It’s been thirty days since my gallbladder attacked me. I can’t believe how much my life has changed in those thirty days.
I was quietly minding my own business, watching television after putting my kids to bed and preparing to leave on a twenty-four hour road trip to Texas the next morning. Our of nowhere, I was in pain in the center of my torso, just under my rib cage. While at first I thought it might just be a gas bubble from eating to fast, after shifting around on the couch I realized that wasn’t it. Because it wasn’t going away and it was hurting MORE. I got up. Walked around. And nothing would make it go away. After speaking with my sweetheart, I started to get scared because SOMETHING WAS CLEARLY WRONG. This was PAIN. Like transition labor with no drugs and a non-stop contraction that never lets up (for those of you that have felt the pains of childbirth). Was I having a heart attack? What was happening? In the span of about eight minutes I went from being perfectly fine to feeling like I was dying.
Then he asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital.
This is where I, as a woman and a mother, lack the instincts to take care of myself FIRST over my family. I debated. My internal conversation went something like this:
Is this REALLY that bad?
Can I fight through it?
We will have to wake the kids up and it will completely freak them out?
Maybe I’m over-reacting
I don’t want to scare the kids.
It’ll be such a hassle dragging them with us to the emergency room and keeping them up all night.
Dammit, their Dad is on a flight right now and I have no way of getting a hold of him.
Maybe I can just wait it out a little bit and whatever it is will go away
And then I panicked. Because I really didn’t know if I was having a heart attack and how stupid would I feel if I died right here in my living room for my kids to see because I was too stubborn to go to the hospital. So I gave him the okay to call 911. At this point, there was no way I was getting up off the couch to make it in the car, and I needed help.
The paramedics arrived quickly, and managed to get me loaded up with drugs to get the pain under control ASAP. Unfortunately, in my world narcotics equal nausea and I had to make a choice between feeling like I’d been out doing tequilla shooters for the last 12 hours or being in pain. I opted to make the pain stop and me and the emesis basin were attached at the hip for the next five hours. We made arrangements for the kids (who slept through the entire thing) and off to the hospital I went. Blood work and an ultrasound confirmed gallstones that I didn’t even know I had and it was determined that there was no immediate rush to take the sucker out despite it attacking me, but that immediate diet modifications were needed unless I wanted surgery.
And by “diet modification” they meant no dairy, no cheese, and no friend, greasy or spicy food. Basically everything I lived off of was entirely off-limits (and I wonder why my gallbladder was pissed?)
Two days later, we left for Texas. There’s nothing like embarking on a 24 hour road trip when you can’t eat fast food. AT ALL. Because I remember that pain. It’s NOT like the pain of childbirth that slowly goes away because you have this beautiful baby at the end of it so you forget until the next time you are crazy enough to have a baby. OH NO, this is FRONT AND CENTER in my brain. I never want to feel like that again. E V E R.
So I started making changes. And let me tell you that on vacation with your Mexican family and a Mother in Law that is an amazing cook is NOT really the time you want to not be able to eat cheese. Or anything fried. Especially when your Father in Law makes the best BBQ ribs your ever eaten in your entire life. I basically recreated the Portillo’s Chopped Salad that I loved so much, and ate that for lunch and dinner. Had plain chicken. Plain eggs. No dairy – including ice cream and cheese. Started drinking water again instead of going from my Starbucks Very Berry to Diet Coke every day. If I wanted a snack, I had a small serving of popcorn (I love the SkinnyGirl microwave popcorn – affiliate link). Thanks to my niece, I found a plant protein bar that I liked for another snack (chocolate chip cookie dough and s’mores are my favorite – affiliate links) and a drink (affiliate link) that I use for breakfast sometimes. I stuck with it for the entire time I was there, including the trip home.
I actually started to crave the crunch from a salad every day, and tried to stick to the same routine when I got home. Believe it or not, it was easier when I was on vacation because I wasn’t the one trying to figure out how to feed a family. And cook, which I’m not a big fan of. My family in Texas was wonderful about helping accommodate my new dietary needs and they were surprised and proud of me that I didn’t waiver. Meal planning at home has been a challenge, but my sweetheart and I are doing it together which has made all of the difference in the world.
Earlier this week, I had a check-in with the gastroenterologist. I’ve been a patient there for several years and I wanted to give them an update since the whole #WhenGallbladdersAttack incident. I was interested to step on the scale since I knew that I had lost weight but I wasn’t sure how much. At the beginning of February, I weighed 240. Yes, I’ll admit it and own that number. Honestly, I’m sure it was higher than 240 thirty days ago since a) I’ve been averaging about 10-15 pounds a year, b) those five months were the busiest, most stressful time of the last several years for me and, c) I’d thrown the home scale out I wasn’t ready to face reality. But let’s say I was just 240. This week? At 2pm in the afternoon, after drinking a liter of water and eating an entire chopped salad before my appointment, I was 226.6.
I’ll take that 14 pounds (and the other 4-5 that I might not be aware of) over the last thirty days and RUN WITH IT.
Thirty days after #WhenGallbladdersAttack, I’m 14+ pounds lighter and I’ve eliminated dairy (cheese, milk, ice cream, butter), most meat, most junk carbs (waffles, fries, white pasta, chips) and fast food from my diet. I drink at least a liter of water a day. I eat a ton of veggies – to the point that we are actually looking at the possibility of flipping our house to vegetarian or vegan, getting the majority of or proteins from plant-based sources. Yes, I look in the mirror and wonder who I am. And why it took an internal organ attacking my body for me to make changes. Why wanting to be healthy and loving myself wasn’t enough. Those are things that I have to deal with moving forward; self-care and self-love have never come easy to me. I need to create a model of self-care and love that includes food and overall health for my daughters too so they have a guide. It doesn’t require fancy diets, expensive gyms or self-help books to love yourself enough to be healthy from the inside out.
That’s my bigger takeaway from the last thirty days. #Shift