A few weeks ago, I was having a pretty normal and productive day. Suddenly, I started to feel this shooting pain in my upper abdomen. I didn’t know what it was at first (probably gas, I thought), so I frankly dismissed it. “It” didn’t like that response too much. In the middle of the night, I was awakened violently with pain that DEMANDED immediate attention. After bargaining with the thought a bit, I finally decided it was time to go to emergency.
Years ago, I was told I had a peptic ulcer. Since that time, anytime I feel a pain similar to what I felt then, I self-diagnose, grab a bottle of Mylanta, rest for a few hours and I’m cured. I’d even broken it down to a science with regard to what causes these ‘ulcers‘ to flare up and tried to avoid those practices. Despite the fact that this ulcer hasn’t appeared on a single diagnostic test in over 11 years, I KNEW I had one and those doctor folk were just wrong. So there I sat, in the emergency room for 3 hours before being called, getting closer and closer to going to grab my bottle of Mylanta. Then someone called my name…
“Ms. Riddick, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst you’ve ever felt, how bad is the pain??”
“When I got here…8. Now, thanks to you guys, 15″
My grandfather & father’s sarcastic sense of humor rises within me more and more each day. But I must say, I’ve given birth and yet this pain rivaled… and at moments even surpassed that.
They gave me an IV for the pain and it wasn’t doing a THING. Meanwhile, all of the test they performed showed that I was in seemingly perfect health. I knew I should’ve gone to CVS to get some Mylanta…ok, maybe a Costco sized supply of Mylanta…
Finally, a doctor came in and said she’d order one more test – a CT Scan – because she needed to know why I was in so much pain. I had to drink the worst Vanilla Smoothie ever in preparation for the test, and at almost 12 hours from the time I walked into the emergency room, I learned that I had did NOT have an ulcer…. I had gallbladder disease.
I copied the following passage from the University Of Maryland Medical Center’s Website:
The gallbladder is a sac located under the liver. It stores and concentrates bile produced in the liver. Bile aids in the digestion of fats, and is released from the gallbladder into the upper small intestine (duodenum) in response to food, especially fats. Types of gallbladder disease include:
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
- Cholelithiasis (gallstones)
What Causes It?:
Inflammation causes a gallbladder attack. This usually happens because a stone is blocking a passageway in the gallbladder. Gallstones develop in the gallbladder when substances in bile form hard particles. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Women are at higher risk of developing gallstones than men, and the risk increases the more children a woman has had. However, the increased risk associated with having children can be offset by breastfeeding. Women who use hormone replacement therapy are also at higher risk of developing gallstones. Being overweight and rapid weight loss followed by weight gain are other risk factors for gallstones. Gallbladders that cause pain are usually removed. Today, most gallbladder surgeries are performed with a laparoscope.
I was advised that my gallbladder was diseased, inflamed and that I had gallstones. Yeah Tiff!! Go for the goal, why don’t cha!!!
Since my 90+lbs weight loss, I thought I’d walked away from obesity unscathed with nothing but close call testimonies. But ahhh… here was my souvenir after all. After reviewing the causes and provocations of gallbladder disease, I KNOW that my former dietary lifestyle was a perfect recipe for this result. High fat foods….high cholesterol foods…very little nutritious foods. And while I have since dramatically changed my diet, I’ve realized in the past few weeks since my diagnosis that there was room for greater improvement in this area.
I was advised to have my gallbladder removed as soon as possible and given a referral to a surgeon who could do so. If only I didn’t have this thing about taking things out of me that God put there. Will this REALLY cure my symptoms? I’ve seen testimonials to argue both sides. Will this change my voice in any way?? I’ve seen testimonies that suggest it may. And will this leave an ugly scar on my torso when I’m a few months crunches away from my first bikini…uh uh!! (yes, I’m shallow) Don’t get me wrong – I’m no fool – and if surgery is recommended for the preservation of my life and relative comfort, I will take the plunge. What I also know is that REGARDLESS of the course I take, one thing will be required: a drastic change in my diet. The fact that the doctor advised me that I could reduce my symptoms with a low-fat/low-cholesterol diet suggested to me that I may be able to actually CURE this diagnosis with my diet.
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates
If your cholesterol levels are too high, you’re going to have to lower them – with or without your gallbladder. If your fat intake it too high, you will need to lower it – with or without your gallbladder. And in consideration that I’ve noticed the beautiful results of healthy dietary changes in my life recently, I BELIEVE that the food we eat can CURE just as many illnesses as they can potentially create. Most things that were CAUSED by a bad diet should be able to be CURED through a good one. While my visit found a few other minor things that will require follow-up, I’ve decided to delay my gallbladder surgery for now (with my doctor’s approval, of course). I’ve been living a vegetarian (no meat, cheese, dairy or whole eggs) lifestyle since my diagnosis. Since then, my diet has effortlessly abolished pain that anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, a morphine drip and even my good ole’ Mylanta struggled to take away. Not only that, but I’ve broken through yet another plateau in my weight loss journey, my skin is clearing up and I feel SO much better. I’m thankful for some very experienced and encouraging friends to support me through this transition (thanks Bibi) and look forward to adding this story to my list of triumphs in health and fitness!