WARNING! Pregnant Women: Beware Gallstones
My Horrible Gallstone Experience from Four Months Pregnant to Two Months Postpartum
I started my pregnancy like any woman. Except for maybe the cyst on one of my ovaries. I was happy and in love with this life growing inside me. I was finally able to feel her moving inside me. I was ecstatic. Everything was easy breezy. Then one day I started getting horrible pain in my chest.
Now the Mayo Clinic states the symptoms of gallstones as this:
Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms. If a gallstone lodges in a duct and causes a blockage, the resulting signs and symptoms may include:
- Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
- Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
- Back pain between your shoulder blades
- Pain in your right shoulder
- Nausea or vomiting
I experienced the intense pain in my chest. Now I am a disabled mom. I have various conditions that lead me to this. One of them is chest pain, so I thought nothing of it. But then this pain came nearly daily. A lot of the times it was at night. This wasn’t my normal every day shrug it off pain. This was an intense pain that brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t get into a position that made me comfortable enough. Being pregnant during this time I decided a trip to the hospital was in order.
The first trip to my local hospital showed nothing. Of course they just checked on the baby, and did an x-ray of my chest. That was is. SO I left with the diagnosis it was just acid reflux. Now I have been told my entire life that the pain that I feel in my chest is acid reflux. So in this moment I get annoyed and just leave feeling like I haven’t gotten the diagnosis correct, and a bit defeated.
I spend a couple months in pain for hours just laying on the bed wondering why it all of a sudden hurts so much. I tell myself well the baby is probably just up in my rib cage. I go to my local hospital two more times. With one overnight visit because at this point I was eight months pregnant. Still it is just acid reflux.
One day my beautiful girl was born. Now I am taking care of this sweet little newborn. I still have nights where I am in pain and crying from it. I struggle to hold my daughter who is only seven pounds, because it makes me feel like I am breathing under water. It is two months later and the symptoms still persisting. My daughter has colic and is crying until three in the morning on some nights. Sometimes she calms when I rocks her so I spend those hours rocking her, then vomiting, then rocking her. All the while my hormones are flaring and I am crying all the time because of the pain and the frustration from feeling this in the first place.
Finally, I get told by a friend of mine that I should go to the hospital. The pain is worse than ever and isn’t going away. So we head to the nearest hospital in his city. It takes two hours for me to be seen. Then as I am talking to the nurse about my symptoms she tells me, “Oh, that sounds like your gallbladder, you may have gallstones.” Then I hear the same thing repeated by the nurse who drew my blood, the nurse who took me to get an ultrasound, the ultrasound technician, the doctor, and then the surgical consult. Finally, I receive the diagnosis. YOU HAVE GALLSTONES!
I feel like there should be a parade. Finally I have a diagnosis, and it isn’t acid reflux. Then I hear the bad news, although it was also good news. One would normally have outpatient surgery for gallstones. However, the stones had broken off and were blocking the duct to my pancreas, and I had acute pancreatitis, and I was not going to be allowed to go home. I had left my baby with my friend's mother to watch, I was instantly in tears. My two-month-old would have to go without her mother until my surgery was completed, and I couldn’t have surgery until my lipase levels went down. This didn’t happen for three days. And then another day to make sure no repercussions happen from the surgery. FOUR days without my daughter. Then I couldn’t hold her until I had recovered.
What I want to stress is that if you suspect there might be something more to your diagnosis get a second, third, and fourth opinion. In this instance I had to go to a completely different hospital. It wasn’t even the same company as the other hospital. All is better now. But I was angry and scared that something like pancreatitis could have happened while I was pregnant. That not only was I in danger, but my daughter was in danger as well.