Motherhood & Words

dear gallbladder, goodbye.

I know that I am supposed to want to keep all of my organs, and believe me, I do. I’ve tried, I really have. I changed my diet (and then changed it back), I’ve done weekly (often twice a week) acupuncture, I’ve ingested many herbs and enzymes, minerals and fermented foods. I’ve meditated. I’ve cried. I’ve bucked up.

But still, the pain persists.

On Monday, after my upper endoscopy confirmed that my ulcers were healed (meaning that my pain is, and has been, GB-related), I felt elated (even after the sedation wore off). A weight had been lifted. No more second-guessing what I was eating. No more “Is the pain from this or that? Should I be eating (or not eating) this or that?”

No ulcers cleared the way for surgery. There was a path, a possible end to it. When I showed Donny the brochure about gallbladder surgery (featuring a sad, sad woman whose hand—her fingers splayed ever so slightly—is pressed below her right ribcage) he said, “That’s you! That’s exactly how you look.”

Shit. I look like the sad, sad woman from a surgical brochure. Even worse: I’d looked like that for months. It was time.

But then Tuesday at four am, what slunk back into my fretting mind was the second-guessing. Was it the right thing to do? Had I tried hard enough to keep it? Would it really take care of the pain? (This had been the question all along since my problem isn’t gallstones, which are cured by removal. Ejection fraction issues sometimes are not.) This state of second-guessing was helped immensely later in the day by a very strong differing opinion. But it is my body, and I know what’s best, right? Still, I was waffling.

Before Donny left for work on Wednesday morning he looked crestfallen. “On Monday you were yourself again.”

It was true. For a few hours on Monday I felt like my real self again because there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I needed to find my way back to that clarity. I made an appointment with my regular, trusted doctor, who agreed with my other doctors. Again the weight was lifted, and it’s remained that way. It’s the right decision. I realize that now. So, goodbye, gallbladder.

Added to my general discomfort in recent months, I’ve developed a propensity for styes, those painful little eye infections. (Stress?) My right eye was the one afflicted and after rounds of ointments and antibiotics, and diligent daily warm compresses, it finally cleared up.

But on Friday morning, just prior to my pre-op appointment, the left eye piped up. Like the disgruntled sibling of a memoirist, it just had to be heard. (I don’t need your version of the story, I implored. But no. It insisted.)

We headed up north Friday afternoon and I was going to spend the weekend visualizing being pain free (GB and stye). I was going to BE POSITIVE! And it was working. On Saturday, I determinedly slept in. I went for a walk. I bought a book in town.

Then the weekend was hijacked. I’ll spare you the details because all is fine, but really?

Now the stye is improving and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow. So I’m back to BEING POSITIVE and visualizing being pain free. If you could send your positive vibes, healing thoughts, and prayers in my direction, I’d be grateful.

I’ll keep you posted.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Sue LeBreton on September 8, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Is that guilt you are feeling that you could not “fix it”? Try to let it go-what more can you do- it’s like trying to breastfeed and it doesn’t work. I know what a struggle this has been for you and am happy that an end is in sight!!!
    Will be sending healing thoughts and big, gentle hugs. Good bye crappy GB! xo

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      It WAS, Sue, but i’m done with it. Isn’t that crazy? Thank you for your healing thoughts and gentle hugs! xoxox

      • Kevin Fenton on September 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm


        Hope you feel better soon!


        • Kate on September 11, 2015 at 7:24 am

          Thank you, Kevin!

  2. Mary Allison Tierney on September 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Kate we are all thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery! Big Hug!

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much, Allison! xo

  3. Caroline on September 8, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Thinking of you and hoping the surgery marks the end of this long, painful, stressful saga and a healthy new start! xo

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Caroline! xox

  4. Hallie Sawyer on September 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Well, that sucks. However, I’m glad you are close to getting relief and hope you feel a gazillion times better without that stupid gallbladder anyway. Sounds like he was a real asshole so good riddance!

    Healing thoughts to you!! xoxo

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Exactly, Hallie! And thank you for the healing thoughts, my friend! xox

  5. Christina Katz on September 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Kate,

    You deserve to be pain free. Make it your mantra. “I deserve to be joyous, happy, and pain-free.”

    If this is how you best get there, then so be it. How wonderful that there is a way for you to feel better.

    Go for it! I’m sure you will be in good hands.

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      I love that mantra, Christina! I’ll be chanting it tomorrow! And yes, I think I’m in very good hands. xo

  6. tracy on September 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Thinking about you. xoxoxo

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Thank you, Tracy! xoxo

  7. Claire Hennessy on September 8, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Big hug, Kate. Sending you tons of positive vibes and healing energy. Must be fab to have finally made your decision and best of luck with the op and recovery. Who needs a stupid GB anyway!

