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Some GallAugust 28, 2013

I had to call 911 on myself. If you follow me on FB or twitter, you already know this, but I'm still not quite over it. I've had six surgeries in my life, and multiple weird emergency room-type problems. But the very last thing a dispatcher/firefighter/cop ever wants is to be transported to the hospital by his/her peers. 

So when I say that last Thursday, I called down the hall to get my firefighters to come check on me, I was BEYOND HORRIFIED. I had terrible abdomen and chest pains, and I was pale, sweating, and shaking. The only thing I wanted to do was lie down and let it pass. But I was scared. Mostly, I don't get scared over physical problems, even when I should. But this one frightened me.

After the rookiest-of-the-rookies (he only has 2 weeks on) hooked up the 12-lead to my chest (over my best bra, THANK GOD -- it also happens to be my most comfortable, which is why I wear it on 48-hour shifts), the crew said they needed to take me to the hospital. I started crying, and it was only partially from fear and pain. Mostly, it was because I was getting put in the ambulance I send to people. I send it. I don't ride it. 

The guys were good. They were reassuring. I'm proud to work with them, because I know they treat everyone as kindly as they treated me, even though they let the rookie put in my IV (he did fine.) They also gave me morphine, for which I will always love them. 

Turns out I was having a gallbladder attack. Very prosaic. Happens all the time. The ER sent me home to watch and wait, surgery scheduled for two weeks out (it's the most common surgical procedure in the States). 

I only made it two days before my gallbladder started getting infected, and holy helen, was I sick. I spent three days in the hospital, and while I know logically that hospitals are terrible places to be, it was another thing altogether to learn it firsthand. The nurses are trying their best, but they are overwhelmed. It was frustrating and nerve-wracking, and it made me grateful for every kindness they showed me. They didn't have to be nice. But they were. 


The surgery was done on Sunday, and I was home by Monday night. I'm lucky in that I already had vacation scheduled (to go to Yosemite to the Strawberry Festival, which was then cancelled due to the Rim Fire, which is good, because if I can't go, NO ONE CAN GO), so I don't feel guilt about putting out my coworkers. 

(Also: can we just talk about belly buttons for a minute? This is the THIRD surgery I've had which required the belly button to be what was basically a door flap in my tummy. I hate that everyone is like, "Oooh! Take a peek in here! Easy access!" I need a better lock on that thing. Maybe an alarm. Belly button alarm!) 

Now I'm overjoyed to be at the place I love to be. Home. This is where I belong, fighting to keep cats off my abdomen and listening to dogs bark at people who dare to breathe outside. 

But I took a break from all that to open this text box to write to you, my darling reader. I wanted to tell you funny things about being in the hospital, silly things about how much I loved swapping lipstick advice with the nurses. But really, I just wanted to say hi. This enforced slow-down? The fact that I can't just get up and run hard all day as I usually do kind of freaks me out. It's good for me, though. It reminds me to say hello to YOU. 

I always say that I want a stay-cation even though it's almost beyond my powers to actually lie low. Now I have one. I'm doing my best to enjoy it. I just made the biggest spinach smoothie EVER and drank it all. I'm listening to Vespers (Tell Your Mama). Next, I'm going to watch a movie or two. Maybe back to back. And knit. I also, of course, have three or four books cued up on my e-reader, and I'm going to read till the words wobble. 

Tomorrow, more of the same (though I might write. I can't promise I won't). 

For your enjoyment, here's a taste of Vespers, a 4-person family band. Who doesn't love a family band? 



Careful what you wish for eh? SO glad you are feeling better!

I am glad you are home now. Best wishes to you for a fast recovery. My husband had his gall bladder taken out last month...through the belly button door flap too. He took it easy for a few weeks, but is back now to the regular routine, working out at the gym, and feeling fine. So, I know you'll be feeling better soon too. Take care!!!!

You never stop amazing me! Most people would crumble but you always rise to the occasion (bakery motif here) ... and with such a positive attitude. Thank you for being such an awesome inspiration and I hope that you have a comfortable and speedy recovery! Hugs from up North :)

Glad to hear you are getting a little rest and relaxation post surgery. Keeping you in my thoughts!

Glad that you are feeling well enough to write a blog post. That must mean the surgery went well. When I'm working, I always say that I want a couple days to do nothing but sit in bed; however, when I get the chance, it never feels as good as I imagined. Hopefully you "enjoy" your recovery more than I usually do!

I'm glad you're feeling better!

On the lipstick front, have you tried NYX matte lip creams? LOVE LOVE LOVE! Amsterdam is a perfect true red.

I parted company with my gall bladder 12 years ago, and haven't missed it! Knit, veg, sleep, and restore yourself!

