Lessons I’ve Learned from my Gallbladder

Three days before Christmas last year, I was sitting on the couch watching television after supper. Over the course of about an hour I developed what I took, at the time, to be the worst case of “heart burn” I’d ever had: a dull pain, very strong, centred under my rib cage. The pain was accompanied by tremendous gas that manifested in burps the likes I’d never knew myself capable of producing.

I figured the problem was simply related to something I’d eaten, and when it passed a few hours later, I forgot all about it.

Then, two days later, the same thing happened.

On and off for the next several weeks I developed a regular pattern of symptoms: about two or three hours after eating I would begin to feel a pain in my lower back, followed, over the next half hour, by increasing abdominal pain, the aforementioned burping and, at its worst, chills and irritability.

I had no idea what was happening to me, but it wasn’t pleasant.

The week after New Years, I made an appointment with my family doctor, and she diagnosed me as having a stomach ulcer. There are two types of peptic ulcers, those of the stomach and those of the duodenum. Mine was pegged a stomach ulcer because of the time of day, and because eating more, which sometimes makes duodenal ulcers feel better, made me feel worse.

Because I’d appeared to have some relief from Pepcid Complete, my doctor prescribed me Ranitidine 150, which is a genericized version of Zantac.

I dutifully took the Ranitidine twice daily for 30 days. It had no effect whatsoever, and my symptoms only got worse.

Starting from the first time I noticed the symptoms, I started to modify my diet to try and reduce them. I continued this, and broadened the foods I limited or eliminated, once the problem was diagnosed as a stomach ulcer. Following the sort of guidelines you can find many places, I eliminated citrus fruits, caffeine, chocolate, fried foods, milk, tomatoes and spicy foods. While I could easily identify foods I could say for certain would cause me problems, I had a more difficult time finding foods guaranteed not to cause problems.

About three weeks into this experience, in late January, I’d managed to stay symptom free for a week, and naively thought I was “cured.” Catherine and I went out to dinner at The Pilot House, and I had what, in an earlier time, would be considered a pretty non-spicy, innocuous meal. We went out to the movies afterwards, and when we got home I was descended on with the wraths of hell, and was up, with the worst symptoms to that point, until 6:00 a.m. It wasn’t fun.

With neither the Ranitidine nor my dramatic change in diet offering any reliable relief, I made another appointment with my family doctor for late January. At that appointment she did two things: schedule me for an ultrasound, and change my prescription to Nexium.

An interesting sidenote: I was sent to Summerside to the Prince County Hospital for my ultrasound because they could see me right away whereas my doctor characterized the wait at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown for an ultrasound to be “several months.” Thank goodness for Summerside!

I was on the Nexium for a week, and, like the Ranitidine, it offered no more relief than taking nothing offered.

I had the ultrasound the following Tuesday, and three days later I was in the office of a surgeon in Charlottetown talking about gallbladders.

The gallbladder, an organ I’d given no thought to before, ever, is a small organ located near the liver. Its function is to assist in the storage and pumping of bile (“A yellow, or greenish, viscid fluid, usually alkaline in reaction, secreted by the liver.”) from the liver, where it’s made, into the intestines, where it assists with digestion.

Gallstones are formed when “when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material.” When gallstones form, they can block the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder to the intestines, and when this happens, the result can be a “gallbladder attack.”

I learned all of this from the surgeon I was referred to because my ultrasound showed that I had something in my gallbladder that was causing problems.

When I read about the usual symptoms of a gallbladder attack, it was a pretty spot-on description of what I’d been going through.

The “cure” for gallbladder problems is to remove the gallbladder. There are other approaches that have been tried that involve trying to remove or dissolve the gallstones, but my surgeon advised that the reoccurrence of gallstones, assuming these methods are even successful, is high.

Fortunately, we mostly don’t need our gallbladders. I get the impression that it’s “mostly” because it seems that the gallbladder, while we can live happily and healthfully without it, hasn’t quite reached the stage that the appendix has reached in terms of being totally useless. The best description I’ve read says this:

Once the gallbladder is removed, bile flows out of the liver through the hepatic ducts into the common bile duct and goes directly into the small intestine, instead of being stored in the gallbladder. However, because the bile isn’t stored in the gallbladder, it flows into the small intestine more frequently, causing diarrhea in about 1 percent of people.


With things getting steadily worse — the frequency and severity of my attacks was increasing from “once or twice a week” to “once every couple of days” — I had to do something, and it was pretty clear that the gallbladder was the source of my problems. So I agreed with my surgeon that we should schedule its removal.

Easier said than done.

It’s all very well and good to listen to reports about the “health care crisis” and think of it as an abstract problem. In my case the problem was very concrete and clear: the wait for a “cholecystectomy” (aka gallbladder removal) in Charlottetown was six weeks.

Now, granted, I could live through the pain, and I wasn’t in imminent risk of more serious injury (gallbladders, it seems, don’t “rupture” like appendixes do). So I can understand more serious operations going ahead of me. But I’ll tell you, back on February 28th when my appointment was made, the first week in April seemed pretty close to “the end of time.”

But here we are: I’m scheduled for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy tomorrow morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The “laparoscopic” part means that the operation is done with a video camera and some lower-impact incisions; this in contrast to an “open cholecystectomy,” which, from descriptions I’ve read, sounds like what you see the surgeons doing on M*A*S*H every night. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is day surgery — you can leave the same day as the surgery — while an open cholecystectomy requires a week-long recovery in hospital.

What have I learned from this three month odyssey?

First is patience. I’ve basically been unable to eat a normal diet for three months. I’ve been subsisting on oatmeal, apple juice, rice, and toast. I’ve been able to function — not thrive, but at least function. I watched as “the end of time” receded into 5 weeks, 4 weeks, next week, and now it’s tomorrow. That’s been a good lesson in patience.

Second, I learned a lot about my diet. When you have to think seriously about whether or not to put something into your body, lest it cause you to hunch over in pain three hours later, you tend to take eating more seriously. I’ve gotten good at reading labels. I finally figured out the difference between protein, fat and carbohydrates. I know a lot about the relationship between what I eat and how I feel. I’ve learned a lot about the kind of foods I was used to eating, and how easy it is, relatively speaking, to do without them. I’ve shaken off an addiction to (or at least a predilection for) sugar, fat and fast food. My diet for the past three months has been abysmal, but at least I’ve been thinking. These are all lessons I hope will last.

