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Hey everyone,

Long time reader; first time poster.

Short version:

I'm a 24 year old female. I've been struggling with indigestion and gas for almost 10 years now, and it's been a constant source of stress and embarrassment for me. Since last September, I've been dealing with gall bladder attacks on top of that but have not had my gall bladder removed (yet).

My main concern with the surgery is whether gall bladder removal is likely to improve, worsen, or not affect my indigestion, gas, and overall quality of life in the long term. In a nutshell, I've been putting off surgery for the last year partly because I decided to try to repair my gall bladder the healthy way first but mainly because I'm scared of gall bladder removal worsening my already dreadful indigestion and gas.

Questions for those who've had their gall bladders removed:

Did your digestion/gas improve, worsen, or stay the same after gall bladder removal surgery?
What was your digestion/gas like before the surgery?
Did you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle that might've contributed to the positive or negative changes?
Do you have any food intolerances?


Long version:

I think I first started having issues with indigestion and gas when I was 15 or 16; maybe it started earlier but this is as early as I can remember being aware of it because I'd have to worry about what was up with my stomach when I wanted to be intimate with a boyfriend.

I had no idea what was wrong with me, but because of my digestive problems I quickly started racking up horribly embarrassing moments with boyfriends throughout my later teenage years. Whether it was gas, trapped gas, or long periods of time spent in the bathroom, there was always something making me curse my insides.

I feel like I've spent the majority of my life holding in gas, enduring painful and embarrassing trapped gas (that, of course, cannot be held in or controlled at all - awesome) at the worst possible times, having to make excuses to avoid sex with boyfriends 90% of the time because I'm too bloated and gassy, hardly ever being able to enjoy sex when I do have it because I'm worried about the possibility of a sudden gas attack, and never being able to sleep when I'm with someone because I'm too stressed out about the noises my stomach will make when I fall asleep. In short, my digestive problems have been running my life.

I'd never go camping with my friends, hang out with my friends anywhere that was too quiet, or hang out with them anywhere too far away from or too close to a bathroom (needed to be near one but didn't want to be so close that they'd hear anything), and I'm always late or a no-show for things when my gas is too severe, leaving me with the rep of a flake because I'm too embarrassed to give the real reason for my absenses.

I've tried Metamucil, FiberSure, and peppermint oil capsules; the only things that made a noteworthy difference were the peppermint oil capsules, but it was tricky to find a dosage that yielded a happy medium between no gas and diarrhea. I was unpredictably yo-yoing between the two even though I kept a consistent dosage for weeks at a time and found the unpredictability to be more unpleasant than constant gas, so I stopped taking them.

In September of 2008, I had my first gall bladder attack. I was in the hospital for five days with an inflamed gall bladder and then sent home. I saw a surgeon while I was there who promptly scheduled my surgery, but after getting home and researching gallstones on the Internet, I quickly learned that surgery was not the only option and cancelled my surgery so I could research more and decide what was best for me.

After talking to my family doctor and another surgeon (who both recommended surgery), my cousin who is a nurse (who recommended against the surgery), and a Naturopath (who recommended against the surgery), and reading tons of stuff on the Internet, I decided that I would give it a year, see how I did by just changing my diet, exercising more frequently, and taking supplements from my Naturopath (Malic acid capsules, digestive enzymes, and acidophilus capsules for gas). It's been a little over a year now, so I'm weighing the facts and trying to look at this objectively.

I've maintained a very low fat, high fiber diet over the last year, drink tons of water, and I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I usually eat oatmeal with raisins for breakfast, a sandwich with lean turkey meat, lettuce, and mustard for lunch, rice cakes with jam for snacks at work, and a bowl of oatmeal with raisins for dinner. It's completely boring, but ultimately a safe diet. If I go out to a restaurant for dinner, I get a salad with a no-fat dressing if they have one, or no dressing at all if they don't.

However, I still average about one gall bladder attack every two months. Most of them have been due to me experimenting with something slightly more fatty and learning through painful trial and error that it's off limits, but some of them have been totally random. I haven't had to go back to the hospital since my initial visit, but my attacks will usually last for about 10 minutes, involve vomiting and of course blinding pain, and eventually fade once the Tylenol 2s I have to carry with me everywhere I go kick in.

