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!


Meaghab's picture
Meaghab on January 6, 2012 - 22:15 Permalink

I am currently in the hospital in Charlottetown pei 35 weeks pregnant and suffering from major gallstone attacks now for 4 weeks. I have been hospitalized for 3 days now with morphine injections around the clock to deal with the pain.
For anyone saying you need your gallbladder and you can find at home cures for the pain have no experienced what I am going through and don’t make people that choose to have there gallbladder removed sound like idiots…. Your gallbladder is not like your apendex it will not rupture or explode but it will cause liver failure if not taken out. Some people are lucky and are able to pass the stones if they are small enough but most of the time they get stuck or rip open the duct they are trying to get out of and cause more internal problems… If I could have them do the surgery right now I would be sitting there with scalpel in hand but I’m to far along in my pregnancy to do so. I must wait till the baby is born before they can take it out safely. Honestly I hate when people go on to someone’s blog and tell them there wrong. It’s there experience and there opinion if you don’t agree stop reading and go to a different site!

donna butler's picture
donna butler on January 8, 2012 - 10:17 Permalink

hi there, i to have been suffering with gallstones for three years now, and i am reaaly scared of being put to sleep for the removal of the gallbladder, i have been experiencing pain now for three days and am due at the doctors again tomorrow, i want to try the gallbladder flush but could not drink the olive oil, so i am now looking for a alternative.

Diane's picture
Diane on January 10, 2012 - 19:01 Permalink

I had a laprascopic gallbladder removal in early January 2009. My 3rd year anniversary has already come and gone. For about five days I was ok, but after that when I returned to my normal activities and diet it all went seriously downhill. Eventually I had to be hospitalized for dehydration and acute pancreatitis, and now I have post-cholecystectomy syndrome, which is being treated with a pill meant for IBS. It’s a pain to live with, but not as much as life with all those gallstone attacks. I can recall two occasions when I went to the ER in severe pain (in November and December 2008). The first moment was the impetus for me to see a doctor about the gallbladder removal and the second was after I’d had my surgery scheduled, so they gave me some kind of medication that helped prevent any more attacks until they could take the gallbladder out. Part of me wishes I’d stuck with that medication instead, but I recognize that it probably would’ve ended up killing me had I not done anything, even while taking that medicine. Now I have to be extra careful about what I eat and how much of it I do eat. On the plus side, I’ve been able to lose some 70 pounds since my first gallbladder attack (in September 2008) and thus escape the risk of developing diabetes, so it did do me some bit of good.

rsre's picture
rsre on January 11, 2012 - 02:42 Permalink

Just get it out. I did and I feel much better, Why do people suffer through pain when they don’t have too. All these ridiculous alternatives to health care is a load of crap. Your going to have problems your whole life if you use the alternative treatment. I had a 4% ejection fraction and yes the gall bladder can rupture, mine did, and the surgery was worse because of it. Do it before it gets too bad. spend a little money on your health and less on other useless crap.

Deb's picture
Deb on January 13, 2012 - 08:08 Permalink

I have just went through 15 horrific years of “GERD”. I barely made it home on New Year’s Eve after work, threw my things on the loveseat and rushed to the bathroom—literally sick. I was in so much pain that I was in tears. On the second I woke up in tears from the pain again. I felt like my stomach was trying to burst through my skin. I went to the er to find out after 6 and a half hours that my gall bladder was bad. They removed it a week ago today. On the whole I’m feeling better, but I still have the occassional Nauseated feeling. The surgeon said that I was lucky I didn’t wait any longer to seek medical attention. It had a huge gall stone, the walls were thickening and it was severely inflamed when it was removed. I say that if you can afford it, have it removed, don’t wait. Even laproscopically the recovery time seems to take forever, but at least I’m not keeping my husband up at night because I am in so much pain I am crying and cannot sleep.

Ali's picture
Ali on January 13, 2012 - 20:52 Permalink

Hi Manda,
My situation sounds almost exactly like yours (and just had GB removed two days ago). If you still look at this website, how are you feeling now? I’d be really interested to hear what enzymes you use to supplement your diet and if they work. I have to start thinking about my post-op diet and I’m getting no information whatsoever from my doctors.
Best wishes, Ali

Mary's picture
Mary on January 14, 2012 - 22:34 Permalink

Hello, I had an abdominal ultrasound Monday and was told Thursday that I have multiple gallstones. With all of the horror stories out there has anyone had a good experience with getting their gallbladder removed? I have an appointment on Tuesday with a surgeon. My current symptoms are heartburn right below the breastbone, major constipation, flu like symptoms and some pain in my back between the shoulders. I haven’t had any debilitating attacks. My heartburn is constant but mild. I always thought it was my anxiety so I would take my Xanax. Is there anyone that has been able to keep their diet the way it was before your surgery? I don’t cook so I used microwaveable meals, cereal, bagels and sandwiches. I also drink a lot of diet sode. I am trying to lose weight but don’t want to by having diarrhea all of the time. Any suggestions?

nett's picture
nett on January 15, 2012 - 14:05 Permalink

I want to thank you for sharing your story. I’m 25 and I’ve been having trouble with this pain since I was about 23. before then , I used to eat what ever I wanted , when ever I wanted to. But exactly how you described it( your body will tell you what you can and cannot eat). Best thing , is to listen to it. The Doctors I went to said there was nothing wrong every time i went to the ER or got ultrasounds. to make a long story kinda short. I did my research online and thats how I found out what was wrong with me, I changed the way I was eating and started exercising as much as I could. Life changed. But I just learned a lesson recently, If you slip up and start eating wrong , it will come back. omg, just had a flash back this AM , okay so I have to stop cheating myself and do whats right for my body.

jen's picture
jen on January 15, 2012 - 15:39 Permalink

I have had my gallbldder removed now for 8 years and i have had nothing but problems. I throw up bile, sever stomache pain, and problems having bowel movement. I really wished I would of kept mine.