Third, I’ve learned that one way to lose weight is to eat less. There’s nothing like threat of gallbladder attack to motivate, and because I’ve been averaging about 700 calories a day for three months, I’ve lost almost 40 pounds in the process as a pleasant side-effect. This fact alone has gone a long way to keeping my spirits up, as it’s just plain easier to live without an additional 40 pounds to carry around all the time.

Finally, I’ve had to come to grips, if not with my own mortality at least with my own fragility. Up until this point in my life, I’ve been pretty ignorant of any connection between my actions (or lack thereof) and my well-being. The “cheeseburger to body connection” has been an abstract ill, with effects in some nebulous future. I consider it a great gift from my body to alert me to this in such a determined but non-life-threatening way.

I’ve also learned the following very practical techniques for reducing the pain of a gallbladder attack; your mileage, obviously, may vary:

  • Take a hot bath. This is like wearing a hot water bottle. It’s a great pain reliever, and also takes the stress off the lower back, where gallbladder pain lasts longest.
  • Take Tylenol 3’s. This only worked some of the time for me, and only during the last couple of weeks. My surgeon prescribed these after the attacks increased to the point where they were going on for 6 or 7 hours. Rather than eliminating the symptoms, the Tylenols appear to shorten the attacks and make them easier to take. At least sometimes.
  • Go on a liquid diet. My surgeon recommended going on a liquid diet for 24 hours after an attack. When he initially suggested this, I thought he was insane, and I ignored his advice. When things got really bad, I followed his advice, and it helped. Often I found myself symptom free for 4 or 5 days after 24 to 48 hours of clear liquids alone.
  • Relax. I’ve found that if, at first sign of symptoms, I go upstairs and lie down, listen to the radio, and trying and just lie still, I can shorten attacks considerably. On the other hand, if I try and push through, or stay downstairs in the hubbub of family life, it’s amazing how the little stresses of everyday life can make things worse.


I’ve not written about any of this earlier because, frankly, writing about it would have made things worse by making it all appear more real and concrete. I was happier pretending it was all a sort of private dietary fantasy. But I thought it important to at least say a few words now, if only so that my experiences can go on the record and perhaps be of assistance to others.

I’ll be away from this space for the rest of the week. Talk to you all on the other side of the anaesthetic!


Larena's picture
Larena on January 2, 2010 - 04:29 Permalink

I also am deathly afraid of being put to sleep I don’t think so much that I won’t wake up but from what I heard is a lot of people throw up after they wake up and to me that is the worse thing in the world. I have been having gallbladder attacks since I was like 10 years old. I am 31 now and am currently having one now. That is why I am online reasearching about the surgery.

jane's picture
jane on January 12, 2010 - 10:15 Permalink

I am sitting here at 5am, after being awoken at 3am to the ever familiar, every hated pain of what I believe to be my gallbladder. After suffering on and off for over three years, and a Doctor who had told me “There there dear, it’s all in your head”, I am FINALLY getting an ultrasound done. Granted, I had to go to a Walk-In clinic to get the referral. I wanted to thank you for sharing this, as I was starting to question my sanity. Was it all in my head? In reading your blog, I see that my symptoms are REAL and REALLY painful! These attacks used to come rather infrequently, once every few months, in the last year they have become weekly, and now, within the last 2 months they come every few days. The pain is rediculous, and though I am sorry for all of you out there who are suffering from the same pain, I am relieved that I am not alone!!

proudmommy82's picture
proudmommy82 on January 29, 2010 - 04:26 Permalink

I need some advice really, Back in November I had this terrible feeling come over me right after I eat dinner. It felt as if I was dying my heart was racing and shaking terribly called my friend and she said it sounded like a panic attack. well continued through the night and so that moring I went to the er and they told me that my heart was fine and it was probably a panic attack. I felt like dirt for a couple of days after that then it got a little better, well on New years eve I got that same feeling again with chest oains to go with it once again it lasted all night so I went back to the er and the did all kinds of blood work and a abdominal cat scan and he said the only thing he could find was gallstones and that i had alot of them. he refered me to a surgeon which I dont have any insurance, so that makes it harder well this is really scaring me because the pain is in my arms neck, back and really causing my heart to race so bad it wakes me in the middle of the night. I was wondering if any of you have had these symptoms before? I have had xxhest xrays done and 4 ekgs and all were normal. Any help would be great.

frenchie's picture
frenchie on January 31, 2010 - 22:49 Permalink

Sorry to tell you that i have the same attacks, thought it was GERD, or Reflux, i was operated 15 years ago for intense reflux and thought it was back, but the pain is different and almost always heavy in the middle of the chest, when the attack happens both my arms especially in the shoulders hurt, my blood preassure goes way up, my heart races and its like someone is shoving a knife in the middle to left middle of my back. I am going in for a scan to verify whats up, however this link all but tells me that i have a gallblader issue, especially now that i have learnt that my mother had hers removed 2 months after i was born. up to now knock on wood, i take light meals, no eggs, nothing fatty or grilled, the meals are very low in everything including taste but it works, lots of orange juice, oatmeal for breakfast with a banana, and a cup of joe and i have been doing great. If i go for steak or hamburgers, i will pay the price, hopefully i can flush it out, it all started after i went on a two month all protein shack diet, had to quit the pain was so severe and having the runs so bad. The supplier of the protein stuff told me to hang in their everyone goes through this as the body gets used to it, so my answer is this is probably what started my issues, so be carfull what you eat and seek good medical advise..

Newfie's picture
Newfie on February 20, 2010 - 21:28 Permalink

So….I have also been experiencing thses symptoms for the past several months. My attacks are lasting between 6-14 hours 3-4 times a week. I have been to the emergency room several times (waiting upto 6 hours) to have the “wonderful” doctors tell me to go home. Here’s a shot of Demerol! So, I finally convinced them to give me an ultrasound to see if its gallstones (yes I am diagnosing myself at this point!!!Nobody else will do it!) In November I insisted on an ultrasound, my appointment is for June! So here I am dealing with constant pain everyday, and now I’ve just discovered I am 5 weeks pregnant! So now I can’t take any kind of pain relief…the idiot dr’s told me to take a tylenol and they know how uncomforable being pregnant can be….I almost lost it at that one! So here’s to our healthcare system here in canada. Whoever thinks we have a good helthcare system is obviously healthy! Best of luck to ya if you ever get sick. So an 8 month wait, just to see if I have gallstones, to be followed then by a 1 year wait to see a surgeon and then upto another year wait to get operated on. Welcome to Newfoundland and our glorious healthcare!