Part of me thinks that the fact that I'm still having pretty regular attacks even after these lifestyle changes must mean my diet and lifestyle were so unhealthy before that it's too late to repair myself. For the record I was 5'7 and 160 pounds at the time, and have lost about 10 pounds since last September, but was never really overweight to begin with.

The worst part of this is that when my friends all go out for dinner and invite me, I have to worry about whether or not the place has anything I can eat, and I have to constantly stress out about having attacks at inconvenient times. And if I'm not worried about a gall bladder attack, I'm worried about gas.

Meanwhile, I found that the acidophilus capsules my Naturopath prescribed me helped a little with my gas, but it was only something like a 10% reduction.

Last month, my Naturopath put me through some food/drink intolerance testing on a hunch that I was intolerant to wheat. Turns out I'm intolerant to a whole bunch of different foods and drinks, but the main ones are alcohol, apples (which sucks because the malic acid in apples helps dissolve gall stones, but I can't have them anymore), bananas, caffeine, dairy and lactose, chicken, corn, and wheat.

I've experienced about a 30% improvement with my digestion issues after cutting out all of the foods and drinks I'm intolerant to, but now when I experience gas it's usually right after eating instead of throughout the day, I have diarrhea way more often (rarely had it before), and the trapped gas I used to have on a daily basis has been replaced with "normal" and really smelly gas - trapped is worse so I guess it's a fair trade, but I'd really like to be rid of gas altogether. I'm hardly ever constipated anymore, but like I said it's been replaced with diarrhea once every couple of days. I'd rather have diarrhea because as long as I can get to a bathroom okay, at least it's over quickly and I usually don't have gas afterwards. But, again, I'd rather not have either.

I've been experimenting with different foods since finding out about my intolerances last month, and the one thing I can eat for lunch that seems to make for less gas at nighttime is sushi (I only have salmon rolls, tuna rolls, and kappa rolls because they have the least fat), so I religiously eat sushi for lunch whenever I have something important to do that night. However, it's not always reliable - and even when it is, it doesn't completely get rid of the gas and indigestion - just reduces it.

Last Friday, I went out on a date with this amazing guy. We're going out again next Friday. I'm totally falling for him, harder than I have for anyone I've ever met. But of course, like always, my digestive issues popped up: Luckily, our date was in a loud bar so he couldn't hear me pass gas, but I had to excuse myself and spend 10 minutes in the bathroom halfway through the night, and when he dropped me off at home I was praying he wouldn't try to kiss me goodnight because I was concentrating so hard on holding my gas in. All I can think about now is how trapped I'll feel when it gets to the point where it's time to make love and how to be able to do it without the worst happening.

I've had steady relationships before (longest was for two years), but I haven't had a serious relationship since last September when this began and I feel like it was easier before and my digestive issues have become a lot less managable since then... I don't know what to do. I feel like breaking it off with him before it gets serious so my escalating f'ing digestive issues can't screw it up.

I would really just like to be normal. I would like to enjoy life without gas and digestion being a constant source of stress and embarrassment. I don't want to eventually give up and turn into a recluse or an old maid to avoid the hassle of managing these issues in social situations and intimate ones... I can already see myself leaning towards this, and I'm only 24!!

So this all comes down to: Will my life be better, or worse, if I have my gall bladder removed? Will all my gas and digestion problems be remedied, or will they be worsened (I shudder to think that they could get worse)? Will they stay the same? Will I be insanely happy afterwards, or regret my decision for the rest of my life? Even if my gas and digestion issues stay the same after the surgery, my life would still be overall improved because at least I wouldn't have to worry about having gall bladder attacks, but is it worth the gamble when I could end up with worsened gas and digestion?

I've heard a lot of people complain about the awful side effects from gall bladder removal, but then again the people who haven't had any issues and are happy and healthy are probably less likely to spend time on message boards talking about it, so I might only be hearing from the minority.

The second surgeon I saw told me that in his experience about 20% of people who have the surgery experience chronic digestion issues for the rest of their lives, and 80% experience no change at all. He didn't mention whether either of these percentages had digestion issues before the surgery or whether there are cases of digestion issues improving after the surgery.

