In the past week or so I have been learning about gall stones. The hard way.
But they may also explain my sudden inability to eat cheese.
About 6 months or so ago, I ate one of my favourite meals, (pizza, for those confused) and regretted it fairly soon after. I stopped being able to digest it, and all my symptoms resembled lactose intolerance. I spoke to my sister, a nurse and a few other medical people, including my doctor and it was attributed to stress from my job at the time. (Undertaker). So I took a deep breath and accepted, begrudgingly, that I could no longer eat cheese. It was awful.
About a month after, I developed a crippling pain just under my ribs. I honestly thought I was dying. I woke up, clenched up in agony, curled in the foetal position, trying not to breathe because that made it worse. Eventually, after what felt like a lifetime and was only a few hours, it subsided. I figured I’d eaten something and my guts were rebelling at an insane level. I finally forgot about it and went on with my cheeseless existence.
Until the next time.
The next time, when I woke up at 2am feeling like someone had reached into my stomach and was slowly twisting and tearing the entire contents out. The hand in my stomach and chest occasionally grabbed my spine, trying to pull it through my front. I have never had a heart attack before, but I now have full sympathy for anyone who has, if it feels anything like that. I ran a hot bath, so hot the whole house steamed up. I sat in in for two hours until the skin in my elbow creases and on my back blistered, the whole time crying in pain. I almost wanted to die, there and then. It was the only thing I could imagine would make the pain go away. I came close to overdosing on painkillers, not on purpose I might add.
Eventually I fell asleep in the bath, the pain gradually relaxing it’s grip.
I didn’t forget it, so I recognised it straight away when it happened again, and then again. Finally I decided I needed to see the doctor. Well, if I’m honest, I almost collapsed in pain on the walk to work so I thought I’d better call 111 and ask their advice. They told me I must go to the doctor, have an emergency appointment and if I felt faint again, vomited, the pain came back or any other random things, I had to call an ambulance. I don’t really like fusses, so I took myself down the doctor, where an old lady decided to save her seat with her coat, so I stayed standing. For given value of the word ‘stand’. I tried to lean against a wall to stop my swaying, but still managed to end up away from the wall. No-one offered a seat, that I didn’t mind, but I did mind when the old woman finally came out her appointment, looked at the full reception, looked me; pale and shaking. She picked up her coat and walked away without a word or a backwards glance. I was pathetically grateful for the seat, but also the shaken head of another old woman who tutted her disapproval of this seat blocking. She gave me a look of pity, as if despairing at this flagrant disregard for basic manners. Thankfully, the pain had died enough for me to just tut, shake my head and curl up in the seat like a looney.
I got my appointment, told an unsympathetic doctor my troubles and apologised for being a bother. She finally gave me a prod and a check over, stuck a thermometer in my ear and told me about gall stones. I breathed a sigh of relief, bigger than I could have ever imagined. From when the nurse who called me back from 111 to tell me I could need an ambulance, that I needed hospital and that it was quite serious, right up until that moment, I had been thinking about my worst nightmare: Pancreatic cancer. A terrifying prospect, pretty much my worst fear. But, so far, it appears to be just lumps of calcium the size of a pea trying to get through a bile duct less than the width of a match.
In theory, I’ll have an ultrasound soon to find out how many stones there are and if they can be broken up or of they have to be cut out. Then, happy day, I may be able to eat cheese again. Huzzah!
So, in closing, gall stones = bad. Cheese = good. Pain = bad. Hope = good.
Don’t forget, cancer can so easily be spotted, listen to your body, it knows what’s going on, even if you don’t.