Cecilia's picture
Cecilia on April 10, 2010 - 22:32 Permalink

It’s so wierd to see this many people with the exact same problem as me. I have lost 6lbs this week alone. I feel like an alien is trying to climb out on my upper stomach!

I have been so miserable in the past week that I haven’t been doing anything, not working, not much of anything at all. I always seem to wake up to an attack in the morning and then if it’s bad enough (which it usually is) I take a Vicoden that the Dr. gave me…and then I’m totally useless for the next 5 hours. My Dr. said not to work and wrote a note until next week, hopeing we figure all this out soon. Is anyone elce not working because of this? I don’t have a typical desk job, I am a server in a fast paced resturaunt and I work outside (in FL). I don’t know if people usually don’t work because of this? Or if my Dr. just doesn’t want me out in the heat running around? I’m just curious because I am bored, not complaining because I did go in one day this week and thought I was going to die. I met the surgon yesterday and he is looking over my CT scan and my ultrasound and is going to give me a call on Monday. Apparently on my scans nobody actually saw my GB..The 6 Dr.’s I have talked to this week always say GBladder without hesitation so I don’t think theres a doubt in their mind what it is..but they just can’t see it. Has this happened to anyone elce before? If I can just get this thing out ASAP I’ll be the happiest girl ever!

erica's picture
erica on April 15, 2010 - 17:07 Permalink

hey i know exactly how you feel- i knew something was up last year and i had it narrowed down to gallbladder just by comparing symptoms on the internet i told the dr. i thought that that was what it was but unfortunatley i to like you was pregnant this go around i had the worst all day “morning sickness” and took diclectin faithfully for about 6 mos and truth be told i just really didn’t eat it felt better not to. In the last trimester i had an attack and i was fortunate enough to have had an appt. the next morning with a maternal hematoligist who test my bile salts which were extremely high, i then became diagnosed with cholestasis of pregnancy and was monitored very closely. My daughter is now 2mos old and i recently had a 36hr attack and made to trips to the er. the first night they hooked my up to ivs and said we’ll book an ultrasound and scope in the next couple of weeks then sent me home- at home was in so much pain i was rolling around on the floor hyperventilating- next am stilll in excrutiating pain went back to er- lucky my dr was on call he took one look at me crying and ordered an x-ray and an ultrasound for next am and a whack of bloodwork- where my liver enzymes were elevated- and ultrasound showed gallstones and inflammation- spent a week at hospital -liver enzymes never normalized- wound up back in hospital after only3 days-with an attack and chest inflammation from the medication- met with the surgeon this past monday to sign my life away and now have to wait to see a hematologist i just hope i see them and get this rectified before another attack- my advice as soon as this pregnancy is over jump on your dr. and if her won’t do anything find one that will

Melanie's picture
Melanie on June 6, 2010 - 14:03 Permalink

Thanks for posting this. I have been having what I thought were gallbladder attack symptoms. They started over a year ago and come and go; sometimes several times a week and sometimes not for a week or so. I went to the doctor last week and was told just from hearing my symptoms and pushing on my stomach that it is not my gallbladder. I was told that I am on the verge of an ulcer. I was put on the same medicine (the generic Zantac) and was told to take it for 2 weeks and then come back. If it works the dr will tell me what foods to avoid and if it doesn’t help we will do a scope to see what is going on. I am on day 4 of the meds and no relief yet…possibly even worse! I am going to bookmark this page so I can refer to it whenever I need! Thanks again!

Sonya's picture
Sonya on June 30, 2010 - 06:24 Permalink

I have been going through many of the same symptoms and had all the same tests done. I have a nasty case of gallstones and im supposed to see a specialist and then a surgeon in the next few months. My dr prescribed Buscopan. Its not great but it reduces the severity of my attacks. I take t3’s for the pain but i may as well be popping mand m’s for the good they do me. I also have crohn’s disease and epilepsy so im limited on what medications i can take. The buscopan does help somewhat though.

Brian's picture
Brian on July 11, 2010 - 23:47 Permalink

Pardon me for asking this, but I am shocked at the long wait times for an ultrasound. Is that typical? Isn’t that a rather basic test? I live in the U.S., and I am in the hospital right now with my wife, who seems to have had a severe gall bladder attack last night. We’ve had two ultrasounds, a ‘lidoscan’ (sp?), an x-ray and a CT-scan in the last 24 hours, with no scheduling beforehand.

Lisa's picture
Lisa on July 17, 2010 - 10:24 Permalink

I am thankful for this site. I went thru an attack tonight. Decided to post on my facebook page what was happening and got allot of responses saying it was my gallbladder. I have been dealing with this for over a year. I have been to my doc several times and mention this issues I am having and received no answers. What happens to me, is that I will eat something and while I am eating it, I’m like oh man this is gonna make me sick later. Sure as shit, I am sicker than a dog within 2 hours. It starts off like a dull pain in my back, then wraps around to my stomach and right chest area. I can feel what I say is poison build up. At which time I have to make myself throw up. When I throw up its all bile, no food or anything like that, just bile. Then I have the same pain for about 2 hours, then I poop and within an hour after pooping I am all better. But mind you this is like a 10 hour process to get relief and it always happens at night. No antacid has worked for me up to date. After doing some research about gallbladders. I will be calling in sick tomorrow morning and heading to my doctor. Some experiences I have read is that ppl have these pains for days. But no one has really said that they throw up and then are better. Anyone out there ever feel better after you throw up? I know that the pain could send me to the ER if I didn’t figure out how to get some relief and I am sure it would last longer too. I’ve tried to deal with the pain and not throw up and see if it goes away and that is just not an option.

