Saying Goodbye to My Gallbladder

 By Bob Gaydos

The gallbladder. Gone laparoscopically.

The gallbladder. Gone laparoscopically.

      A personal note: After 80 years, my galibladder decided to hang it up. No warning. Just, “That”s it, pal, I”m through storing bile. You and your liver are on your own breaking down fats.“

     A positive note: My liver and I are doing fine on our own so far. Apparently, humans don’t really need a gallbladder anymore. Who knew?

     Well, apparently lots of people. Millions of Americans to start with. In fact, there’s a good chance, dear reader, that you knew. The first item that came up when I Googled a search on gallbladder removal was from the Harvard Medical School. It said, in part: “Like your appendix and spleen, the gallbladder is something you can do without. Each year, about a million Americans have their gallbladder surgically removed because the organ has become inflamed (cholecystitis) or contains gallstones.” That item was posted on January 1, 2006. A lot more gallbladders have been removed in this country since then.

        Honestly, I never gave it a thought. In fact, when I felt the first sharp pain on the right side of my abdomen, I thought it was acid reflux. Sounds sexier than an inflamed gallbladder, doesn’t it? Well, pain is pain, whatever the source, and there was the inevitable trip to the emergency room. Six days later, after apparently successful surgery, I returned home gallbladderless and even more attuned to what I eat. Also, with some thoughts about the American healthcare system and the American diet.

            Diet: It’s always the same story. Several years ago, when I made a long-postponed trip to a doctor for a checkup, I was told I was about 50 pounds overweight, with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and was pre-diabetic. In other words, an average, past-middle-aged American male.

         I was advised to avoid eating fatty foods, fried foods, processed foods, foods high in sugar, caffeine, carbonated beverages and to start eating leaner meats, more fish and poultry, and more fruits and vegetables and dairy alternatives.. Also to get some exercise and take these pills regularly.

       The recommendation for people who have had their gallbladder removed is to stop eating fatty foods, fried foods, processed foods, foods high in sugar, caffeine,  carbonated beverages and to start eating leaner meats, more fish and poultry and more fruits and vegetables and dairy alternatives.

     With the help of a persistent coach,  I followed that advice the doctor gave me years ago and lost 50 pounds and eventually stopped taking those pills. Still don’t take them. I have been relatively healthy since then and I think my gallbladder lasted as long as it did because my change in diet offset some previous years of less than healthful eating habits. In fact, I’m convinced of it.

        So the good news here, I guess, is that if I just keep up my changed eating habits I won’t have any serious digestive problems. I can eat sushi until I’m 100.

         The unfortunate news is that the food industry has thoroughly brainwashed so many Americans into believing that shopping in the middle of the supermarket, grabbing up lots of processed foods, fatty foods, sugar-laden foods, fried foods, junk food is the way to go. Don’t listen to the propaganda about plant-based foods, the aDvertisements say, those people are just trying to brainwash you. It’s basically the same argument as don’t get a vaccine or wear a mask. Don’t let “them“ tell you what to do. So two-thirds of Americans are overweight, one in 10 is diabetic and one in three is pre-diabetic.

       These can lead to more serious problems than having to have a gallbladder removed. And it increases health insurance costs for everyone. 

        I’m not preaching here; I know it doesn’t work. And I’m not bragging because I had to be almost browbeaten into eating a more healthful diet. I am grateful that I did, though, and I guess I hope that maybe someone will read this and decide to give it a try before middle-age. Do it for yourself and your gallbladder.

         Health care: i’ll be brief. A medical center that bills itself as first class, advertises itself as one of the best in the nation, should be able to provide a test at some point over the weekend. I came in Saturday morning didn’t get two required tests until Monday morning. No solid food, of course, because I was waiting for tests.

           Waiting was done in a wing reserved for people awaiting medical decisions. Waiting for tests, in other words. No private room, just a curtain for privacy and a couple of shared bathrooms. About 20 patients, all of whose conversations could be heard even when you try not to: “We need to check that artery.“ “I need to take your vitals, hon.“ “What’s your date of birth?“ “What’s the level of pain?“ “You used my debit card to go buy beer!“ “We’re going to have to take another test.“ “Can I please get something to eat?“ “Beep, beep, beep!“ “When did you use steroids?“ “When I got arrested.” ……. Long pause. …. “How do you get arrested?“ “Beep, beep, beep.“

              Bottom line: The surgery was a success. Take all advertising with a grain of salt. Avoid fatty foods.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at


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