Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

Matters of the heart, the finale

I am right this second sitting in the waiting room outside the surgery wing at a local hospital. A few minutes ago I watched a resident wheel Jon down the hall toward the room where he would be put under anesthesia to have his gallbladder removed. Did you guys know they won’t let us keep it when it’s out? I asked, because, you know, KEEPSAKE, and the doctor was like THERE ARE LAWS AGAINST THIS BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

Prepping for surgery

What kind of people am I? It’s not like I’m going to do something illegal with Jon’s gallbladder, how is that even possible? You can’t smoke it and get high, right? I just want to dehydrate it and pin it to a linen-lined shadow box. And then print out a vintage-looking label that says, “GALLSIES! JUNE 2, 2011”

Hang that piece of handmade artwork in the entryway, and BOOM, I’m an honorary Mormon.

(Wait, I was baptized into the Mormon church which technically means I’m still a Mormon. OH I HOPE MY BISHOP DOESN’T FIND THIS WEBSITE.)

So, yeah. It’s his gallbladder. That’s been the problem this whole time. A few weeks ago he got a hida scan (a nuclear imaging procedure that evaluates the health of one’s gallbladder), only after he demanded it from his doctor who wanted to wave the whole thing off as a sore muscle. I’ll repeat that: A SORE MUSCLE. If sore muscles feel like a heart attack, then I’m having a heart attack in my hamstrings RIGHT NOW THANK GOD I’M ALREADY AT THE HOSPITAL.

Because that’s what Jon’s been feeling like since January. Like he’s having a heart attack, all the time. All day. And it’s taken this long and this many tests and this many hospital bills to figure out the problem, yet, do you know how common this is? Once we found out the diagnosis it’s like every person who has ever had their gallbladder removed has appeared in my life to say, “Oh that! I had MY gallbladder removed and wow! I no longer feel like I’m having a heart attack!”

My uncle! Cami’s mother! The woman next to me on the treadmill! My chiropractor’s secretary! YOU, probably!

And yet, Jon had to beg for the test. And you know what that test showed? That test showed that while normal gallbladders perform some function at the rate of 35 or higher (some technical/medical gibberish for how it’s supposed to work), Jon’s was barely managing a seven. They were like, WHOA! DUDE! I bet you feel like you’re having a heart attack!

(If ever there were a punch-to-the-ballsack deserving moment.)

So, here we are. Gallbladder surgery has apparently come a long way in recent years, meaning they no longer cut open your entire abdomen and gut all your intestines or something like that. Two incisions. Minimally invasive. He’ll recover for a couple of hours here and then I’ll take him home and rub his head and let him watch episode after episode of “Top Gear” and I won’t tell him once that he’s acting like a total baby.


And then maybe he’ll wake up tomorrow or the next day without feeling like he’s dying.

  • Rapieress

    Start looking into thyroid issues like Hashimotos disease. Gallbladder removal is a common pre-curser.

    He will also be dealing with IBS, so you will want to look for the “trigger” ingredient that would cause his gallbladder attacks. Eggs? Pasta? Tomatoes? etc.

    Having my gallbladder removed was the best surgery ever — I felt so much better, but no one talks about the IBS that follows.

    Here’s to his speedy recovery!


  • megrit411

    Thank goodness it’s all figured out! Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. You’re an incredible wife, letting him watch Top Gear AND not making fun of him for being a baby. Jon’s a lucky man.

  • amberdawn07

    amberdawn07 posted this, 0 minutes ago
    I hate to say it but he will still feel horrible tomorrow. I had my gallbladder removed last September and couldn’t move out of the bed for 3 days (seriously should’ve asked for a catheter for my recovery at home). All the air they pump in you settles in one part of your body (usually shoulder) and is excruciating. I also equate it to childbirth

    On a brighter note, hope he has a speedy recovery!

  • tlaquay

    I had nagging upper back pain. Then I had stabby rib pain. I finally went to the hospital where they informed me I had gallstones but no big deal. My HIDA scan informed them that it was not functioning at all. During surgery they discovered it had grown into my liver, was still inflamed and I had golf ball sized gallstone.

    My magic feel better day was day 7. I have three incisions, lost 25 pounds and now take Pri-losec daily. At least the meds keep me from having reflux and not poop my pants when I decide to eat anything fatty.

    : )

  • Bronnibee

    I’ve known about 5 people who’ve had their gallbladders out in the last couple of years. Every one was self-diagnosed (with the doctors saying “acid reflux” or “food poisoning” or “there’s no reason for your pain), and they had to beg their doctors to check for gallstones. Not sure why this is such a recurring theme.