Lisa's picture
Lisa on July 17, 2010 - 10:25 Permalink

I am thankful for this site. I went thru an attack tonight. Decided to post on my facebook page what was happening and got allot of responses saying it was my gallbladder. I have been dealing with this for over a year. I have been to my doc several times and mention this issues I am having and received no answers. What happens to me, is that I will eat something and while I am eating it, I’m like oh man this is gonna make me sick later. Sure as shit, I am sicker than a dog within 2 hours. It starts off like a dull pain in my back, then wraps around to my stomach and right chest area. I can feel what I say is poison build up. At which time I have to make myself throw up. When I throw up its all bile, no food or anything like that, just bile. Then I have the same pain for about 2 hours, then I poop and within an hour after pooping I am all better. But mind you this is like a 10 hour process to get relief and it always happens at night. No antacid has worked for me up to date. After doing some research about gallbladders. I will be calling in sick tomorrow morning and heading to my doctor. Some experiences I have read is that ppl have these pains for days. But no one has really said that they throw up and then are better. Anyone out there ever feel better after you throw up? I know that the pain could send me to the ER if I didn’t figure out how to get some relief and I am sure it would last longer too. I’ve tried to deal with the pain and not throw up and see if it goes away and that is just not an option.

Diarbe's picture
Diarbe on July 30, 2010 - 15:03 Permalink

I would love to talk with you about his Alan…. if you have the gall. You seem not without Gall. You are not gallness, but with gall…. Anyway we’ll chat at leas with some kind of humour.

Chele's picture
Chele on August 26, 2010 - 21:42 Permalink

Hi All, Great posts and ideas

I had my gallbladder taken out almost 6 months ago.. And I suffer from alot of pain in stomach, burning, upset, pain in the left side just under breast/rib cage area. I also suffer from palpitations when having a bad flareup.. I went to the er couple of times and they ran all kinds of tests but said my heart was fine, which by all means im thankful for. But the palpitations are definetely scary and I know I only make them worse when I get them by freaking out about it. Was curious if anyone else is having these types of problems as I am after having gallbladder removed and if so what has worked for you.. I can deal with my stomach bothering me but I would be happy to stop the palpitations if possible or at least make them not happen so often.. I have had the palpitaions 5 times in past week, granted only one of those days was bad but I would definetely like to find some ways of dealing with this.. Ive been eating oatmeal past couple of days and that is helping. Cheese and Eggs are definetely bothering me. I have been able to eat peanut butter on toast on occasion. And eating some Burgers and Chicken burgers dont seem to bother me as much as actual red meat does. Salad doesnt always agree with me.. Any insight or help would definetely be much appreciated.

Thanks much

ANGELIQE's picture
ANGELIQE on August 28, 2010 - 08:08 Permalink

OKAY..well i actually started having these pains after my son was born.. ugh.. it was horrible it hurt to move and breathe.. i would put a pillow on my stomach.. the added pressure lessened the pain. but the best thing that is 100% is to throw up.. yup thats right throw up the food you ate just keep throwing up.. and you know when you thrown up enough.. because the pain magically goes away.. that is the fastest way to get rid of the pain.

hope it helps.. if you have any questions or if this helped you email me at cangelita48@yahoo.com.. thanks.

K's picture
K on August 31, 2010 - 21:41 Permalink

I just wanted to say thank you for your information.
I’m 21 years old and last August I was admitted multiple times for vomiting blood and was diagnosed with Peptic Ulcers and a hole in my stomach lining, since then my life has been turned upside down. I’ve dropped 45 pounds, at one point in all of this I was vomiting everything I ate, I can’t drink juice, teas or sodas of any kind. No fried foods, fast food, red meats, pork, etc..If I eat meat at all it has to be plain as plain can be chicken. No Mayo, dressings or most seasonings on anything, thick cream sauces or red sauces/Italian food of any kind, chips, I mainly stick to a plane Jane diet-Water and fruit, plain oatmeal sometimes does okay with me, basically very light and as fresh as I can get it. I don’t have health insurance so I haven’t been able to get an endoscopy done or anything like that and I’m pretty nervous as to what surgery would run me if I needed it, I’ve basically just dealt with this for the past year but I’m to a point where it just controls my life and being as young as I am with this I’ve been very lost about it, yes I’ve changed my life completely since all of this but as far as getting past it I feel like I’ve hit a speed bump and I don’t know anyone else my age that’s ever even had to think about this kind of thing. I wanted to say thank you for all of your information because it really helps in working towards what kind of treatment I need to save for and what kind of doctors I need to be looking into. I hope you had a fast and safe recovery! Thank you again.

Cody's picture
Cody on September 9, 2010 - 23:57 Permalink

Another update since my last comment in 2007…

It’s hard to believe I’ve had gallstones for five years now lol.

For the first year, because I had so few gallstones, I was only having attacks once every 2 months or so. As I continued to eat an abysmal diet of fast food and trans-fats, over time, I developed more stones, and as a result, more frequent attacks. Then it reached a fever pitch where I was having an attack at least once a week, usually more often than that.

I finally got serious about modifying my diet, and although I continued to develop stones, my attacks got less and less frequent, until now… I have maybe one attack every 3 months lol. But I still haven’t gotten it removed.

If you’re only having attacks every few months, and you’ve got the time, WHY SUBJECT YOURSELF TO A SURGICAL OPERATION that may cause more complications than it cures?

Well, I was, and I did, so I decided to go on Ursodiol treatment. If taken daily, on large enough time-scales (like months or years), it can dissolve your gallstones. I’m going to take the pills for a year, and then get another Ultrasound. The results should be interesting…. hehe

Posting again in 2011, thanks for reading :P

Lacey's picture
Lacey on September 18, 2010 - 00:10 Permalink

This has been an interesting blog. I am 28 dealing with gallbladder attacks. I had my first one about a year in a half ago but thought i was having a severe muscle spasm in my back that was radiating to my chest. I then did not have another one for almost a year. I started having them a couple about a month apart but kept thinking it was a muscle spasm. I got married and the night we got back from our honeymoon I had a horrible attack and asked my husband to take me to the er. The er automatically suspected gallstones. The next day I had an ultrasound which found multiple small stones and an enlarged lymph node which they think is inflamed because of my attacks. This was a month ago. I have a surgery consult in less then a week. I’ve been sticking to a low fat diet and have had one horrible attack that lasted almost 1o hours and had stomach pain for days later. sine then I’ve had a few minor attacks. I have also had what feels like heart palpitations and dizziness. I don’t know if that is normal. also does anyone have pain down there right arm? I’m a little worried about having surgery but I do not want another awful attack. Thanks for sharing your stories it is very helpful