My current favourite lipstick is Palomino by Bite. It's a rich, gorgeous fuchsia. Feel better soon!

Glad the gall bladder got kicked to the curb and that you're home and on the mend!! Enjoy the books, the knitting, the shoving of cats, etc. and leave no room for the stir crazies!

I've had two major abdominal surgeries before my gallbladder surgery so my belly button wasn't even an option due to all the scar tissue. I think we need a whole abdomen alarm - KEEP OUT! If anyone ever gets a peek at my belly they might wonder wtf attacked me. lol SO glad you are ok and that you were at the right place when that attack happened. Scary stuff, huh? =(

Nurses don't get enough credit, right? In all my stays they were the thing that kept me the sanest.

Get some rest! =)

So glad you are on the mend! I've had a few abdominal surgeries, belly button access not an option :-( Told surgeon unless she installs a zipper, *no* more surgeries! But hubby had surgery yesterday & we are again waiting on pathology reports. But I have faith we'll weather this storm just as we have many others in the past 34 years.

And after having to remove his catheter myself this morning, I can attest to the fact that whatever nurses are paid, it is nowhere near enough!

Take care!

First, I'm so happy that you are home and recovering! Yay!

Second, I think everyone should start saying "holy helen". It's fantastic! (I'm sure I think this because my name is Helen.)

Third, infected gallbladders suck, and the attacks are AWFUL! I remember just lying still and hoping I'd pass out from the pain. So, welcome to the club! Gallbladders be gone! ( I pretend I'm Glinda, the good witch, when I say that. Fantastic crown and all.)

Fourth, I have never found a lipstick I enjoyed wearing. They are always too thick, gummy, sticky, shiny... something. Perhaps I should try one you recommend! Your lipstick always looks great!

I've run out of cute/silly outline-style comments. So, feel better soon! And enjoy some time to watch movies. You deserve it!!

Yikes, sorry to hear about the surgery, but glad you will be feeling better soon. Take it easy.

Good golly! I'm so glad you're okay, and making the most of your convalescence. Heal fast, love!

Hey you, be good to yourself one heal quickly!

Get well soon! Scary to feel helpless. So glad you are on the mend. By the way. If you have netflix, and want to just get totally sucked into a soap opera, Scandal is the way to go!

Get well Soon! I am glad you are on the mend.

Oh.my.bob. Glad you're on the mend. As for 'time' to do stuff, it's never as exciting as the thought of it, right? Feel better!

Speedy recovery! I'd highly recommend the last book I read....but you wrote it!

I hope you feel better! At least you have lots of furry friends to help with your recovery and knitting to keep you busy.

I have been meaning to tell you that while in Orvieto we searched for and found the restaurant you talked about, but alas, they were vacationing. We found another good spot and really enjoyed the city in general. Highlights were some incredible pine nut gelato, the amazing views, and being followed by Anne Burrell from food network.

It's hard to reconcile that we might need the very services we provide, especially for the first responder, doctor, and 911 dispatcher, etc.

I'm so glad you're recovering and hope you'll be up and on your feet quicker. It's extremely difficult to stay lying down and inactive especially when you're used to being on the go.

Take care of yourself Rachael. I'll be sending healing thoughts and prayers in your direction!

So glad you are on the mend.....Gallbladder, just one more useless piece of equipment. Gave mine up fifteen years ago much to the horror of all my "organic" (never give up a body part/why didn't you call me first)friends. Have NEVER had an issue since. Fat laden foods don't cause me a blink anymore...gimme that greasy pizza/oily Chinese food special please.....:-) Seriously, the "attack" and the hospital stay are the scarey part and they are over! Glad you are home.....

Oh, ick. I had mine out a few years ago. I had really sucky shoulder pain and nausea from the pain meds, but the actual incisions were okay. I haven't had any problems whatsoever since. (People kept telling me that gallbladder attacks were worse that childbirth. I'm avoiding both just to be safe.) I'm glad your surgery is over and you're home and recuperating. Is it weird that I'm excited for you being able to read and knit and write and watch TV, even though I know you're able to do it because someone cut you open?

My gallbladder decided to rear up after a sushi supper meeting my daughter's future MIL in Lexington, KY, far far from home. Got quality painkillers for the ride home (didn't understand why I didn't get my turn to drive) and had it OUT the next week. Don't miss it.

Enjoy your forced slow down, I only managed a week before I HAD to go back to work. And how you can relax listening to the Vespers I don't know. I'd be up and dancing. I've only listened to the first song and I'm in love.

Sorry to hear about this and glad you had immediate help. My mom needs gallbladder surgery too.