  • musickatt

    Wow, that’s crazy. My mom just had her gallbladder removed yesterday. Hers just made her throw up endlessly and caused pain as well, although she could never tell anyone exactly where the pain was.

  • dulcinea47

    Best wishes for Jon!
    That’s really weird about the heart attack thing. I have a couple friends who had their gallbladders out who had weird symptoms and it went undiagnosed for a long ass time, but neither of them said it felt like a heart attack. It seems to me that maybe doctors should just know to check out the gallbladder when anything weird and undiagnosed is going on.

  • GovtTeach

    It is like you just described the experience that I went through back before Christmas. Horrible pain for months then the diagnosis that my gall bladder wasn’t working. But my drama didn’t stop there. I had it out the Monday before Christmas and wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy! I ended up with a HORRIBLE throat inflection from the breathing tube used duing surgery and a case of pancreatitis that the doctors were never able to explain other than it was a “complication of the surgery.” It took months to fully revover (and mind you I am a fairly young and otherwise healthy female)! The only good thing that came out of the whole experience is that during all the tests they happened to realize that I have Celiac’s Disease…which actually could be the reason the gall bladder decided to stop working in the first place!

  • theemilyhodge

    Heather, good luck with everything! I just went through something so similar with my husband, but it was a ruptured appendix that was undiagnosed for weeks (apparently your immune system can wall it off into a big cyst/abcess) – they thought he had kidney stones, but didn’t find anything with an ultrasound because they were at his kidneys, not his appendix. A week later he had a CT scan, and no one read it for 3 days. Then they called to say GO TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW and called him a “ticking time bomb.” That gas they pump into your abdomen is no joke though, so I wanted to tell you that warm compresses and heating pads on his right shoulder really helped my husband through that part. I don’t know why, but the referred pain seems to radiate up to the right shoulder for most people. It was a rough 48 hours, but MUCH better after that, even though my husband still tires really easily, a week and a half later. Plus, who knew that all they care about in the hospital after abdominal surgery is when you start farting?? It’s ridiculous – as soon as you start farting (the gas they pump into you finally coming out), they are like ok, see ya! and you go home. I’ll be thinking about you, Jon, and your family and very best wishes for a quick recovery!!

  • greenplanner

    I’m in the gb club, too. I arrived at the hospital ER doubled over in pain, wringing wet with sweat, sure I was having a heart attack, and was immediately diagnosed. I’m sorry Jon has had to go through this!
    Hoping for his speedy recovery.

  • poopinginpeace

    My mom had hers out two years ago. She felt terrible reflux and heartburn all the time to the point where she didn’t want to eat. They didn’t know what it was for months. Then yup, found it was the gallbladder. That thing is not friendly to some people. So glad it was nothing serious with Jon and he’s going to be fine. Good luck taking care of him during his recovery. You know you are going to THINK about what a baby he’s being, but it’s nice of you not to say it.

  • jennylivingston

    Judging strictly from the room decor in these pictures, I’m guessing that we are sitting in the same hospital RIGHT NOW, which is just so cool I could pee my pants. I’ve spent a lot of time here (I have a gentic disease that requires multiple two-week hospitalizations each year) and I’ve seen several rooms with that same pukey wallpaper border.

    Glad it’s an easy fix (relatively speaking) and that you guys finally have some answers. Sending light and love.

  • lsockol

    I am recovering from gallbladder surgery AS WE SPEAK! Luckily, I only had 2 attacks (24 hours apart) before heading to the ER and getting a diagnosis. Unluckily, I was on vacation in Florida and got to hang out in the hospital instead of going to Florida. Also the doctor was an ass and wasn’t going to do an ultrasound because he thought it was my rib. “You yell when I poke you in the rib, but the gallbladder is under your rib, so I think it is your rib.” “I am yelling because you are JABBING ME HARD IN THE FREAKING RIB, asswipe.” 12 hours from ultrasound to surgery, whoo.

    Although I went home the day after the surgery I wasn’t so much functional. I lay on the couch and looked like an old woman when I tried to stand up and did not really want to eat. It took 3-4 days to move more normally. Still figuring out what works eating-wise, a lot of fat at once still seems to be a problem but getting less so. I had never had gallbladder problems before, so I’m feeling very grumpy about having to change my lifestyle and recover. I hear that for people who had been having lots of pain, the surgery is very liberating. So here is hoping for an easy recovery !!!