Questions for those who've had their gall bladders removed:

Did your digestion/gas improve, worsen, or stay the same after gall bladder removal surgery?
What was your digestion/gas like before the surgery?
Did you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle that might've contributed to the positive or negative changes?
Do you have any food intolerances?

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Hi Olivia! Thanks for posting. My quick and short answer for you is that I know that people who have had their gallbladders removed usually suffer from digestion issues after the surgery, so if that is a concern, you may not want to get it removed. Is that why you wanted it done?
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Hi Olivia,

While I did not read the long version of your story, it is exactly like mine. I am 28, have always been active, healthy, but liked the normal things that all teens/20 somethings like...occassional fast food, drinks with girlfriends, etc. Like you, I always had digestive issues for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, it seemed like I had issues with lactose, which I knew I was lactose intolerant anyway, so I thought nothing of it. As the years progressed, it seeemed like my symptoms of gas, bloating, loose stool, fatty bowel movements, and overall just feeling embarrassed in front of friends, boyfriends was more frequent. I also used to hold in gas, and even my poop at times. It was awful! I almost cancelled a trip with a boyfriend due to the issues of constant gas etc.

Finally, the last 2 years, things got really frustrating. I started seeing various Dr's and all of them told me that it was IBS or what I was eating. I changed my diet, exercised and that seemed to help. But if I ate fast food, it was immeidate trouble. My mom had a colonoscopy and had 23 polyps removed this past year, which prompted me to see a GI Doc about my symptoms and the possibility of the same issue. I went through with the colonoscopy (the prep was awful!!) and had 2 benign polyps removed, but nothing major. All the nurses were shocked I was even there at my age. I thought that the polyps were the cause and was relived that night that my issues with gas, bloating would improve. Hopeful, I returned to work the next day and went out with co-workers for a nice lunch...roasted chicken and a baked potato with butter.

4 hours later, at home, I was in horrible pain, unlike any digestive pain I had ever been in. It was in the upper right side, under my ribs and got worse as time went on. I called my mom, thinking it was a complication of the colonoscopy I had the day before, and she told me to go to the ER now. I thought it was a punctured colon. They ran blood tests, xrays, and finally a CT scan with contrast. At about 11pm, after 6 hours in the ER the Dr came in and asked about my symptoms once more, asked why the Dr decided to "put a camera up my butt" and then told me that I had gallbladder disease....and acute pancreatitis caused by the passing of a gallstone. I needed to have it removed immeidately. This was a Friday, Oct 16 and since I had pancreatitis, I was ordered to rest my pancreas so that they could operate...little did I know that would take 3 days with no food, no water. AWFUL!!

On Sunday, I was given clear liquids and the surgeon visited to discuss the surgery planned for Monday. Of course, I had it done laproscpically and was terrified. I didn't even know what a gallbladder was on Friday and by Sunday, I was on my iPhone reading all the horror stories about what could wrong, what life after would be like and I couldn't find much positive. I was devistated and of course, starving so I was mean, and at one point, was going to check myself out. My family coached me and convinced me it was the right thing to do...and it was since I had pancreatitis, which is very serious and can cause worse conditions than gas and bloating. I was told by my Dr that if I didn't have it removed, I risked having the pancreatitis worsen and I might have to be on a respirator. There was no question at that point about going through with it.

Monday came, and of course I was scared, nervous, but wanted to get it over with. The surgery wasn't bad, I was out of the hospital that night and was SO happy to be home! My parents were amazing and took great care of me.

The next morning after surgery, i woke up and reached for the pain pills. It was pretty bad. I was extremely bloated from the gas they pump into you and was regretting going through with it. I was ordered to be on a low fat diet for 2 weeks, so I ate very healthy and had lost 7 lbs by that point since I couldnt eat in the hospital. As the days went on, i felt better and better and was up walking around by the 3rd day after surgery. I was constipated at first, but thought that was just from not eating. I finally went on the 3rd day, and it was the first normal bowel movement I had had in a long time. I thought it was too good to be true.

