Monday, 10 October 2016

Gallbladder Surgery | Symptoms, Surgery & Recovery

Long detailed, but hopefully helpful, post.

I am anxious at the best of times but when I was told I would need my gallbladder removed I big scale panicked.

It all began last Christmas Eve when I fell ill at work. I suddenly developed a searing pain below my ribs, just above my stomach, 10 minutes after declaring that the bacon sandwich I had just eaten was 'the most delicious I think I had ever had'. Darn you wonderful tasting breakfast treat.

I went home on the train crying and doubled over in pain. As it was Christmas Eve the train was packed and I think people presumed I was drunk on merriment and too much prosecco. The same horrendous pain lasted all week up until New Year's Day. Christmas well and truly ruined. 

I went to the doctors on 29th January when they reopened and described my symptoms. I was told it sounded like acid reflux and to take Omeprazole twice a day for a month. Great, I thought, but I wasn't getting any reflux. The pain eased off though and I thought that would be the end of it.

March rolled around and lo and behold two days before my birthday I developed the same pain again at work. Again I was doubled over with what I can only describe as an acidic, burning feeling sitting in my stomach high up below my ribcage. I was sick numerous times and couldn't stand up straight. My colleagues were understandably worried and paid for a taxi to send me home. I'm so grateful that I didn't have to fend for myself on the train. My birthday rolled around and I couldn't eat anything without vomiting and I was writhing around in pain for six days. 

I saw a different doctor this time and she said the same as the previous, take Omeprazole. I explained I wasn't getting any reflux but because the pain felt acidic and almost 'gurgley' she felt this was the right course of action. In all honesty I was in so much pain I didn't have the energy to try and argue and presumed this would help.

I got the same pains in June, July and August. Each time getting progressively worse as the pain was now radiating through to my back.

I was sent for an urgent gastroscopy. This was awful. I decided not to be sedated as it would take less than 10 minutes so I opted for the numbing throat spray instead. This whole procedure was horrendous. I won't go into details but no abnormalities were found except a slight build up of bile at the bottom of my stomach.

Following this and a few tears at the doctors I was sent for an abdominal ultrasound. This found 'a few small stones' in my gallbladder. This made SO much sense after googling (never do this, the 'you're on your death bed' thoughts sprung up immediately) as gallstone symptoms were exactly what I had been experiencing particularly the pain radiating through to my back with the symptoms returning on and off every few months. 

I am very fortunate to have private healthcare through my work. I, along with the help of my incredibly wonderful and patient Mum, got everything sorted to go privately and the ball was rolling almost immediately. I saw a consultant who was lovely and reassuring and my keyhole surgery to remove my gallbladder was booked in for 17 days later.

This is when the panic kicked in. I had never had surgery before and despite everyone and their cat telling me I would  be fine I couldn't help but worry that I wouldn't wake up or that I would wake up MID surgery. 

But, everyone is right. Going under general anaesthetic is oddly a non-event. The lovely nursing team held my hand and were so incredibly patient. They were talking to me about beach holidays and the next thing I know I'm awake and the surgery complete. I was groggy and confused for about four or five hours but I was discharged the same evening and was allowed home to my own bed. 

I was advised to take two weeks off work for recovery which was most definitely needed. The following morning I couldn't pull myself up to rearrange the pillows, I couldn't stand up straight when walking to the bathroom and I had to sleep on my back for the first week. I didn't feel sick though which was good as I can't imagine having to suddenly leap out of bed. Ouch. 

I had four separate wounds. One in the middle below my ribcage, one on my navel and two to the right of this. They were all so much smaller than I imagined and the nurse seemed pleased with how they looked when I left the hospital. 

I am now two weeks in to recovery and I feel much better than I did 12 days ago. My wounds are still covered in the glue they put on after surgery. I was advised not to get them too wet for the first few days and to dry them delicately wth kitchen towel. Since then I have been careful too but showering normally. 

I have been eating a normal diet since surgery but trying to keep it low in fat. As the gallbladder is no longer there working to break down fats, my liver is now constantly dripping bile into my intestine and I don't want it to overwork. Although the chocolates that friends and family have kindly bought me have gone down a treat so there has been some fat in my diet!

I have a follow up appointment with my surgeon on Monday and I have my fingers and toes crossed that he thinks surgery went ok and that I'm making good progress.

To anyone in a similar position having the same symptoms I had in the last 10 months, I advise you consider having surgery to remove your gallbladder. The pain, if like mine, is a million times worse than waking up from the anaesthetic dazed and confused. 

