Listen to Me!

I have been suffering from recurring upper right quadrant abdominal pain, nausea, belching, and gastrointestinal symptoms that I won’t detail for at least a decade. After numerous trips to my general practitioner, in 2018 he decided we needed to look into possible gallbladder issues. Me being me, I researched gallbladder issues and, lo and behold, my symptoms checked all of the boxes. I felt a sense of relief since, at the time my tests were scheduled I had been sick for a month with a low-grade fever having joined the list of symptoms above. My blood work was normal, an abdominal ultrasound showed no gallstones, and the results of my HIDA scan were on the low side of normal. So, with no answers, life as normal – with frequent flare-ups – continued.

Fast forward to 2019 and another month-long flare-up with additional symptoms of the “if you have these symptoms, please see your doctor immediately” type and I returned to my general practitioner. The nurse practitioner scheduled me for another round of tests. Once again, my blood work was normal and my abdominal ultrasound showed no gallstones. There was no HIDA scan performed. While I’m not big on unnecessary tests, etc. I felt like I wasn’t being listened to. Maybe it was because the nurse who performed my HIDA scan warned me that it wasn’t uncommon to have to have more than one; she had had two. Maybe it was because I had been having the same symptoms for years and was no closer to an answer.

I continued to have frequent flare-ups and Kenn encouraged me to go back to the doctor. My response didn’t make him happy. I told him that I wasn’t going to go back to the doctor because I didn’t feel like they weren’t listening to me; I told him that when my symptoms got bad enough to send me to the ER, maybe someone would take me seriously.

It’s now five years since my original tests and my symptoms have done nothing except become more frequent. I can go weeks with only minor abdominal pain, etc. and then I’ll go through weeks of being sick (complete with low-grade fever). The last week of March and the first week of April of this year were two of those weeks and I had a couple of nights where I thought it might be time to make that trip to the ER. Kenn, bless his heart, has continued to harass – I mean, encourage – me about going back to the doctor.

I had done a little research and determined that if I were to talk to a doctor again, a gastroenterologist would probably be my best option. Since I am due for my once-every-five-years colonoscopy, I already had an appointment with my gastroenterologist for a consultation. I promised Kenn that I would that I would raise the issue with the nurse practitioner during my visit and I did. And, she blew my mind. I expected to have to make another appointment at a later date to discuss my ongoing issues since they are unrelated to my colonoscopy, but… no. She spent another ten to fifteen minutes talking to me about my symptoms, my history, and what tests had been done when. I left her office with appointments for a new abdominal ultrasound, another HIDA scan, and an EGD to rule out an ulcer or anything of that nature since one has never been done. I don’t know what the tests will find but it is such a relief to finally feel like someone is listening to me and not acting like being miserable is no big deal.

I understand that my gallbladder has a function to perform, even if it’s not doing it well. I’m also not an advocate of unnecessary surgery. However, I am so tired of feeling bad that, at this point, I’d like to have my gallbladder removed just to see if I’d feel better.

Have you had your gallbladder removed? If so, did your symptoms improve?