It was December 31st, 2022. Everyone planned to spend New Year’s Eve with family and friends, heading to Park Street for the spectacular lights. My mom and I visited a nearby clinic to see a general physician.
I’d been feeling discomfort in my right upper abdomen for a month—occasional muscle pulls beneath my ribs. I complained to my mother, but ignored it until the pain persisted while laughing, coughing or turning over in bed.
I had a pit in my stomach that something was wrong, even though the pain wasn’t intense yet. I looked up my symptoms on WebMD and was afraid to believe what I saw. In short, I knew it was best to consult a doctor without delay.
I asked Mum to take the doctor’s appointment on the upcoming weekend or as soon as possible. Two days later, we found ourselves in a clinic waiting our turn to see the doctor.
31st December: The Beginning
The doctor asked me about my health issues, prescribed a painkiller, and asked me to get an ultrasound in three weeks. He suspected that sitting at a desk for long hours was causing the problem.
We were so distracted by the doctor that we overlooked the “3 weeks” part of their statement and made an appointment for USG on the very next day—January 1st, 2023.
The rest of the evening was fine. I returned home, had a chat with my sister at night, wished my family a happy new year and went to bed.
1st January: The USG
I arrived at the clinic again with my mom the next morning.
The doctor asked me about my profession and math skills. He talked to the nurse about his teenage daughter’s struggles with math, noting that I was doing well in both my career and studies.
He suddenly asked, “What do you like to eat?” I couldn’t choose one favorite dish, so I said home-cooked meals are my favorite.
He then said, “That’s probably because your mum forbade you to eat fast food due to your stomach ache. You have a large stone in the gall bladder.” He turned the screen toward me and showed me the stone. My heart dropped, and I said nothing.
It was hard to miss my immediate change in expression. The doctor tried comforting me, saying it’s common and I’d need surgery. “But don’t worry, I wouldn’t do the surgery”…
The next few days were more emotionally challenging than physically. I searched for hospitals, surgeons and read about the procedure.
My dad and sister both had their gallbladder stones removed surgically long ago. That experience wasn’t useful at all.
I got an idea about the surgery and expenses. But, it was nearly impossible to find a surgeon’s review or patient feedback.
I had to figure out how to use my medical insurance. I got the list of network hospitals and shared it with my family so they could shortlist one.
After researching and scrolling through search results, I narrowed it down to AMRI Hospitals in Kolkata. My family had no complaints.
5th January: Talking to the Surgeon
Since Dad was away, Mom and I hopped in a cab and headed to AMRI Hospital. She was anxious about the situation—apparently Dad is an expert at taking people to the hospital, conversing with staff, etc.
I was determined to prove we were enough. Anxiety built up inside, but I kept my cool and continued with the day.
We registered my name in the database, got a patient ID, and booked an appointment with the doctor. We found seats in the waiting room and met 4-5 families from Bangladesh who had come for treatment. The wait wasn’t boring; people chatted about their hotel stays, Google reviews of the doctor, how healthcare is better quality but still affordable in India compared to Bangladesh, etc.
A nurse called my name, checked my height and weight, and took my blood pressure. Then it was our turn to visit the doctor—and I had booked a general physician instead of a surgeon! Thankfully, the doctor didn’t charge us anything and referred us to a surgeon who was visiting the hospital in a few hours. After four days searching Google for “the best surgeon,” I chose from two options given by the general physician within 30 seconds.
We had to get the money refunded and book another appointment with the actual surgeon, Dr. Sumantra Roy. After waiting 1-1.5 hours, we met him. He looked over my report and said, “You have a big stone—you need surgery!”
I calmly asked how long I could’ve had the stone there and he replied that it could be for over a year. He wrote the tests needed before my Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy to ensure I was ready for the procedure. We also set the surgery date as 12th January, which I expected since consulting with the doctor.
About the tests:
I already had showed him USG and blood test report which were done a week back.
I was advised to get Lung Functioning Test, Creatinine, Urea, TSH, PT-INR, Viral Serology, Chest X-Ray, ECG and ECHO done before surgery.
I’m not afraid of needles. My only complaint is when nurses don’t find my vein on the first try and poke me without success.
The X-Ray, ECHO and ECG went well. I felt awkward doing the ECG as I hadn’t done it before, but everything else was fine.
Since we came from the outskirts of the city, the doctor told us to check in with him via call the day before surgery.
After my tests finished, we went to the TPA office for cashless hospitalization paperwork. I had no clue how it worked, so I asked the staff member nicely for help.
After checking my prescription and test reports, they gave me several forms to fill out. These included my name, ID card information, health insurance policy details, previous treatment history, procedure to be done, and family members’ names. They also provided an estimate of the hospitalization cost for laparoscopic cholecystectomy and explained it to us.
On the day of my admission, I had to submit a photo to the TPA office because I hadn’t included one when I filled out the form on the 5th.
My thoughts and Emotion while waiting for the Day:
I sobbed on New Year’s Day after coming home. Mum stood in front of me for a while, but couldn’t console me with her words and eventually left the room.
After I came home from the hospital on 5th, the world around me started to fall apart. I desperately sought reassurance and emotional support from my close ones, but none of my friends talked to me during this period, so I didn’t reach out. My dad seemed relaxed and asked me not to worry. My mum was driven by emotions and showed only anxiety; she rarely tried to comfort me—like a second Dad, rough and tough without showing emotion. My sister stayed suspiciously detached—no emotional support or words of reassurance.
My aunts came to visit me, but generally people aren’t great at comforting the ill.
After being diagnosed with gallbladder stones, I lost my appetite and felt nervous about the test results. I was concerned that if I had been carrying a stone for a year, there might be other health issues too. Who knows!
AMRI Hospital keeps all test reports on their website. We logged in with our patient ID and checked the reports by January 9th. Everything looks normal, which is a relief.
As the surgery date drew nearer, my anxiety skyrocketed. I had nightmares almost every night. It was my first surgery and my brain couldn’t stop imagining all the ways it could go wrong.
I was petrified thinking about the pain I’d never experienced before, worried if the anesthesia wouldn’t work and I woke in the middle of surgery. Not to mention stitches—absolutely terrifying. Then there was nervousness around nudity; I’d be without clothes in front of a room full of strangers. How did I end up here?
Since I couldn’t share my inner-most fears with anyone, I started comforting myself. I was well-aware of my anxiety and actively trying to prevent myself from thinking about the absolute worst.
“I could be an anxious human bean, but the doctor seemed very confident- he might have done this surgery so many times that he could do this with his eyes closed! As far as the nakedness is concerned, medical staff see naked people all the time, and they really don’t care. It’s just part of human body for them- and nothing else. “ – me to myself.
Talking to Guru ji the day before my surgery helped me a lot. Whenever I felt negativity coming up, I remembered his reassuring words.
The night before the surgery:
I usually plan thoroughly, but packing for my surgery felt daunting. Throughout the day, I listed all the items my mother and I might need in the hospital. Finally, at night I packed my bag and crossed each item off the list.
I had dinner at the usual time and went to bed by midnight. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw myself on a hospital bed. My thoughts raced. I couldn’t sleep and tossed from side to side. My mom rose early, before sunrise…I heard her doing puja, chanting mantras and more.
This is the first part of my gallbladder stone removal. Read the second part here where I talk more about the procedure, I experience of the surgery and recovery.