Growing older can be rewarding and also depressing. As we grow, we experience so much joy watching our children grow, seeing friends and family...

Growing older can be rewarding and also depressing. As we grow, we experience so much joy watching our children grow, seeing friends and family succeed, and enjoying the world as it goes through each glorious season. On the flip side, we start to experience more aches and pains, gray hair and wrinkles, and health issues. I have just experienced my first “health” problem and it was eye opening and terrible at the same time.

Last fall I started noticing that I just didn’t feel like myself. I was having stomach pain and nausea after eating and was just not feeling very perky. As the New Year came and went, I had a bout of what I thought was the stomach bug. It was unusual for me to be so sick, but I figured I was now working in an elementary school and germs were everywhere. I was losing weight from being unable to keep food in and got pretty worried when I began having pain in my abdomen in the spring.

I went to the doctor, who tested me for stomach ulcers and sent me off for an ultrasound of my abdomen and all that it contained. Pancreas, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, intestines; it was nerve-racking to say the least. I am the type of person who automatically assumes the worst and was relieved when I got the call to say that my gallbladder was inflamed and that I had gallstones. I was not so happy when I was referred to a surgeon to have the gallbladder removed. The thought of removing a part of my body was not that thrilling.

As most of us know, you can live without your gallbladder. However, you will not live as you did before once the gallbladder is removed. It serves a very specific purpose in our digestive process, and now that it is gone, everything has to acclimate to the new dynamic. I was scheduled for surgery in the middle of August, but as the summer wore on, my symptoms became worse. I was sick to my stomach most of the time, and then had the dreaded “gallbladder attack” one Friday night. It was the worst pain I have ever had in my life, and I wouldn’t wish one on my worst enemy. I called the doctor and they moved my surgery up two weeks.

I went into surgery on a Friday morning. I was frightened beyond belief; I had never been put under anesthesia in all of my 34 years. I will admit, I even cried a bit. One thing I have to say is that John Randolph is one of the best hospitals that I have ever been in. The nurses were wonderful; they never left my side the entire time I was there. If we have any medical needs in the future, I will go to John Randolph (which gets a bad rap because of its location). After waking up still alive after surgery (thank heavens), I was in severe pain. I did not expect this. I was sent home to a miserable two days of feeling like death, and of course began to feel more human after a few more days. I didn’t leave my house for a full seven days. Thankfully, we have friends and a wonderful babysitter who were able to help; when Mama is down for the count in the summer time, it’s a little hard on the kiddos!

It has now been a week and a half since the demise of my gallbladder. I am still introducing foods into my diet to see how I react (that’s fun, ha) and moving about cautiously as my abdomen is still sore. I have four incisions on my stomach which totally gross out my children and I will attempt driving today for the first time (freedom)! Growing older can be wonderful, but when we start failing, it really stinks. May you all appreciate your gallbladder, and all that it does for you.