Skip to content

A new emergency, complete with surgery


That whole post about bad luck? It just keeps getting worse.

The culmination of it all was an emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder (yes, the whole freaking thing) and a gallstone the size of a quarter from my body on Wednesday morning.

Let me go back to Jan. 1.

That emergency room trip where the CT scan showed nothing? Where blood tests were inconclusive?

I was sent home, that night, after being loaded up with painkillers. The good painkillers, not the ones that make me feel like I’m on fire (looking at you Morphine). I was also prescribed a bottle of Vicodin and some anti-nausea medication. Good thing too, because I had to keep taking it.

I can’t even begin to describe the pain I feel when it happens. It starts dull, then radiates throughout my abdomen. Then my stomach seems to get bloated. Last week, I couldn’t wear my jeans. It was that bad. And when all is said and done, it passes. Like nothing. It usually only lasts a night or so, then I’m back at it.

But this time, the pain stuck around. I noticed it when I was shooting a video on Thursday of last week. As I sat on the floor, something I usually do when shooting video. I all of the sudden had a sharp pain in my side. Then I felt a little sick. I was able to finish the video without any other incident.

On Saturday, it felt like it was kicking up again. By Monday, I was harboring a dull pain as I went throughout my day. I’ve been dealing with this since graduate school. Doctors first diagnosed me with an ulcer. That was a lucky guess … because I ended up having a pretty gnarly ulcer. My husband rushed me to the ER the year we got married after I could barely stand up. Then doctors said it was kidney stones. In 2010, I had surgery to look for “lady problems” that could be causing the pain.

Another doctor told me I needed to lose some weight. I proceeded forward with that. Thirty-pounds lighter, the pain came back.

And it kept coming, until Tuesday when, at another video assignment, it was full blown. Just crazy bad. Tuesday ended for me in a way that I should have predicted a few weeks ago when I decided to go back to work, except in the real-life version I was called self absorbed. (Not for this post.)

I came home upset Tuesday night. I took a Xanax to calm down. I fell asleep fast.

By midnight, I was wide awake trying to get the pain to pass again. I tried to go to the bathroom. I drank water, a ton of water. I used the heating pad. I took a shower. I did everything.

Then I started throwing up. Everything. Nothing stayed down. (Even that $10, super delicious Togo’s sandwich. Damn.)

So at 4 a.m., I woke my husband up by collapsing on our bedroom floor.

“I’m dying,” I cried.

“You’re not dying,” he said.

But he couldn’t deny I was in pain.

It took them an hour to get me painkillers. I hadn’t even had time, since the previous visit, to check in with my regular physician. This time, the emergency room doctor (a really young looking guy), ordered up a CT with contrast.

Less than 30 minutes later, he was back in my ER bay telling me by gallbladder looked inflamed. He brought in an ultrasound machine. He felt around. He said he wanted to consult the surgeon.

By 9 a.m. I was being wheeled into the surgery room to have my gallbladder removed.

I woke up in recovery, still dazed about all that had transpired in less than 12 hours.

And greeted by a clear liquid diet.


Chicken broth. Jello. Yum. I also got juice. No carbonated beverages, though. Apparently, I may not be able to drink carbonated beverages for a while now.

Oh, and new holes all over my abdomen. I felt like a human pincushion.


That’s what I look like after having a organ removed. And being put under general anesthesia. And being hooked up to a major massive IV delivering more painkillers.

So I’m sans gallbladder. My husband was right: I wasn’t dying.

But I’m not supposed to lift anything more than 15 pounds for the next month. I have an awesome sheet full of lots of fun doctor orders. No this. No that. No running. For at least two weeks.

So that 10K I was so jazzed about? Not happening, according to my husband. It’s only 16 days away. He wants me to contact the race company and transfer my entry to another event. I’ll get around to it, when I have a moment of clarity without the pain medication. (Like right now, when I’m not nearly as groggy as I thought I’d be.)

I’m trying not to be iffy about my half marathon in February, but you never know about these things. I’m in a lot of pain right now. I can barely stay awake for more than three hours, apparently a result of being put under.


That was my view for the day/night. The night was ridiculous. There was no way I could get a good night’s rest. I had nurses coming in every two hours to check my vitals and make sure I was still alive. If they hadn’t have kept giving me pain medication, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to sleep.

One of the orderlys was really nice, though. She saw I was having trouble navigating something simple like opening up a sugar packet, for my tea, and she offered to make it for me.


I nearly cried when she left. Lately I’ve been greeted with questioning looks and doubtful smiles. This woman was genuinely nice to me. She even opened up my napkin and put it on my lap. Why can’t more people be like that? (I may sound cheesy right now, but I’m had a hellish three weeks that has made me question nearly everything I knew about friendship and proper decorum.)

I kept getting zonked out with the IV painkillers.


That little bag was both my friend and my enemy. They had to remove the original IV from my right hand and move it to my left late last night because the original one had saturated my arm. Every time my nurse “flushed” the line, it burned.

This morning, my husband came and bailed me out. We only live right down the street from the hospital, but the trip felt long. I really just wanted to go home and crawl into bed. When I finally did, I fell fast asleep.

I’m a little hunched over when I walk now. And the pain is still radiating, but this time I know it’s from the holes, not the gigantic gallstone.

I keep asking myself: Why is all this happening? What is it setting me up for?

One of my favorite songs says “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” I keep hoping that’s true. I keep thinking positively. It will all mean something, anything, eventually. But what matters right now, what I know matters, is that I am home, And safe. And my husband is taking care of me. And a friend who mattered came to see me. And my mom showed up without hesitation when she was called.

I know I’m loved, even if everything is falling apart all around me.


Run with me!

Save 25 percent all See Jane Run races, including the June 21 San Francisco Bay Area run, by using the code SJRAMB243. Use the code to also save 10 percent on online store discounts at