26 September 2007

The Gall of That Bladder!

My sister had her gall bladder removed last week. Twenty years ago, this would have been major surgery. Last week it was an outpatient laparoscopic procedure.

That still astounds me. A few holes were cut into her abdomen … her gall bladder was removed … and she was home by lunch hour.

I lucked out with the Tuesday Nightingale shift, while her husband went to the office. It was a tough shift, including laborious tasks such as sitting with her on the deck, watching the TiVO’ed Oprah/Letterman interview together, talking to the dog and cat, reading and chatting and laughing and napping. Spending time with the sister is always fun.

Hanging with the sister: the early years. I’m on the right.


Having a gall bladder removed is almost a rite of passage among the Coffey clan. My dad had his removed, as did his mother and a brother (and possibly his sister; she can’t remember), and a couple of my cousins.

So, the sister no longer has a gall bladder. With our family history, I stand a chance of losing the organ, so I think it’s time for us to learn just what that li’l ol’ pear-shaped organ does. Thanks to Google, we can all hit biology class while slaving away at our office desks.

The gall bladder stores bile, a fluid made by your liver to digest fat. As your stomach and intestines digest food, your gall bladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct. The duct connects your gall bladder and liver to your small intestine.

Your gall bladder is most likely to give you trouble if something blocks the flow of bile through the bile ducts. That is usually a gallstone. Gallstones form when substances in bile harden. Gallstone attacks usually happen after you eat. Signs of a gallstone attack may include nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen, back, or just under the right arm.

Fortunately, the gall bladder is an organ that you can live without. Bile has other ways to reach your small intestine.

Pop quiz: Can you find the gall bladder? Bonus points if you can name all parts — without Googling, of course.

Your Digestive System


The sister’s stitches were removed this morning, and she’s thriving. I wish she’d have something else removed; I like hanging out on her deck all day.

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31 Comments:

At 9/26/2007 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Marni said...

So glad she is feeling better! Being pain free is the B.E.S.T.

She looks like OM in that picture, don't you think?

 
At 9/26/2007 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Michael K said...

1: Esophagus
2: Diaphragm
3: Stomach
4: Liver
5: Gall Bladder
6: Intestine
7: Pancreas?

Not sure about 7. Biology class was a long time ago.

In my family, we often have our thyroid glands destroyed.

 
At 9/26/2007 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Skylers Dad said...

The root cause of your families problem is that the Bush administration has created so much bile in people.

 
At 9/26/2007 01:12:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Glad she's doing well. A few years ago, my Dad got really sick and he thought he just had the flu. Turned out his gallbladder was infected and it ended up bursting. Luckily, he had it removed and no major problems occured from it. But they actually had to cut him open since it burst, because the doctors said there was more chance of infection doing it the laproscopic way. Go figure. Pesky little organ. If we don't need it, why is it there!??!?

 
At 9/26/2007 01:33:00 PM, Blogger pistols at dawn said...

I'm so bad at science that I just read what the gall bladder does and I've already forgotten.

 
At 9/26/2007 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think Michael K's pretty much nailed those organs.

Beckeye, without the gall bladder, you cannot digest fats properly, which makes eating KFC and buttered popcorn really tough. SO you see it is a vital organ!

Hang onto your gall bladder, Beth!

 
At 9/26/2007 02:53:00 PM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

All that talk of organs reminded me of a joke from childhood: A woman tells a guy he has a "small organ." He says, "Maybe so, but I didn't know I'd be playing a stadium with it." (Sorry, 6th grade humor.)

 
At 9/26/2007 07:34:00 PM, Blogger Mountjoy said...

Siblings in harmony? Are you sure this all isn't some Rockwellian piece of fiction?

I'm proud to claim I have not uttered a breath to my brother in the last six years, and that sorry occasion would have only added up to a handful of words. The time before that was another four years previous. THAT is what family is all about. Bitterness, fighting, rivalry...

 
At 9/26/2007 08:26:00 PM, Anonymous gifted typist said...

Why can't we have babies removed by larparoscopic surgery?

 
At 9/26/2007 11:02:00 PM, Blogger Tanya Espanya said...

How cute are you two?! SO CUTE!

Glad your sister is recovering nicely.

Perhaps you'd like to bring her here for a post-op visit?

 
At 9/26/2007 11:18:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

My mum and my brother had theirs taken out. So far my dad and I have not. But me thinks I best be careful, since as of late I've had razor sharp pains right where my gall bladder is after eating too greasy food. Although you probably didn't want to know that. BTW that picture of the digestive system looks like the one that they used in Health Class in High School. Though it doesn't make me giggle as much as the reproductive diagram. :P

 
At 9/27/2007 02:29:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Be careful or she may have you removed from her deck.

 
At 9/27/2007 12:26:00 PM, Blogger gizmorox said...

Is #8 your spleen? I bet it is. I like to joke that I've broken my spleen if I ever get pains in my side. Even though I have no idea what it does. I just like the word. Spleen.

 
At 9/27/2007 03:03:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

Sounds like your sister should go under the knife more often.

 
At 9/27/2007 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Tony Alva said...

