Gall Bladder Surgery

One of the reasons I have been slow to post lately is Ashleigh has recently had surgery to remove her gallbladder. Although it is normally a pretty routine surgery, with Ashleigh and the complications as a result of her brain injury things became more complicated.

Since Ashleigh cannot normally voice it made identifying the problem more difficult. One day we were walking during her therapy session using the gait harness. For some reason that day we were having a lot of difficulty getting the new harness to fit properly (definitely operator error as it worked fine other times).

At the ER they found Ashleigh had a UTI and perhaps gall stones. It then took multiple tests over the next two weeks to confirm the gall stones and for the doctors to decide whether she should have the operation now or whether it could wait. The decision was made that she should have the gallbladder removed.

The surgery plans were complicated because Ashleigh has had a number of surgeries in that area due to her shunt replacements and g-tubes. The doctor was worried the scarring might preclude him from doing the surgery laparoscopically. A bigger risk was that the shunt empties into the abdominal cavity and if the gallbladder was to leak into the abdomen it could cause the potential to infect the shunt and travel into the brain. As a precaution the surgery was scheduled so Ashleigh’s neurosurgeon could be available if necessary for any shunt issues. This scheduling requirement resulted in a couple week delay and Ashleigh suffered a number of other gallbladder attacks while waiting.

Poor Ashleigh was on a diet of chicken broth and Jello for a few weeks before the surgery and a few weeks after the surgery but with this diet and some medication we were able to minimize the attacks.

About three o’clock that morning my wife woke me and said that Ashleigh was complaining of pain in the abdomen and and signed yes that she needed to go to the hospital. This was very unusual as she typically always dismisses going to the ER. I worried that we may have broken her ribs with the harness because of her osteoporosis. Talk about feeling terrible.

The surgery itself went well and the neurosurgeon was not needed. Her Mom and I always freak out though as any time someone has anesthesia there is a major risk. The common thread among our family members who called and visited her seemed to be “Hasn’t she already been through enough?” My answer is yes but that is not the way it works. You just have to keep moving forward.

Ashleigh had a few very rough days after the surgery but she finally now seems back up to par. Ever the trooper, she is building her stamina back up and are walking across the room again in therapy. Pretty soon we will be able to try walking with the gait trainer harness again.

1 Comment

  1. Ellen Frogner on April 30, 2010 at 9:28 am

    This site has provided us with a lot of good practical information, thank you. My stepdaughter Joran was in a car accident March 18th, 2010 she is twenty. She was at TICU in Delray Beach for over a month and is now at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. She is still a Rancho Level II. Your story follows a close parallel, I think. Of course we don’t have much of an idea of what her brain is doing until she’s able to communicate, but it’s good to see that even with severe disabilities, there is still quality in Ashleigh’s life, praise God.

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