Well, I got my gallbladder removed. The actual operation took just 45 minutes, but the process was about 5 hours in hospital including pre-op prep, surgery and then recovery to a point where I was able to walk out to my car.
Let me tell you.. if you're going to have this done, you can expect severe pain immediately following your return to consciousness. The pain is apparently caused by the dissipation of the air that they had to pump your abdominal cavity full of. The air sits inside of you until it miraculously goes away (seeps out of your body one way or another) but while it's in there it's WORSE than any gallbladder attack I had. I was in tears. I tried to just dumb it down and not admit to or give into the pain, but eventually, I fessed up and told the nurse that it hurt soooo much, as tears ran down my face. They kept giving me shots of pain meds and pills, but it didn't work. It just has to get out of your body over the following 24 hours. Sleep was difficult the first night and I relied on the pain meds every 4 hours.
I was fortunate to be able to have my surgery laproscopically. Dr. Panayides said that it was very enlarged and very full of stones. It definitely needed to be done. I was also very fortunate to have Thor by my side for it and for a week after.
So I'm 1 week plus a day into recovery and I'm frustrated that I'm not much better by now. I'm a smidge better every day, but I still feel an internal pulling/tugging sensation when I move, bend, walk, turn over, etc. If I press on the incisions, they are quite sore still. The second night, I bawled in bed as Thor tried to comfort me, because I was hurting so badly. I didn't think at the time, that I could do it.. that I could make it through the first 48 hours... and I'm a pretty tough cookie. Somehow, though, I did make it and I'm still managing to get through the days.
Recap of things you can expect post gall bladder surgery:
1) constipation (took me 3 days to get my bowels working again)
2) not being able to pee with ease for at least 12 - 24 hours (takes effort)
3) no appetite for a few days
4) extreme dry mouth, inability to produce any saliva at all for 24 hours
5) pain, pain, pain for 48 hours then slightly less pain daily
6) four incisions of about an inch or less that will be sutured, seeping and taped (belly button, right lower, right middle and center upper between rib cage)
7) lots of bruising around the incision sites, and rash if you're like me and allergic to bandage/tape glues
8) loud digestion (my stomach is very vocal now after I eat)
9) fluctuating bowel consistencies (sometimes solid, sometimes runny!)
10) bowel urgency (this doesn't happen all the time, but now sometimes when I eat, I'll need to use the toilet 30 - 45 mins after)
11) the need to sleep sleep sleep for the first 48 hours
12) no driving for at least 3 - 4 days
13) begin eating regular food again
Have at home post surgery:
1) your own suture tape so you can replace theirs if there's still bleeding
2) sterile non-adhesive bandages that can be taped on
3) a product like RestoraLax to move fluid to your bowels
4) a product like Senekot to help contract the intestines and bowels
5) if you're a woman, a loose fitting bra (I'm not kidding, for the first week I could barely stand to wear a bra at all)
6) Pillows to prop you up while sleeping, it's most comfortable to be on your back
7) Someone by your side at all times to help you and cook for you
8) Aloe vera and vitamin E liquid will help heal the incisions, and ploysporin
I think that's about all the advice I have. Except this: you're going to be soooo tempted to lift things, or do things but DON'T. Do as little as possible for the first 2 weeks at least. They say full recovery from this is 4 to 6 weeks. I believe it now. My other advice is that if you are experiencing gall bladder pain to the same extent or frequency I was, DO get the surgery. Because as much as it hurts after, it's already improving my life and I can see how beneficial it is already.