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My Experience of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Surgery #313

This post is the second part of my gallbladder stone removal journey- focusing more on the experience and challenges post surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy) and recovery.
In the first part I talked about my symptoms, how I was diagnosed with gallstone, finding the right hospital and surgeon, tests before the surgery.

Check out the first part here.

12th January/ The Day of Surgery: My Experience of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy  

I finally rose from bed, exhausted and anxious. I took a hot shower, said a prayer, and finished my breakfast. I put on comfortable clothes: a cotton kurti and palazzo. We hopped in the cab and arrived at the hospital early. Our first task was to collect all the reports and fill out the admission form. The form was simple; now we just had to wait.

The man at the admission counter checked our papers and sent us to the patient’s room. I was supposed to get a single-occupancy room, but due to unavailability they gave me a double bed with another patient already there.

My anxiety was better than the night before, and I wanted to sleep; I was exhausted from travelling long distances. But at the back of my mind, I still wondered: “What if I can’t sleep during the surgery?”

The nurses visited me often. They gave me a hospital gown, took my blood sample to test my blood group (we had forgotten to bring the report), attempted to make a channel in my vein for fluid and medication delivery, and checked if I needed shaving in my private areas. For surgery at 3 PM, I ate my last meal by 7 AM and had no water after 12:30 PM.

The nurse and another health-care worker arrived to take my bed to the operating theater (OT). Lethargy overwhelmed me, though I had not yet taken any medication. My family waited outside the OT while I lay on a portable bed awaiting my turn. I heard conversations among OT staff, clattering of medical tools, doors slamming as people brought patients in and out.

My heart raced and my thoughts blurred. Finally, it was my turn. They took me to the room—the one from the movies with flashy lights. Someone inserted an IV needle in my vein and asked if I had any false teeth.

The surgery went well and the anesthesia did its job (I was more worried about that than the actual procedure). I regained consciousness almost an hour after my operation. They were taking out a tube from my mouth, and I didn’t feel any pain right away. I lightly touched my stomach and felt bandages—“OK, so it’s done!” My parents saw me but I was in a daze. I held onto my mom’s finger but couldn’t speak.

The single occupancy room we requested was still occupied, so they took me to the previous one. After surgery, rolling from bed to bed was a nightmare. I can’t express the pain I felt when trying to move my body a few hours post-op.

The Night after the Surgery:

This is a crucial time after surgery. We got a single-occupancy room, Mum changed into comfy clothes, Dad visited me and left. I received IV fluids and many medications through my channel.

I became a log of wood or a human vegetable—unable to move, breathe, or do anything on my own. I was given antibiotics, painkillers, and medicine to prevent vomiting. Now let’s talk about the pain?

The doctor made four small incisions on my stomach for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. One was 10 inches long between my chest and stomach, two were 5 inches long on the right side of stomach, and one above the belly button. I felt burning at the sites of the incisions and a sharp pain inside my stomach where they removed my gallbladder.

I couldn’t fill my lungs while breathing; my stomach was bloated like a puffer fish under duress. I felt my chest closing, and my throat was scratchy and swollen from the tube they put in during surgery. The anesthesia wore off after an hour or two, but I stayed awake for the rest of the evening and night, feeling all the pain and discomfort.

The head nurse visited me and I shared all my pains so they could give the right medication. By 11 PM, after almost 12 hours, I had my first sip of water. At 11:30 PM, hot soup was served to me. Worried about vomiting, I only ate a few spoons. A nurse gave me a bottle of water at 2 AM and asked me to finish half as I hadn’t peed since the surgery. After using the restroom for the first time, I felt better even though pain still lingered.

That night mum slept for barely 20-30 mins right before the dawn, I kept looking at the sky slowly changing its color while listening to her snoring softly.

13th January / The Day after the Surgery:

The nurses visited me frequently throughout the night, and by 6 AM they gave me a sponge bath and helped me put on some fresh clothes. At 7:30 AM we were served tea and biscuits, but I requested an alternative drink as I avoid tea and coffee.

By 9 AM, they gave me oatmeal porridge, freshly-made cottage cheese, and a banana. Mum spoon-fed these in small portions for the next few hours. By 11 or 12, I had a glass of orange juice. The nurse raised my bed which helped the gas escape by burping and reduced chest pain. I had liquid lunch around 1:30 – 2 PM and received several injections throughout the day.

My surgeon and other on-call doctors came to check on me. They advised I start walking in the room as I was still bloated like a balloon. That afternoon, I got half an hour of sleep and Dad visited during visiting hours. Mum proved herself the best unpaid nurse ever; she helped me up from bed, use the restroom, take walks in the room, eat—everything! I couldn’t be luckier.

14th January / The Day of Release:

I got some sleep at night and felt better than a human vegetable. I still couldn’y get out of bed without help, but was able to sit for longer periods. My bloating was decreasing too. The doctor checked me and said everything was okay. I ate regular meals, then the dietitian visited and recommended a fat-restricted diet (RIP my food blog). In the afternoon, Mum went to the counter to complete the paperwork.

The nurse gave me the discharge summary, which included a summary of my treatment, medications to take for the next five days, and a follow-up date. After surgery, I asked my dad to bring me a soft pillow on the long ride home. The cab driver kindly drove with care.

My sister deep cleaned our home. She took care of every sheet, pillow cover, curtain in my room, my clothes and towels. I thought she was suspiciously distant from the mess as she just comforted me once before surgery. Emotional support wasn’t her strong suit, but she cared.

Post-surgery Situation at Home:

The most difficult part for the next few days was getting up and lying down in bed. This wasn’t a hi-tech hospital bed with a knob to elevate it, but things got easier over time. Five days after surgery, Mum changed my bandages and three days later I took them all off. I’d never seen stitches before – they freaked me out! Just thinking about opening those bandages myself made me panic. With Mum busy with household work, I decided to do it myself. When I saw my stitches for the first time, tears streamed from my eyes.

I’m sharing these experiences in detail so you can better understand my journey. Without talking about my fears and vulnerabilities, I can’t do justice to the narrative of this journey.

I took sponge baths until my next visit to the doctor. Accepting my body with all its stitches and protecting it after surgery was a mental challenge for me. I cried often, felt overwhelmed by emotions, but eventually came to terms with reality. I still had nightmares sometimes, making me more anxious in the morning. Each day, I spent 5-10 minutes in the sun – somehow that made me feel better physically and mentally.

23rd January/ Follow up:

We visited the surgeon for a routine follow-up and collected the biopsy report. I could have started taking showers instead of sponge baths, but I waited for the doctor’s instruction.

Further on the way to Recovery:

The dietician told me to steer clear of fast food and fat. I’m not sure how well I can stick to that, but this has changed the way I think about food forever. The threads in my stitches came out on their own almost 3 weeks after surgery. They looked like bread-scoring art; over time, the cut healed up.

I hope you learned something from my first surgery experience.

Learn more about the procedure Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.

Post Author: Molten Cookie Dough

A typical Pisces person.

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