Monday, July 18, 2016

Gallbladder Diet 07/16/2016 When The Doctor Doesn't Believe Us & Chick Pea Poach

"I think I have gallstones and an unhappy gallbladder, Doc" I said.
Gallbladder Diet, In combination with my low fat diet I also take Ursodiol and this med has REALLY HELPED!

"Why is that?" he asked.

"Because my eyes have been yellow, I've had a hard time breathing and my right side just under my ribs hurts so bad," I said pointing to my lower right side.

"Let me feel, lay back" the doctor instructed.

I lay back on the examine table, unbuttoned my shirt and waited for his cold fingers to press into my side.

"Does that hurt?" doc asked.

"No" I replied.

"Sit up, Kevin" he said.  "What have you eaten in the last couple days?"

My memory is pretty bad after two open heart surgeries. "I think the last thing I ate was a lobster mac and cheese plate at the farmers market."

That should have been a dead give away and doc should have known then my hunch about gallbladder inflammation was correct.  I too, should have known never to eat a big cheesy plate of lobster and macaroni with cheese, especially from a tray that had been sitting in a farmers market booth most of the morning.

"I think you have food poisoning" he shook his head.

"Food poisoning, Doc?"

"Yes, food poisoning.  I do not think it is your gallbladder."

I sighed.  I knew he was wrong.  But how do you tell a doctor they are wrong?  I mean after all that college and medical school and years of practice, how could they be wrong?

"I want you to do a clear liquid diet and take this antibiotic prescription for ten days.  You should be ok then" Doc nodded again, scribbled out a script and closed my chart. "Come see me again if you aren't better in a couple weeks."

"OK, thanks, Doc" I slid down from the examination table and shook the Doctor's hand, stuck the script in my shirt pocket and walked out to the desk where the receptionist collects money.

One week later I was back in the doctor's office, doubling over with pain.

I'd taken the antibiotic faithfully and it did seem to help a little.

But the sopaipillas dipped in butter the day before sent me reeling once more.

"I'm going to have you see a surgeon.  I think you have gallstones and you might should just go ahead and have your gallbladder removed," Doc said.

The feeling of helplessness is almost indescribable.  So is the emotion of rage where one wants to shout, "I told you this a week ago!"

"What do I eat in the meantime, Doc?"

"Clear liquids," he replied.

The earliest the surgeon could see me was two weeks out.  The clear liquid diet was hard but I did not experience a reoccurring attack.

When the day arrived to see the surgeon I arrived early to his office, filled out the paperwork and sat silently, playing Words with Friends on the iPhone.

"Mr. Songer?" the nurse called out.

I walked into the exam room after being weighed, poked and prodded.  The surgeon was focused and non-personable.

"So you are on Warfarin, have a dissected aorta, went through a four month recovery on IV from endocarditis, are challenged by Marfan Syndrome and need your gallbladder removed?    This is a complicated issue.  What happens if you get another infection or your liver is nicked during surgery and you bleed out?  Furthermore, your artificial valve makes you a candidate for a stroke," he said coldly.

"Why am I here?" I thought.

"I'm going to refer you to a gastroenterologist to see why your bilirubin is high, also." the surgeon said.

"Thanks Doc," I said and hurried out of the office after paying the receptionist and placing the GI doctor appointment slip in my pocket.

The GI doctor's appointment was two weeks out.  Those two weeks I spent researching every alternative gallbladder treatment therapy available.  I scoured the internet, books and discussion groups.

A few of the terms that repeatedly began to emerge included;

  • low fat diet
  • non-spicy
  • lots of water
  • high fiber
  • gall bladder flush
  • lemon or lime juice
  • Ursodiol (Actigal)
  • acupuncture
  • walking, and
  • meditation
I quickly scratched through the gallbladder flush for personal reasons when I found out I had to ingest large quantities of olive oil.  Oils and fats were what brought on horrible attacks.  No way would I drink a half cup or so of olive oil.  Maybe the flushes really do work.  I'm too chicken to try though.