Maureen's picture
Maureen on September 22, 2010 - 04:05 Permalink

Hi. I’ve enjoyed all the posts but hasn’t anyone out there had a ruptured gallbladder? I wrote some time ago here about my situation. I mentioned that the surgeon couldn’t remove my ruptured gallbladder because of the state everything was in. I went home with a drainage tube and was told I’d have an operation in five months or so. It’s been almost a year and I still have the tube. I’m supposed to be having another operation within the next two months (so much for the five months!). And there is no guarantee they’ll be able to remove the gallbladder this time either. I’m told my gallbladder may be like stone and they’ll have to very carefully chip away at it to get it out. There will be two surgeons and I’m told they’ll book the operating room for a long time (whatever that means). If they can’t, I’ll still need the tube, and they may try again in another ten months or so! If everything fails I’ll have a tube for the rest of my life. ISN’T THERE ANYONE OUT THERE WITH THIS PROBLEM? IF SO, I’D LOVE TO READ ABOUT YOUR SITUATION. I can find very little on the internet.

I know many people suggest alternatives to suregery, but sometimes is the best solution. I’d be dead without it, and very nearly did die.

Trish's picture
Trish on November 11, 2010 - 04:55 Permalink

TO: Lessons I’ve Learn……
WOW, First I want to say Thank You for your letter of experience. I was trying to find out if oatmeal would be O.K. for me when I found it. The doctor called night before last to tell me that my gallbladder was operating at 2% and 35% was the baseline (I think I got that right) and I will need to see a surgeon. I have had MRI’s, CT’s, X-rays, blood test ,etc. So that evening I started fasting, still have the pain and I will start eating tomorrow morning. I been researching the internet for vitamins, diet and anything else I can find to help myself to ease the pain (the hot bathes-O.K.). I’ve been at this for two years and have taken a lot of medications with no help until now. Again THANK YOU for the oatmeal, apple juice, rice and toast. I will start eating tomorrow.
I wondering if there’s any chance of reverse gallbladder (as I don’t have stones) shutting down and fatty liver? I do not want an operation………. IF I do not have to.

Manda's picture
Manda on November 27, 2010 - 04:59 Permalink

I am 29 years old I eat extremely healthy and I exercise on a regular basis. So when reading the causes of Gall Bladder attacks surprised me. I had a mild attack first… it was quite painful but definitely mild compaired to the second attack. I didnt go to the hospital for the first attack but definitely for the 2nd. Woke up in the middle of the night screaming rocking back and forth the pain did not stop. My boyfriend ended up taking me to the hospital and they instantly gave me pain killers though an I.V. and did some testing and booked my surgery for a month from that day. I had my gall bladder out in May. I figured the surgery would be a peice of cake because it was laprascopic. Not really…. I was in so much pain could barely move, I swelled up real bad, no matter what I could not go to the washroom… I tried laxatives and everything. I had extremely awful pain in my shoulder and collarbone area along with my ribs. This may have nothing to do with having my gall bladder removed BUT it is the end of November 6 months after my surgery and I have gained 20 pounds. I have NO energy and I cannot seem to get back on track. I have been taking enzymes with meals as I have been told it will help to break down my food quicker. Has anyone experienced anything similar?

Chris's picture
Chris on December 5, 2010 - 18:03 Permalink

Thank you for your story. I am not sure how long ago this was written, but last weekend I experienced my first gall stone attack. I found your story by running a search of what I was allowed to eat! Glad to know that that I can actually eat oatmeal…but I find that I am also existing on a very bland diet. I have lost 10 lbs in one week. I will have to go for surgery but have been told by my doctor that I will have to wait at least a month for the irritation in my gall bladder to subside. Of course, I am wondering if I keep having attacks how will the inflammation ever go down?

Anyway, it was nice to read an account of someone who understands, so thank you!

jcdc's picture
jcdc on February 4, 2011 - 17:59 Permalink

Hi, I am 40 year old female and have been suffering from sever back pain for some months now — it’s in the area below the shoulder blade on the right hand side. I have been suffering from similar symptoms that you have described and wonder if it is a gall bladder problem. Would a liver function test be abnormal with gallbladder problems. Also — gums have been bleeding spontaneously — has anyone else had this? Thanks

Leslie's picture
Leslie on March 8, 2011 - 05:57 Permalink

I was 27 when I had my first gallbladder attack. I was three months pregnant and I thought I was having a heart attack. This pain woke me up starting in my lower back to my right behind my right shoulder to the front of my ribs on the right side, like some foreign alien was trying to push it’s way out though my ribs. But at the same time like someone is squeezing that spot together as hard as they can with these enormous fists that do NOT fit in my body. Yea, I’m sure you all know… It’s that painful.

Rushed to the ER, they gave me something for a panic attack because I thought I might lose my baby I had no idea what was going on. They did an ultrasound just a little bit later and they found that my gallbladder was full of gallstones. They told me to schedule a surgery. I went to my OB, and he said to schedule a surgery. I went to the surgeon, and he didn’t even look at my gall bladder and said to schedule a surgery. Seriously? Why would I ever want to schedule any kind of surgery where there is a chance I could hurt my baby? I opted out. The attacks got worse and the frequency increased unbearably. Luckily they gave me some pain meds so I could grit my teeth and bear through them. I’m sorry I know some people are against all pain meds while you’re pregnant,… but sometimes it’s necessary. (I figured pain meds were a lot less dangerous than a surgery at that point.) So I tried to change my diet as best I could and really watch what I eat and drink a ton of water. I had my baby and they wanted me to do the surgery really quickly and I just didn’t feel right about it.

I went back home when my baby was 2 months old and i saw my chiropractor (who by the way can do WAY more than just adjust your back people!!!) and he put me on a regimen of two supplements: BileMin (K-11) and Metacrin DX (K-10) by Apex Energetics. [The BileMin was to help my gallbladder and the Metacrin was to help my liver, as if you want to cleanse one you’ll need to cleanse the other. They are partner organs and will only work better if both are cleansed.] I took two capsules of each in the morning and at night. Until my supply ended. He said to do an apple juice fast each month until my supply of pills wore out. (Fast with fresh pressed apple juice for breakfast and lunch and eat a normal dinner. Or eat a breakfast and fast with juice for lunch and dinner, your choice.) I didn’t have an attack until last week(due to eating steak twice in one week)… over a year later.

