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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Twenty-Nine - The Year I Killed My Gall Bladder

Well, here we are at the final week of my...biography.

But, you know, I don't like using that word "final".  That would imply that after this week, my story comes to an end.  And that simply is not true.  It's like that Natasha Bedingfield song "Unwritten".  Today is where my book begins, but the rest is still unwritten.

Kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

So, what story will I be adding to the book of life this day?

Well, how about a story from the year that most people seem to want to go back to.  A year in which time seems to stop for people who are afraid of growing older.

I'm talking about that forever age.  Twenty-nine.

Seriously, I've known people who would rather celebrate the eleventh anniversary of being 29 instead of facing the fact that they are forty.  To me, age is nothing but a number.

Though I have to say that with one major exception, 29 was a fantastic year! 

Oh, what the hell.  I'd be one of those people who would go back to being 29 in a heartbeat.  Well, aside from being 19.  Or 9.  Actually, pretty much every time I have a nine in my age, I've had a great year.

Thirty-nine had better be epic.

But since 39 won't be happening for a few years yet, let's stick with 29, which I turned in May 2010.  And here's a snapshot of me from back then.

I swear, I'm not screaming in this one.  This was a goofy face.  Though I suppose that it could have been taken on the day in which I had a black hornet flying around my room.  I hate those things!

#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/2010
"OMG" - USHER f.

Oh my God, indeed...never in my wildest dreams did I think that a song with Internet shorthand would top the charts.  Usher, I love your music, but this was one of your weak songs.  But then again, this was the time period in which I turned off Top 40 radio.

"Iron Man 2"

Okay, the movie scene was a little better.  And I have to say - Robert Downey Jr. makes one heck of an Iron Man. 

"American Idol"


Okay, so let's get the obvious out of the way first.  The only bad part about being 29 was the fact that I had to spend two weeks in the hospital that year.

You see, losing so much weight in such a short time period during my 28th year had a really unfortunate side effect.  Apparently it wasn't until I joined an online support group for people who had their gall bladders removed that one of the ways that gall bladder attacks could be triggered was excessive weight loss in a short time period.

Well, I lost most of my weight in six months.  I suppose that qualifies.

But here's the kicker.  I am a man.  And one of the stereotypical things that people claim men do is put off going to the doctor's office when they suspect that something is wrong.  I totally hate stereotypes and try my best not to generalize or stereotype anybody.

But in my case, it proved true.  When I started getting pains in my side around Halloween 2010, I shrugged them off, attributing them to indigestion.  But when the pains grew worse, I was thinking that something was seriously wrong.

I still remember the day that I knew for sure that something was not right.  It was February 2, 2011.  How I know the date is because that was the day that Southern Ontario was clobbered by heavy amounts of fallen snow.  We called it "Snowpocalypse '11".  Anyway, that night, I picked up some chicken from the deli at my store and ate it for dinner, thinking nothing of it.  The next day, I was in the fetal position, feeling as if someone was taking a pickaxe to my chest.  It is not a pain that I would wish on my worst enemies.  That's how bad it was.

Unknown to me, a bigger soap opera was unfolding inside my body.  My gall bladder - which was once as pure as the freshly fallen snow - had gotten corrupted and was now causing all sorts of trouble inside of me.  Oh, my gall bladder was bad to the bone, throwing gallstones all over the place, causing lots of interior damage.  As if that weren't bad enough, my evil gall bladder had decided that he wanted to embark on a relationship with my liver.  The gall bladder did everything he could to sink his claws into my liver, trying to make it see his evil ways.  And every time my gall bladder tried to inject his poison into my liver, the rest of my organs were screaming out "Drop that zero and get yourself a hero because he ain't no good for you, girlfriend!".

(Well, maybe not.  But that's how I like to envision it, anyway.) 

Whatever the case, there were only two options to go.  Either someone comes in and kills off the villain of this soap opera, or the show gets cancelled forever.  And if the show got cancelled, I die.  Not exactly the way I wanted to go.

It would take ten days before the surgery was booked.  Prior to that, I got the runaround by the hospital staff and I was bounced back and forth from the emergency room to home and back again.  With lost ultrasound requisition forms to nurses not knowing what was going on to my overhearing four nurses in the emergency room having a debate on what flavour of coffee creamer they liked best, I was not exactly having a lot of faith in the medical system.  But nevertheless, on February 10, I was FINALLY admitted into the hospital, and on February 12, my gall bladder was about to film his final scenes.

Oh, my gall bladder fought tooth and nail to try and continue to be the star of the show, but the rest of my body would not let that happen.  Oh, sure, my liver tried to stand in the way and prevent my gall bladder from being harmed (even going as far as sacrificing a quarter of itself to save the love of its life).  In the end, the relationship was doomed from the start, and the gall bladder's days of tyranny and villainy were silenced forever.  The liver would have some scars from the ordeal, but eventually after a long rest - and a couple of pints of blood red wine - O positive brand - it was fine.

As for me?  I was left with a foot long scar across my chest.  Apparently my gall bladder was too badly damaged to be able to be removed by laparoscopic measures.

My total recovery time was eight weeks - two in the hospital and another six at home.  Considering how serious the surgery was, it was necessary.

Believe me...when I had my very first surgery, I never expected it to be such a major ordeal.  I guess I know how to do it right, huh?

Though admittedly my surgery would not have been so severe had I listened to the warning signs and gone to the doctor a lot earlier.  If I had, I probably wouldn't have had such a hard time.  Lesson learned for next time, I suppose.

I'm just happy that there was a next time.

But you know something?  Throughout that ordeal, there was one thing that I was thrilled about.  The fact that so many of my family and friends were so concerned about me...that really made me feel glad.  I lost count of all the people from work who visited me.  I couldn't even count all of the people who signed my get well card.  And all the people who brought me treats and get well presents and things to read while I was in the hospital...that was such a nice surprise, and I thank you all.

(Oh, and thanks Mom for sneaking in my Nintendo DS and charger cord into my hospital room!  I know the nurses frown upon that, but playing Super Mario was the only way that I could stay sane.  You try having a hospital roommate that was 99 years old and had trouble breathing! 

All in all, my first surgery was a very scary and very painful experience.  But it wasn't all that bad.  I learned a lot about myself that day.  How strong I really was.  How much I was loved.  And how much damage a tiny little organ could cause a human body!

Gall bladder.  I don't miss you.  My liver's moved on from you.  She can find someone better than you anyway!

Tomorrow, we take a look at a milestone birthday.  And one very special thing that came out of it all.  Here's a hint.  You're reading it right now.

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