Last week, my husband's leg was broken in 9 places in a judo clinic. 2 plates and 22 screws. So we are at home same as you. The EMTs who came for him were WONDERFUL. Nurses on the ward were great too. I'm not a fan of the ER staff, too hard and brittle. I guess they have to be. :(

My husband's X-ray is on my blog if you want to be amazed.

Best wishes for a comfortable recovery!

Oh honey! Feel better fast! That sounds really scary and although I know it would be so embarrassing to have your co-workers take care of you, it must have been so nice to have friendly faces you know there for you.

What do we need to do to help you heal?

TV show recommendations? Have you ever seen the Vicar of Dibley? Podcast recommendations? The Nerdist! It sounds like you have plenty of books but have you ever read Jasper Fforde? He is a favorite.

Let us know when we need to start sending you emergency crafts or something.

I had the same thing happen to me when I was 47! Thank the stars for modern medicine! Take care and don't do too much too soon, even though you feel well enough. I found that out the hard way. Treat yourself to a good two-week rest. Love and hugs.

Oh I missed that you had the attack at work! Gah! I'm so glad you're on the mend now and that your crew took good care of you. <3

Get well soon! I had my gallbladder removed when I was 22. Take it very easy, lady! Oh, and my tummy was swollen like I was 3 months pregnant for over a month afterward, so if that happens to you, don't be worried. :) Also key: ROLL out of bed, do not try to sit up. For about a month. Unless you are a superhero (which you might be!).

Wow, scary! So glad they figured it out, and you get your stay-cation besides! This is like permission to just hang around and watch tv and sleep! Nice!

So glad to hear you're on the mend!

I'm so glad your alright. That is very scary. My husband is a emt and firefighter. He would be mortified if the story got out about he accidentally set our barn on fire.....hmm I might have to tell that one someday.

Eek! So glad you are ok - that must have been so scary. Glad you're on the mend now x

Yikes. I had mine out at 16, second youngest at the hospital to get it done. I had attacks for the year before my surgery because no-one would check that it was that. A few ER visits and finally they figured it out. I have the large scar, wish they had the new surgeries then.

Get well soon!

Down with gallbladders!
I had mine out almost ten years ago now and I sure don't miss it. But I guess I was lucky... I was mildly sick for a long time (4-5 months) rather than "holy helen" sick for a short time... that sounds horrible!!!
Get better sweetie! You'll be raring back to speed in no time! (No good darn uppity gallbladders got a nerve...)

Oh, and I forgot a kind of funny story about my Mom... She had her appendix out as a kid and the scar went right across her belly button. We joked that she didn't have a belly button (the it was held in the town of Marion's Center... real place). Then as an older adult she had her gallbladder out... and the new scar made her a belly button again!
Gallbladders and belly buttons... they just go together I guess.

So glad you are okay! I have heard those gall bladder attacks are super nasty!

Glad you are on the mend! Rest as much as you can and then you can go back to the running Rachael and the doing everything Rachael! LOL Hope Lala is pampering you and the 4-footeds are keeping you company. Take care, sweetie!

Eek! My mom had the same thing a few years ago so I totally know how horrifying an attack can be. Feel better soon! I will avoid recommending the comedian I rented while helping her out. Laughing + stomach surgery = unhappy healing people.

Get better! I just had an emergency appendectomy and I want one of those belly button locks and a good cat screen for the tummy.

I've learned two things I am happy to share with you:

It takes longer to heal as you get older. Who knew? And
There is nothing like sitting on your own porch listening to the rain and being happy to be alive to enjoy that.

Take care honey.

Poor you! Good healing thoughts coming your way...

I have a slight inkling of what it must've been like to call for the ambulance...I felt something similar when I called 911 about a burglary and I knew that I'd know the operator who picked up the phone. Sigh. And of course I sounded all panicked too. Oh well. The officers who came out were awesome.

So glad you're recovering nicely and on prescheduled off time, too, so you're not dealing with any guilt from having left your shift short (because all good dispatchers feel guilty when they have to call in sick, of course).

Thanks for the Vespers vids. And holy hotcakes, does that lead singer have a powerhouse of a voice!

Give everybody a pat for me. They're thrilled you're home with them!

Thanks for the link to Vespers - hadn't heard them, but buying/downloading as I type.

Happy recovery!!

Oh poor girl! I'm glad it's all over (bar the healing up) and you've got the time to relax a bit (for you that is). At least the gall bladder is out and done with, and unless you can grow those back too (!) it's off your radar.

Can you knit? Play Candy Crush? Write? I hope so...healing thoughts to you!

Good for you for moving beyond your fear and seeking help! Have been through a GB attack myself and it is terrifying. You just earned extra red Jell-o points!

