I must confess a strange sense of embarrassment when I the surgeon told me he saw a small gallstone on my CT scan. Aren’t gallstones what obese men in their late fifties get when they eat cheeseburgers all day, watch SportsCenter and smoke Pall Malls? My brain also connected “gallstone” with “kidney stone” and boy, I’ve heard some horrific stories about those things. Really, any time a doctor says the word “stone” in conjunction with the words “inside” and “your,” you’ve got some thinking to do.
When I got home and stopped barfing, I read up on gallbladders and what can go wrong with them. A person can get gallbladder cancer, but this is extremely rare. (There’s a terrible, terrible joke here, barely: Q: What did the gallbladder say to cancer? A: “What am I, chopped liver?”) No, it’s mainly just gallstones that afflict our gallbladders. But why and how? First, we have to understand what the gallbladder is for: it does stuff with bile. That’s it, that’s all I can tell you. It’s not important. Well, it isn’t! You can have your gallbladder removed, so how important can it be? Your honor, I rest my case.
Still, you don’t want things going awry in there, and then things do. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid. Considering that my guts are made of cotton candy and popsicle sticks, that I would have a digestive fluid problem isn’t a huge leap. Many people have gallstones; most people don’t know they do and don’t have to know because most gallstones are small and harmless. They form for various reasons and yes, one of the reasons is having high cholesterol due to many, many cheeseburgers and no exercise, Pall Malls, etc. But some gallstones form because…well, why shouldn’t they? Don’t judge a gallstone for wanting to live. Gallstones are just like you and me.
My friend told me this morning that he had a terrible time with his gallbladder and nearly had to have it removed; he avoided this in the eleventh hour thanks to medicine and fluids. He did say the pain he experienced was the worst of his life. He passed out and he’s no fainting goat.
I have zero symptoms, though. I think I’m one of the people who will never have to deal with my stone (I like to refer to it as my little “gallpebble,” thank you.) If they have to take it out, though, I ain’t scurred. Actually, it would be kind of exciting. Taking out my gallbladder would increase the number of organs I’ve had excised from three to four. If you count tonsils and four wisdom teeth, now I’m getting to be a real conversation piece. Oh, and there were a couple suspicious moles removed a few years back. Hm. Parts of my body are just flying off into space, aren’t they?
Tomorrow we examine (in words, in words!) my cyst. What nerve! What gall!