Monday, December 1, 2014

Goodbye, gallbladder!

Those who are close to me will know that I am a woman of two personalities. Garang like Cinderella's step-mother and loving like cat he he.

I am usually the kaklong among my friends. The one making decision when everyone else is indecisive and the one scolding those who are being stubborn. 

At the same time, I am a very loving person. I do not know how to scold my subordinates. I will just tegur them nicely and I find it difficult to punish my son. Isaac is usually more scared of his daddy. In fact, he has the tendency to bully me when daddy isn't around. Among friends, I am always the one trying to take care of everyone. I get very worried when my friends are facing any problem.

Recently, one of my oldest friends was admitted to hospital for 'heart burn' pain. She was not sure what caused it or what was the pain exactly. She just felt some sort of pain above her abdomen and below her chest. I was worried because she just gave birth to a baby daughter not too long ago via c-section. 

Doctor who treated her prescribed her with gastric medication. But the pain didn't subside. She insisted for another diagnosis. Blood was drawn and test was made, it turned out that she had gallstone (also called cholelithiasis). Doctor advised her to have it removed - I wasn't sure, the gallbladder or just the stones. But we were all turned off by the clever doctor's suggestion - due to the medication that she will be on (or the surgery that she will undergo), she needed to stop breastfeeding. What? Yes, we are pro breastfeeding mothers. We go through hell to ensure our babies get all the nutrition they need from breastmilk. I will save this topic for later :)

So we advised her to get a second opinion. She did. She went to Sime Darby Medical Center (Subang Jaya) and the wonderful team of doctors there (can tell that I am a fan of this hospital eh?) said she did not need to stop breastfeeding. In fact, she can still go on and express her milk while being admitted, pre and post surgery. Thank God!

So back to her gallstone - She was admited on Thursday and doctor did all the necessary tests to confirm the previous diagnosis and yes, she had gallstones. That night, her eyes started to turn yellow. And then her skin did. A little bit like jaundice. Doctor said it was because some of the stones have migrated/passed into other parts. A minor surgery was performed to remove the stones.

And on SaturdayLaparoscopic cholecystectomy was performed to remove the entire gallbladder. A bit scary but it was necessary to prevent a future occurrence of common bile duct obstruction or other complications and gallbladder is practically idle. Our adults bodies do not need it. After about 4 hours in OT, we received the good news from her hubby that the surgery went well and she's doing fine. All praise to the Highest Almighty. She will be discharged today.

A little information on gallstones (since Gallstone risk increases for females - especially before menopause, this info might be useful to us gals).

Gallstone is a crystalline concretion formed within the gallbladder by accretion of bile components. These calculi are formed in the gallbladder but may distally pass into other parts of the biliary tract such as the cystic ductcommon bile ductpancreatic duct or the ampulla of Vater. Rarely, in cases of severe inflammation, gallstones may erode through the gallbladder into adherent bowel potentially causing an obstruction termed gallstone ileus.

Gallstones may be asymptomatic, even for years. These gallstones are called "silent stones" and do not require treatment. The size and number of gallstones present does not appear to influence whether or not patients are symptomatic or asymptomatic. A characteristic symptom of gallstones is a "gallstone attack", in which a person may experience intense pain in the upper-right side of the abdomen, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, that steadily increases for approximately 30 minutes to several hours. A patient may also experience referred pain between the shoulder blades or below the right shoulder. These symptoms may resemble those of a "kidney stone attack". Often, attacks occur after a particularly fatty meal and almost always happen at night, and after drink.

Gallstone risk increases for females (especially before menopause) and for people near or above 40 years; the condition is more prevalent among both North and South Americans and among those of European descent than among other ethnicities. A lack of melatonin could significantly contribute to gallbladder stones, as melatonin inhibits cholesterol secretion from the gallbladder, enhances the conversion of cholesterol to bile, and is an antioxidant, which is able to reduce oxidative stress to the gallbladder. Researchers believe that gallstones may be caused by a combination of factors, including inherited body chemistry, body weight, gallbladder motility (movement), and low calorie diet.The absence of such risk factors does not, however, preclude the formation of gallstones.

No clear relationship has been proved between diet and gallstone formation. Nutritional factors that may increase risk of gallstones include rapid weight loss; constipation; eating fewer meals per day; and low intake of the nutrients folate, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C. Wine and whole-grained bread may decrease the risk of gallstones. Pigment gallstones are most commonly seen in the developing world. Risk factors for pigment stones include hemolytic anemias (such as sickle-cell disease and hereditary spherocytosis), cirrhosis, and biliary tract infections.People with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) are at increased risk to develop gallstones. Additionally, prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors has been shown to decrease gallbladder function, potentially leading to gallstone formation.

Gallstones can either be treated medically or surgically.

Honestly, I do feel very worried. I have heard of so many type of diseases and people, close and far, suffering from all sort of pain. So friends, lets try to live healthily. Eat clean, do a bit of exercise (telling myself) and get yourself insured. Hospital bill isn't cheap, especially if you are like me - who believe in private hospitalization.

Get yourself checked up. Do your annual pap smear. And take some time off for yourself.


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