I’m not easily distrac … ooh, SHINY thing …

The Insufferable Persistence of St Bagnes the Bilious

One-Way Sign (Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash)

Yesterday was a day of toweringly high hopes and immense disappointment.

I had an appointment at the hospital for them to check out the workings of my gallbladder and see whether my percutaneous cholecystostomy (a.k.a. gallbladder drain, a.k.a. St Bagnes the Bilious) could safely be removed. I’ve been stuck with St Bagnes for six weeks now and was fervently hoping that the time might have come for she and I to part company. I had even been in touch with the hospital and – to my immense gratitude – the surgical department had stepped up to the plate and arranged for a doctor to be available to remove the drain if it was going to be possible. (An extra special vote of thanks goes to one of the surgical secretaries/administrators who has been chasing it up for me for the past week and got one of the Registrars on board to sort it out.)

Ah, such hopes! Such a bright and positive day! Not even spoiled by the lengthy detour we had to take on the way there owing to the main road being closed due to a nasty road accident. When I arrived in the Radiology department, a nice radiologist even came and told me that things had been arranged and, so long as things looked good, I’d be leaving without St Bagnes strapped to my leg. Woohoo!

Alas, it was not to be. When they went ahead, pumped me full of dye and looked on the X-ray it was obvious that the exit from my gallbladder is completely blocked. Which is a bit weird since, as those of you who have studied Gallbladder 101 will know, the exit and the entrance are one and the same. The gallbladder is, essentially, just a little bag that collects bile from the liver, upgrades it a bit and then pumps it back out again through the same opening it came in through. Think of a little drawstring bag – that’s the kind of thing. And stuff is definitely still getting into my gallbladder somehow. I know that because I have to empty anything from one hundred to two hundred millilitres of ickyness out of the bag every day. But, as far as the normal workings of the gallbladder are concerned, absolutely nothing – zip, zilch, bupkis, nada, diddley-squat – is getting back out again. In the absence of St Bagnes, my gallbladder would be a bit like Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.”

The best guess from the doctors and radiologists is that the large gallstone that has lodged itself near the neck of the gallbladder and which hospitalised me back at the end of June is acting like a one-way valve. Some of the bile coming from the liver is managing to flow around it and get into the gallbladder but, when the gallbladder contracts or anything tries to flow back out, the stone moves or gets squashed up a bit and blocks things completely. Bugger!

Oh, and apparently I also have a lot of gallstones. So many that the radiologist even commented “Oh my God! So many gallstones!” Given that I imagine he’s probably seen a fair few gallbladders and gallstones in his time, I can only assume that my collection is something rather special. Not an award that I particularly wanted to win but there you go.

Anyway…under the circumstances, St Bagnes has to stay since she is the only thing preventing me from becoming hideously ill again. She might even be a life-saver of sorts. I may also be likely to be stuck with her for a while – probably weeks, maybe even months. I’m waiting to hear from the consultant as to the next steps but, as far as I know, it looks like the only way I’m going to be able to get rid of St Bagnes is when they finally remove my gallbladder altogether. There may also have to be other tests and scans before that to check that there are no other problems further down the bile duct that are going to complicate matters. Depending on how long this all takes, they may also have to get me back in to replace the current drain and fit a new one since these things are supposed to be changed every couple of months if they’re going to be in place for a long time. Bugger, bugger, bugger!!

So please forgive me if I’m a bit grumpy for a few days. I’ll get over it eventually…

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  1. I’m so sorry Adrian. Hope you get your Gall Bladder removed soon. I know from experience that that’s the only thing that will sort you out.
    Sending love and happy ha too you and Glenda

    • Thanks Margaret – we’ve always known that removing the gallbladder was the only way to solve the problem properly. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t be stuck with the drain until such time as that can be done.

      Oh well, it was a nice thought…

  2. Hi Adrian, just red your story…..with a laugh and an owww……hope that they will remove it soon because this is not a very pleasant way to go on and on……you certainly may be grumpy……
    sending you all the best and also to Glenda, hugs for you both

    • Thanks Miranda – we’re hoping the same thing. The drain is still preferable to the pain and illness that it prevents but I’d still rather have the whole problem fixed for good. All the very best wishes and hugs to you too!

  3. hard not to laugh at your witty text but genuinely hope you get something sorted soon

    • Thanks Jill – if nothing else, I can at least try to find the odd bit of humour in all this. I don’t know if you’re familiar with 2001: A Space Odyssey but the way that the doctor said “Oh my God! So many gallstones!” wasn’t all that different to the moment when the astronaut Dave Bowman flies into the black monolith and says “My God, it’s full of stars.” The doctor even said it in the same, slightly stunned, breathless tone of voice that the actor, Keir Dullea, used in the film. I’m still chuckling about it even now.


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