Fast forward 2 weeks after surgery, and I went out for lunch and had macoroni and cheese. Big mistake...it went right through me, which was nothing new prior to surgery, but this time it was orange, oily and different. It was also accompanied by pain and dizziness. I went to the ER...turns out my lipase was elevated and the pancreas was still irritated from a small stone or sludge. I was ordered back on a clear liquid diet for 3 days and to keep an eye on my lipase with regular blood work. I saw my surgeon again and he ordered an MRCP to chekc for a stone...but all came out normal. I continue to see my GI Doctors and I am now almost 2 mos post-op and still have slightly elevated lipase, but I was told it wasn't anything to be too concerned about.

Now, for your question.... What will life be like? Well, everyone is different, and I was pessimistic myself. To my surprise, life is MUCH better and no longer do I constantly worry about eating mexican food for lunch and feeling bloated, gassy or that sudden urge to go. I have had those instances where I HAVE TO GO NOW...but they are few and far between. Before the surgery, most all of my poop was not regular, fatty, horribly smelly and sometimes very sudden. Now, although I eat lower fat foods, I am more regular, rarely gassy, and my bowels are dense, not smelly and go right to the bottom, unlike the fatty stool of before that almost always floated. I feel SOOO much better now and am so glad I went through with it. There was an adjustment period and I went back and forth on whether it was an improvement, but I can honestly say now, my quality of life has greatly improved. So much that before I would have to leave work in the middle of the day to go use the restroom at home, to now not ever even thinking about it. I got my life back!

I am not going to tell you to go through with it, but all I am saying is that not all outcomes are bad. And your gallbladder isn't working probably anyway if it is anything like mine. They found over 15 stones in mine and once I saw the picture of it, I was glad it wasn't hurting my body anymore. I don't know about the long term affects yet, its still too soon, but I am hopeful and optimistic that life will continue to get better as my body adjusts.

On a side note, I have kept the 10lbs off, my stomach is flatter because I am not bloated anymore and I have started incorporating fatty foods back in my diet on occassion. I like to test it, just to see how I do, and so far french fries were fine, as are chips and salsa...so I'm a happy girl.

You're young, you'll have an easy recovery, should you decide to go through with it and I hope that if you do, you will get your life back too! Good luck!
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I had my surgery 12 yrs ago I have terrible digestion problems before and after but you can die if your gallbladder abcess so have the surgery and learn to live with it not meaning to be rude but you could be playing with fire both my sons 17 and35 have had surgery.the 35 yr old has no problems but the 17yr old is on his way to the problems I have. Hope this is useful ther is worse things then runnig to the bathroom and one is dying.
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I had my gallbladder removed in May of 2011.  Prior to that for many years I was plagued with indigestion and gas (I would be rich if Prilosec and other similar meds was money).  I also had a constant feeling of sickness or like my stomache was not well and I would have these sudden attacks of extreme nausea right in the middle of eating (even if I thought I was hungry when I sat down).  While it has been an annoying adjustment getting use to life after gallbladder surgery (many quick, sudden jaunts to the bathroom!  Important tip, whenever you are away from home make it the first line of business to scope out the location of the nearest restroom before shopping, etc.  Once your body sends the signal that you need to go RIGHT NOW, you will NOT have time to find someone to tell you where the restroom is located.  You need to run directly there post-haste, do not pass go, do not collect $200).  Back to my point, in my case I have been elated that I almost never have gas, indigestion or constant nausea anymore.  It has been a trade-off of issues but, I'm happier with what I have to deal with now rather than before.
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gall bladder surgery in around 1998 I have the same problems I had before surgery! Gas bloat and painful rt side. same. Diet pretty much the same (low fat) I am lactose in tolrant
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I had my gall bladder out a year ago. Very quick recovery - out of hospital the next day, felt almost 100% within 4 days then back working after a week - haven't looked back. Get occasional discomfort but nothing like the pain of gallstones, and I can eat anything (not that I ate a very fatty diet before anyway). My mum got acute pancreatitis caused by gallstones a few years ago and almost died - she was in hospital for 2 months and took a year to recover.

Just get it removed........ASAP!

 

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I had my gb out 2 years ago and have been fine until now when I have strated suffering with indigesyion again, guess I over indulged over the festive season hopefully it ll all settle down again as I dont like these feelings


Anyone else still get indigestion after gb removal

Thanks
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I think its pretty much the norm for a post-gallbladder surgery patient. You lose your tolerance for milk, fatty foods, and cheeses.

