The Opposite of Glamorous

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For the past nearly five years of blogging here at La Dolce Vita, I have sought to give my readers full disclosure on as much as I have possibly been able to. From sharing the journey of going from being a high school Spanish teacher to my present role as Director of Marketing for a high end decorative lighting manufacturer, many of you have traveled along the winding road of my life along with me. There have been moments, like the end of High Gloss which were more painful and emotional than I think I’ll ever be able to fully share, but please know that you have always been a source of strength and inspiration for me.

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The stresses of all of these changes have taken their toll on my heart at times, but more recently my physical health has felt the brunt of it. I am someone who enjoys a challenge and always strives to do more, but I have been stretching myself thin lately. Since taking on my full-time job last August, I have continued to do all of the things that I was doing when I was working for myself, plus I find myself wanting to tackle a new creative project on the side. My body however, seems to be fighting back. Internalizing the emotional toll of last year’s changes coupled with a schedule that doesn’t allow me to ever really relax or unplug have wreaked havoc on my body.

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For the past seven or eight months, I’ve dealt with severe abdominal pain just about everyday. After exhaustive tests and visits to several doctors and specialists, it was determined that I have a three millimeter mobile gallstone that likes to lodge itself in a sweet little spot that causes me to have severe, sharp pains in my side along with bouts of pancreatitis. Thankfully, the condition is not all that serious in the grand scheme of things and should be remedied when I have surgery to remove my gallbladder this Thursday. Here’s hoping! I am nervous about having surgery, but it makes me more nervous to think that not having the surgery could lead to more severe problems with my liver or pancreas in the future. My body has never handled stress well and it’s crazy to see how it has manifested itself in this condition. According to my doctors, the problem was definitely brought on by stress for me. Kids, do take care of yourselves! Try not to sweat the small stuff and don’t overextend yourselves—easier said than done, right?

I’ve been told my recovery should take seven to ten days, and I’m hoping to be able to blog through it. I do have some questions about the overall experience if any of you have ever been through this and would seriously appreciate any words of advice. Have you had gallbladder removal surgery? What was your recovery like? What types of food did you eat afterward? Have you felt better since having surgery? Thank you! I promise to bring back inspiring interiors and eye candy tomorrow!


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54 thoughts on “The Opposite of Glamorous

  1. SO sad to hear that! My husband just had the EXACT same thing this last fall.. It’s good you’re going in for surgery, because trust me, the pain does not go away on its own. The high levels of bilirubin did jack up his liver, but once they removed the gallstones, the levels came much closer to normal.
    Surgery is not too bad… he was off the pain meds within a couple days, and he does have scars.
    He worried about what he could eat afterwards, but has had no problem at all! We had heard eggs, or pizza, or spicy foods can wreak havoc, but so far he’s been very lucky.
    I’m confident you’ll be 100% after the surgery- my hsuband just wished he hadn’t waited so long in that pain. Good luck to you!!
    Hope this random advice from a stranger lends some comfort =)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing, Stephanie. It is very comforting to hear that your hubby went through something similar and is doing just dine now. Glad to hear his recovery went smoothly! My lipase levels are elevated which messes with my pancreas and the thought of any pancreatic disease terrifies me, so better to do the procedure now. Thanks again!

  3. This might be long…

    I had my gall bladder removed several years ago. I never had the associated pain, but if I ate anything rich, my GI system just did not handle it well. At the time, I was working at a physician’s office and when they saw me eating rather lightly, they inquired and I told them my symptoms…immediately they asked, Do you still have your gall bladder? Sure enough, it was functioning at 14 %. No bueno.

    The surgery went fine, and other than being a little sick the second day post surgery from coming off of the anesthesia, I was fine. You can eat almost anything that sounds good, but I would take it easy. Your stomach will be sore for a good week or two, so tell your husband to keep the jokes to a minimum…unfortunately, laughing hurt the worst. Also, keep a small pillow with you that you can press on your abdomen when you need to get up, or will be sitting for long periods, car rides, etc. All in all, it’s really not that bad.

    Lastly, it sounds like your doctors have pin-pointed your pain source, but I thought I’d tell you my stress related stomach issues. From time to time, I would have horrific pain right under my sternum…the first time I thought I was having a heart attack. After a lot of tests, food journals, and misdiagnosis, I learned that extreme stress caused my stomach to cramp up. They prescribed me an oral medicine that basically works as a GI muscle relaxer. It saved me! The diagnosis also taught me an important lesson on how my mind and emotions play a role in the overall health of my body.