Cindy's picture
Cindy on January 17, 2012 - 17:20 Permalink

Wow, so many stories that sound like my own. I had the surgery 10 days ago and am slowly coming around. I had no pain after the surgery, I did however have and still have discomfort. The discomfort is slowly subsiding. I did think I would be back at work by now but nope. I for some reason have 6 incisions and not sure why. The surgeon I had does the surgery and than does not have contact with his patients from that point on. I do find that when I eat, I can actual feel things working in my stomach and is a bit uncomfortable, I am hoping this feeling passes in time. My grandmoother of 90 yrs old had her gallbladder removed many years ago and has had no problems since. At this point I have no regrets of getting the surgery down. For those of you who are talking about people who need to eat right instead of the surgery, it isn’t that black and white, even vegetables can set off these attacks, you never know what may or maynot put you in unbelievable pain. I do agree however, that a low fat diet is a help but not a sollution in all cases.
On the lighter side, for you men that have experienced these pains, when women tell you, you have no idea what the pain of childbirth is like, I have had the conversation of gallbladder pain with other women and they all agree that the pains that come with gallstones is by far worse then child birth. You now have something to come back with….. :)

Cindy's picture
Cindy on January 17, 2012 - 17:27 Permalink

Hi Mary, from what I am reading in your post, you may be able to control your issues with change of diet. Maybe more fruits and vegetables. Microwaveable meals are not really a healthy choice. Worth a try if things aren’t that bad yet.

toni's picture
toni on January 23, 2012 - 17:47 Permalink

First let me start off by saying I am very healthy never a health problem ever. Back around the first week in December I had what I thought was the worst pain I thought it was gas so I brought gasx but I notice the pain got worst I went to the hopital and all they gave me was a G.I cocktail and the pain went away.About a week later same pain but a little worst so I went to the hospital again then they did blood work and gave me the G.I cocktail and the pain went away.It happen again not a week later but 5 days later the pain was so bad I could not deal with it I went to the hospital and the same thing a G.I cocktail .About 4 days past and the pain was so severe it was past a 10 on the pain scale I went to the hopspital but this time the G.I cocktail did not work so they gave me some medicine through the I.V that help then I went home the doctor told me to go get a scope done by a GI specialist so I did she sent me for a ultrasound now waiting for results but she said she feels it is my gallbladder but I said I dont eat alot of fried foods the doctor said because I had multiple births back to back I proberly wore out the mucle in my gallbladder so I will post again after the results but I hope this help someone that is going through this .Because the pain only gets worst if you wait but one more thing I started eating a very low fat diet I did some research and 40 gms of fat a day is a low fat diet but moderate is 50-60 gm so try saltine crackers and water I did for weeks but eat a meal every 3 to 4 days to me that give your body less fat to process so watch what you eat I know it is hars especially when you are use to eating what you want so I will post again once I find out more.

toni's picture
toni on January 23, 2012 - 19:07 Permalink

Hi lisa I hope things get better but I just got my test results in and I have gallstones and sludge in my gallbladder but as I type I am calling a surgeon to shedule an app .This gallbladder have to be remove so I will post again and you can email if I can help .

Bec's picture
Bec on January 24, 2012 - 12:48 Permalink

A random click on a google search brought up your blog. It was interesting to read about your experiences through this time in your life as I am just starting this little journey. Its been 2 weeks for me so far and because I got sick on my holiday, the blood tests and ultrasound I had then have become lost in transit and am starting it all over again. I am truly not looking forward to the coming months. Just got over another attack tonight!
Thank you sir.

Gulab's picture
Gulab on February 1, 2012 - 21:06 Permalink

My ultrasound report says that I have “sludge and small stones” in my gallbladder. I guess I had gallstones for the last 5 years or more but I never knew. Two years ago I went to ER because I had a small kidney tone in my right kidney that was stabbing my right kidney. They did CT SCAN and told me that I will pass that small stone that same day, that I did. I passed a small stone (size of a grain) in the urine. I urinated on the stainer and the stone was there.
My CT SCAN said that I had stone in my gallbladder too that I was unaware off. I never had any symptoms. Now after two years, I feel mild poking in my gallbladder due to that small stones. I DO NOT WANT MY GALLBLADDER TO BE REMOVED. I want to treat this with herbal supplements. DO YOU KNOW ANY HERBAL SUPPLEMENT TO DISSOLVE AND FLUSH OUT THESE SMALL STONES? I am asymptomatic: NO VOMITING, NO NAUSEA, NO SEVERE PAIN, ONLY ONE 15 MINUTES ATTACK WITHOUT VOMITING IN JANUARY,2012.