Also, if you are having a gall bladder attack, there are things you can do to help with the pain!
*Juice some apples and add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to it and drink it all.
*If you feel like an attack is coming on, drink a glass or two of tepid water and lie down to relax, sometimes it will just pass you by.
*I have a regimen of 2 vicodan I take and go to sleep and by morning I feel like nothing happened. Of course I am useless for a few hours after I take the vicodan.
* Also, give the lemon/olive oil a try if you want another option besides surgery. You take fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil alternately around 7 or 8 at night. You go to sleep and lay on your right side for about an hour. Go to the bathroom around 1 or 2. When you wake up, you may find you have passed some gallstones. And maybe, just maybe you’ll be able to get rid of those gallbladder attacks for a while!

AnonymousJc's picture
AnonymousJc on April 19, 2011 - 17:58 Permalink

Did you ever find out for sure if this was your gallbladder? I have exactly the same symptoms and am hoping to hear you got better!

AnonymousJc's picture
AnonymousJc on April 19, 2011 - 18:13 Permalink

I feel better when I throw up. I have the exact same symptoms. My hida scan was at 0%, and a second hida came back at 50%. I also found out I have celiac. Being gluten free has helped somewhat but not much. Did you find out what was wrong with you? are you better?

Dean's picture
Dean on May 4, 2011 - 03:50 Permalink

Hi. I’m a 48 year old male, and I’ve been dealing with gallbladder attacks for about 3 years. They wanted to take mine out, but I have no insurance, and I really want to keep it as I’ve heard some horror stories about post-removal problems.
Anyway, a friend of mine told me about something that he does and has been doing for years to alleviate gallbladder pain. For the last year I’ve been doing it and it has made a huge difference.
First thing every morning, I drink a mixture of 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice, followed by a glass of 100% apple juice. Then I don’t eat solid food eat for at least an hour. No coffee, no trans-fats, no dairy, no pork or processed meats, no soda, no alcohol. Lots of fiber!
Works great for me, my life has changed so much for the better since I started doing this daily. Just wanted to share.

Texas Tom's picture
Texas Tom on July 7, 2011 - 15:48 Permalink

Wow! This story really nails my situation. I saw my Dr. last week and she said I most likely have Gallbladder issues. I am scheduled for an ultra sound of my Gallbladder in 3 weeks. I have had almost all of the symptoms mentioned in the story but, last night, I woke up because my entire stomach area was moving jumping around like a mouse was inside running in circles. This lasted about 10 minutes then, faded. Anyone else experience this? Also, I noticed that oatmeal will quiet the rumbling when I get up, I’m not really hungry but, one I eat it, I have peace.

Robert's picture
Robert on August 2, 2011 - 23:21 Permalink

My wife had her gallblader removed several years ago and recently she had a bad ‘gallbladder’ attack requiring morphine to dull the pain. These attacks have been appearing fairly regularly. We realise it has to do with her diet and she has to modify it. Does anyone have a diet plan they have found to work which includes more than lemon drinks and oatmeal?

Linda's picture
Linda on August 27, 2011 - 03:25 Permalink

Great tip. I’ve heard about the olive oil and lemon juice. I’m afraid to try that while I’m having attacks though as the oil may trigger more pain. I’m glad this helped you.

Linda's picture
Linda on August 27, 2011 - 03:29 Permalink

I am having the exact symptoms you describe. I had a killer migraine for 5 days, neck pain and I had an ultrasound yesterday and still waiting for results. I don’t want to have my gallbladder out either. I had my last attack 5 years ago and they found just sludge.

Eric Owen's picture
Eric Owen on September 4, 2011 - 16:37 Permalink

I have been reading the comments from a great number of people, mostly from the USA. I thought I would write down my experiences about my recent tiff with gallbladder problems , not to comment on the extraordinary advice I found in the blogs but to show how it is approached here in Canada where we have a great health system.

It started on Thursday 25th of August 2011 when we were visiting friends and had to leave because I was vomiting and having sever stomach cramps.
The following Saturday I was taken to Emergency where after 10 hours of blood work, extensive X-rays, an MRI and a couple of Ultrasound was admitted into Hospital. The surgeon eventually told me I had to have my gallbladder removed.He offered surgery on Sunday August 28th but I declined immediate surgery and now an operation is scheduled for September 28th next. My choice!

I have been home since last Wednesday August 31st.and I am feeling a great deal better and the pain has really gone. I was informed by my local MD (who has undertaken all the necessary post op procedures ) waiting was the correct decision to make as the inflamed gallbladder will have time to settle down.

What I wish to point out to our American friends is to have your Government introduce Health Care.

The cost to me personally for all the previous procedures, hospital care and the future operation NOTHING. By the way I’ve already undergone two hip replacements …again costing me NOTHING.

molly's picture
molly on September 21, 2011 - 21:16 Permalink

DON’T GET YOUR GALLBLADDER REMOVED. YOU NEED IT!! I BOUGHT ANDREAS MORITZ’S BOOK CALLED “THE AMAZING LIVER AND GALLBLADDER FLUSH”. Or there’s a website called “Gallbladder Attack” that provides some natural remedies and will save you thousands and thousands of dollars on operations. And getting your gallbladder removed isn’t the answer! You need your body parts; they are there for a reason, no matter how small the organs, cells, tissues are. No matter what the western medical community thinks or says, there is an answer in nature. God didn’t leave us without answers or hope.

molly's picture
molly on September 21, 2011 - 21:19 Permalink

I’m almost begging you — read Andreas Moritz’s book “The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush”. She could get pain relief by grating a beet with juice from 1/4 of a lemon and a bit of olive oil. Eat a tablespoon every hour or so. Also check out the website “Gallbladder Attack” for some natural products and advice. Please do that.