    Good luck with your surgery, I’m sure it will go well and you will be back at it in no time. Just take care of yourself. It’s really easy to become “too busy” for things, but making time for your body and mind will pay dividends. (I say that having learned the hard way)

  4. My fiancé had gallbladder surgery two weeks ago. He also battled with severe abdominal pain for 3 months and would have spells of throwing up and nausea for 8 – 12 hours at a time. We received different diagnoses from doctors and finally they performed an ultra sound that showed his gallbladder was inflamed. We went through with the surgery and the doctor said it was so infected, he didn’t know what would have happened to him if he waited. You having the surgery might be scary now, but the peace of mind to know that the problem is removed is far more comforting. He stuck to chicken broth, applesauce and jello for a few days after the surgery to slowly allow his body to adjust and now he is eating regular foods. He had very limited pain after the surgery and the scars are minimal, so the Lord truly blessed. I will keep you in my prayers and you will come out feeling 10 times better!

  5. I had mine out 15 years ago. Recovering quickly, no real issue except for a slight pulling where they put the slits (3 tiny ones) The worst part is the ” I am gonna be sick now” feeling, while the drugs wear off. (a few hours at worst) No real lingering issues, I can eat whatver i want -still have a problem if something is too fatty for some reason, they said at the time it should not bother me, but every so often it does. I sat in a lawn chair that first day after surgery. Next day I was back to chaseing 2 small kids. Good luck.

  6. I had the surgery 12 years ago! You will feel back to normal once you have your gallbladder removed! Mine was affecting the health of my liver and so was no longer optional surgery. I didn’t know this though until I had gone back in because the pain had become unbearable! The recovery was not that bad. At first I had trouble eating anything that was fatty, like say french fries or ice cream. that problem eventually got better. You will be in my prayers for a quick and speedy recovery!

  7. In my experience and that of a friend we’ve both been able to eat pretty much anything, although I did find that I wanted to eat less during the weeks immediately following surgery. That was years ago and I’m back to attacking food with gusto. Best of luck and get well soon!

  8. I have no experience with this but all I can say, having been through three major surgeries – is PLEASE give your body the time to recover! Hope the surgery goes well and that your recovery is quick and complete – besos!

  9. Hi Paloma,

    I went through this surgery at the age of 20 (~8 years ago). I was in severe pain for weeks, while the doctors determined exactly what was going on. The pain was excruciating so I am sorry you have been fighting this for so long. The surgery was quick, and fairly easy. My recovery took just a few days, and for most of it I was asleep due to the pain medication. I have felt 100% relief ever since the surgery and have not had any issues with food.

    I, as well am confident you will feel 100% better after the surgery and will be very happy you did it.

    If you have any additional questions, I am happy to answer them.

    Best of luck to you and I wish you a very speedy recovery.


  10. I am just like Erin, i had emergency surgery at 20 after suffering for a year with what i thought was indigestion, until i realized that stabbing pain lasting hours with no relief was not indigestion. Recovery was fine, no biggie. I realized afterwards that when i ate anything fried a horrible attack would come. Now i can eat almost everything, although i try to eat very clean. Good luck, you will feel so much better afterwards!

  11. Thank you for sharing your personal journey. I wish you a speedy recovery. Sending positive energy and will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

  12. It has been over a year since my surgery, and I feel much better. I will tell you that you most likely will not be blogging. Don’t even attempt to. While the surgery is what THEY call minor, you will be unable to move around a lot without pain. The good part of that is that when you are still you most likely will be pain-free. It took longer for my recovery, and it is different for each person. I do not take any medication for pain if I can get away with it, but I did with this surgery, and I would advise that you take the medication and get the rest you need.
    This is just my experience. It could be much easier for you. You are probable at least a decade younger than I am too.
    You just take care of your self, and the blog will be here when you have recovered.

  13. Hi! So, I just had surgery myself last Friday- not my gallbladder, but it was emergent abdominal surgery and I am at home recovering. I am also a full time physician assistant working in emergency medicine, so I completely know what you are going through as I have had this discussion with patients before. If you want to chat or have a more in depth convo besides the blogger comment forum, please email me! I know its scary thinking your problem needs an operative solution, but you have the right attitude knowing that this will help! Keep your head up and please email me if you have any questions etc. I’ll help you with any of the medical lingo etc- I know it can be daunting and inundating esp if you do not work in medicine!