Ashley Wiseman-Clevenger's picture
Ashley Wiseman-... on February 3, 2012 - 20:01 Permalink

Yes. I spent the worst night of my life last night writhing in pain for 7 hours after taco night. I told my husband that for those 7 hrs. i felt like an alien was trying to escape from my rib cage. I have 2 kids and labor at least gave me a couple minutes of releif between contractions. I thought i was having a heart attack, vomiting, the const/diar/gas, and CHILLS. Like the cramps would hit and when they subsided i had cold chills everywhere. This was my first attack.I was so scared. I would dose off and 30 min later i was jolted awake by pain.My daughter was sleeping in the floor at the end of me and my husbands bed because she was scared and when she seen me rolling in the bed and whimpering she got up and went back in her room because i was scaring her.It was miserable. I had to call in to work. My stomach is so sore. To the touch. Is this gonna keep getting worse? All the women in my family have had their gallbladder removed. Any advice?

Canadiangallless's picture
Canadiangallless on February 4, 2012 - 12:56 Permalink

I had my gal bladder removed back in july 2011. It is now feb 2012. I have to make an effort now to commit to change my diet fully. Not easy but no horror stories either. I am
Conscious that I need to stop eating late and cut out all fat, sugar and carbs. my body doesnt seem to want to digest anything after 6pm… So after going to a movie with my girlfriend lasting hand downing a bag of popcorn and chocolate…(so unhealthy) I just woke up in the middle of the night having to go and throw up bile in the washroom because I woke up from what it seems like heartburn or acid but it’s not…

Anyways, we do it to ourselves and after reading allyour stories I am going to make sure to modify my habits before I end up going to the hospital go another issue.

Thanks for posting. It would be great to know if the original poster of the story has had any post surgery issues., diet changes, etc…

Jason's picture
Jason on February 5, 2012 - 17:07 Permalink

Hi Cindy my name is Jason. I have had this problem for about a year now and I have no insurence. To get it taken out. I don’t no what to do. If u no of or have any ideas please tell me.

Ps I like the statement about the childbirth thing. That was a little funny

Jason's picture
Jason on February 5, 2012 - 17:15 Permalink

I would get ur gallblader removed. Yes it gets worse and the pain lasts longer. Mine has never lasted has long as yours has but when I first got it it lasted for about 3 hours. Then it went to about five and now I get them more often but it only last for about 30 min but the pain is so much more. Every time I get the pain I make myself though up and about 10 15 min later I start to feel better. Like today I woke to to back and stomach pain. I went to the bathroom and though up and that was about 9:30. I feel fine now.

Dineen's picture
Dineen on February 6, 2012 - 21:30 Permalink

I cannot thank you enough for posting this. I have been having a horrific gallbladder attack for the last 4 or 5 days. Your experience and tips have helped tremendously.

toni's picture
toni on February 8, 2012 - 01:54 Permalink

Hi I have went to see a surgeon on Tuesday after having a ultrasound and he said it was gallstones and sludge in my gallbladder and it was infected .I wioll be going thursday for my removal but I am glad I have had some several pain behind this gallbladder so I say good bye I wil post again after gallbladder removal.

LINDA BENNETT on February 9, 2012 - 20:03 Permalink

thank you for your story, and all the comments. Seeing a surgeon asap, but the time might stretch.Glad to have information about toughing it out until surgery……hope it is laparascopic~ hope you recover well.

LINDA BENNETT on February 9, 2012 - 20:13 Permalink

Hello..just diagnosed yesterday, waiting to see a surgeon…all similar things to you. Cannot use tylenol, but 2 400 mg advil did the trick. I am not advising, just commenting. I will try the hot bath if I get another attack..I thought it was intestinal [constipation] and may have also been, but that is ok now. Try not to be scared, or accept it as an ok part of waiting for surgery. Hope it goes well. Contact me after!

LINDA BENNETT on February 9, 2012 - 20:22 Permalink

How did it go?

LINDA BENNETT on February 9, 2012 - 20:24 Permalink

For Eliza in December of 2011…How did it go?

Amanda's picture
Amanda on February 9, 2012 - 20:41 Permalink

Hi my name is Amanda. I’ve been suffering since October 2011 with what I thought was heart burn. I went in December finally bc the pain was unbearable. It started in my right side of chest and radiated to the back and right shoulder blade. I was having also small throbbing pain under ribcage but I associated that with heart burn. I’ve gone through many extra strength bottles of Tums. I was taking Zantac but the pain kept occurring. Then I was prescribed Prilosec. 2 weeks after taking it to the day I was having problems swallowing. So then I thought I may have had strictures in my throat. Did I barium swallow test and NOTHING! I then found out that I was allergic to prilosec hence the swallowing problems. So it went away for about 2-3 weeks and now it’s back but the pain under the ribcage is getting worse. Gallbladder? It hurts after eating bad. I had mashed potatoes, beans and baked chicken. I put a bunch of brown gravy on my potatoes. 15 minutes later I was in pain for up to 2 hours. I’m 27 years old and as soon as I turned 27 I started having health problems. I blame the age.