Low fat to no fat foods seemed to be ok for me to eat after I had slowed the intense inflammatory pain with the clear liquid diet for a month.  Clear liquids included water, apple juice, no fat chicken broth, vegetable broth and other 'clear liquids'.

Once the pain subsided I slowly started introducing fruit and vegetable juices back into my diet.

One month later the scale read twelve pounds lighter and I'd seen the GI specialist.

The GI doctor first was insistent on surgery.  When I mentioned Ursodiol he shook his head and said, "once you stop taking Ursodiol the stones will return.  Surgery is best.  But if you really want to avoid surgery then we can try Ursodiol in combination with a low fat diet."

"Doc, I am ready to try Ursodiol.  I've done my research on the medication and the literature speaks very positively about the potential for dissolving stones."

"Ok" he replied and I left with a script for the bile salt.  I was shocked at how expensive Ursodiol was.  The big membership clubs and chain stores offered a one month supply for about three hundred dollars.  Fortunately GoodRX app for my phone found a local pharmacy where I could purchase Ursodiol for sixty dollars.

The first time I took Ursodiol I was flabbergasted at how quickly I could feel my intestines rumbling.  So glad I was home at the time.  When I did use the restroom I passed a strange layer of non-water soluble sludge.  Right away I felt different.  I felt better, relieved but wary.

Ursodiol works by replacing more toxic bile salts in the liver and gallbladder and flushing the toxic salty sludge out of the gallbladder and into your intestine for discharge.

With the combination of daily Ursodiol medication and a low fat diet I began to go weeks at a time without pain.  As time passed I began introducing low fat foods one at a time back onto my plate, focusing on the higher protein content veggies and fish.

From time to time slight fleeting pain still hits me in the right side, under my lower rib cage.  But this level of uncomfortableness is brief, lasting only a few seconds and is entirely tolerable compared to the full blown attacks back of 2015.

The real test of how effective Ursodiol and my low fat, non-processed food diet will be in September when I have a follow up ultrasound test run on my gallbladder.  We shall see if the stones and sludge are dissolving.

In the meantime I am beginning to feel like I can truly eat again.

My world view of food though has drastically changed.  Yesterday when I walked through the Bell Tower Mall's food court to have my hair cut at the Mall's barbershop the throngs of people chowing down on rancid smelling greasy fast food truly amazed me.

I had absolutely no desire or cravings for any of the food court offerings.  Two years ago I'd been salivating.

As a side note a diet of non-processed, low fat foods has allowed me to break a weight loss barrier.  I've always wanted to 'get back' to my high school weight of 155 pounds but I seemed to get stuck around 200 pounds.  With the gallbladder diet I am down to the low 150's now and my knees, feet and cardiovascular system feel so much better.  My blood pressure has leveled off near 110/60.

The take away to this long blah, blah blog is simple.   Listen to your body and tell your doctors what you hear.

If your doctors don't listen to you, be persistent.

I've had to be persistent with all my cardiologists who don't see many Marfan or connective tissue patients.

If the treatment they prescribe is too invasive or not working, do your own research.  Be your best advocate.

I am taking Ursodiol now, not because my doctors thought it would be a good idea - they were stuck on surgical removal.

Ursodiol and the gallbladder diet are now one of my hopes because I researched and persistently insisted.

Be your own best gallbladder advocate!

Chick Pea Poach

Finally, here is a pic of chick pea poach.  Chopped sweet onions are steamed sautéed along garlic, greens from the patio garden, mushrooms and garbanzo beans until the  mixture is thick and hearty.  Season with salt, pepper, celery seed and a dash of turmeric.
Gallbladder diet, chick pea poach - protein, complex carbs and full of flavor

Eating for your gall bladder can be healthy and delicious!

Cheers! Kevin

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