Thanks to marinating myself in others’ bad outcomes, I’m terrified of my gallbladder removal this Monday, a surgery that happens 700,000 times a year. I could use a ton of positive-outcome, no-problem, no-side-effect stories, and/or any good sensible cognitive talk on not letting people’s health forum posts terrify you.
I’ve stacked the deck in my favor as best I can. My health plan let me select a nationally renowned hospital and a highly recommended surgeon who’s done this surgery over a thousand times in the last 12 years. I’ve stockpiled vacation time, I think my workplace is understanding, and I managed to never have a crippling worse-than-childbirth attack (just a medium-bad one in March and bad pokes and cramps since then). (But ultrasounds and CT scans do signify it needs to come out.)
The problem is that I’ve read way too fucking much on this, and my head is completely marinated in every worst-case scenario that could happen that could screw up my life from this point onward. Thank you, misleading vividness
, availability heuristic
Some people who have this surgery have chronic diarrhea for years or for the rest of their lives. That petrifies me. There are other symptoms as well, such as people who seem to start gaining weight after the surgery without a clear reason why (medical science seems not to know why aside from saying that they must be chowing down, which they swear they're not), or stones in the common bile duct, or dyspepsia and nausea that won’t go away.
What feels very untrue is the thought of coming through this with flying colors, having my digestive system adjust in short order, and returning to my life with it completely normal. That’s what I want to have happen, and what’s crazy is that I know that’s the default
reaction to this surgery from my understanding! But somehow I’m convinced that I’m going to get stomped by Fate on this. (And I’ve come across some stories of people who inexplicably start having the aforementioned chronic diarrhea months, years or decades after the surgery. That feels a bit like a sword of Damocles over my head … okay, you’re fine NOW, but we can drop the bowling ball whenever we like … )
But added arguments for a good outcome: my surgeon says that of the 1000+ patients he’s had thus far, 85-90% of his patients have no diarrhea, and of that 10-15% who experience it for a few weeks, he’s yet to have one patient who has had diarrhea for more than a few weeks. My mother had hers out at age 26 and in the 40+ years since has never had an issue with any foods (even of the fatty kind); she can’t remember if she had any post-removal issues immediately thereafter. So maybe the genes will help.
It’s very embarrassing to display my anxiety so candidly to you all like this, but frankly, I’ve always considered the aggregate wisdom of Ask Metafilter to be extraordinarily helpful, and so any embarrassment is worth it to get any wisdom, solace or advice you might be willing to offer.