Heather Darger's picture
Heather Darger on February 10, 2012 - 01:49 Permalink

Thank you very much for taking the time to document your experience and tips for us in the midst or beginning stages of ours. I just had my fist attack, I fear for a long road but this is very useful.
Heather of AZ, USA

sammig's picture
sammig on February 13, 2012 - 16:06 Permalink

Hello i came apone this blog when i was yes googling my sympotoms i am still unsure of what i have everynight i am constantly being woken up by these terrrible heartburns and my stomach is almost in a constant pain i dont want to go to the ER as the wait is usually over 6 hours to get to see the doctor, and as ia m writing this i am suffering one of the worst heartburns attack yet. My mother says tha nothing is wrong but i am strong to disagree because for over a week and a half now i have been like this. i cant even seem to hold down my food any more. Anything i try makes it worse and i am afraid to try something even now for fear it may get worse. i try to find a comftorable position to stay in but laying down cause to much pain sitting makes it hard to breath and the heartburn worse and standing makes me want to vomit. i am a 17year old female with only this and a heart murmur but other wise healthy i am in my correct weight limit if any one has any advice for me on how to make my pains better please email me sammi_greene@hotmail.com

Loretta's picture
Loretta on February 14, 2012 - 12:13 Permalink

Hi I am just wondering alot of ppl here are saying drink apple juice…but don’t you suffer with heartburn from the apple juice? Everytime I drink any kind of juice I have very bad heartburn,water and coke are the only 2 things I can drink.Not really sure if I’m having gallbladder attack till I see the doc tomorrow morning,but since 7am yesterday morning now 25 hours later I have a pain in my upper middle stomach,and wasn’t hungry yesterday till 6pm and trust me thats strange for me lol
I have gas{burping}feel like I’m going to throw up,and the pain is between a 5-8 on a 1-10 scale,if my doc says it is gallbladder and I need it out it will be done as soon as possible not living with this pain thats for sure :)

Misty  Theobald's picture
Misty Theobald on February 14, 2012 - 19:22 Permalink

i got mine out after living with it for 2 months of attacks after EVERY meal. Olive oil and lemon juice didn’t do anything for me. I mean, if you can’t afford to get it taken out, then yes I would recommend it. But I eventually got to the point where EVERYTHING gave me an attack. Everything. SO… I got it out. When I woke up in the hospital I instantly felt better. I did have diarrhea for about 2 weeks. Had a slice of pizza and no more diarrhea. I occasionally get diarrhea, but not sudden and not all the time. And I am much more sensitive to spicy foods (which i wasn’t before) I do get heartburn more often but not constantly. PLEASE do not be too scared to get it out that you live with the pain for as long as I did.

Misty  Theobald's picture
Misty Theobald on February 14, 2012 - 19:23 Permalink

i got mine out after living with it for 2 months of attacks after EVERY meal. Olive oil and lemon juice didn’t do anything for me. I mean, if you can’t afford to get it taken out, then yes I would recommend it. But I eventually got to the point where EVERYTHING gave me an attack. Everything. SO… I got it out. When I woke up in the hospital I instantly felt better. I did have diarrhea for about 2 weeks. Had a slice of pizza and no more diarrhea. I occasionally get diarrhea, but not sudden and not all the time. And I am much more sensitive to spicy foods (which i wasn’t before) I do get heartburn more often but not constantly. PLEASE do not be too scared to get it out that you live with the pain for as long as I did.

Roberta's picture
Roberta on February 19, 2012 - 16:38 Permalink

A few years ago I started having gall bladder attacks and they are awful. They felt like what people say a heart attack feels like. Right behind the center of my chest. Every week or so I would have one. I tried to alter my eating habits; but the weirdest thing was that Koolaid often triggered them. I eliminated fatty meats, butter and most other greasy foods because that is what I read. Well, after a year of this and no change, I asked an out of town friend who happened to be a surgical nurse and had the same problem. She said the only way to eliminate the pain immediately is to make yourself vomit. The next attack happened and I did what she told me. It was a miracle. I continued to do this for 2 years because I had no insurance. I then got some insurance and had the surgery. I can’t believe no one on this site ever mentioned this solution. She said that once the food is out of the stomach; your brain tells your gall bladder to stop shooting out bile. Now 5 years later I still have digestivee problems. Some times for a week or so, everything I eat makes me cramp up and have diarrhea. I can be fine for months then it happens for a week or so. I don’t know what that is about; but I assume it is because there is not enough bile being shot out from the liver to make up for the missing gall bladder. Whatever it is it is better than all that pain. I have been wondering if there is a pill that you can take that has bile in it to help with your digestion after you have had this surgery. Any one know?

Lesley's picture
Lesley on February 19, 2012 - 23:36 Permalink

Thank you. I just had my first “diagnosed” gallbladder attack last night. In the Emergency room all evening. It was the worst thing I’ve ever experience. “Descending into the Pit of Hell” is a good descriptor. This was very well written and made me feel like there is still some hope.”


