Hello lovely people! I wanted to check in before I have my gallbladder removal surgery (finally!) this week. As I have been preparing my home and my head for my very first ever surgery I realized that throughout the past year of dealing with what were first mystery symptoms, alllllll the medical tests, video visits with the surgeon, and more. The one thing I did not have to deal with, much to all of our surprise I’m sure, is fatphobia. In fact, my size was not mentioned once! Not at the ER and not anywhere else. I was always bracing for it, always anticipating the worst, and always ready to hand someone back their entire ass if they did.
But it didn’t happen! The first person to mention my size was myself to the surgeon who will be performing the operation. I had asked about the robot versus laparoscopic and he explained that the robot was recommended specifically for those with a BMI over 50, mine is 55, and so he said I will have a better outcome with the robot. I was very pleased to hear this. The robot allows not only 3D imaging so the surgeon can see better in such a tight space (because hooray for teeny incisions), but the robot allows for finer movement of the instruments once inside my body.
Look, I friggin’ love robots anyway, always wanted a robot bff a la Judy Jetson and her diary, but this made me much more calm about the whole thing. I also watched the entire procedure with the robot on youtube and I gotta say, it looked minimally invasive. There was only part of the procedure that made me wince while watching and it was at the very beginning when they first make the incision and place the posts or arms inside to make room for the instruments. Very quick, but they did this sort of shake movement that I simply did not care for, but the patient, like I will be, was under anesthesia and thus likely never knew it was occuring.
I am concerned about anesthesia. I’ve never been put under for anything. When I had an upper endoscopy, while they were trying to figure out what was going on, I had only twilight drugs and I had nightmares about that procedure for weeks after. I don’t know if that is normal for twilight drugs or if it was my C-PTSD doing it’s usual thing, but I do worry about this after the surgery.
I had a pre-op video visit to go over my medical history, to make sure no further tests were needed (just a covid test). During this visit they asked about any medications I was taking, and then asked about “street drugs” usage. I have no qualms about the question itself, but I do take issue with calling cannabis a street drug (it’s legal and fairly regulated in California), as well as using the historically racist term “marijuana”. I was very up front and explicit about this and my usage with the doctor in this visit. They were surprised but seemed to respect it. They then asked about frequency of use and method. The thing is though, the medical world doesn’t know shit about cannabis use. Until very recently it was illegal (federally) to study it on human subjects. The doctor on this call insisted that I halt all use leading up to my surgery, which I have no issues with complying.
But when they said that it will interact with the anesthesia and cause brain damage I was surprised and so I did some digging. And I was right, they don’t know shit about cannabis. That belief was based on mice and no human study has been done. Plus the mice were given high doses of pure THC. The medical world still thinks we’re out here smoking “marijuana cigarettes” which is hilarious to me as I don’t smoke anything. I vaporize cannabis flowers. It’s a very different thing, just in case you didn’t know. I take it for pain, nausea, and anxiety. I do take it for fun sometimes, but I use different strains and strengths to manage specific things. The fact that it is still perceived as a “street drug” is harmful and furthers stigma. They don’t take into account that chronic pain sufferers often use CBD products such as patches to manage their pain when other pain management has been unsuccessful or unsustainable. CBD products offer no “high” or heady euphoric states at all. And cannabis doesn’t have to give you “the munchies” or make you paranoid like the old days. The more you know!
I went three months without the correct diagnosis and was in horrible pain intermittently throughout that time. I was fortunate that I could work from home due to the pandemic. I went several months without pain but after the length and severity of the original gallbladder attack I was deeply depressed and never fully recovered my energy. As I was preparing my office to reopen the pain suddenly returned and it was so incredibly hard to function. I wanted to do my job but I needed to take it easy. It has been a delicate balancing act for sure. Now I am hoping that this will all be over after my surgery and I will regain my energy soon after. Before that first attack, I was taking dance classes 2-3 times a week, walking my dog everyday, really thriving during the early pandemic shutdown. I miss who I was then. It has definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things.
I am hopeful and nervous but I know I am in good hands. I know how fortunate and privileged I am to even have access to healthcare. My insurance, through my employer, will cover most of the cost of the surgery. I can afford the rest without a worry at all. What I was not prepared for was planning for the event of my death. So that’s how I spent my last weekend with a gallbladder. I know I’m a secret goth, but it was a mind fuck! My final wishes are a combo of formal and informal documentation that hopefully no one will need to bother with. I really never imagined having to decide all of this as a single person, but here I am. I will get through this and be all the better for it!
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