  • briggs4598

    Hope all goes well. Don’t forget your wifely duty, according to the paramedics from Man Stroke Woman: When he rings the bell, go to him, rub his forehead and comfort him by saying, “Poor little bunny.” Of course, Jon is recovering from actual surgery, so maybe that warrants something extra, like a foot massage.

    Man Cold

  • Heathers Garden

    I saw on Twitter that Jon is experiencing a lot of pain. I had my gallbladder removed a year ago. I had experienced gallbladder attacks for years and thought they were back pain and a little indigestion. I had two stones the size of quarters. Seriously – quarters — I got to keep one, it covers a quarter entirely. So, hopefully that conveys to you my relatively high threshold for pain. That said, the 48 hours after my surgery were the most painful I have ever experienced. The CO2 pain was 100 times worse than any of the gallbladder attacks had ever been. And they warned of possible discomfort! Which just goes to show that everyone experiences things differently. It took a good week before I felt clear-headed and probably 6 months before I felt completely myself again (but Jon’s in much better shape than I am or was so he will probably bounce back more quickly). I luckily didn’t experience any of the problems with digestion of fatty foods that others describe, but given the size of my stones my surgeon said my gallbladder probably hadn’t been functioning at all for quite some time.

    All of this is just a long way of saying good luck, John and Heather, I hope your recovery is quick and full.

  • thebeerrun7

    Me?! Yes. Of course.

    I had mine out when I was pregnant with my youngest, and I’m still mad I didn’t get to keep my gallstones. I wanted to make a baby rattle with them.

    I had dozens and dozens completely filling my gallbladder and common bile duct. It took 6 hours to remove them all. Every surgical intern in the midwest got to remove one.

    Also, the surgeon lied. I asked what was to prevent them from forming again. He said, “No worries, doesn’t happen.” Not true!! They can re-form. I haven’t reached the point where I find out what happens if they get stuck. So far, they’ve always passed. It feels the same, though nowhere near as bad–unless it gets stuck in the liver.

  • momof8

    Yikes! Hope Jon is feeling better soon. So glad you guys got that figured out. Sending good thoughts. (I’m guessing when he’s better he’ll not flip you off as often 🙂

  • juliemewood

    Glad they finally figured out what was going on and that it wasn’t really a heart attack! Much love!

  • tdaniel

    Oh I feel for him. I had mine out about 5 years ago and by the time they realized it was my gallbladder I was in so much pain they could have hit me over a head with a hammer and taken it out right there in the waiting room! By then mine had enlarged to 10 times it’s normal size (my doctor also was convinced it wasn’t my gallbladder) and I was in the hospital for 5 days – 3 of it on antibiotics to get the infection down before they could surgery. Never was I so happy to be put under and cut into in my life. But recovery was fairly painless (I also had it done lapriscopically) and the difference has been amazing. Here’s hoping to a speedy recovery (for the both of you!!!)

  • Plano Mom

    They won’t let you keep the gallbladder, but if you ask nicely they’ll let you keep one of the stones. I’m one of the “yeah, I was waiting for that diagnosis” people.

    I’m hoping that the recovery is fast and the drugs are majorly good.

  • Ranger

    Had mine out a few years ago. The major side effect consisted of a giant eagle which thrust its head through the ceiling while I was riding along on morphine. I requested Tylenol.

  • Anu

    Yeah, my mom had her gallbladder removed last year. Sorry, I had to say it 🙂 Don’t recall her having chest pains though. Best wishes to Jon. Hope he gets better soon.

  • rtorgy

    I hope he has a quick recovery and is feeling better soon! I can’t believe it took this long to get a diagnosis!

    And damn, who is the hot doc standing in the back?

  • kidsmom

    Which is why it is called medical “PRACTICE”.

    If I hear that one more time I’m going to put a world of hurt on someone.

  • graefer

    here is hoping the surgery and healing process goes well! if you are interested in some support for the healing process, further information or if he ends up with some digestive issues… gallbladder problems are our specialty and we would be happy to help!

  • Bush Babe

    Agreeing with everyone about how this surgery CHANGED my life. Honestly, the extreme discomfort DOES feel like a heart attack (at least what I imagine one feels like). So glad they figured it. He will still need to be careful with fatty foods for a while (my trigger was salt and vinegar chips and iced coffee!). Eggs still cause (ummm) rest rooms visits!

    But the lack of pain… outstanding!