Dora's picture
Dora on February 20, 2012 - 00:00 Permalink

I had my gallbladder out 3 days ago. I was in and out of the ER since before Thanksgiving for pains that were leading to my blood pressure going through the roof. Every time they did EKGs and blood work to find nothing. I went to a Cardiologist. I couldn’t go more than 4 min on the stress test before I was short of breath. I assumed my anxiety was taking over. That and all the ultrasounds came back normal. Because of the heart disease in my family I insisted on a Cardiogram. The night before the Cardiogram I was back in the ER. In prep for another EKG Ijumped when putting the patches on.The Dr asked if I still had my gallbladder…the only one
Who ever asked after months of ER visits. After the cardiologist did the cardiogram and found my arterie clear’, I was taken for an ultrasound where they found the stones. For months I had been short of breath, pains between my shoulder blades, chest pains, elevated blood pressure. It was a relief to know I was not crazy. I’m hoping to get back to a normal life now even though I know I need to alter my eating habits.

Macedonian's picture
Macedonian on February 20, 2012 - 05:57 Permalink

1. Purchase milk tistle and drink a pill once a day. It will help you in a great way for your overall gallbladder/liver health and reduce bloating quickly.

2. Eat lots of vegetables, fish. Avoid meats and fatty foods.

3. Drink at least a glass or two of apple juice a day for 2 weeks.

4. The day of your gallbladder cleanse: put a table spoon of epsom salt in a purified glass of water. This will help you pass your gallstone without much pain.

Few hours later, preferably before you go to bed drink 1/4 of a cup of olive oil to flush out your gallstones. When you are done drinking go to your bed lay on your right side. Some may experience little bit of pain during the process, though others may not and shouldn’t thanks to the 2 weeks of apple juice (softens gallstones).

In the morning, make sure you check your stool for any flushed gallstones.

Frankly, it’s scary to read some of your comments here and doctors not giving much thought and simply removing your gallbladders. That’s unacceptable.
Good luck!

kat's picture
kat on February 21, 2012 - 00:31 Permalink

Wow so many people with gallbladder problems! I have had IBD since I was 17 years old…33 years ago now….in 1993 I was rushed to the ER with my first what I know now was a gallbladder attack. It wasnt until 2002 that after yet another emergency trip to the ER we finally figured out I had been having “gallbladder” attacks on top of Crohns attacks.

Two things are important to know about the gallbladder:

1. The remedy for gallbladder stones is not the same for gallbladder sludge or inflammatory gallbladder disease. I would want to be darn sure which I was dealing with before taking any remedies.

I dont have stones so have never done the flush but have been taking care of my inflammed gallbladder with herbs and diet for ten years now and am still hanging on to the thing. I dont know but think that drinking all that olive oil would cause me big problems…:((

I will only submit to surgery if there is no other option. I have been researching this for ten years and it seems that many many people end up with just as big a problem post surgery as before the surgery …which is not an option I will choose as I have IBD already my life is hell from that and I dont need constant diarrhea or the potential of constant diarrhea in my life on top of that!

My sister had her gallbladder out and has gained weight ever since and is now diabetic….yes there is a link between having your gallbladder removed and diabetes apparently and then once you are diabetic then your risk of Alzheimer’s also increases…a.k.a.type 3 diabetes.

2. Yes your gallbladder can rupture and kill you so go to the ER and find out what is happening and then go home and do your research. There are herbs to take. Research these yourself to find the counterindications that may apply to your own case. I take catnip….catnip tea is wonderful to move things along…peppermint….beetroot…dandelion milkthistle for the liver…liver and gallbladder need to be supported….ox bile is awesome…doing a liver detox was great for me…..estrogen and the gallbladder are affected by each other…a liver detox helped me with my estrogen and gallbladder issues….castor oil pacts are amazing….primal defense is a probiotic which seems to eat up the infection in my bile ducts…I have also read and found it to be true that apples bananas some other fruits are triggers for the gallbladder and to be avoided…..I cant eat them.

Definitely cut out eggs. I loved eggs but feeling much better without them in my diet. Cut out diary…all diary even butter and get margarine:(((( I am sure alcohol is big no-no for the gallbladder.

Avoid fat and fried food. Garlic sent me to ER last week…its a trigger for my gallbladder. It takes a long time to find what your body can handle. Another strange complication is something called Familial Mediterranean Fever which is very difficult to diagnose and often is misdiagnosed as gallbladder disease. I had no idea I had Mediterranean dna but turns out I did through my Acadian grandmother.

I recommend getting as much info as possible …also consult an naturopath or nutritionist and get educated as you can and dont just believe everything your doctor tells you. The most successful patients are the proactive ones that educate themselves. Use the doctors as diagnostic tools…if possible and then do your research. Make your own informed decision.

