Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dr. No

Here's the good news: the most irritating drain was removed on Tuesday. Yay!

That means I can bend over again and do all manner of things I couldn't do before because the nasty thing pinched so terribly.

The bad news: the other drain remains, and tests show that the hole in my bile duct does too. Drat the little bugger, it's being so stubborn about closing up.

After the procedures I went home and soon developed a nasty temperature that turned into a 101.5 degree fever. Very uncomfortable night. I gave myself a break the next day and just rested. I felt like a sloth, but I also felt like my body needed it. I was white as a sheet all day. Feeling better now.

The doctor who performed the drain analysis on Tuesday (not my surgeon) casually said that since the hole wasn't closing and the drain was still collecting a lot of loose bile, the next step would be to run a long needle through my liver and attach a new drain from a different angle.

I cannot believe how easily doctors throw out these things like it's no big deal. I know they do a million procedures a day and most go just fine, but as my present situation shows, things can go wrong at anytime.

When my surgeon called me that night to see how I was feeling, he told me that he was going to line up a liver catheter (what they call it) for this Monday if my situation doesn't improve.

I really couldn't believe he was signing off on another semi-invasive procedure for me. Not a week has gone by since the surgery that they haven't done something to me. I decided I had to put up a fight on this one.

It's not always easy for me to remember that I have some control over what goes on in this process. Although I've gotten wiser over the years, I'm still your classic "good girl," the one who does what she's told. It's not innate for me to challenge authority, especially the type that comes packaged in the (mostly) male world of medicine. For me, doctors have always been vaguely menacing, not to mention dispiriting and soul-sucking, with their constant emphasis on weight, weight, weight over all else.

But I pushed those old reactions aside, took a deep breath, and simply said "No." He was a bit taken aback, but he handled it well. I told him I wanted a break, and felt that I needed some time to rest.

He launched into a discussion about how they do that procedure all the time, it's really nothing to worry about, it sounds worse that it really is, nothing would go wrong, etc etc. When he was finished I very politely reminded him that he had told me the exact same thing about gall bladder surgery. That shut him right up -- but to be fair, he was very cool about it.

So, out of this has come some very interesting information. I think I mentioned earlier that the docs were worried about my protein levels, which they said were very low. Protein is essential for healing, and since I'm not healing as I should, this is a key element, I think.

Doc revealed that the lowest number on the protein scale that would be considered normal is 13. Anything under that suggests malnourishment or starvation. My number was .... a bloody 5. I couldn't believe it when he told me. I had no idea it was so low.

I'm now eating some protein every 3 hours, whether I'm hungry or not. Even if it's just a few bites of turkey, it's better than nothing. And I have more protein drinks to choke down.

I wonder if that lack of protein was part of the reason I hit a bit of a weight loss plateau...? It's true that I like to pretend I'm a vegan/vegetarian, because it helps me focus on fruits and veggies, and over the past few years I've stopped eating a lot of meat. But I do eat it sometimes, so I wouldn't think I am that deficient. It's a bit of a catch-22 for me, because I feel like when I eat a lot of meat, my cholesterol goes up. But it probably would help my weight loss if I added more lean protein to my diet.

So, live and learn, and consume protein. That's my lesson for the day. I hope to someday soon have good news to share, and be able to get off this broken record of gall bladder despair. I'd much rather be writing about running 5K races, gorgeous hikes and rocking it out in the gym. Some day soon, if my luck finally changes for the better!


  1. Just a thought - I don't know if you have read all the information that cholesterol is not the bad boy it once was thought to be. I would go ahead and eat the protein in meat form. It is more important for you to get better now and your body needs it. Get the best quality you can, grass fed meat, etc.

    Sending you healing thoughts.

  2. Glad you are minus one drain! You know how your body feels...get your rest, get some protein and feel better.

    Sorry you are having to deal with this.


  3. I agree with Lori, but another thought might be to eat more beans -- they have a lot of protein too. That is astonishing that your protein was so low.

    BTW, good for you for standing up to the doc. An old doc in our area used to say, "there's a reason they call what I do a practice." :-)

    This is why I love my doc, who happens to be a woman. She always says, "Nobody knows your body as well as you do." She makes her recommendations, then I counter with my thoughts, and we talk about it. Sometimes we do it her way, sometimes we don't. She does know how to put her foot down though. :-)

  4. Interesting. I know that given my druthers I would choose carbs over protein any day so make a very conscious choose to get protein in most meals.