  • subjectivitis

    So glad to hear they are finally fixing him! Best wishes for a smooth recovery.

  • gigimama

    My SIL’s gallbladder attacked her at 3am. She was a healthy 32 year old and thought she too was having a heart attack. They called an ambulance because they thought she was a goner, as they say.

    Nope. Gallbladder. It was removed and she’s been fine ever since. Who knew? Middle age is stupid.

    I’m glad they finally figured out Jon’s problem and that he’ll be feeling much better soon.

  • Sabine

    I had to stop reading the comments because I am now certain that my gallbladder is full of stones. And I’m now nauseous.

    Feel better soon, Jon!

  • beezilla

    I’ve had two gallbladder attacks, both about five years after learning I had stones (discovered that after an ultrasound). One attack was like a sprained right shoulder which just got worse and worse then turned into upper mid-shoulder blade and traveling back pain worse than childbirth, the other was like a heart attack/elephant on my chest type thing where I sat up to sleep. I didn’t do surgery though, I did the holistic liver and gallbladder flushes from the Andreas Moritz “Amazing Liver and Gallbladder cleanse” book (or something like that). They did the trick for me.

  • Skerri

    I had my gallbladder out in 2005. The surgeon who removed it said I had the biggest gallstone he had seen, and he was a surgeon for 30 years.
    The night after my surgery, I made the mistake of asking for pain meds. They held my pain meds for 6 hours, put me on a gurney, and left me in a hallway for 2 hours while they waited for an ultrasound to free up. They were worried about ‘surgical gaps’, which means they thought they didn’t close everything properly. I passed out from the pain at the ultrasound. 45 minutes after, someone brought me some Tylenol.
    I’m sure Jon will get better treatment. If he has to laugh or cough, make him hold a pillow to his stomach while he’s doing it. It totally helps!

  • jeffeners

    Maybe it’s because I’m a nurse, but seriously people, it’s gall bladder surgery, not a brain transplant. Doctors don’t always get it right the first time (do you?) and they have to listen to fibromyalgia patients whine all day. After a while they become numb. It’s always good to advocate on your own behalf. And then, it’s gall bladder surgery. Doesn’t involve walking around with a drain in your abdomen like it did not so long ago. Feel your post op pain and then move on.

  • dykewife

    i seem to remember saying something about gallbladder…but i could be wrong.

    to find out whether i had stones they just did an ultrasound. no expensive tests or such, just the ultrasound.

    i could’ve kept the stones they took out of the bladder, but i decided not to. it was an impressive array of sizes though, from grain of sand to a stone about the size of my middle fingernail.

    i hope jon has a speedy recovery. even though this is less invasive surgery than the old open method that required a couple of weeks of hospitalization, it’s still surgery and he shouldn’t lift heavy weights etc. tell him to follow the surgeon’s instructions to ensure that he heals well.

  • Cecily

    Charlie had his out a year or so ago. Made a HUGE difference.

    Just a tip: don’t let one of your children get injured right after the surgery, but if they do, for THE LOVE OF GOD don’t let him con a neighbor into driving him to the children’s hospital where he moans and groans and complains so that you have TWO injured children to deal with.


    (Speedy recovery, John!)

  • Tas

    You know that makes him a horse, right? I lost mine 20 years ago at the age of 20. I still remember that gallstone pain more clearly than childbirth…
    and that abdominal drain for a week.
    Still have those little suckers in a jar somewhere around here…

  • greenplanner

    Wow, jeffeners, maybe it’s time for a vacation (or retirement?) My gallbladder surgery was supposed to be outpatient, but due to complications I ended up in the hospital for a week. If my nurse had been as dismissive of my pain as you seem to be of your patients’, my Von Willebrand’s disease would not have been diagnosed and I would have continued to bleed internally.
    If someone is hurting, there’s a reason.

  • mamamel

    I had my gallbladder out a couple of years ago. Mine was full of stones and while I couldn’t convince the surgeon to let me keep my gallbladder, I did convince him to let me keep a gallstone. I still have it in a specimen jar and sometimes use to to completely freak everyone out.

