No, not THAT health debate… I’m talking about one of a more personal nature. The one that involves my gall bladder that may or may not be failing me and, more importantly, what to do about it. A couple of weeks ago I thought I had a touch of food poisoning – and I blamed the fry sauce in the back of the refrigerator that didn’t have an expiration date I’d eaten the night before. But a week later after a very rich dinner with heavy cream sauce – oh so yummy! – I had what can only be described as some sort of attack.
This attack was not pretty and involved hours and hours of vomiting – first the projectile kind followed by what happens when there is nothing left to come up. This by itself is bad – because you see, I. DO. NOT. VOMIT. Not even once when I was pregnant – either time! And I can tell you the exact dates of the last two times I had done so previous to this new development in my life. (Family reunion 2008 and an unfortunate night of drinking circa Halloween 1999) I’m a master at NOT vomiting… But not this night! On top of that horror, I had such excruciating abdominal pain I was crying like a small child who’d just had her stomach run over by a MAC truck and wanted her mommy. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt – and remember I just had a baby and felt every bit of it because my epidural failed. This was worse – way worse. I couldn’t stand up straight because the pain in my stomach was so bad. And I couldn’t take a deep breath for HOURS because the pain radiated up into my back. All total, I suffered for about 20 hours before the pain was gone. After talking to my mom the nurse and extensive Google searches by my hubby (who needs doctors for diagnosis these days anyway?!) we concluded it is most likely my gall bladder.
Now comes the debate. The first thing out of EVERYONE’S mouth are things like “oh, easy surgery” or “I had mine removed after my second pregnancy, too”, etc. Is it just me that thinks removing an entire organ – one that I actually use everyday unlike my appendix – is a bit on the drastic side? Not to mention the permanent side! When I started thinking about it, it’s kind of creepy how everyone just assumes I’m going to have surgery to remove it. Like that is the only option. Twilight zone-ish creepy even! I mean, I still have my tonsils and have never had surgery. Never. This cannot be taken back people!
So I Googled some more on the subject this time down the alternative medicine and treatments road. Since that is my nature after all… And what I found was pretty interesting. Both the traditional medical sites as well as the natural healing ones agree that the cause of gall stones is a concentration of cholesterol that builds up and crystalizes. Which means it is yet another side effect of the American Diet of processed foods. (Oh God, don’t get her started…) Okay, so I went further down the rabbit hole. Are there alternatives to surgery is really what I wanted to know. Well, that and how specifically do I avoid another attack! I found a very compelling quote (which I’m paraphrasing because now I can’t find it again…) Gall stones and the accompanying gall bladder attack are caused by the way we eat. So removing the essential organ which contributes to the digestive process is the equivalent to removing the engine from your car just because you put the wrong gas in it and it stopped on the side of the road.
WOW… that stopped me in my tracks – pun intended – and appealed very deeply to the hippie, naturalist, tree hugger I am at my core. The irony is not lost on me that this is probably the years of High Fructose Corn Syrup and fast food consumption coming back to haunt me… And part of me thinks it might be easier to stay on the healthy eating soap box if the consequence of eating crap is a gallbladder attack. Drastic, yes but very persuasive all the same.
So now comes the dilemma… I’m 4.5 weeks into my 6 week maternity leave already. IF this is really a problem with my gall bladder AND I decide to treat it surgically, I’m looking at another week of recovery time. I’m hoping if I can sell it as a complication of my pregnancy (which many people say it is) they will simply extend my leave and I’ll get an additional week off to spend with my newborn and still get paid for it under short term disability. (That is appealing!) But, if I decide to treat it naturally with a detox cleanse to rid my organ of the crap that is making it not function properly – that will take two weeks and I’ll be back to work. If that doesn’t work, I’ll then be subject to taking an additional two weeks off before STD kicks in again. But just because it is financially convenient to do as part of my leave, does that make it the right decision for me and my body? UGH! And what if the claims of all the natural remedy people saying you can reverse the damage and keep your organ are just so they can sell me their products? Decisions decisions….
For now, I’m treading both paths until the last possible minute when I have to commit to one or the other. I’m seeing my doctor this week for an ultrasound to figure out if it really IS a classic case of gall stones while I start my detox – which I am overdue for anyway. Part of me whispers ‘this is a cop-out’ because as long as I’m still in the discovery phase I can hold off making the official decision. (But hey, knowing is half the battle, as my AA friends say, right?) While another part wonders if I have really diagnosed myself properly – especially considering the one staple in my diet for the past week has been ice cold whole milk which is supposed to be the biggest trigger for a gall bladder attack according to my doctor and I’ve been fine. I’m not even putting the little tidbit of ‘what else could it be’ into the sunlight at this point. Nope, just not going there! Stay tuned… it is sure to be as heated a debate as what they’ve got going on in the Senate right now only on a much more intimate level…