Lori's picture
Lori on February 22, 2012 - 21:19 Permalink

I have also noticed that nobody has mentioned they feel better after getting rid of whatever is inside their body causing the pain. My first painful event happened about 5 months ago. I just figured it was food poisoning because I had eggs in the morning that were not completely cooked. The pain started about 6-7 hours after I ate the eggs and I have read that food poisoning happens about 6 hours after eating the bad food. Then I had another event about a month later and have had them about once a month. I have been trying to figure out if a particular food is causing it because I read that sometimes people may be allergic to foods and our bodies can tolerate the food but later on in life we can’t. I am 49 and I read it happens a lot when people are in their 40’s. Two weeks ago I started eating oatmeal to help lower my cholesterol and I have had three very painful reactions in ten days. The third day was the most painful and all events happened about 7 hours after eating the oatmeal. The pain starts in my stomach. It starts out mildly and gets worse until I throw up and then get diarrhea. After about 3 hours of ridding things through both ends the pain stops but it definitely takes a toll on my body. I have not had oatmeal since and have not had any problems but I am still in fear because the other times I did not have oatmeal. The pain is so bad I relate it to a constant labor pain, which anyone whom has had a baby, can relate to how bad the pain is. This blog is helping me to understand what may be going on. I have been researching on the internet and so far this posting has been the best. Thank you.

Stacey W's picture
Stacey W on February 28, 2012 - 12:49 Permalink

I had my gallbladder (full of large stones) removed laprascopically 5 days ago, and while I am still experiencing some post-operative pain, I can already guarantee it was the best option.  The gallstones were diagnosed by ultrasound 8 months ago, but suspected by a GP 12 months before that ( and I suffered GERD symptoms for 4 years before that which dissappeared as soon as I went on a gallbladder-friendly diet).  My attacks were frequent (once to twice a week) and long-lasting (48 hours at a time)but usually mild in severity.  Despite the (usually) mild pain level, I lost 20kg due to the change in diet and the frequent fasting sessions and am so much healthier now than before the symptoms started. 

Tips for people suffering gallstones are fasting (total fasting — no water, no chewing gum), sit in a straight-backed chair, slightly reclined, with right arm raised (seriously, this relieves all physical pressure on the gall bladder), Ibuprofen, and no-fat diet (low-fat is not good enough, it must be no-fat).  Also, throughout the time I experienced gallbladder attacks, I smoked, quit, then started again.  My GP & surgeon both assured me that there is no correlation between smoking and gallbladder symptoms, but I know that as a smoker the attaks were much more frequent and severe.  Also, as per AmandaRud in 2009, menstrual cycles seem to effect attacks and I didn’t find anything to help with this.

Apple juice, apple cider, lemon juice, olive oil (seriously???) and epsom salts might all be helpful and good luck to those who want to eat those 5 things + rice for the rest of their lives… If anyone is unsure PLEASE check quackwatch.org — the “stones” that are flushed are NOT gallstones, they are actually a product of the oil+salt+lemon juice — you can make them yourself in a saucepan.  These “stones” then soak up what bile is able to pass into your intestines to get the bile colour to them.  Read the article before wasting time on this “cure”.

Apparently up to 80% of gallstones are caused by faulty gallbladders which CANNOT drain properly, so recurrence is almost guaranteed.  Get the gallbladder removed!!!  Pregnancies contribute greatly to the occurence of gallstones in women… get the gallbladder removed!!!  Waiting, and wasting time on natural “remedies” may simply allow time for the stones to get bigger, and the gallbladder to become diseased…GET THE GALLBLADDER REMOVED!!!  If you are still not sure, malfunctioning of the gallbladder causes backflow of bile into the liver and in the long term (5, 10, 15 years if lucky) this damages the liver — would you prefer a quick, laprascopicic cholesystectomy or a big painful liver transplant???  GET THE GALLBLADDER REMOVED!!!

To the idiots (sorry, but it’s true) who think that doctors just whip out a gallbladder for the fun of it, perhaps you should do 10 years of studying human anatomy, biology, chemistry, and medicine before you tell people not to take the advice of someone who has done all of this study.  Dr’s are generally neither stupid nor lazy, and have a duty of care to provide people with the advice that is BEST for their health.


P.s. I just ate toast, with marjarine and lashings of Nutella and I feel fantastic!!!  No pain…I almost forgot what that was like.  :)




Dee's picture
Dee on February 29, 2012 - 15:47 Permalink

I happened to looking for information on Atkins w/o a gallballder and found all of these posts.  My heart aches for everyone who suffers with gallballder attacks as I did for over a year before my was removed a little over 4 years ago.   At first I thought I was having a heart attack!!  It was the worst pain I had ever experienced with the exception of childbirth.  But at least that was expected.

The reason my gallbladder was removed was because after a year of “self-diagnosing” on the internet and being convinced it was a hiatal hernia, i rushed myself to the emergency room because suddenly the pain would not subside.  After all the test and scans and the fearful look on the ER dr’s face, It was confirmed that my gallballder was gangrenous and was effecting all of my organs.  If I had not agreed to have it removed, I could have seen my Maker!!

Grateful does not begin to describe the days, weeks, months and even years to follow.  In addition, it had to be done the long way in because of scar tissue from childbirth.  Ugh!!  Everything was a mess in there and everything was dangerously effected because I didn’t go to a gastro specialist in the first place. 

I have gained weight, but I’m committed to losing that, and the need to stay close to the restroom post surgery was quickly squashed by an “angel” who happened to blog that calcium carbonate was the trick in absorbing the extra bile in the small intestines.  It was incredible!!

All of you who are prolonging the inevitable, take note, it’s not worth the risk.  Get the endoscopy or ultra sound and go for it!!  Life is so much better without the threat!!