  • spedrson

    Yup! Been there, done that! My first attack was 2 weeks after I gave birth to my 2nd child. I thought I was DYING! I was at my friends house and she called 911 thinking it was something related to just giving birth. They were literally wheeling me to my room and “BAM!” the pain was magically gone. The ER doctor told me that life threatening pain doesn’t just go away like that so he released me right away. When I talked to my midwife she knew immediately that it was my gall bladder and told me that the next time it happens to go back to the ER and DEMAND an ultrasound and blood work to see if it was the gall bladder. The ER doctor at that time (2am) was SURE it wasn’t the good ole GB. I demanded the tests and wouldn’t ya know it – I had gall stones that were getting trapped in my bile ducts and this is what was causing the attacks. Gall bladder out – no more pain!

  • jearbear

    Anytime someone has weird pains, I suggest they get their gallbladder checked out. It presents itself differently in each person. Mine also felt like a heart attack (I was 28), but was diagnosed at the ER as an anxiety attack and given a prescription for two valium.
    My doctor thought I had GERD and scheduled an endoscopy, then did a quick ultrasound that revealed the gallstones. This was over a year after my first attack!

    As for bathroom issues, I don’t have any. My husband had his gallbladder out 5 months ago and he has some issues, but hasn’t found a pattern of what foods causes it.

    There’s really no way to compare gallbladder attacks to labor pains, they are in two completely different areas. I might say they’re equal, but I had an epidural for the actual birth!

  • ilovelucy1976

    Why don’t we all get doctors who look like that. We would have felt better before surgery.
    Hope he is feeling better!

  • BarefootCajun

    Heather – you have just given me a glimpse of what my day will be like on August 1, my husband’s 49th birthday and the day he is scheduled to have his gallbladder removed. You even nailed it with the back-to-back episodes of “Top Gear”.

    Glad Jon finally found out that it was his gallbladder. He should be feeling much better by now.

    Would they give you the gallstones? Hubby wants to keep his. LOL

  • mamableu

    I had mine out after a year of hospital emergency room visits (10 in all) and the attacks ARE simply awful, the worst. I had the lap removal and my recovery was really fine and not bad at all.
    I want to give Jon one bit of info though that I WISH I had known. Please let him know he can still have a PHANTOM ATTACK after the removal. They are fairly common and usually only happen once but if you do not know they are even possible they can seriously mess you up thinking all that for nothing.

    I had another attack about a month after I had mine removed and FREAKED out thinking the removal hadn’t fixed the problem and I was back to square one with the attacks, but it was just a phantom attack and I never had one again.

    Just an FYI. A speedy and happy recovery to ya Jon.

  • NoLongerEvil

    Wow! Brings a whole new meaning to Highway To The Danger Zone

  • USCKatie

    I am SO glad they he got the scan and is now gallbladder free. The same thing happened to my father and he was absolutely miserable. I hope Jon is on the mend soon.

    And I’m also silently giving myself a high-five for my diagnostic skills because that was exactly what I suggested it was to him on twitter, even down to the part about demanding a hida scan. Score one for me.

  • auntstacey

    Oh, I hope he’s feeling better and out of pain soon! Best wishes!

  • elizedge

    did that at age 17 when they sliced me open and I spent 5 days in the hospital- but they took my appendix for good luck…Oh Jon, I feel the pain you’ve been having and I can assure everyone here it’s worse, MUCH worse than childbirth (I have 4 unmedicated births, 2 at home, so I have a feel for that pain too)
    Enjoy life again, enjoy eating, hug your babies, all’s right with the world!

  • Maurina

    Holy f-ing crappity crap, Heather. And Jon, of course. I have nothing original or inspiring to say. Only this: Jon, DUDE, feel better rilly rilly SOON. And Heather, honey, knock back some decent tequila while he’s still in the hospital and relax a little, and prepare to pamper his ass when he gets home.

    Yeeeeesh. What an ordeal. I’m thinking of you both – and of your darling girls.

  • liveswithcorgi

    Don’t you people have the internets? After gorging on fried catfish and hushpuppies on Labor Day a few years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night in horrible pain. Considered heart attack, but pain was too low and to the right. Googled, diagnosed myself and then drove myself to ER.

    Felt so good after it was gone. However, for the next year I always knew where the nearest bathroom was. Things tended to move quickly, if you know what I mean. And if you don’t now, you will.

  • jacqueline

    yay! get well soon, jon! SO MUCH APPRECIATION coming from over here for everything you do.

    also, and i apologize if this is an inappropriate post under which to express this, but i’m like, cami’s #1 fan, and im so excited about the camilla series.


  • hikinwithkaia

    Same thing happened to me. I was misdiagnosed for at least 2 years. I thnk they were getting ready to diagnose me a crazy until I became jaundiced…whoopsies! You have a valid medical concern…our bad!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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