I was so exhausted, I could hardly stand to stay awake through a full day of work, much less anything extra such as blogging, writing, editing, etc.  Actually, around October, I started coming home from work and immediately taking a nap until 9 or 10 at night, then got up, ate dinner, and went back to sleep.  Even the thought of planning something fun such as going to the fair or taking a road trip seemed daunting because I already knew how much it would wipe me out, and I was afraid I’d be too tired to even enjoy it a little.

Last summer, my hair started falling out.  Luckily, I have really thick hair so other people didn’t really notice.  But I did.  There were always clumps of hair on my pillow each morning and on the bathroom floor each time I combed it.  It was gross.  And scary.

Around the beginning of December, my eyes started hurting all the time, especially behind and underneath them, and everything was getting more and more blurry.

So in November, when my vomiting went from four or five times a week to twice or more a day, I finally started seeing a doctor.  The first doctor diagnosed me with low iron anemia, and she sent me to a specialist.  The specialist diagnosed me with low iron and low B12 anemia.  He said my levels were as low as if I were bleeding internally, though I am not.  (Of course, when the only foods you can keep down are waffles and grilled cheese sandwiches, my guess is you probably lose a lot of nutrients in the process.)

During December and January, I had numerous blood tests, upper, lower, and female ultrasounds, an upper GI barrium swallow study and a small intestine barrium swallow study, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy (boy, were those fun — NOT!), and several biopsies.

After all the cameras, needles, scopes, and probes, I actually received twelve different diagnoses!  (The doctor was frustrated because his computer program only allowed him room to write ten.)  Most of them were nothing major, but he did say I had some gallstones and an inflamed and “thick” gallbladder.  Besides sounding extremely gross, I wasn’t sure what that meant.  He said it was diseased and needed to come out ASAP.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted that kind of surgery, but I was so relieved that I didn’t have esophageal or stomach cancer as I feared, that I was at least willing to listen.  (I was so sure that I had something fatal, I even went as far as making out a list of “what to do in the case of my untimely death.”  Thankfully, no one needed to use it.)

I went home and Googled “diseased gallbladder,” and once I saw what one looked like, I agreed that I didn’t want that nasty thing inside me any longer.  So I had the surgery, and as it turned out, my gallbladder was not only “quite diseased,” it had an “acute infection.”  It was actually “filled with pus and ready to rupture” according to the doctor, the nurse, the anesthetist, and a surgical assistant.  Apparently, I was quite lucky indeed, because being allergic to so many antibiotics, it could have easily killed me in only a few more days!

I’m definitely thankful to God for sparing my life, and I’m quite cognizant of how close I came to  meeting my Maker face to face.

Most people who get a laparoscopic cholecystectomy are encouraged to move about and go about their daily lives other than lifting anything, and they return to work in about a week.  Because of the level of my infection, I was told “bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen only, and no work for two to three weeks.”

Tomorrow will be a week since my surgery.  I feel SO much more energetic than I have in months, yet when I do anything for more than twenty or thirty minutes (such as sit on the computer or even just stand to wash dishes), it wipes me out.  For the first time in a long time, I feel invincible, then I attempt a minor project to alleviate my boredom, and learn just how weak I really still am!

I’ll still be treating for my anemia, and I actually threw up last night, so I at least lasted a full five days this time.  But I’m hopeful that the vomiting will stop once I’m fully healed, and then the iron and B12 will regenerate.

So I hope to get all this under control soon, and get back to my regularly scheduled blog… and to you, my friends and blogging family.  I miss you guys!

xoxo

~Rachel

[UPDATE:  I just reread this, and it seems I still have a bit of brain fog… The reason I wrote all the detail that I did above was to tell you how miraculous it is that less than one week post-surgery, my hair hasn’t fallen out, my eyes don’t hurt anymore, and the vision blurriness is completely gone!  Isn’t it incredible that an unnecessary organ can wreak such havoc on so many unrelated body parts?  The best part is, so far, I’ve not had one bit of refux or acid.  I can’t tell you the last time — more than 20 years — I’ve not been awakened in the middle of the night by barf juice gagging me.  This is amazing!  I’m used to drinking 2 TBSP. of baking soda with a bit of water SEVERAL times every day and night.  I keep a box of baking soda in my work desk, my car, and even my purse!  Since my surgery, I’ve had the tiniest bit of heartburn that lasted no more than 5 or 10 minutes just a couple of times.  It was so mild, I didn’t even do anything to make it go away.  Compared to what I’ve been living with for so long — imagine swallowing 8 ounces of battery acid 3 or 4 times a day — I now feel so liberated!]

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53 thoughts on “Things are looking up…

  1. Oh, how awful! I saw your Facebook posts but I don’t think they did justice to the extent of your suffering. In any case, it’s good to have you back. Hope all goes well with your continuing recovery!

  2. Wow, Rachel. I had no idea you were in such bad shape. I thought you were busy with work. It’s crazy that you had so many tests and the problem turned out to be (mainly) your gallbladder. I’m so glad the surgery went well and you’re feeling better. Wishing you a very speedy recovery!

  3. I’m so grateful you are OK, Rachel! I have missed you so much! Now I know you are on the road to recovery, sans that unnecessary organ, and I can breath a bit easier. Gall bladder, schmall bladder. Somebody upstairs was looking out for you, getting you to the right doctor to make the right diagnosis to take that diseased thing out of you on time. Yay! And to feel such an improvement in all of those life factors already is such good news, my dear friend. Here’s to your full recovery, one step at a time until your full strength returns. I’m here for you. Send me an email if there’s anything I can do from up here in Syracuse, Rachel.

  4. The thing is young Rachel you did promise to lay the decking in my backyard as well as tarmac the drive…oh yes, the matter of my chimney stack which needs repointing (as you know I can’t afford scaffolding so it has to be ladders three storey’s up)…before spring. What then is your plan? That aside I, indeed Shirley also are so pleased you are nearly back and firing on all cylinders (so to speak)…all the very best from this side of the pond to a rather special young lady.

  5. Sorry to hear you have been so unwell. Thank goodness they found out what was wrong and got surgery sorted for you asap. Get well soon, relax and take your time to recover, sending you all our best wishes & glad to hear you are on the mend.

  6. Rachel!!!!! So glad to hear you’re past the worst of it. I know from firsthand experience how gallbladder issues can go. My certainly weren’t as bad as yours, but I feel your pain. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that mess, but at least you’re on the mend. Good to see you back in action. I was wondering where you’d gone.

  7. Good for you, Rachel. I had my gall bladder out in 2007, after suffering, apparently, from IBS for years. I reached the point when I could tolerate no fat at all and every meal made my stomach blow up like a football. Following surgery I am a lot better, although I still suffer from occasional stomach pain and bloating. It’s milder though. Rest up and get better soon. We have indeed missed you.

  8. Omg I had no idea what you were going through, Rachel! I’m so sorry that you were so I’ll, but I’m so happy that the diagnoses are bringing healing for you. I hope you are up to full strength and fitness again soon. It certainly seems that the signs are good and you’re on the mend. All the best to you. Xxx

  9. Pingback: So, here’s what’s going on… | Rachel Carrera, Novelist

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