Sara's picture
Sara on November 30, 2011 - 22:50 Permalink

Well I don&#39t understand why you have to wait that long just to get an ultrasound test. I am in Ontario and my doctor referred me to the ultrasound clinic and I had the test within a week. I would also like to point out before you blame our healthcare system, look at the posts above from Americans who can&#39t have the surgery because they don&#39t have insurance. I&#39d rather wait six weeks than live with this pain until I die. Not that I think our system is perfect!!

Sunni's picture
Sunni on December 1, 2011 - 18:45 Permalink

Depends on the hospital, some will send you home to schedule an appointment with your doctor, and then wait weeks to get in for an ultrasound (this happened to me), or a few will do like yours -get you in right away. Chances are you are in the US and have insurance. Alot of us don&#39t. (like me). So we wait and eat oatmeal, peeled apples, bananas, Uncle Bens brown rice (not the 90 sec one with cannola oil) and potatoes and carrots. No oil, no butter/margarine, no peanut butter or other nut butters, no fried foods, no animal products, no store bought prepared foods, no onions, no pepper, no ginger (I was told that would help my nausea — but I just got worse and worse. Then I drink lots and lots of water to calm my stomach down. That has seemed to help. Also trying to do some walking. Doing a little better now, but this is a very limited diet and I long for something more.

Finally got my ultrasound done yesterday and waiting for the results. Was told it will take a week to get the results!

Lindsey's picture
Lindsey on December 2, 2011 - 17:53 Permalink

I just had an ultrasound done. Been having gallstone symptoms for 6 months or so. i have never had any real bad attacks or anything. sometimes ill get the sharp pains on my right side but it only lasts seconds. i get the bad gas and burps now and then. lol and i get that heavy feeling on my side. and ive been nauseus at times.   My doctor says the only way to totally get rid of the problem is to get your gall bladder removed. which makes me so nervous. i even mentioned to him that i heard people who got their gall bladder removed still showed symptoms and had problems. he just said that that is very rare. The thought of it scares me so much. Im just waiting for the call back of my ultrasound results.. hope its not too bad or anything. this has put so much stress on me. scared to eat and always thinking the worst. Like my gall bladder is going to rupture. lol.. just want to be normal! dont like having to live in fear and worry.. i have also read about several kinds of gall stone flushes and i really want to try them but kinda scared to. i wanted to ask my doctor about it but he was so stuck on having to get it removed. feeling a little discouraged… feel like either way im going have problems. i want to try anything i can before i feel like the only choice i have is to get it removed. ugh help.. lol  

Eliza's picture
Eliza on December 3, 2011 - 04:06 Permalink

Hello. I had to stop and comment because I am amazed at how similar my gallstone experience is to yours. I get pain and belching after a fatty meal and I thought it was heartburn that would start out as a backache. It often woke at night and grew steadily worse, keeping me up for five hours on average. I went to the doctor and he treated me for an ulcer. I got more attacks and they did an ultrasound to find I had gallstones. I’ve been given T3s for the pain while I wait for surgery, which is two weeks from now. What struck me more than anything about your experience is your mention of the hot bath! I couldn’t find anything on the Internet about people with gallstones finding relief in a hot bath but that’s the only thing that helps me!

How are you now after surgery? I’m very scared and I would love to know how you’re doing now.

Please feel free to email me.

Take care.

Eliza's picture
Eliza on December 3, 2011 - 04:12 Permalink

Hello there.

I just wanted to let you know that vomiting helps me feel better.

Janice Ames's picture
Janice Ames on December 6, 2011 - 14:05 Permalink

You didn&#39t “learn” anything. A doctor told you one thing and you took their word for it. That&#39s not learning. You DO need your gallbladder just as much as any organ in your body. Beware of anyone who tries to convince you, you don&#39t really need an organ that millions of years of evolution has determined that you need (that&#39s why it&#39s there in the first place).  You will still get stones even with your gallbladder gone. You would do better taking care of both your liver and gallbladder. Most of the time, you have a sluggish liver and THAT&#39S WHY you have the backup in your gallbladder to begin with.  Ignorace is bliss. Check out sensiblehealth.com

Robyn's picture
Robyn on December 10, 2011 - 04:21 Permalink

Hi everyone-I&#39ve been having gb attacks for about 18 months, and am about to undergo an endoscopy to verify it is gb and not ulcer.  If gb, will have surgery in the next few weeks.  I&#39ve spent the last year and a half trying alternative healing methods, and have had some success.  However, my attacks are triggered by weight loss, and since I still have a good amount of weight to lose (after 4 babies in quick succession!) I think I may kill myself if I keep the gb in.  Thought I would share some alternative methods that have worked best for me:

(1) Phosphotydilcholine — found alone in capsule form, or in Soy Lecithin (capsules or powder).  This helps keep the bile moving and prevents more stones from forming.  When I stop taking this, I am more prone to attacks.

(2) Ox Bile — this is a great thing to take if you&#39ve eaten a fatty meal and you can tell your gb isn&#39t happy.  It supplements the bile in your system so your gb will stop trying to contract and add bile.

(3) Castor Oil packs — also great in an attack.  I coat a cotton rag with castor oil, place it on my belly, and put a heating pad on top.  Keep it on for 30 min — 1 hour, or until pain subsides.  This has gottem me through many a night when I didn&#39t feel like taking a warm bath.

Best of luck to everyone — there&#39s not a clear cut answer on this one!  I am a natural healing girl (4 babies born at home), but this one has gotten me.  The pain has gotten so bad that I am eating poorly and not getting much exercise, and I have decided that my long term health is better served by removing it and moving on with my life.  

Danica's picture
Danica on December 11, 2011 - 00:14 Permalink

About a month and a half after having my daughter I started to get these pains and I went to the doctors and she sent me for an ultrasound sure enough I have gallstones I go for surgery in a couple weeks the only thing that has helped me is 1 tblsp of apple cider vinegar and lots of pure apple juice nothing from concentrate it works really well within 20 min or so the pain should be gone, my pains would last 2-3 days but try it and it may work for you like it did me :)

Jennifer's picture
Jennifer on December 12, 2011 - 17:51 Permalink

Just thought I’d share something that has changed my symptoms…I may or may not have issues with gallbladder however as I read I am thinking that I do. As I thought that I needed to cut out food that was problematic for me, I also thought I could figure this out on my own. I cut out alcohol first, then coffee, sugar and dairy. I began drinking green smoothies and have this first thing in the morning…if I drink enough (whole vitamix blender full) then I am good with something light in the late afternoon. Check out ‘green for life’. I am forever thankful for having tripped over this information…the book is full of easily accessible science. I have a calmer stomach, more energy and am not carrying extra weight.

