I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New challenges.

Congratulation, Olga…you joined
  • Angie
  • and
  • Michelle
  • in the army of gallbladder disease sufferers…
    Last week, while still in Russia, on Friday night I was suddenly hit with pain under the right rib cage. Sharp, bad. Luckily (or not) for me, the knowledge of human anatomy lead me to only possible diagnosis. Luckily (or not) for me, in Russia I can get pretty much any meds without going to a doctor. So I put myself on Hungarian No-Spa - a smooth muscle relaxant generally prescribed for gallstones and cholecystitis. The picture was classical, with only difference the attack was not caused by ingesting fatty food but rather continuous. The pills would help to calm it down for about 4 hrs, and then the pain would come back. I lived through this, popping drugs, secretly hoping I am wrong.
    Today was that track workout – by the way, I decided on 1000m repeats. After the first one pain rouse. After the second became very bad. After third it was hard to inhale or stand straight (funny thing is, I felt more miserable during recovery laps than intervals, may be due to not breathing fully while speedwork plus focusing on leg turnover? Who knows). I managed to finish it up – yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but if you’ve met me, I am pretty stubborn and don’t back off from my plans, like
  • Rob
  • wasn’t surprised with it at all – and slogged home. 2 more pills – no effect, I am crawled in bed and can’t find a comfortable position. Took Stephen for an orientation to his new school – hunched over at 45% and not breathing fully. Can’t even think through what they tell us. An hour later Oleg kicks me out to see a doctor.
    Get an emergency appointment, the only obvious guess by a doctor is the same as mine (sometimes I wonder how are normal people without any medical education get treatment here – it always seems that only once doctors read in my file I finished Medschool, the become more thoughtful and caring, yet also asking me of any ideas what to do). We got all the blood work and squeezed me into ultrasound appointment. As the tech trying to make me turn to either side – I burst into tears (she also asks me to inhale, stupid!). They promised to call with results later in afternoon, while trying to offer to think about surgical options. I tell them I don’t have time right now – I have a race in 2 weeks and then another in 3 weeks. They raise brows.
    Day goes on. I drive and pick up Stephen from his new school, bring him home, while the pain gets worse by the minute and doesn’t respond to anything. I frantically call Michelle and Angie and find that my clinic is what Angie had. Her stone finally went back into gallbladder after 3 days of misery, and by keeping a non-fat diet she is able to live without removing it. There is a hope, but do I push this thing back to where it came from?
    A couple of hours later I need to take Stephen to his music and Russian classes. We drive on, I bite an apple, and get stuck in my throat. A terrible cough roars, the one I can’t stop, as my pain hits the sky (on the scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a childbirth, I had 9). Somehow I pull over to the curb, continuing coughing and thinking when will I die, scaring the hell out of my baby. Suddenly, silence. No pain. Just like that – in a split second. I slowly unfold myself – nope, nothing. Inhale – yep, can do. Turn and twist carefully – still alive…I passed the gallstone! Out!
    Yeah, sure, 10 min later my doc calls. What we came up with is that the stone (and pretty much 2/3 of population have them) started coming out a week ago. It wasn’t too big, so it caused mild pain, and taking relaxants helped to widen the biliac duct for its way. Then the stress I put it through this morning plus just because it was that close already made it stuck by the duct sphincter. When I coughed, I pushed it out into duodenum. (God, I love this medical talk…one of two reasons I miss my profession, the other been able to help someone).
    What’s next? As I laughed (or tried to) this morning, I fit the classical “3F” for gallbladder disease: female, forty, fat (the last one had to be dragged by the ears, but if we take exercise out of equation…). No family history, but I only know my parents. Dear Angie, besides providing the most valuable link on her blog-site, sent me a complete detailed write-up of what to eat and what not to. This is going to be hard: no lactose, no gluten, no wheat – old, no fat – hmm, can I eat anything? But we love challenges, don’t we? I am boiling my carrots and lentils as of now:)

    p.s. I spoke a day too ealry. The pain is back, though the training continues.


    Kurt in Boston said...

    I feel your pain.

    So, did you have just a single stone? Which means you're good to go for your upcoming races? Or is the special diet an attempt to prevent some additional stones from making their way out? (Because risking a ruptured gallbladder may not be the best strategy...)

