Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Two Monday's ago I had some minor pain in my abdomen, it kept me up for an hour or so, but I was able to sleep most of the night. The pain level dropped to a 1 out of 10 and everything seemed to be back to normal. Except that my urine was deep, dark yellow.

At first, I thought it was just because I was a bit dehydrated, but on Wednesday I still had the same color, even though I had drunk nearly a gallon of water. This really worried me. That and the fact that Mary was recommending I get this checked out soon.

So, I drove myself to St. Vincent's and walked into the ER. After some blood work, a urine-sample later, and several hours, I was told that I probably had a gallstone lodged in my common bile duct. This is the common drain from the pancreas, liver, and gall bladder into the begining of the small intestine. By having a stone lodged there, all those fluids were backing up into the liver, causing it to work overtime.

What this meant for me was my bilirubin level shot up (yes, the same thing that often happens to newborn babies - though for different reasons), and my liver enzymes were also very high.

The net effect was they had to go in and remove the gallstone, and the doctors further recommended the surgery to remove my gallbladder.

I spent the night in a lovely room with a view of Beaverton, slowly turning more and more yellow. Thursday afternoon I laid on my side in an operating room, they showed me a tube (not much bigger than the cable going to your TV) they'd use to do the operation, and that's about all I remember. The operation consists of putting a tube down my throat, through the stomach, into the intestine, and up the common bile duct to the stone. They make a small incision in the sphincter there to allow the stone to pass, balloon sweep the stone out, and they're done. Half an hour later I was back in my room, recovering.

It's pretty amazing what they can do nowadays - the only cutting they had to do was at the sphincter to let the stone out.

My color is back to normal, I feel great, except for the worry of the remining stones in my gallbladder. Now I have to decide what to do about it.

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