Kim's picture
Kim on December 12, 2011 - 20:20 Permalink

I&#39m 16 days post-op and thought I&#39d share my experience from Canada. I&#39m 45, female, vegetarian, otherwise healthy but about 10 pounds overweight, no family history of gallstones that we know of.  Previously I had no digestive problems or symptoms at all, then I came down with a brutal stomach ache after a stodgy late dinner. Six sleepless hours later I went to the ER. They did an EKG to rule out heart attack, gave me morphine, did blood work and ultrasound, and diagnosed gallstones. There were several stones, and my gallbladder was inflamed and infected — I was admitted and had the surgery (lap chole) 24 hours after the onset of symptoms (the surgeon said that had I chosen not to have the surgery, they would have kept me on IV antibiotics for several days). I recovered from the surgery in a week or so, and now I feel entirely normal. I&#39m eating normal food, which for me means mostly healthy stuff  with lots of fibre. I&#39m watching the fat intake, but I&#39ve eaten pizza with no problem. To conclude, I&#39m very glad I had the surgery.

Meme's picture
Meme on December 15, 2011 - 08:12 Permalink

My pain started about July of 2011. I didnt know wht was goibg on,all I knew was this pain on my upperside near or behind my rib cage, I started burping alot and passing gas. I went on thinking I wouldnt have any more symptoms after it was over with. Well low and behold another attack happened in August. This time I was throwing up and that seemed to have help ease my pain. But again a month later same thing. This is December and my insurance does not kick in until January of 2012. I will take heed to wht ive read from u guys because the one I had last night made me not even want to eat. I been drinking water all day. Im scared to eat. But again I will look at gtn a cleanser and drink apple juice and watch wht I eat until I go to the doctor.. This pain is no joke. I dnt wish this on no one.

Diane Hamilton's picture
Diane Hamilton on December 17, 2011 - 06:23 Permalink

I know your post is from 2009 but I experience the same thing. I have had that upper gut pain and at times have gone beyond nausa to having to force my self to vomit to get rid the intense pain  in my upper stomach. It hurts when I press on my right side inder the  ribe cage. For most of my life I have had panic attacks off and on since 22. I&#39m now 53.  What it all means I don&#39t know. I&#39d like to know how you made out with your situation.

Be well!



shalon's picture
shalon on December 19, 2011 - 17:42 Permalink

1.  Unless your gallbladder is infected or about to rupture YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE YOUR GALLBLADDER REMOVED!

2.  There are many natural ways to treat gallbladder issues.. Most importantly DIET.

3.  Gallbladderattack.com  has many resources to help

4.  I found during an attack  Drinking 1tbsn epsom salt in unfiltered apple juice every 30 minutes untill pain stops.  Also Apple cider vinegar and help with the acid that backs up into the stomack

Hi, I am 33 year old femail.. I started having attacks after my 30th birthday.  With all the symptoms everyone has described.  I managed to avoid attacks by watching my diet.. avoiding bad fats and adding good ones (Flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil, Avocado)  

I then saw someone for Homeopathy and the one treatment  allowed me to eat anything and not have an attack untill 2 years later… I am now back to sqaure one.. I know now diet is the best possible answer as well as taking supplements to help the gallbladder work better.   

Best of luck to all of you in your journey to a pain free healthy life




Kathryn's picture
Kathryn on December 30, 2011 - 11:00 Permalink

I had the throwing up as well. It all started about two years ago for me. If I ate rich fool I would wake up in the night with really bad stomach pain, thought at the time it was just my body “complaining” about what I had eaten. Over time the attacks increased in frequency, from one night a month to the point when it was every night all night. I was so tired and drained and miserable, had rashes on my eyes and eyes were swollen and painful. Just as I thought it couldn’t get worse it went from all night to 24 hrs a day, non stop. I had the vomiting every time, and like you it was never food just bile, it got to the point when I would just make myself vomit to get it over and done with, the sooner I was sick the sooner I would start feeling a little better. As a result of the vomiting I had bad sores like burns around my mouth and felt like It was just too much. Finally I had one bad episode then for some strange reason I haven’t had it back again (thank God!) I’ve been and had an ultrasound and I have two big stones in my gallbladder, and some scaring and debris (apparently bile and other stuff, the doctor didn’t really go into detail)
My Doctor has said that my gallbladder has to come out but the more I google this subject the more I read that surgery is not the best option and that I sound try alternative remedies first.
My liver is also not good (fatty liver) and I have to get this sorted soon.
I want to look at doing a liver and gallbladder cleanse but I am terrified that this may bring the pain back, I’ve not had any bad episodes for about 1.5 months and am honestly terrified of doing something that will aggrivate it and bring it back, I really couldn’t go through that again, was popping pain killers like they were lollies for a few months.

Kathryn's picture
Kathryn on December 30, 2011 - 11:08 Permalink

I live in New Zealand and had to wait over four months, obviously a different country but I think healthcare is a fairly universal problem.
By the time I got the scan the attacks had stopped and I very nearly didn’t go, I was that convinced that I must have passed any stones and it was all over. Thank God I did still get the ultrasound and found that I had two huge gallstones and a fatty liver. Now my problem is what do I do about it? Do I take the Doctors advice and get it taken out or do I try and deal with this naturally and see if that helps? Just so terrified of aggrivating things and bringing the pain back.

den's picture
den on January 2, 2012 - 18:36 Permalink

Take 1 tablespoon of Epson salts in water. Let it mix in the water. Take 1/2 glass of olive oil and lemon juice 1/2 glass. Lay down right side right leg up. You are in severe pain anyway.

The Epson salts expands the bile duct for passing the stone, and the olive oil triggers the gall bladder and liver to pump bile, and that will push the stone out quickly, and with less pain.

And it won’t take 7 hours this way. Cleanse once a month till you see no more stones. In the morning after take tbsp of Epson salts in water. Thats when the stones really pass. Best not go to work that day.

Now go to youtube and watch gall bladder cleanse videos.