So the short of it is that I have many gall stones in my gall bladder and occasionally get lodged in the stomach end of it causing a “gall bladder attack” where I feel like I might die, or rather, wish I could.
Well the first time it happened I decided not to write about it because I was embarassed. I had woken up one night mid-december 1:30 am with what I thought was a chest-back cramp that I tried to get up and stretch. It gradually progressed till I thought I was having a heart attack. (At the peak I was at the top of my pain threshold begging God to let me pass out, I writhed, I screamed, I could not even communicate/beg K to call the ambulance or take me to the E.R.) And then I vomited everywhere. When it got just slightly better- enough to say “Take me to the ER now!”
By the time I got to the ER it was still slowly going away and they did an EKG and chest X-ray to rule out heart and lung issues. The doc on call in the ER at the UW was a Psychiatrist. And though I begged to have them look at my other organs (stomach, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas?) he ignored my concerns and told me I had woken up with a severe panic attack and I needed to be started on anti-anxiety meds. He persisted in this diagnosis dispite my reasoning that I had not been axious at all (did yoga before bed), was not at all axious when I woke up with the first cramping pains and I had once in my life before woken up with a panic attack which was scary and my heart raced but did involve level 10 pain.
I didn’t want to talk too much about it because I could not prove it was not an anxiety attack but I did some research and decided I had had a kind of pregnancy complication called Supine (from laying down) Aortal somethingorother. And I decided it was a fluke and would never come back if I slept propped up. Done. If I thought about it anymore or worried it would happen again, I would never let myself get in bed and fall asleep again.
But Karolyn and I were trying to have a “babymoon” overnight at the Salish Lodge and had a great dinner and spa time. We went to bed and I sadly woke up at 1:30 again with the same cramping and I tried to convince myself I didn’t know what was coming. I got up and sat in a chair and tried to be really spiritual and “witness” what was going on, the ramping up of my pain and used every labor-coping technique I have learned and when it was at it’s tip top and I though I would pass out soon, I woke Karolyn and told her in a tiny voice that it was happening again and to call 911 only if I passed out. Right then I ran to the bathroom and threw up everywhere and felt relieved knowing my pain might soon decrease. I sat back down and kept still trying to keep witnessing what was happening. Over about an hour and a half it gradually died down to just a cramping again. We never went to the ER because we were not close to one, I wanted desperately to not ruin our vacation and I was convinved I was at least not having a heart attack.
But I scheduled myself to see a Gastroenterologist the next day almost as soon as we got home. He was convinced that I had presented both times with typical gall bladder attack (which was what my naturopath/midwife thought when I told her about the first time.) and sent me in for blood tests and ultrasound.
And it was that easy! I have gall stones -it’s common for this to come up in pregnancy if it was lingering around and it’s the number two most common surgery that needs to happen during pregnancy! Unfortunately we found it too late for surgery during pregnancy (two of my friends had it out during pregnancy, it turns out!) so my job is to eat less fat (I don’t know how that’s possible) and eat less before bed (while still trying hard to gain more weight?!) and to take a vicodin if I wake up with the crampy feeling. I’m not really into the vicodin while pregnant since I’ve survived it twice without, but my naturopath and gastro both think the level of pain I’m enduring is likely not good for the baby either. ..And then eventually have the gall bladder out after the baby. And of course pray that the attacks don’t get longer or more frequent in the next two months!
Well if you know me, I can see a Godly positive purpose in everything so as it turns out the way I really feel about this is grateful-I am so much more relaxed and excited about our drug-free birth (the gall bladder thing does not make me a high-risk patient) because I have been way over what I could have imagined the top of my pain threshold is for longer periods of time non-stop than contractions would be (1min with breaks). I’ve now read fifteen online accounts of women who had natural childbirth who swear a gall-bladder attack is much worse. So I feel confident and tough! ROAAARRRRR!