I notice when I eat vegetables, rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, fruits, all the stuff you're SUPPOSED to eat, my bowel movements are pretty typical. When I indulge in fast food or a lot of meat and dairy, I get diarrhea, bloating, gas and pain. Without a gall bladder your body simply can't digest a large fatty meal so you suffer for it.

Compared to the constant pain, drastic weight loss and 24/7 indigestion of gall bladder disease, I will take this minor nuisance of having to eat better.
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I had the surgery and I am sorry I did.I wound up with 4 huge stones that plugged up my bile duct so the 2 surgeries cured that.Now I have terrible stomach and digestion and gas problems I just want to curl up and become a reclouse.
My gas that I pass is so stinky I can hardly stand myself and I know people around me and especially in the elevator at work just want to push me off the building.
If I could do it over I would have just had the stones removed and saved my gall bladder. At least that way there would have still been a storage for my fluids. Now they just drain into my small intestines without regulation. I have lots of diahrea and my ass gets sore from all the bowel movements.
Good luck and just get laid anyway. The guy will probably put up with the farts just to get laid anyway so don't worry about it, just be good at it so he will come back for more.
See ya.
Wayne
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I have had lots of gall bladder attacks starting about a year ago. Some lasted a whole week and the pain is so scary. One thing I tried that seemed to really help a lot was the Body Ecology book. Especially drinking 4 oz of kefir a day and taking a probiotic green drink every morning with 16 oz of water. You can make coconut kefir if you are lactose intolerant ar want to copletely avoid dairy.

My grandmother and dad both had their gall bladders out and neither were quite the same afterwards.
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I found out I had gallstones while in Ultrasound school. I didn't think much of it and continued on my way. Several years went by and I suffered IBS and horrid gallbladder attacks at times. I still waited. Well, I waited so long that my gallbladder not only had stones, but was gangerene. It was highly inflamed and I had to stay in the hospital for a week. It was so sick that it had adhered to my liver and had to be removed the old fashioned way. Now that it is gone, I don't really suffer from IBS. I do have some bloating, but it is under control. I would rather be bloated then dead. So, beware about putting that surgery off.. It took me a month to recover, when I thought I'd be back at work in a week.

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Hi there, I'm 25 and had my gallbladder removed and have not any issues since - in fact my quality of life has improved based on the fact I'm no longer afraid to go out for dinner in fear of the god awful gallbladder attacks! I have a low fat high fibre carbohydrate diet 80% of the time whilst enjoying those foods I did pre gallstones in moderation! My bowel movements are regular as well. I would suggest that it is an advantage to have the surgery electively when you are heathly and surrounding organs (ie pancreas) are OK rather than waiting it out over time which can cause infections.
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I realize this is a very old post. But I still feel it may be worthwhile to explain my experience since it seems to different from much of the information on the internet.

--- My gallbladder removal was one of the BEST things I've ever done! --- But that's me... your milage may vary.

I may be a bit more unusual. I had my gallbladder removed about a month ago after nearly a decade of issues.

The reason I state that I may be unusual is that before my surgery I searched the internet for information and, based on my own experience (before and after removal), all the information i found was completely inaccurate - at least for me. In fact, the info on the 'net was kind of terrifying. I mean if things could get WORSE why the hell was I having the surgery, things were already pretty bad. The internet just gives you all these "horror" stories. No one ever posts "things are great!" So that's why I'm posting here.

I've been pretty lucky in life and have never really had any major health issues. Other than a broken bone once, and a bout or two with pneumonia, I've never really needed a doctor. In fact, there was a span of 15 years where I never saw a doctor. 5 years.... then a few appointments complaining about my stomach (gallbladder) which were pretty much ignored... then 10 years.... then more appointments this year about my stomach because I was tired of dealing it, and it seemed to be getting worse.

To be fair, much of my symptoms may not have been a-typical symptoms. I didn't have back or shoulder blade pain. I wasn't tender to the touch. I didn't have an "acute" issue, where they want to rush you into immediate surgery. Mine was more along the lines of "chronic". In fact, I was somewhat lucky my gallbladder never ruptured.