  14. I’m so sorry to hear about that! I wish you a speedy recovery! My mom had this operation when I was younger and seemed to recover pretty quickly. Mind you medical procedures like this have advanced a great deal from what they were even just a few short years ago. So I really hope that it will be an ‘easy’ surgery. I know that no surgery is ‘easy’ but I have faith that you’ll recover quickly. Just remember to let yourself heal and not stress out about the small things. I’m a new-er reader (just found your blog a few short months ago) but I’ve really been enjoying your posts so much! As much as I hate to say it…I had a minor surgery a month ago and the one thing that kept me from stressing before the surgery was keeping myself busy so I didn’t think about it so much. Best of luck & get well soon! xo – Lindsey

  15. Hi, my name is mariana and I am from Portugal.
    I really love reading your blog, it is a source of great inspiration to me.
    Hope everything goes right and you recover quickly.
    best wishes! :)

  16. Wow, poor you. I`m glad they were able to find a cause for it thought. A friend of mine`s husband has had pain for years and they still can`t determine what it is, so eventhough it is scary it is good that you can have surgery. My Mom had her gallbladder removed a few years ago, the recovery was pretty quick and she can eat pretty much anything (btw, she is not someone who likes surgery either). The only problem food for her since her surgery is lettuce.
    Good luck on Thursday, I will be thinking of you. Try not to worry to much and you should take a nice little break from everything. Let your body and mind rest. Get a good book, I hear 50 shades of grey is good, get lost in it and just pamper yourself during your recovery. It sounds like that is what you need and you should take advantage of this time.

  17. It is so heartwarming to read all of the support and stories your readers are sharing with you.

    It takes a lot to open up and it means a lot that you did.

    We’re all here for you and you will be in our thoughts during this – and you’ll be just fine!

  18. Eek! I *just* got over a 4-hour attack. Damn, it’s a most painful thing, isn’t it? I’m having my gallbladder removed July 9th, which after today I have to say is 28 days too far away. Thanks for this timely post. I’m so sorry to hear you’re in the same boat but I’ll be glad to read the responses. Good luck on Thursday!

  19. Hi! I’ve been a lurker for a long time, and love the inspiration you’re always sharing with us!
    I had the same surgery right after giving birth to my daughter 4 years ago.

    You will feel SO much better after your recovery is done…it’s a life-changer to not have attacks and be able to eat whatever you want!

    I was able to have mine removed laparascopically (I’m sure that’s not spelled correctly!) so they made three very small incisions (two on my side and one inside my belly button for minimal scarring). Even with minimal invasion, abdominal surgery is always a bit of a rocky recovery because we use those muscles for so many things…sitting up, coughing, laughing…So don’t be afraid to use the pain meds they give you! *One tip then nurses gave me was to use a pillow and press it to your abdomen if you have to cough, or stand up. It helps keep your core stable without applying sharp pressure.

    Don’t rush your recovery and make sure you have plenty of help :) Hope you’re feeling better soon!!

  20. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I am glad they know what it is and how to fix it. Makes the surgery no less stressful for you, I am sure, but I bet you are in good hands.

  21. You brave girl to have opened up to all of us, and I hope all the love and support will help you through this difficult time. Prayers coming your way. Hope you feel better soon!

  22. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and for taking time out of your day to listen to mine. You’ve given me tips that I definitely plan to take after surgery. Your love and support mean so much! XOXO

  23. Please take care of yourself. I have been dealing with chronic back pain and can all be attributed to stress. I’ve had to stop even reading stories about “beating the odds” because it just makes me feel bad about myself for scaling back. But we must, even when it means limiting our time with the things we love. Praying for a speedy recovery!

  24. I’ve always enjoyed your blog and appreciate all that you share. I’m glad you are taking time to relax and take care of you, first. Health is Wealth. I’ve heard of the gallstone flush and that it’s worked on some people. But like anything though, you must consult your physician first. Since you’ve already scheduled the surgery, I’m sure you will be well and back in no time. Take care

  25. I had my gall bladder out 2 years ago. You will be fine. I had mine out on the Monday, spent the night in hospital, went home on Tuesday and was back at work on Wednesday.There was little to no pain and I did not need any pain killers. I can eat anything without problem but I have heard some people say if they eat something very fatty they can get an upset tummy.
    Good luck.

  26. Paloma,

    I promise you will not only be better … Then awful pain will be such a relief. You will truly feel like your old self… Actually, better with your pain free body. Best advice before surgery try to meditate … Or just close your eyes and think pleasant thoughts. If that does not work. Then ick your ruby red shoes twice… :) you will be in my thoughts. Wishing you a speedy recovery!!:)

  27. It is such a privilege for me to receive your blog Paloma and to get a peek into your life and the way that you see the world! Once again you are ‘walking the walk’ with the way in which you handle adversity with grace. I love that you share with your readers too, it makes me feel as though you really care about the friendship that we’ve formed by my reading your insights and style over the years.
    Stay strong and give your body what it’s asking for. One thing that I have learned as I ‘ripen’ in age is that it is no longer mind over matter for me, because my body does cause an up-rising!
    You are wise and you are strong. Hugs to Tate! XOXO

  28. Paloma,
    I had my gallbladder removed many years ago when regular incisions were made. I was 30 at that time with 2 small children.
    For my type of surgery I did have pain afterwords but within 3 weeks I was outside trimming trees.
    Never having to deal with another gallbladder attack was worth every bit of post op pain. I also was able to eat anything I wanted.
    You’ll do fine and recovery will go smoothly. Just take care of yourself.
    linda miller
    charlotte nc
    Will be praying for you so please keep us posted.