They let the rookie assess & I/V you? Really? The ROOKIE? Just what did you do to that last batch of 'thanks fire wo/men' cookies? I know, the newbie is superqualified, takes a lot to even be considered..but still...you're the dispatcher...they're supposed to take care of you so you take care of them. Boy, they got some 'splainin' to do....and you've got alllll this time to dream up ways to reciprocate. Mmmhmmm (complete with head roll).

Take care. Heal. The Universe has your back- interesting how that whole vacation disrupted by fire because you needed to be home anyway thing worked out. Isn't it?

The frost is on the garden up North. It's headed your way. Knit something. A Digit cozy.;)

When I was in x-ray tech school, I needed an x-ray, and one of my fellow students ended up doing it. It was mortifying -- I had a staple through my pinkie finger. (Pro tip: when checking to see if the jam is out, move your finger out of the way when squeezing the stapler!) I'm pretty sure I was blushing the entire time. (And the urgent care CNA wanted to WHEEL me to x-ray! HELL NO!)
Glad you're home, and that it wasn't anything more serious!!!

Ugh. Poor Rachael! Emergency transport by co-workers!

Glad you're home! Hospitals are fine to visit while working, but that's about it.

Oh my goodness! You poor thing. I am glad that you are on the mend. I love that the strawberry event was cancelled. Some people sometimes say thing happen for a reason. This sounds like the best possible bad scenario, minus the bad part of course. Feel better soon. Try to enjoy your rest.

Ii didn't see it on Twitter, so when I saw the picture, I was afraid it was your tonsils AGAIN. Of course, you probably wouldn't be smiling in THAT picture. Bummer about the attack/surgery, but you sure timed it right! Didn't even have to make the 911 call and have them come to the house. Please remember - "you only have one chance to heal well." Take it easy (remember the last time?) and HEAL WELL!

Gallbladder attacks are horrid. Take it easy, rest, and know that for many of us odd post surgery tummy problems sort themselves out with time.

I am so glad you are okay and recovering at home. Too bad about the festival and the fire, Yosemite is so beautiful. My cousin Eustace is on a HotShot team (firefighters) on our reservation and he has been sent to the Rim fire. He was there about 8 days I think.

You could knit, sweetie. I hope you're up to your old tricks really soon, although I'll bet your animal family is glad to have you around for a bit.

no wonder your such a great story teller - even in a medical emergency you can make us laugh "belly button alarm" glad they took good care of you. Hope your feeling better soon and have a good rest in the meantime :) Quite Liking the music too - think i'm going to have to get onto iTunes now

Omigarsh!! I turn my back on you to go to northern Minnesota for two weeks(no internet!) and this is what you get up to!! Hope you are feeling so much better now. Also....rethink your diet. My FIL is learning that the hard way. Sigh.

So here's something you can work on while you're off your feet: Why do cats want to curl up on your belly when that's where it hurts? Is it because they want to help you heal by warming your sore bits? Or are they just trying to be irritating by insisting that they sleep on your stomach?

I really hope you are back on your feet soon and back up to full speed.

I hope you are feeling SO MUCH BETTER! I was off the grid for a while because my macbook charger broke (as much as I love apple their chargers are the crappiest crap I have ever purchased. And as much as I love my husband, he ordered a new one for me via internet. Meaning it had to be shipped. From China, or some other place at the end of the world. So I was without my lappy for a week. I will give him one more chance - both my husband and the charger, that is.) and so I am only learning about your health scare now. How terrible! I hope you are resting as you should and I hope your kitties are purring in your ear without destroying your stomach. Get well soon!

Hey, Rachael, hope you're continuing to recover. Is Digit doing his cat-as-heating-pad job? Have you seen Joe Haldeman's blog? http://joe-haldeman.livejournal.com/320078.html He's one of my favorite SciFi writers. What's that got to do with you? Good question. You both invite readers to suspend disbelief. Get better! What are you knitting?

I am so sorry about your gall bladder. Between the emergencies and the surgery, you have been through a heck of a lot! I admire your spirit. I was not as cheery during when my broken leg was fixed in surgery in April. Do enjoy your staycation!

Rachael, for your amusement I include a link to an article about a retiring 911 dispatcher in the small Wyoming town where I used to live.


I hope you're back on your feet soon!

What a bum-er to hear you're ill. You bladder get better. Urine our thoughts.

That is a wild trip! Sorry to hear you had to have emergency surgery. Better a gall bladder attack than a heart attack though! At any rate, I hope you get well soon because I love your blog!

Be very thankful that you could have the laproscopic surgery. I was not so lucky- I have the 12" incision to prove it. Spent 3 weeks in the hospital and 2 months at home recovering. having c/s was easier.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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