The Gall!

So here I am again with another story of God’s faithfulness and abundant abundant grace.

So the past few months, I was getting these painful stomach aches that radiated to my back. I have some knowledge of basic medical conditions and with some research, I already figured that it must be my gall bladder. I confirmed that I had gall stones after an abdominal ultrasound early last month. I was referred to a laparoscopic surgeon, but I did not move forward with this right away. I just adjusted my diet and started doing short, doable exercise routines. Our schedule was full as well. I was doing quite alright.

Two weeks ago, however, my tummy started feeling bloated again and a bit painful. It was down time, right after mother’s day, so I told my husband we should see the doctor already. We had to move quickly because our helper was scheduled to take a leave in about two weeks. But before we could even schedule an appointment, I had a bad stomach ache on Tuesday. It did not go away after half an hour. Cold sweat, no comfortable position whatsoever, no relief after drinking warm water. I even threw up after taking apple cider vinegar with warm water. I called the hubby to take me to the ER.

Asian Hospital’s ER is usually full but that day, I was processed pretty quickly and moved to the primary care room within the first 30minutes. Thank you Lord! My pain as well, surprisingly, was at bay by that time.

The attending doctor talked to me and then told me that they were admitting me, prepping for another ultrasound, etc etc. The nurse came to put an IV line on my hand. I asked her to be gentle, but ouch! I immediately started to cry. And as if that wasn’t enough, she had to remove it! She kept saying sorry and told me she had to try again on the other hand. She used a smaller needle this time. I was crying like a baby, even after it was all done. Haaaaay. I don’t like IVs. Even King kept saying sorry just to comfort me. But then it turned out that the IV on my left hand was the right placement. My dominant hand was free!

Then another nurse came in to swab me for covid. Aaaagh. I forgot about this protocol. I managed to avoid swabs for 2 years because I DO NOT WANT TO GET SWABBED. But I had no choice. I had just stopped crying, so when she asked if I was ready, I said no. This confused her for a bit haha. Turns out she goes to Victory Alabang. She recognized King. Thank God my first swab was not traumatic at all. It made my nose itch, but she did a good job. After my ultrasound, they told me that my schedule for surgery (lap chole) to remove my gall bladder was Thursday noon.

I wasn’t allowed to eat, which was okay with me at first. Late at night, I had to get an MRI of some sort (they call it MRPC I think) to have better imaging of my gall bladder, bile ducts, liver, etc. It was my first time and it was wild haha. The guy in charge wasn’t kidding about how loud it was. But I was somehow able to focus on the pleasant, old school music being played on the headphones. I also just kept thanking God for the ability to stay calm in an enclosed space, and the ability to hold my breath for 20seconds haha. I was told many times to take a deep breath, release, and hold (for about 20seconds), and then relax. I was in there for probably more than 30minutes. Back in the ER, poor King slept in a chair while we waited til 2am of Wednesday for a regular room.

Later that morning, they told me I could take anything liquid. The hospital gave me blenderized arroz caldo which was surprisingly good. I couldn’t eat beyond 10am though, because I was told I was going to have an endoscopic procedure (ERCP) to remove the stones that were stuck in my bile duct, that evening, aside from the laparoscopy on Thursday. So two separate procedures that required me to be under general anesthesia. I expressed my concern to the nurses and doctors, because I’d never had GA before. And two GAs to me was too much. But I agreed since they assured me it was safe.

My blenderized arroz caldo

By early afternoon, I finally met my surgeon, Dr. Ray Sarmiento. He explained everything to me. He was super nice and accommodating. Before he left, King remembered to ask him about the two GAs and why it had to be separate. I was so happy to hear him say that it would be done together on Thursday. It was supposed to be separate because two different doctors were going to do it, but I guess he decided to do both procedures, saving me from another GA! God heard me! And I was so happy I could eat haha. My last meal or water intake had to be around 5am Thursday.

Also, the doctor mentioned something about having to put a stent on the bile duct, which would be removed months later. I literally said that I wouldn’t need it, in Jesus’ name! Because I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER PROCEDURE. He smiled but continued to explain the greater probability of it happening. Somehow I did not fear this as much.