  29. Oh Paloma, I hate to hear this! Definitely take care of yourself first! We love your blog and definitely appreciate all of your hard work! Let your great readers know if we can do something while you rest or if you need a future break!

  30. I have been there! Mine was also caused by stressed. The good news is, the surgery is VERY simple, the scars are tiny, and the pain is immediately relieved. Be prepared for some pain from the air used to distend the abdominal cavity as it moves up in your shoulder, but it should dissipate in a day or two.

    You will do great!

  31. So sorry to hear about your health issues–stomach pains are never any fun. But I’m sure after surgery & recovery you will be feeling so much better! And you will do fine in surgery. Prayers for a great surgery & speedy recovery. And get you some much needed rest!! And try not to stress!

  32. Paloma:
    I’m so sorry to hear about this. Our bodies do indeed tell us what they need, and you were wise to listen before anything became worse. Take time to settle and take care of yourself – your readers will be here.
    alison g.

  33. My advice, since you asked for it is this:

    (1) don’t worry unduly — the procedure is quite simple now and recovery is usually pretty quick

    (2) having said that, it is important not to rush your recovery. As with any surgery, you will be sore and somewhat swollen till you are healed.

    (3) it is not a morning at the dentist! Any time you have a general anesthesia and an invasive procedure, you will find that for some time after you tire more easily. It is important to rest a while, take a nap, when you feel tired. Also, I noticed that I had a little trouble remembering things, like a number of steps to accomplish a particular task on a computer, for instance, or concentrating for long periods. I was also used to keeping many balls in the air. This may last six months. It will go away with time.

    (4) I had this procedure about 15 years ago, and even then it was done with a laparoscope, so there were several small incisions, none of which left a permanent scar.

    (5) the doctor said that I could eat anything I want. However, I have never been able to tolerate a high fat diet, either before or after — it just doesn’t agree with me.

    (6) you will feel like a new woman! That queasiness and pain in your side and gassiness — all that will go away!

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts, and look forward to your wonderful blog again when you feel better.


  34. Paloma-

    I had this surgery two years ago. It was endoscopic and was done through four small slits in my stomach. The surgery was not bad at all. I woke up and felt fine. The only weird senssation I had was a pressure feeling below my ribs as the gas that they use to inflate your belly is slowly metabolised after surgery. I have had not problems since the surgery. I eat what ever I want including peanut butter which I adore! Try to walk the day following surgery – very slowly – to work the gas out of your body. Sorry you have been going through this while you have maintained such an incredible blog! Also, all of my liver enzymes have been perfect since then, no problem. You cannot even see where they inserted the endoscope, all of the small slits are invisable now.

    Thinking of you! You will be fine!

    North Carolina

  35. Wishing you a speedy recovery! As much as your readers are inspired by your wonderful blog posts, I’ve learned the importance of taking time for yourself. Best, Victoria

  36. Lots of well wishes for a speedy recovery! I know you’ll be fine but my prayers are with you for everything to go well!


  37. I very much admire your blog; it’s evident that you work hard to make it this great. I wish you the very best, take the time you need to fully recover!

  38. Oh Paloma just saw this! I am relieved it’s nothing more serious and sounds like you will be fixed up right away! I’ve had four knee surgeries and although different, I know it’s scary but totally fine. You’re I’m the best hands and this is the best thing for you. Good luck tomorrow! Don’t blog silly! Get rest. xoxo

  39. I went through exactly the same thing. Pancreatitis and all. Stress-induced. How many nights did I (sort of) sleep on the bathroom floor? Anyway, it does get better. A lot of ppl bounce back in 48 hours…it took me 6 weeks. So don’t rush yourself. Listen to your body and just sit on the couch for days on end if you need to. BEST TO YOU!!

  40. I can relate. I spent my honeymoon in the hospital having mine removed. You are going to feel so much better. Recovery was no cakewalk but not horrible either. Just get your rest and don’t worry about anything except taking care of yourself! Good luck, sending prayers your way! xo

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