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Lloyd Waters: A parable of the gallbladder

March 11, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

Did you ever wonder why the gallbladder was part of our creation? Or why it often becomes a traitor to our body?

Was it made as a special hiding place for marbles, or did those gallstones intend to take the place of your diamonds and rubies?

Whatever the reason, there’s one thing for sure; the gallbladder creates some real problems for about 25 million people in this country. Almost 700,000 of these 3-inch-long organs are removed each year because of their treasonous behavior.

Unlike the old procedure, which required a long surgical incision in one’s belly, the most recent laparoscopic procedure requires only several small holes and a little coordination of an expert surgeon with some very good glasses (kept in a wooden box), camera and surgical skills. The surgeon also needs a little bag to remove the gallbladder with stones.

A special friend of mine who does not normally celebrate surgeries with pomp and ceremony recently prepared for her gallbladder procedure.

When she arrived at the same-day surgery section of the hospital, she was whisked into one of those little hide-and-seek cubicles, where she undressed faster than Superman in a phone booth and strategically donned one of those carefully designed gowns with cap.

Next, a chaplain came by and offered up a nice little prayer for my friend.

The patient then had her lower legs wrapped in some pressurized wraps and tried to relax on the hospital gurney. Her first stage of surgery preparation was complete.

On to the second stage. “Are you comfy?” was the question, before the nurse with the little basket of needles and IV materials prepared to do her thing. My friend, at this time, appreciated the chaplain’s prayer.

“I’m here to start your IV,” the nurse said.

“Darn, my veins are deep,” my friend thought as the nurse came near.

“Darn, your veins are deep,” the nurse must have thought as she failed to find a vein with strike one.

“Darn, your veins must be really deep,” the nurse still must have thought as she experienced strike two.

After the third puncture, the nurse concluded that my friend’s veins are really, really deep, and she deferred to the anesthetist.

The anesthetist arrived with a very quiet demeanor but with a facial expression that firmly conveyed, “I’m going to find a vein.”

He began to examine both arms in search of a good site to place the IV.  A smile came to his face, and that “Eureka” expression overtook him as he succeeded in positioning the IV in the patient.

“How do you feel now?” I asked my friend.

“My feet are sweating,” she responded.

“Must be some momentary jitters,” I offered. “Be thankful you’re not a porcupine. They never did find an IV site on him and left the needles.” 

Another nurse now showed up with a second anesthesia doctor.

“I need for you to sign some papers for me,” the nurse explained.

My friend signed the papers and told the anesthetist that she didn’t like operating rooms.

“Give me some happy juice and I’ll be fine,” my friend said.

I saw the anesthetist inject something into her drip line.

Next, I bid the patient good luck, and she was on her way to the operating room. I headed for the waiting area.

My friend told me that once she was in the operating room, someone asked her what kind of music she liked, and the last thing she remembered hearing was “kumbaya.”

A few hours later, she was on her way home.

And the gallbladder? Well, I suspect it made its way to Dante’s ninth circle of hell — a place designed especially for traitors.


Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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