Recently I went to see the doctor because of some digestive problems and a history of bowel cancer on my mothers side of the family. Fortunately she told me that the symptoms didn’t match bowel cancer but they did sound like they could be gallstones and so sent me for a blood test. That indeed showed markers for liver problems (plus I’d got some jaundice in the meantime) and so I was given a referral to the Anglis Hospital for a CT scan. I was a little ill a few nights before the scan was due so in the morning we phoned up to see if it would be possible to get the scan done sooner and they told us to come down that morning to see what they could do.
What they did was to do an ultrasound and confirm it did look like gallstones but they decided it would be better if I went for an MRI instead of a CT scan and so set the wheels in motion to get me down to Box Hill hospital for that, as well as a possible ERCP. That first night I felt a bit of pain in the abdomen (the first I’d really felt) and the next morning resulted in some worried looking doctors talking to me about how a marker for pancreas function was an order of magnitude (or more, can’t remember the numbers) higher than it should be. This was indicating that there was likely a gallstone stuck at the exit of the bile duct, just after the point where the duct from the pancreas merges with it and so the stone was causing both liver and pancreas problems. The following day I was shipped down to Box Hill and had an MRI in the morning which did indeed show a number of gallstones both in the gallbladder and stuck at the exit of the bile duct and thus on the Saturday morning I ended up in surgery for an ERCP. That procedure resulted in them being able to get about half the gallstones stuck at the exit out and they put a stent in to help it drain but because they’d not managed to clear the whole thing I’d need to come back in a weeks time for another ERCP.
Fortunately in the second ERCP they were able to clear the bile duct entirely of stones and enlarge it to help keep it free from other stones until they could schedule a gallbladder removal. In the meantime I was told to avoid fatty foods as well as spicy foods, onion, alcohol, cauliflower and cabbage (a superset of the information I was given by various people) which has meant a significant change of diet (with some great help from our local Thai and Vietnamese restaurants).
So today (May 12th) I’m going back into hospital again, this time to have my gallbladder removed via keyhole surgery. This will mean an overnight stay and then I should be home on Friday but I suspect I won’t be in a position to be able to do much other than tweet from my mobile for a few days afterwards so you’ll need to keep an eye on my Twitter feed if you want updates. That also means I won’t really be in a position to approve comments here unless I get the WordPress app for N900 working..
Catch you all in a few days!