I can’t remember which day it was that I told the nurse I had some pain in my stomach (they always reminded me to tell them), but she came back to me with Tramadol. I refused it haha. I mean it wasn’t that painful. I thought they were just going to give me some antacid. I guess they were ready for me in case my pain would be that bad. Thank God it never came to that.

Everything was good on Thursday except that I started getting nervous, so much so that when the nurse put a certain medicine (they gave me loads — vit K to protect my pancreas, antibiotics, steroids, etc) through my IV, I suddenly felt bad, my face warm and numb. I panicked and cried! King also saw my face turn red. I thought something was wrong! I asked for my blood pressure to be checked — it was high. But when they adjusted the IV flow, everything went back to normal. My BP remained elevated but not as high, so whew!

King wasn’t allowed to stay with me in the pre-op room but I’m so happy my friend Doc Liza, who works there, came by to accompany me and pray for me.

When I was wheeled into the OR and prepped, the anesthesiologist gave me a sedative through IV first. I felt that quickly make me sleep. Maybe 2 to 3 blinks and I was out. Then as explained to me while being prepped, I was turned over, prone position on the operating table for endoscopic procedure. My face turned to the side for the GA, the camera and wire. Then turned over again to lying position for the laparoscopy. Surgery went without a hitch.

I don’t remember what time I was wheeled back into my room but I remember hearing King and seeing him in the recovery room. I was in and out, but my mind was awake by the time they lifted me onto my bed. It was still day. I was allowed to get up past midnight, which I did when I had to go to the bathroom. The more you walk and move, the better, they said. So I made sure I did that. I got to drink water and stay on liquid diet by morning. I was so so parched and I wanted to clear my throat so badly. I was warned of sore throat from the tube they put in my windpipe for the anesthesia, but thankfully it wasn’t that bad.

Oh and they took my blood sugar every 3 or 4 hours because it was pretty high. The thought of my fingers being constantly poked scared me, but thank God for technology because their instrument was so quick, it didn’t even hurt. My finger tips were full of very tiny slits though. Hopefully when I get my labs done again, my sugar is not a problem.

By Saturday morning, I was given solid food. And by afternoon, I was finally discharged! I asked Dr. Sarmiento if he put a stent in my bile duct, and he said he didn’t need to woohoooo!!! Thank you Lord!!! His intern changed my bandages and placed these cool ones that you can bathe with (just like the plaster used over my c-section but smaller, since they were 4 small incisions). And I did not even think of the cost, but I am sure if we did two separate procedures it would have cost more. Thank God for insurance coverage!!! We only had to cash out such a minimal, and I mean minimal, amount!

Waiting for our escorts to wheel me out and bring our stuff down.

I’m so grateful for God’s provision, timing, and grace!!! Even though it was quite stressful for King because he had to drop everything for me, it was stressful for my older children to be handling exams and helping their youngest sister with everything, we got through it! King’s presence gave me a great deal of assurance and safety. Him playing worship music gave me comfort and courage at the times I needed it. Through our HMO, I was given awesome doctors! Even the cardiologist who talked to me like we were buddies and his kind, young intern gave me so much comfort and encouragement. The nurses also were always kind and helpful. And even though our helper is out on leave, I had 5 days to recover without thinking of housework because she was still around. Haaaaay thank you Lord! ❤️

I have no more BLADDER, but I have the GALL to say that God is just so, so good!!! Thank you dear friends for praying for me and wishing me well. The story doesn’t end here though. There’s more! I’ll write Part 2 tomorrow. ❤️

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3

8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you! Psalm 84

Published by Phoebe Torres-Lucero

I am Phoebe Torres-Lucero, wife of a loving husband & my best friend, King, and mother to three wonderful, smart, active princesses who keep me on my toes. Phoebe means bright and radiant. Torres means towers. Lucero means light. Put together, my name speaks of a tower of bright, radiant light. And that is what I hope to be as I write and share my sari-sari stories with you. 😊

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