G is for Gallbladder

It's hard to believe that just three months ago today, I was undergoing emergency surgery in Anchorage.  Long story short, I was traveling on business and developed unusual and intense abdomen pain.  After I tried for hours to shrug off the pain, the hotel concierge sent me to the nearest emergency room at Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state's largest hospital.  After a few blood tests and ultrasounds, doctors discovered my bile duct was blocked by a gallstone, and my gallbladder needed to come out - stat!  After spending the night in the ER, I was transferred the next morning to another facility, Alaska Regional Hospital, and in to the Operating Room I went.

From the speedy diagnosis to the decision on surgery to the wheeling me back to the operating table, everything happened so quickly.  My mind raced with countless thoughts and anxieties.  Not only was I scared because of the unexpectedness of the situation, but I didn't feel like I had all my affairs in order - which for a woman who prides herself on organizing and strategizing, this worried me immensely.

But I hadn't reason to worry.  I was surrounded by an outstanding support system of terrific friends and colleagues who jumped at the opportunity to help a friend in need.  I was beyond blessed.  My awesome friend, Sharon, was with me through the ups and downs, through the dizzying nausea when I came out of my anesthesia, through all my pain management.  She spent the night with me, making sure I was comfortable and safe.  In my narcotic-laden state of mind, I probably had numerous obnoxious conversations with Sharon about Grumpy Cat and Paula Deen and Krispy Kreme.  Sharon, with her impeccable bedside manner, tolerated me with a smile, and for that I'm endlessly grateful. 

Sharon cozies up to me and my (unused) bed pan.  I was about three sheets to the wind in this picture.

Photo taken by Sharon, my personal paparazzi and one heckuva friend/nurse.

Also present was my sassy friend, Jenn, who looked after me for quite awhile before I boarded the jet back to Juneau.  Jenn has such a genuinely sweet spirit and infectious laughter.  Plus, she is full of surprises.  She waltzed into my hotel room with a gigantic DVD player and an array of movies - all to entertain me and keep my mind off the four fresh cuts in my belly.  Oh, and she brought hyacinths and Angry Bird graham crackers.  Need I say more?

Am I lucky or what?  I can't imagine better caretakers.  There were so many giggles amongst us, I'm surprised I didn't burst a stitch.

As if all this personal attention didn't put a smile on my face, God knew just what I needed exactly when I needed it!  My post-op stay was at the Sheraton in downtown Anchorage.  The morning after the surgery, I was having a particularly rough time with pain.  I glanced out my window and saw the Fur Rondy International Sled Dog Race happening just a few blocks away.  We had an awesome bird's eye view of the festivities.  And for those of you who know how OBSESSED I am with Alaska dog-sledding and the Iditarod, this was definitely a treat!

While en route to Juneau, I made the following "on the bright side..." list while 20,000 feet in the air:

1) At least this didn't happen last week in Naknek. Thanks be to God!

2) There's so much leftover iodine on my abdomen that it looks like I've spent a week in Mexico.

3) Who needs baked Brie, Costco hotdogs, and Spenard Roadhouse's 'Bacon of the Month' anyway?

4) The average gallbladder weighs about 14 ounces, so I'm thisclose to achieving my newest weight loss goal of 10 pounds by March 10!

5) Surgery has prompted sweet and hilarious messages from friends such as this: "I hope they let you keep your gallbladder so you could make Alaskan jewelry out of it."

Once back in Juneau, I was spoiled rotten by friends and loved ones.  Plus, I had the best heating pad ever - my 20 pound lap cat, Sonny Bunny.

Cat cuddles make everything better.

Looking back at the list above, three months later, makes me chuckle.  My spirits are still high, I've reintroduced bacon into my diet, and even without the gallbladder, I'm full of gumption and more than ever - ready to take on the world, one day at a time!