    I had mine out (I had quite a few very small stones) about 10 years ago. I was in and out of the hospital the same day. Doctor told me (off-handedly) I'd be running in a week. One week later at my follow-up I told him I had just been for a run. He looked at me incredulously and said, "REALLY?". Guess he wasn't expecting it.

    Take care of yourself.

    angie's pink fuzzy said...

    I think it's fascinating how you passed the stone! And I am so glad you did, and that you are feeling better and can breathe. I was so worried for you!

    You only risk a ruptured gallbladder if you eat saturated or trans fats. Now you know that you have gallbladder disease, so if you develop similar pain - with a fever or jaundiced skin - you know to go to the doctor right away.

    You can do it, Olga!!!

    There's a fourth "f" - "fair." When I was diagnosed I had three of the four (female, fair, fat) - the fact that I was in my twenties astounded the doctors.

    I think I'm going to turn the e-mail I sent you with the tips for living with gallbladder disease into a post on my site, since I get so many gallbladder-related hits each week.

    robtherunner said...

    That stone does not know that it has messed with the wrong person. It is no match for Olga the superwoman.

    And when did you learn how to link to people's blogs? Now you are a step ahead of me.

    TryAthlete said...

    Sounds nasty! Look after yourself!

    Lora said...

    Oh God...I loooove this medical stuff too!!! Glad you passed it! Yum...carrots!!!

    Thomas said...

    You poor thing, I'm glad to hear you passed the little devil. This really sounded nasty. What is it with you, you seem to attract pain!

    Anonymous said...


    Oh gallstones are soo fun... Not. Had mine out 20+ yrs ago at age 23. No, not any of the 3 "F's", go figure. Although my recovery was a little longer than a week, an open Chole will do that to you.

    Just think, you could save the stones just like saving your lost toenails during training. O.K., that was a little much. But lets not have any surgery if possible.

    Good luck. Less than five weeks away from States. You will rock!

    Bring home another single digit finishing #. Have fun!!!

    Sarah said...

    Ouch! I'm sorry you went through all that pain. You're tough! Take care.

    Ginger Breadman said...

    You're too tough for gallstones - I think it figured out who you were and wanted the hell out quickly!

    Glad it came out - I hope you find something more appetizing than carrots and lentils - then again, anything is edible with a little salt.

    Hilda said...

    With out knowing you still I wasn't surprised by the fact you ended your session. But just now can't figure out how you made it, people say this is the worst of the pains.

    Send you from here the best of my energy wishes and all my admiration.
    Recover, ultrasupergreat Olga.

    rick said...

    Yes what is it with you and pain! Wishing you the best in your recovery.

    Travis said...

    Thanks for dropping by. Its good to know that someone else reads the stuff I post. I hope you are feeling better!

    Sarah Elaine said...

    It never ceases to amaze me how you combine humour and pain in the same post.

    Sorry to hear about the pain... Not surprised to know that you passed it. (Don't even want to imagine that one!)

    Lentils and carrots, eh? Yummy...

    Love2Run said...

    Ow! Ow! Ow! I'm having trouble breathing here Olga, what do I do now? Maybe a bite of an apple? I'm so glad it all sorted out!

    backofpack said...

    Olga! Way to go - I'm so glad you are better. From talking to my friend who is a nurse, she said that if you have stones, sometimes they will float up and block the duct, then after a while, float away again. That's why people can have an attack, then it goes away. Other times, it gets stuck in the duct. And then finally, what I had, a plain old non-functioning gall bladder.

    Anyway, good luck with it. Eat that low fat diet and plan in a break somewhere to get that surgery!

    And oh yes, the bland diet. Hell on earth.

    Donald said...

    Yikes. What an awful thing. Hope you're feeling better soon and that yhe diet modifications help.

    And you've GOT to tell the strawbery field story sometime!! I'm very intrigued.

    backofpack said...

    Olga, I meant to add - this is what I heard: 4 F's. Female, Forties, Fat, Fertile and Fair.

    bushwhacker said...

    I'm with Rick. This pain thing would be too much for me but then I'm only a weenie man without all the pain experiences that you gals get to endure. All we have is a fragile ego and sometimes great butts.
    Now I'll have none of this tragedy stuff at WS.

    Love and kisses

    Anonymous said...

    Sorry to hear about the GB thing. Hope you are feeling better.

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