Thursday, February 7, 2013

We Interrupt This Homeschooling Life...

surgery instructions
...for a little laparoscopic surgery.

The gallbladder is an interesting organ. It doesn't really do much on its own. It's more of a storage location for the work of the liver. The liver makes bile, dumps it into the gallbladder, which in turn, squeezes it into the first section of the intestines, called the duodenum. But sometimes the gallbladder rebels. Sometimes it gets angry.

This week my husband's gallbladder got very angry, so it was decided gallbladder temper tantrums would no longer be tolerated. Hence our side trip to learn more about the digestive tract and all about a procedure called laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

They really are the best!

First step, dig out Mom's all-time favorite book of anatomical charts. Don't all moms have this book as their favorite? No? Strange...
I have been just a little extremely stressed out by this whole process. I am a control freak; as I may have mentioned one or two or a thousand times in the past. Control freaks do NOT like unplanned medical issues. One of my many ways of trying to cope with things like this is through knowledge. Since I needed to know all about what was going on I thought I might as well take the boys along for the ride. Before explaining why their Dad's gallbladder needed to go, we needed to explain what it usually does, what it was doing wrong, and why it really isn't necessary for survival.

small but temperamental
We showed the boys this chart so they could see exactly where the gallbladder is located. We talked about what it does. We also explained that the current problem was that their Dad's gallbladder had stones, made of cholesterol, that had formed at some point in his life. We don't know for sure how long they have been there, but statistics show that about 20 million Americans have them. Not all of these stones cause problems for the people who have them. But when they do, watch out. The hard stones cause pain when the gallbladder contracts to squeeze the bile into the duct. Sometimes the gallbladder walls thicken and get infected. Sometimes stones get stuck in the ducts. Fortunately, it looks like our situation has not come from a stone trapped in the duct. More than likely the passing of a few stones caused the problem.

not drawn to scale
After we met with the surgeon, my husband drew this picture to show the boys what the surgeon was going to do. If you are laughing at the simple picture here, believe me, it looks almost identical to the one the surgeon drew for us in his office. We explained how if the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to produce bile, but instead of being stored it just goes directly into the intestines. Then we watched an instructional video on our hospital's website about how doctors perform laparoscopic cholecystectomies. I also learned that they are sometimes called lap chole, which is a whole lot easier to say than that tongue twister!

Life offers us many opportunities for spontaneous learning. I am glad that we have access to such a wealth of knowledge online. It's good to know we can take these experiences and run with it when necessary.

But next time, I'd prefer that it be something a little more mundane, like mold identification or maybe word etymology. No more anatomy lessons needed in the near future, thank you.

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