For some reason, this title reminds me of a 1950s B movie. That made me laugh. What happened (again) last week—not so much.
First off, a brief history. Back in 2001, I suffered a gallbladder attack. Based on recent comparison, it was relatively mild. When I say relatively mild, in terms of a gallbladder attack, that’s somewhere around cutting off the tip of your finger versus cutting off your entire finger. Get it? Terribly painful, but not as bad as it could be.
After that attack, I researched and discovered (based on data available at that time) that fried food of any kind would trigger an attack. Drinking peppermint tea (or taking peppermint oil) would minimize the risk of an attack and actually help reduce the gall stones. Result: avoid deep-fried foods and drink peppermint tea. This strategy worked perfectly well for me for nearly a decade without a single recurrence of attack.
Fast forward to two weeks after surgery of a female nature. This was early November 2010 when I had a gallbladder attack. My first thought was, “Wow, there has been so much going on lately that I must not have been as diligent with my peppermint tea comsumption.” So, I focused, redoubled my efforts with the tea, and triple checked anything that I got at a restaurant to ensure that nothing in the dish was fried.
Although I had disconcerting twinges on occasion (which had not happened ever), I was fine until this year. As of April 5, 2011, I have had THREE gallbladder attacks since January. The second, in February I believe, was so severe that it actually caused me to throw up. That has also never happened before. In addition, where other attacks had happened over about a 30 minute period, this one had lasted a full hour.
On Tuesday, April 5th, I was perfectly fine one moment and at level 10 pain the next. Again, this has never happened before. Frankly, it scared the crap out of me and I had my husband drive me to the Emergency Room, foolishly thinking they could help. Suffice it to say they did NOTHING and charged $1395 for the privilege. I also learned from this experience that Emergency Room visits have gone up by 300% in the last 5 years (I just found a 2006 ER visit receipt for $365.85). The ER doctor did mention, however, that surgery would be “incredibly expensive,” which is simply not an option for me.
When my longtime friend heard about this latest attack and the resulting useless visit to the ER, she insisted that I go see her Chinese Herbologist. She warned that it was “expensive.” Compared to a day at the spa? Probably. Compared to a visit to the ER? Or worse, surgery? Hell no! I got his contact information and snagged an appointment for the next day.
Now, I’ve tried to find a complete Chinese Meridians chart online, but failed. So I will do my best to explain what I learned. Essentially, my surgery last fall put my liver/gallbladder meridians out of whack, which started the attacks again. Specifically, the liver and gallbladder meridians cross the uterine meridian. The Herbologist noted that sinus issues I’ve had and sacrum pain are also related. All of these ailments are confined to the same (right) side of my body. After performing a series of tests, the Herbologist prescribed 4 concoctions to be taken 3 times a day for 3 weeks, while I also avoid the following things:
- Fried anything (the one thing I knew about already)
- Margarine (or any other “fake fat”)
- Greasy anything
I chuckled when the Herbologist asked if I would “consider avoiding” alcohol and coffee for 3 weeks. I told him I would do whatever it takes to avoid another gallbladder attack. That is my priority. I have to say, I’ve found the routine rather easy to follow, even when I go to a restaurant. I had to set up a checklist to keep track of when to take pills, but other than that, it’s been very simple.
One final note. My diet has remained virtually the same for all this time. I always avoid anything deep-fried, and consume a well-balanced diet of chicken, fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in moderate portions. Only occasionally do I eat pork or red meat. I’m hopeful that this treatment will succeed and I’ll let you know how it turns out!