I hope this has helped answer some questions you may have been wondering or worrying about prior to surgery.



Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Very Important Date

The Sanderson Hotel - Oxford Street. From £48

Not long ago I mentioned my love for Afternoon Tea and those feelings have most certainly been re-confirmed recently.

Not that I ever doubted they had left.

My best friend and I have missed eachother's birthdays in the last year as she has been gallivanting all around the globe - leaving me behind in dreary England - and she will soon be heading off on another adventure. In a double celebration, come farewell, we decided to treat ourselves to an afternoon filled with tea, mini sandwiches and cakes for days. This was all with a wonderful, magical twist. It was Alice in Wonderland themed.

The Sanderson Hotel has been hosting this affair for a little while now and my lovely friend Gemma first introduced it to me a couple of years ago. I don't know why it took me so long to pay a visit.

It comprised of all the usual offerings of an afternoon tea - pretty china, a selection of teas and the (obligatory) option of having Champagne *raises hand*. There was so much detail it really felt like we had fallen down the rabbit hole.

We both chose the 'Queen of Hearts' tea followed by a second (and possibly a third) round of the miniature Croque Monsieur. Well if they're going to offer! We were in fried bread and melted cheese heaven. These photographs really don't do all the details justice. The staff were incredibly welcoming and did a good job in encouraging us to have a second round of, well, everything.

The final round of treats consisted of marshmallow toad-stalls, mini banana cake and a delicious mango smoothie in an adorable glass bottle with a 'Drink Me' on it. You don't need to tell me twice.

This is the perfect place for a celebration, ideal for Mother's Day coming up. I know my mum would love the sweet details, especially being able to see and smell the tea before choosing as she is a bit of a tea connoisseur.

Top Tip 
If you have the choice, definitely try and get a table in the pretty courtyard outside - It has a much better atmosphere than inside which looked a little dark and dingy. With the outdoor heaters you'll never know it's mid February and -2 degrees!

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Three Days in Dublin

January is always a bit of a slow and miserable start to the year. Christmas has gone, it's cold and supermarkets are wishing the year away as Easter eggs come on sale as soon as the New Year's Eve fireworks are complete. (QQ: what is that about?)

For the last three years, Jonny and I have gone on mini adventures for our Anniversary, brightening up the start of the year. So far we have been to Paris, Edinburgh and this year we took ourselves off to Dublin. I feel like we have nailed the long weekend away now, focusing more on the location of the hotel rather than the room itself and booking last minute to get the best deals - £24 return flights, anyone? Oh yes.

I loved this card I found Jonny for our anniversary. Scribbler's finest.

We stayed at Temple Bar Inn on recommendation from a friend and I didn't realise quite how central it was until we got lost and discovered how far afield we had walked by mistake. It's a fun, modern hotel with THE comfiest bed I have ever experienced which made for tricky early wake ups. We were round the corner from all the sights and must sees, Trinity College, Ha'penny Bridge and Grafton Street which had a department store that even Jonny didn't mind window shopping in. 

We found a couple of sweet little cafes for breakfast each morning and tasted potentially the best coffee in a place called Bean Hive. The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly, as all the Irish tend to be, and we were a little sad we hadn't discovered it on our first day.

We decided to go all out on our first evening and have dinner on the other side of the River Liffey in a place called The Winding Stair. After climbing the creaky staircase you reach the Cosy shabby chic restaurant with the perfect setting overlooking the river. For once I wasn't the one with food envy as I chose pork terrine followed by the most delicious roast chicken with polenta chips and gravy. Simple but perfect for the cold wintry evening.

The following night we ate at a burger place called The Counter where you can customise your own burger from scratch. Perfect for trying out something you wouldn't normally dare to add. It was a great little find, I just wish there were others around the UK. I was too engrossed in the food and completely forgot to snap some photos. You're going to have to believe me when I say it was good.

We couldn't go to Dublin and not visit the Guinness Storehouse. It was such a lovely sunny (albeit cold) day so we walked there and back from our hotel. Even if you don't like Guinness it was an interesting place to stroll round.

Please excuse the glare - There was nothing stopping that sunshine!

You each get a coupon for a free pint of Guinness (score!) and Jonny and I decided to learn how to pour our own. It was great fun learning how to do it the proper way and to top it all off we enjoyed it from the Gravity Bar which showcased a beautiful 360 degree view on the sunny day we lucked out on.

I would love to re-visit Dublin in the summer when we can make the most of St Stephan's Green and stroll around in the slightly warmer weather. It's such a beautiful, small and welcoming city and I would definitely stay at Temple Bar Inn again in the future.

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