Good Luck and Blessings!!



sara55555's picture
sara55555 on March 1, 2012 - 02:45 Permalink

yess…….i do feel like my gallbladder is poking out and being bothered by my ribs….like a balloon was inflated under my ribs….very uncomfortable

Xizzi's picture
Xizzi on March 2, 2012 - 06:48 Permalink

I am certainly glad I had my gall bladder removed.  I went through a year and a half with emergency room visits thinking I was having a heart attack.  The last time the surgeon just happened to be walking past the doctor trying to diagnose me when he overheard them talking, he walks in and asks for the symptoms and ordered a gall bladder test.  It was found in extremely bad and diseased and it was actually overproducing bile directly into my stomach which caused a very bad ulcer condition, doc doesn’t even know if my ulcers will ever heal, I have to watch everything I eat and can never take anti-inflammatories for the rest of my life.

But that horrible chest pain is gone, thank God.

Northern mommy's picture
Northern mommy on March 2, 2012 - 12:01 Permalink

If you are having severe attacks, please do consider surgery. I tried to go without & almost died. I had a 5 month old baby & my selfishness almost left my husband alone to raise her. A stone blocked my bile duct near my pancreas & it almost killed me. My stones were caused by hormones, not me being unhealthy. I am now likely to develop diabetes due to the extensive damage to my pancreas, I also had tissue damage to my liver to the point of having to be hospitalized several times during my second pregnancy as my liver is unable to support both myself & baby. After my surgery, I felt immediate relief. Three years later, I have started to have occasional attacks, but they are my fault, I get lazy & eat foods I shouldn’t. Post surgery, yes, you will get diarreah, no you can’t just grab a burger at the drive-thru, but when I look at my two beautiful children I am happy to make those sacrifices to be around for them.

skottie's picture
skottie on March 7, 2012 - 08:31 Permalink

Oh the dreaded gallbladder, how for an organ that’s supposedly isn’t supposed to be that important does way more than you’d think!

Anyways, I had mine out in Feb of 2008. I’d had symptoms on and off for a couple years but nothing super severe until the winter of 07/08 when I stopped being able to eat a lot of foods because I felt sick CONSTANTLY. The first time I thought “uh oh I have a problem” was after eating perogies. I dry heaved about 3 times, and didn’t think anything of it cept that maybe I ate too fast. That was just the start.

In the following weeks, the eating went from normal meals to barely being able to eat babyfood without feeling sick. Broth, anything was making me super ill. I finally went to the doctor and she immediately said “gallbladder”. Which was funny because everyone else thought it was anxiety, or the meds I was on for heartburn/acid reflux. 

Anyways I was told to schedule an appt and I went home, thinking ok now I know what it is (I forgot that i had an ultrasound that showed a pretty big stone just sitting in there cause me misery.) The damage was already done, I was so panicky about eating at this point that I just didn’t want to do it. After the ultra sound, I went home and had something to eat, when the doc immediately called me and told me to go to the ER because my liver looked inflammed and she’d sent special instructions. Well, I got to the ER and waited about 3 hours before being looked at. The doctor who finally saw me told me I didn’t look sick enough to even be there, I was so nauseated and frustrated at that point that I could cry. (I actually did get angry and cry and had some choice words). They gave me some zofran (WORKS WONDERS) and I went home, fell asleep still feeling sick about 8pm and slept until 10am the next day. When I woke up the nausea was still there and I thought “this is the one” and went downstairs to have it out with the porcelin god. 

At any rate, I ended up taking an ambulance to the ER and after 4 days of testing the geniuses decided it was my gallbladder acting poorly and removed it.

But my life is still in shambles, I still get nauseated from time to time with no rhyme or reason. I still get anxious about food in general and what I can/cannot eat. This was now 4 years ago and my partner even gets sick of hearing it!

One of the major things that bothers me now is if I get too hot my stomach feels all upset and usually I have to use the restroom. They also put me on questran to stop and slow down the “racecar” trips to the bathroom after eating, I recommend it for anyone having issues.

BUT let me address one thing.

A gallbladder can burst. It can become gangreen. Do not take it for granted, that happened to my father who waited til the last minute to get checked out. They told him if he’d waited another day he might have died. Do not fool around with alternative medicines, just get the surgery. Not -everyone- has the same experiences with it. Alternative medicine is hokey in my eyes but that’s IMHO, the surgery is very invasive and you go home that day unless complications arise. You are off your feet and can’t work for a week or so and then you are back to normal. You have to watch your fat content and a few other things but who cares? Aren’t you supposed to do that anyways?

Don’t mess around with gallbladders, as little and insignificant as they may seem they aren’t. There’s a reason it all happens, just get the surgery.

