Friday, May 16, 2008

A Gaulling Matter

Two years ago I had laser-scopic surgery to remove my gall bladder. For those out there who slept through junior biology, (or like me, spent the time in the back of the room finishing my Latin sentences for next period), the gall bladder is this tiny sack that acts as a back up system for the liver, siphoning off excess bile from the digestive system. The bile is used to digest fat, like the stuff that makes donuts, ice cream, nachos and pizza preferable to say fruit, broccoli, fish and tofu.

Because I as a loyal American ate more than my fair share of the former, the gall bladder dutifully stored up the unwanted bile produced to allow me to gain weight from my choice of diet. Then one day, I had an attack.

The official gall bladder “I quit!” resignation form had been sent to management.

The result of this painful episode was a trip to the emergency room, during which we discovered my little gall bladder was full of gall stones. A conservative estimate from the doctor at the emergency room looking at the ultra sound was that I had a Google’s worth had built up over a forty year life time of abuse via fresh fried chicken and big macs, Ben and Jerry’s and real butter. The only cure was a perpetual diet of no fat no flavor foods, or surgery. As I had additional extenuating medical conditions that made this not a run of the mill procedure, I was to strictly follow the diet until the specialist could fit me in his schedule.

For three months I ate oatmeal and tea for breakfast, broth based soup and dry toast for lunch, and diet coke and fish with cooked vegetables for dinner. Every once in a while I would dare a bit of variety but only at night, when my husband could hold down the fort as I crumpled in a ball from the stabbing pain of indiscretion. A glass of milk seemed innocent enough. Nyet. How about some rice at dinner? Not a prayer. Maybe some other meat like beef or chicken I thought hopefully. That experiment almost sent me back to the hospital. Nothing makes one disciplined like body crunching severe pain for the slightest infraction. One day I begged for a piece of chocolate and my husband quietly reminded me how much I liked weeping.

A side benefit of being unable to eat 90% of what one wanted was I lost 25 pounds in two months. The downside...well, if you are what you eat, I had the personality of beef broth and could generate about as much energy and excitement.

The date of the surgery arrived and the surgeon explained how they would make three cuts and slice up the gall bladder to remove it through the tiny incisions and then vacuum up any stones or bits of bile that fell onto other parts of my anatomy while the procedure was ongoing. “So doc, basically all of my gall will be divided into three parts?” I asked. It was then the surgeon cued the anestiaologist to proceed.

Six hours later, I nervously ate a hamburger and drank skim milk. Never has hospital food been such a gourmet experience. I even added mustard and ketchup for flavor. There had always been about a two hour layover prior to great pain when I ventured away from dullness. Two hours passed. Three. Four. I went to bed. No attack. No pain. No gall bladder. Huzzah!

I’d love to say I learned my lesson, but the instant I was free of the doctors, I started down my bad eating habit road again albeit at first cautiously.

Then one day, I got daring and ate fried chicken. There was a problem. Without a gall bladder to help with digesting fat, the liver does all the work. It can’t manage fried chicken without creating too much bile. Too much bile acts as a draino on the system. Enough said. Ditto for such treats as ice cream and baked goods that use oil. So while “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” I can no longer stomach a Caesar salad. My stomach and liver will override any foolish choices on my part. “Et tu Body?”

1 comment:

Sarah Brooks said...

Wow, that stinks! I'll eat an extra piece of fried chicken for you! ;0)

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!