I had dealt with sharp, stabbing pains when eating that passed within a minute or two... and also with continual discomfort and bloating for HOURs practically every day. I woke from a dead sleep almost every night at some point due to sharp, excruciating pain. Almost every bowel movement was an "emergency" and I was running short of breath doing even basic activities, like bending over to put on shoes and socks (normally not an issue). So I could just imagine what "worse" would mean... would I be chained to a toilet? Would I be so weak and breathless I may as well be in a care facility?? As posted, I dealt with most of this for nearly 10 years.. why 10 years.. not all doctors are GOOD doctors. He kept telling me it was only indigestion (I ate Zantac like candy most days). It wasn't until I became forceful and adamant that SOMETHING was wrong that an ultrasound was ordered and I was IMMEDIATELY referred to surgery. -- I had several stones, a couple the size of quarters, and my gallbladder was the size of an open hand (normally it should be the size of a thumb ... so what.. 20-30x times normal size?).

Well, immediately after my surgery I felt 1000% better. The bloated feeling was gone. I actually feel 20lbs lighter even though I'm not. The constant metal taste at the back of my throat was gone (didn't even realize that till it was gone), my breathing became better. I felt more energetic. I actually FELT more healthy overall. My bowl movements are FAR more normal AFTER the surgery than they have been in years. I can exercise and move without constant gut pain and indigestion.

Other than just feeling MUCH better overall the other changes I noticed are -- my taste buds have shifted. Sweets from refined sugars don't taste as enticing and if I eat them, I can only tolerate small amounts. 8oz soda is fine, 16 oz soda means stomach discomfort. I used to love 2% milk.. well now even a small swallow or two of 2% milk is just awful on my stomach. But dairy in general is okay. It's only milk that bothers me. So I can still do ice cream, cheese, etc in small amounts without any issues. I avoid milk entirely now and for the most part I avoid refined sugars (but I do still have a slight sweet tooth I indulge from time to time). My indigestion is now a targeted affect. That means I KNOW if I put XXXXX in my mouth and swallow, there will be consequences (milk, chocolate, and too much butter being the big three no-no's). Before my surgery.... it made absolutely no difference what I ingested. My stomach was throwing fits no matter what. I've gone from EVERYTHING I eat causing a problem to a handful of general things I avoid.

Since my surgery I've spoken face to face with a few people that have undergone removal as well. Their stories differ a bit from mine. Some experience everything I had before my removal after their removal... some, like me, notice small changes in what they "feel" like eating.. but for the most part don't notice much change physically. My THEORY is that BEFORE my surgery my gallbladder was so blocked that it was causing issues with ANY bile getting into my digestion. So.. the diarrhea was pretty constant. The indigestion (and bad taste) had a lot to do with bile backing up... and I had dental issues, mostly on the tongue side of the teeth -- no evidence, but I suspect that may have been due to bile backing up as well. I mean I could taste it somewhat it had to be effecting my teeth. AFTER my surgery, I think my system is happy to have even a little bile to work with so... my body is evening out far more than it has been.

So, the best I can tell you is every person is different.

Just because others found gallbladder removal to be problematic, there are many people that have been saved by it as well. Note that if you have other GI issues, the gallbladder removal isn't going to solve those (hernias, IBS, Barretts esophagus, etc).

DO NOT BELIEVE all the horror stories on the internet. If you've been dealing with pain and discomfort for years due to your gallbladder, I'd seriously look at having the surgery. For me, the simple fact I can sleep 8 hours without waking up in pain and tasting what I had for dinner 6 hours earlier, and the ability to move, exercise, and actually be active without pain and discomfort, were godsends.

I'D ABSOLUTELY HAVE MY GALLBLADDER REMOVED AGAIN. If I had to do it all over.

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I also have food allergies and recently had my gallbladder out, the pain and indigestion are gone (thank god) however I have found that anytime I eat I get horrible gas, like Rome clearing sulpher and rotten egg smelling gas, for hours. I don't know if that's normal or not it has just been my experience so far. I am hoping it will go away as I am sure my husband is contemplating divorce at this point
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