Gabriela's picture
Gabriela on March 17, 2012 - 13:18 Permalink

Well, I’m glad its not stomach cancer.. I had my first gallstone attack around the holdiay season at Christmas. I’m 38 with 4 kids.  It was a regular day for me. I dont even remember what i ate but that evening i woke up at 3am with sore shoulder muscles, then a cold sweat and a ‘mal estar’ feeling. I felt like a belt was tighting up under my rib cage and that i would soon pass out. Then my heart started beating heavily and for the first time i could feel it rocking back and forth in my rib cage. I though it was a panic attack. So i prepped my husband to take me to ER if i passed out. Suddenly, i had a craving for a banana, a bottle of water and a really hot bath. I was stretching in the hot bath. I trusted my gut instinct. In 20min i felt relief. My husband also gave me a few antacids.  I finally went back to sleep on my left side since the right side was extremely tender.  The following day i was encouraged to see the doctor. I got the ultrasound done and the blood test and yes there were gallstones and i was scheduled to see the specialist to discuss my options. I found that what i ate was directly related to when i had these pains. I found that i could NOT eat fast foods, fried food, homo milk, nor 2%, no pies, ice cream, cake, and Nooo cheeeeeese or, oily foods.  Well yesterday I had my second attack at 1:30am. When i felt it coming on, I immediately went for the hot bath and yes, in 5 minutes i was ready for bed. I knew that i had asked for trouble eating those 4 onion rings and panzarotti that afternoon and evening. This only emphasizes for me how important it is to eat healthy, non processed foods. I crave oatmeal, apples, skim milk, probiotic yogurt-low fat, salads, and lemonade and lemons, water. I calculate the dose of fat i will have a day as a splurge and that my body will be able to process for the day.  I hope to keep my gallbladder for the next 38 years. Keep you posted!

Jessica's picture
Jessica on March 18, 2012 - 15:55 Permalink

Okay so I have recently learned that I am having these same issues and they occur every night after eating and granted I do not have a healthy eating habit, but I need to eat because I am five months pregnant! The pain gets so bad it makes me afraid to even eat, I can’t just go right to surgery so I need a diet that I can live with while also being pregnant until I can have the surgery. P.s. Both my sisters had theirs removed last year, does it run in the family or something??

ramona's picture
ramona on March 18, 2012 - 21:52 Permalink

What a relief finding this site ) My gallbladder was daamged ina a car acccident in ‘95 and I suffered from debilitating “episodes” since.  I always thought it was heartburn or kidney stones until flying back from Germany in 2010 I could not stand up for the pain.  I landed and took painkillers — the pain persisted — went to ER — was put on morphine and had my gallbladder removed the next day — laprascopic.  I had a reaction to the anitbiotics and swelled up to 2x my size! and had to stay in hospital for 10 days! I was also told I could eat anything — just in moderation.  Well…since then I have constant diarrhea, bad stomach bloat and gas, painful right collar bone and shoulder pain, nausea, cold sweats, shortness of breath and throw up when it just gets too much. So… in a nutshell — surgery beats the pain of gallstones / gallbladder attacks.  Now if I could only found some advice on how to deal with the diarrhea and shoulder ache… :-) 

Brenda's picture
Brenda on March 21, 2012 - 04:54 Permalink

Yes, the throwing up part helps me a little when I’m having an attack.  The pain reduces to a 5 out of 10 from a 10/10 but still persists for a total of 3-4 hours.

Brenda's picture
Brenda on March 21, 2012 - 05:01 Permalink

Surgery does not solve anything.  You still have right-sided pain after meals  because the liver is stressed by the high fat content of the meal.  Stones can also form in the liver.  Also, you need to be on digestive enzymes for the rest of your life after gall bladder surgery because of the poor digestion of food from the lack of regulation of bile into the small intestine.  You also end up often times with diarrhea right after a fatty meal.  Lack of a feeling of well being and a feeling of being in  poor health is a common post surgery experience. 

angelian's picture
angelian on March 21, 2012 - 22:02 Permalink

I would not be against natural remedies if your gallbladder has stones and you are not in danger. I know of a person who had gallstones and had several attacks, including myself. There is a reason why we have gallbladders. My mother had hers removed. I know of a few people who kept theirs by means of natural remedies and have had no attacks 20 years later, I think that it depends upon the situation. When I did gallbladder flushes I did not have any attacks for about 3 years. I did not upkeep myself, not simple since I used the epsom salts and later in the eveninbg olive oil. There are now other things which people use to help break up stones, modern medicine does not know everything but often we do need it, one must know one’s situation. The food we eat have changed, lots of things about how we eat changed. What did our ancestors do to take care of these problems. They used natural means. always check around to see what others use. The internet has lots of material just look at if some have been successful or not. If your gallbladder must come our because it puts your life in danger then do that but if you can save it then do that, Some people have had trouble after getting theirs out so it depends. Do a lot of research.

Klay's picture
Klay on March 23, 2012 - 04:50 Permalink


Thanks all for posting. I wonder, has anyone else experienced exhaustion, ‘flashes’ of pain in joints, headches, sensitivity to light and sound and muscle twitching as part of the gall bladder issues? 

I have been generally unwell and exhausted in thhe last few weeks so I went to the doctor. As part of her examination she pushed around my abdomen and found that I showed classic signs of gall bladder  sensitivity. She has sent me for blood tests and a scan which I will get the results of next week. Since then I’ve been reading all I can about the gall bladder, and I have discovered that pain I had normalised over the years — pangs under my rib cage on the right-hand side, as well as back and shoulder pain on that side  after eating a fatty meal — are symptoms of a diseased or dysfunctional gall bladder. 

So is it possible that my feelings of being exhausted and generally unwell are associatied with a gall bladder problem?