Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I owe a debt of gratitude to William T. G. Morton.

Note: this post contains non-sewing content that might not appeal to the squeamish, and has a picture of an internal organ.

Without the pioneering work of William T. G. Morton, my experience yesterday would have been unthinkable.

Morton is widely recognized as the first true "anesthesiologist" as he administered the ether to a patient at Massachusetts General Hospital on October 16, 1846.

Fortunately, advances in anesthetics in the 166 years since then means that surgery is safer then ever before. Yay for science!!!

So yesterday morning I went into the local hospital to have my gall bladder removed. Two doctors agreed that it should come out; they saw evidence on the various scans that showed there was a pretty big stone in there. Even though I wasn't having any symptoms (aside from the initial attack in late July that precipitated this whole medical odyssey), I learned that gall bladder issues can lead to pancreatic issues -- which are FAR more serious. So I decided to follow their advice.

Gall bladder removal used to involve a long incision across the abdominal muscle, a multi-day hospital stay, and a 6-week recovery period. Now it's all done laparoscopically, with four small incisions and minimal muscle damage, and it's outpatient surgery. The incisions aren't even sutured shut anymore; they use glue, so there are no stitches to be removed later. Amazing! My operation was at 10:00 a.m. and I was home by 2:30pm.

I asked the surgeon if I would get my gall bladder back as a souvenir and he rolled his eyes. Then I asked him to at least take pictures, which he did.

Here's what my gall bladder looked like, along with the stone that was removed from it.

Yeah, that's a stone all right. More like a boulder!! Yuck. And it all got removed through an incision just over an inch long.

So now I'm home, recuperating, taking things very easy. I hope to feel up to working on some sewing projects in a few days, but I won't be rushing anything! Luckily there's a lot of deskwork I can take care of.


  1. Welmoed, I bet you'll be feeling better in just a couple of days! FYI - I work as a recovery room nurse, so see lots of gall bladder patients, not to mention I had mine out ten years ago, too.

    You are right on both counts, anesthesia just keeps getting better and laparoscopic surgery is worlds better than slicing across your muscles under your rib cage! My mom had that style surgery in about 1970.

    Hope to hear from you again in a few days.

  2. Wow! Thought I'd take a look at your blog, and was AMAZED at the size of that stone! Wow! Glad you are okay, and recuperating!


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