My wife had her's removed last Dec. There were rumors of it being a day surgury procedure, but they kept her over night. They did do the larparoscopy though. I tell her all the time that she could scar compare with 50 cent.

 
At 9/27/2007 03:55:00 PM, Blogger Allison said...

That is an adorable picture. Glad to hear that your sister is already back on the mend!

 
At 9/27/2007 03:59:00 PM, Blogger Mother Goldstein said...

Ummmm... 5?

I hope you have fun at the Drive-By Truckers this friday - I can't wait to read your review.

Oh yeah... cute picture of you and your sister

- Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein's comment made me chuckle.

 
At 9/27/2007 05:27:00 PM, Blogger Bluez said...

Well bile be dammed if I can't find the gall bladder!

glad your sis is ok :-)

 
At 9/27/2007 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Here's hoping your flow don't get blocked! You two are much cuter than a gall bladder could ever be.

 
At 9/27/2007 07:22:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Beth,
glad to hear that your sister is doing well. Best of health to you you and your own gall bladder.

I know that blogs are a chance to look inwards while being public, I just never expected you to be quite so literal about it.

 
At 9/27/2007 07:43:00 PM, Blogger Tenacious S said...

Hey! We're almost like twins. My brother had his gall bladder removed two weeks ago. He also has no spleen and no appendix. I keep telling him not to get any more stitiches, but he never listens.

 
At 9/27/2007 08:22:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

MARNI: She’s feeling a LOT better! She does kind of look like OM in that photo, doesn’t she? You can see even then that she’d have gorgeous eyes and a beautiful mouth. And that her mouth would rarely be closed.

MICHAEL K: You’re spending too much time at the library. Thyroid problems are the worst, I hear.

SKYLERS DAD: That’s it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give the Dad a Nobel.

BECKEYE: My dad’s burst, too, and he was in the hospital for several days. As to “why,’ Mr. Bruederlin has the answer.

PISTOLS AT DAWN: Finally — we have something in common!

 
At 9/27/2007 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BARBARA: I’m trying. But try being a Southerner who must turn down fried chicken. In fact, I had fried chicken for lunch today.

BLOWING UP SH*T WITH GAS: I love sixth-grade humor, so always come back with the good jokes.

MOUNTJOY: We’re the real deal. We not only love each other — we really like each other.

GIFTED TYPIST: Brilliant idea; another Nobel in the making!

TANYA ESPANYA: She’d love it; she was with me last time I was in Toronto … in 1988.

 
At 9/27/2007 08:28:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

ARTFUL DODGER: Damn; I was hoping for an inappropriate Dodger giggle!

DR. MONKEY: She’d never do that! I’m too much fun.

GIZMOROX: You are correct, ma’am; #8 is the spleen. It is a good word — and it rhymes with “Ween,” which also makes me giggle.

GRANT MILLER: I know. I’m a fun, hardly working nurse.

TONY ALVA: I wonder why they kept her overnight? Are y’all special or something?

 
At 9/27/2007 08:31:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

ALLISON: We were very cute kids. Sister is back at work and keeping everyone hopping.

MOTHER GOLDSTEIN: C’mon down for the show; my plus-one backed out.

BLUEZ: Thanks! And good use of “bile.”

DALE: I’m going with the Paula Deen school of health: The grease will just push everything through.

CHANCELUCKY: I’m a literal girl with no secrets.

TENACIOUS S: See, we’re destined to hang out. Too bad about those hundreds of miles between us.

 
At 9/27/2007 09:44:00 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"Having a gall bladder removed is almost a rite of passage among the Coffey clan."

So no Coffey will break "the record for running, jumping, standing gall?"

BTW, I'm glad your sister is okay and the childhood picture should be captioned: "Ooooh, Beth just said 'poopy!"

 
At 9/27/2007 09:46:00 PM, Blogger chelene said...

Such a cute pic! And I had no idea what the gall bladder was for until my mom had to have hers removed a few years ago. I agree that these newfangled surgical techniques are amazing. Glad your sis is okay.

 
At 9/27/2007 11:35:00 PM, Blogger coffeypot said...

I had mine removed a couple of years ago and I almost cried with relief, it felt so good. I was going to have it out a year before, but on the way to the doctor’s office I had a heart attack. I lived. But the pain that comes with a gall bladder attack is beyond description. Sine I have had it out, life has been good. I also have pictures of my insides before, during and after, courtesy of the doctor. I’ll autograph one and send it to you, if you like. It would look good framed over your dinning room table.

 
At 9/28/2007 01:17:00 PM, Blogger DaBich said...

I'm late, but I am so glad sis is doing so well, and that you're enjoying her (mis)fortune :)

 
At 9/29/2007 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Zed said...

Hang on to your gall bladder at all costs, Beth. I'm with Barbara Bruederlin about this--think of all the fatty foods you'd have to pass up!

Oh, that's a good thing? I see.

P.S. I guessed #5 correctly, as well as everything else except for #7. Did someone figure out what that is?

 
At 9/29/2007 10:40:00 PM, Blogger jewgirl said...

I'm so glad she's ok and on the mend.

Now onto the dish...

how was the interview? I missed it?

 

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