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Thank you, Claire! That’s what I should have been saying months ago! xox

  8. Angie Mizzell on September 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Here’s to getting back to you. Big hug and much love, my friend.

    • Kate on September 8, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Thank you, dear Angie! xoxox

  9. Liane on September 8, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Sending you healing vibes for the speediest of recoveries, Kate.

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Thank you so much, Liane!

  10. Suzanne Bissell on September 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Oh Kate…only you could write a compelling and hilarious account about your gallbladder!! Get that thing out – no more pain. Lots of prayers coming your way!

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Thank you so much, Suzanne!

  11. Barb Buckner Suarez on September 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Hoping for a smooth and easy delivery of that pesky gallbladder of yours and that you are back to feeling marvelous again very, very soon! Thinking of you!


    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:45 am

      Thank you so much, Barb!

  12. Joanne on September 8, 2015 at 7:15 pm


    So glad you are close to a resolution! May you be surrounded and cared for by the very best doctors, nurses and assistants tomorrow as your GB is removed and post-op too. I cannot even imagine what an ordeal this has been like for you (and your loved ones). You are strong and you will heal quickly! Think “walking” and then “jogging” and then whatever you desire.

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Thank you, Joanne! And yes, I’ve got running on my mind. I haven’t run in months, and that, in part, is responsible for sad Kate. Thanks for your thoughts!

  13. Tamara on September 8, 2015 at 9:15 pm


    Healing vibes, big hugs, and love your way. Plus a speedy recovery post surgery.

    peace sweet friend


    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Thank you, Tamara! xo

  14. Andria on September 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    THINKING OF YOU, Warrior Woman!!!!!!! xo

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Thank you, Andria! xox

  15. Amy Spencer on September 8, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I’ll be thinking of you! So glad you are on a clearer path to regaining your health. xoxo

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Thank you, Amy! xox

  16. Krista Christensen on September 8, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Oh Kate, you’ve had a tough row to hoe lately. As a woman who has said goodbye to several of her internal organs, I must share with you what I have found to be an important distinction. Agency is worth more. Scratch that–Agency and efficacy are the most important considerations in fighting ill health.

    If you have a choice, you have a chance. Agency is what I didn’t have when my organs were removed, but you can move forward knowing that you have tried everything and you have made an informed choice. I know this sparks waffling and there can be a lot of pressure to make “the right” choice. However, be calm and know that, no matter what, a choice beats the alternative.

    Many wishes for your good health during this time. I’m thinking of you.

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Yes indeed, Krista. Thank you for your wise words. I wish you’d that same choice! Thank your for your good wishes! xo

  17. Basma Ibrahim DeVries on September 8, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    Sending lots of positive, healing energy your way! This was a very different situation, but your story reminded me of my gall bladder surgery… Almost exactly a year after my first child was born, I developed gall stones while traveling and needed surgery suddenly (which I learned is not uncommon for up to a year after childbirth). After meeting with the surgeon pre-op (who explained everything so nonchalantly, like someone who takes out organs all the time without consequence!), I learned that the GB was not all that important, that the GB mainly processes fat, and that the body compensates just fine without the GB. Naturally, my first question was: “Does this mean that I won’t ever be able to eat any foods with fat after my GB is removed??!!” The surgeon laughed and assured me that my occasional days of french fries as therapy food were not over!

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Thank you, Basma! (And I miss seeing you at the coffee shop. Let’s get some kind of date on the calendar when I’m ready for a full-fat latte again!) Here’s to some french fries in the future!

  18. Nina on September 9, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Sending prayers and vibes for a speedy recovery and pain free days from now on. You have earned it already!!!

    • Kate on September 9, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Thank you, Nina! xox

  19. Gloria Howard on September 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Prayers heading your way Kate! Good decision.
    “All shall be well
    All shall be well
    All manners of things shall be well”
    By Julian of Norwich

    • Kate on September 11, 2015 at 7:23 am

      Dear Gloria, thank you so much for this! I appreciate the words and your prayers!

  20. Sarah Dye on September 9, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    I hope you get some relief, Kate. Chronic pain is the devil. Good luck!! I will be thinking of you. – Love, Sarah

    • Kate on September 11, 2015 at 7:23 am

      Thank you so much, Sarah! It IS the devil, isn’t it? Thanks for your thoughts. xoxo

  21. Barb Hughes on February 21, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    So….how did the surgery go? Do you feel better?

    • Kate on February 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks for asking, Barb! It went okay. Very slow recovery. And oddly, the pain has sparked back up again. So not ideal, but I’m hanging in there!