Life Without a Gallbladder

Last April, I started having severe stomach issues and they got progressively worse, as if there is anything worse than projectile vomiting, until I gave in and went to the doctor to have things checked out. I had an inkling that it was more that the Acid Reflux that was diagnosed, so after being in excruciating pain followed by food poisoning-esque reactions, I pushed for testing. Sure enough, my gallbladder had sludge (yes, that’s a medical term), and was no longer functioning.

At this point, I had not eaten more than a 1/4 cup of rice at a time for over a week and had lost about 5 lbs. The doctor said that I would need to have it removed, but their soonest surgery was not for one month…one month! I’d lost 5 lbs in a week. Sure, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m 5’1” and weighed 140 at the time. Anyways, I called everywhere and got scheduled at a hospital for the following week. By the time I went in for pre-Op, I was down almost 10 lbs. and would have allowed them to remove the useless organ with a butterknife.

Post-Op was tough. Four incisions into your abs was not a walk in the park.  I remember crying and calling my fiance from the bathroom and pathetically asking me to help me pull my underwear up…now, that’s love.

I expected to feel better – and in a lot of ways, I did. My energy was increasing, my nausea was gone, and I could look at food and want to eat it. However, I did not expect to have so much trouble actually eating it!

In my last meeting with the surgeon, a week after surgery, he asked if I was eating normally and my response was, “NO!” Fatty foods made me sick, large pieces of food pinched, and anything that resembled grease gave me heartburn like I could have never imagined. I was still sleeping on the couch because I couldn’t lay flat for crying out loud, and this guy was asking if I was back to normal.

After some serious coaching from a wonderful woman who had had her gallbladder removed the year prior, I learned some very helpful tips that are worth sharing for anyone who also is gallbladder-less:

  • Don’t eat more than 3-5 grams of fat per meal for the first couple of months
  • Vegetables are your friend, but…
  • Rice is your BEST friend
  • Avoid: butter, oil, creamed soups, soups in general, etc. anything made of fat
  • Your body is naturally acidic during your period, so eat blandly around that time
  • Start taking Acid Reflux medication and prop up on pillows at night when something doesn’t agree with you
  • Rolaids are a Godsend
  • It takes 6 months to start feeling like a real person again
  • Don’t even consider red meat until then
  • Drink light beer and only light beer


All told, I lost 35 lbs and feel great, but I wish the process would have been a lot better. I had a lot of “lightbulb” moments that made me feel silly in the midst of trying to get enough protein.

I know that every one is different and that some people don’t have any issues, but I’ve heard a lot of people who have had similar problems (albeit temporary), and it seemed like information worth sharing!

Enjoy your rice :)

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