Sunday, July 25, 2010

Can You Say "Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy"?

That's Brynna's phrase of the day...because that's what I had today.

Yes indeedy, folks, the tables have been turned, and I am writing this entry from my hospital bed. The doctor has become a patient.

With no history of gallbladder trouble whatsoever, I developed two waves of horrible, writhing, screaming pain in my belly late on Friday night. One of my wonderful residency colleagues and her husband came over at midnight to stay with Brynna while she slept, and Alex and I trucked off to the emergency room.

The pain had let up by this point, and I made a very embarrassed shuffle around the ER (where, let's remember, I am currently doing a rotation) to a room about as far from the entrance as possible. I was relieved to see two of my favorite ER docs on duty. One of them came right in, stuck the ultrasound on my right upper quadrant, and told me that I had a big honking gallstone.

I was relieved that there was something causing the pain (versus, say, really bad gas)...but surgery was not exactly high on my list of desires for the weekend.

Once my bloodwork came back, confirming that my liver enzymes were nice and elevated, the ER doc called the surgeon to admit me to the hospital, with a tentative plan for surgery on Saturday morning.

I got some pain meds and some sleep, but my morning lab work suggested that I might have a stone stuck in the duct between the gallbladder and the intestine. Surgery had a talk with the GI specialist, and they sent me off for an ultrasound that showed a nice, clean, calm looking duct. By then (our hospital works slowly on the weekend) it was too late for surgery.

So I spent last night in the hospital, too. My labs this morning suggested things were calming down, so I went to the OR for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of my gallbladder using small incisions and a camera, rather than a big open surgery). While they were in there, they did something called an "intraoperative cholangiogram" to make sure that that duct was indeed clear.

And damn it all, it WASN'T. There's a stone stuck there. So tomorrow, it's back to the OR, back under general anesthesia for an ERCP to remove that stone. That procedure carries a 5% risk of pancreatitis, so I have to stay tomorrow night too, just in case.

And I must say, these little tiny incisions from my lap chole hurt a lot. And I'm experiencing first hand a lovely phenomenon that previously has only popped up in my life as a board question— insufflating the abdomen for the surgery irritates the phrenic nerve in the diaphragm, which causes referred pain to the right shoulder.

So, here I am, enjoying my clear liquid diet, watching trashy TV (NCIS marathon!), and trying not to move.

Brynna, of course, is totally unfazed—Mama is "at hospital," just like always.

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