Two years ago after the birth of my second child I started having horrible awful pains in my back, I was nauseated, I wanted to vomit on a regular basis (and forced myself to do so in order to relieve pressure), and I dropped my child twice because my arm went completely limp on random intervals without warning. I went to the doctor who figured it was just my body adjusting to no longer being pregnant, then went to the ER multiple times, and then back to a new doctor. The consensus was it was my gallbladder, my doctor said that it may just due to hormonal changes, and sent me on my way. Thanks doctor you were so helpful.
I ended up in the ER another time, followed by getting jaundice. I headed into the hospital looked at the nurse and said I have jaundice I want an appointment, she didn’t believe me. I took my glasses off and told her to look at my eyes, and she said they were yellow, and I said “I want an appointment with a doctor and I want it now”. It took more convincing to get an appointment, 3 tests and two doctors later it was confirmed I had jaundice, but they had no clue why. I was sent home, if my jaundice was bad in the morning they wanted to put me into surgery, to remove my gallbladder, which they weren’t sure was really the problem. I went home a little bit irritated and a lot disheartened, I didn’t want surgery, I wanted to keep breast feeding it was important to me that I get better for my daughter’s sake.
That night I drank two gallons of sugar free lemonade, i.e. very strong lemon water. The next morning my jaundice was disappearing, and a scan showed there were no blockages, and the only change since my last scan was in the last 2 months I had somehow gone from okay liver to fatty liver. My doctor said he wanted to remove my gallbladder, that the 60 lbs I had lost in the last 2 months was probably the reason for my fatty liver, but he thought it would relieve my pain to remove my gallbladder. I was armed to the teeth with information.
“Why would you remove my gallbladder if you can’t say for sure it’s my gallbladder?”
“Well you do have some stones.”
“How did I get them?”
“Everyone has them.”
“Then why not just take out everyone’s gallbladder?”
“The surgery statistically only relieves the pain problem in 50% of cases, you aren’t even 100% sure that it’s my gallbladder”
“I think it’s worth that risk”
“What about the increased risk of colon cancer due to having this procedure so young?”
“We have to look at risk/benefit here, I think the risk is worth it.”
“I hate to argue with you, but having a procedure that studies show increase the risk of colon cancer is not worth it for me to relieve some pain, there must be other ways to deal with this.”
“I really don’t think so, this is your only option.”
I took my only option and threw it in the trash. The surgical doctors set me up for consults to get ready for surgery even though I said I didn’t want it, so I just didn’t go to my appointments. I wasn’t about to have surgery, and believe me I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I continued my research, not fully convinced it was actually my gallbladder that was the problem. I was more concerned about my liver, why had it gotten fatty in such a short period?
I read articles, medical journals, and research. Every spare moment was spent working on figuring this out without surgery. Nearly everything I read pointed to an overworked liver as the problem of gallbladder issues, gallbladder problems were just a symptom of something bigger. During pregnancy your liver does more work then usual, put multiple pregnancies in a row and it doesn’t have time to get back and running like it should, add that I had dropped 60 lbs in 2 months only 15 of which were added during pregnancy and my liver was fully overworked. I talked to nutritionists, read more articles and studies, I decided that if it was really my gallbladder hurting then my liver needed a cleaning, how would I do that and still nurse?
A nutritionist had been studying how healing the liver could heal the gallbladder, her website can be found here. She suggested using beans to cleanse the liver, and hey I can eat beans and still nurse so I decided to get to it. I ate 3 cups of beans a day in 1/2 cup amounts for 6 weeks. This helped a lot and after 6 weeks I no longer felt bloated, and didn’t have stomach or mid back pain, although I was a bit tired of beans. The pain in my arm was radiating up into my neck and head though, it had been all along, but I hadn’t noticed since I was so focused on the other pain I was in.
The pain got unbearable one day while I was under extreme stress, so I went to the ER once again. I explained to the ER doctor my entire story, nearly a year in the making now. I also informed her that I just found out I was pregnant, and that my dad was visiting, my stress level was through the roof, and while talking about my stresses my bp skyrocketed. The ER doc started by saying that it was probably in my health’s best interest to not see my father, my bp had gotten ridiculously high just talking about him so she was worried how high it was when I saw him. She then went on to do my examination, she pressed lighting on my back and it popped slightly and I immediately felt a little better. She went over my chart and medical history and came to a conclusion.
I had anxiety, which was causing anxiety attacks and was the cause of my neck, head, and shoulder pain. Whenever I have anxiety I have to take a step back and calm down or I end up in a lot of pain. I also take magnesium during attacks as it is a natural muscle relaxer and helps release the tension I feel.
I have hyper mobility, which can be likened to princess and the pea syndrome, the smallest thing can be out of place yet it is magnified and I feel it 10x more then I should. The smallest thing can effect the way my whole body works, so I live with more pain then most, but knowing this helps me look at ALL the things that could be causing a problem.
My liver was most likely overworked, and anxiety doesn’t help, so keep eating beans.
It’s been a year since my last ER visit, the anxiety attacks still come and go, but I know what they are and I can manage them. My hyper mobility means I take time to stretch and treat my muscles right, I’m also aware that even if my back hurts it may be my hip causing the problem, as something small can cause me a lot of pain. Finally I try and take particular care of my liver, having babies is hard on a body so I do small things to help my liver out. I take a pregnancy and nursing safe liver cleanse formula, I eat beans on a regular basis, and drink water with lemon. I eat a well rounded diet with plenty of fruits and veg.
It’s been nearly a year since my last “pain attack” that was bad enough to send me to the ER, I have had small ones that were manageable and under control within 15-30 minutes. I’m glad I went this route though and didn’t have the surgery, for me it was the better choice.