Polyps and Sludge and Cysts! OH MY!
When one thinks of the stereotype of elders exchanging complaints around the dinner table, things like “the rheumatism” “gout ” and “gallbladder troubles” likely come to mind. In the hubris manner of the young and the healthy I imagined that I would never fall prey to such topics of conversation. Ye Gods! How has it come to pass that I am actually feeling compelled to discuss my gall bladder? How the mighty have fallen. Perhaps I am inspired by the terrifying presidential debates, and how much I don’t want to give those dweebs any more energy? Anyway I promise gallbladders are way more interesting than you might be thinking. Way more.
The Gallbladder rests just under the ribs on the right hand side, snuggled next to the Liver. The liver makes bile, and sends it to the gallbladder. Each time you eat the gallbladder squirts a little into your intestines through a common duct. Voilà! Digestion. However, if you get gallbladder congestion, in the form of a stone, which then gets wedged in that common duct, the liver and the gallbladder go into high alert. It turns into a bad situation. ATTACK!!!
“Known as the ‘Honorable Minister’, the gall bladder is in charge of the ‘Central Clearing Department’. It secretes the pure and potent bile fluids required to digest and metabolize fats and oils, and its energy provides muscular strength and vitality. It works with the lymphatic system to clear toxic by-products of metabolism from the muscular system, thereby eliminating muscular aches and fatigue.”
“The gall bladder governs daring and decisiveness. In Chinese, the word for ‘daring’ is da dan (‘big gall’). The English language also acknowledges this psychophysiological relationship with the phrase ‘a lot of gall’. An old Chinese adage states: ‘The gall bladder is daring, the heart is careful’, which reflects the stimulating generative influence of Wood to Fire.” From the website: http://lieske.com/channels/5e-gallbladder.htm
This gallbladder of mine has been being just a bit, well, sulky lately. I had an ultrasound back in 2014 when I was having some similar symptoms. That scan then showed some little tiny gallstones, “like sand.” Luckily the sharp pains slowly ebbed away, and I went on with life.
Recently I started to worry again after I started to have the same symptoms. Maybe the ache and nausea were a result of some renewed cancering? Like liver mets??? So I asked my doctor to order an abdominal ultrasound while I still had insurance that would cover it. September 30th was the last day before a big change in my insurance. I realized a few days prior that I was likely to become downright paranoid if I waited to check out my discomfort until the New Year. It feels like big progress to take a stand on self care in this way.
When I got to radiology I didn’t even need to change into one of those nasty polyester gowns. The tech blobbed a copious amount of the weird blue lubricant goo on my belly. He turned me this way and that. He had me a take a whole lot of deep breaths, and then hold them. All while he clicked and clicked and clicked, taking pictures and measurements. He wasn’t one for much small talk, but seemed very competent.
I then went into work and tried to be productive while I waited for the results to come back. Praying that they would come prior to the end of the workday, so I needn’t wait until Monday to know anything. Thankfully the report came back short and sweet.
- Liver and pancreas appear unremarkable.
- No noted adenopathy. ( A fancy word for enlarged lymph nodes,)
- And drum roll please: Gallbladder Polyps and Biliary Sludge!
- Plus for a special one time bonus, a Small 4mm Renal Cyst on the upper right kidney!
Seriously if we were playing cards after dinner, this report would be like hitting the Jackpot! I win the geezer complaints trifecta! Polyps and Sludge and Cysts! Oh My!
You heard it right, I have been stricken with SLUDGE. According to the Merck Manual the prognosis can take one of three paths; completely resolve, wax and wane, or upgrade to gallstones. While back in 2014 I was worrying about bigger issues, and was more than happy to forget about my little gall sand, apparently having repeat gallbladder troubles lead to yet more gallbladder troubles. So now seems like a good time to investigate. My nephew wisely pointed out that if you are going to have polyps, cysts and sludge, better to have it on the inside, rather than on the outside, say on the face. I very much have to agree.
In the land of so called Rare Side Effects
“It is very unlikely you will experience __X__.”
Various Doctors in regards to various side effects.
I started to do a little research, and found that I don’t have many of the western medicine gall stone risk factors other than being female. However, as it turns out taking Tamoxifen, the drug that messes with my estrogen processing, is another one. Though theoretically it happens rarely. Mm mm, I wonder why that failed to come up when I was having pain in 2014 and was sent for an ultrasound by the Oncologist?
It is really pretty irrelevant what the chances of not getting something are, once you have something. (Ringing in the the ears is a side effect for like 1% of people who take Carboplatin… I guess I am just extra lucky that my ears are still ringing these years later.)
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Vizzini & Inigo Montoya ~ Princess Bride
Stagnation & Woe
Luckily I had a session with an energy healer who I see quarterly already lined up for last week. Her take on my gallbladder is that I need to work on my sense of worthiness. (Is that Brene Brown I hear cackling in the distance??) Seriously, the work of a Metamorphosing Amazon is never done.
I have Proof that this is not a new issue for me. Gall sludge is most commonly seen in pregnant women, and usually resolves itself after the birth. Looking back at the intense breath taking side-aches that extended up to my right shoulder during pregnancy now make sense. Side-aches which inspired me to lay flat on my back on the bike path on my way to prenatal appointment more than once. So this is not my first rodeo with The Sludge. Apparently this propensity for gallbladder weakness (AKA lack of worthiness) has been with me for a while.
According to Chinese medicine sludge is stagnation. As the gallbladder is a big part of the lymphatic system, and as its meridian travels right through my mastectomy disaster zone, I can’t help but think that this is related as well. So perhaps whatever propensity I have for gallbladder sludge is connected to stagnation along the gallbladder meridian, hence the breast cancer.
I go to Hai Shan Clinic next week, and look forward to their take on this whole thing.
The Earth’s Power Points
Turns out that amongst Indigenous Native American populations gall bladder woes are epidemic. Perhaps this is less about a genetic weakness and more about the way we have been treating the Native populations for the last 500 years. Maybe my gallbladder is acting up right now in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux? Because I am so distraught over the situation with the corporate raiders, their pipeline and bribed judges.
Are not sacred sites like the acupuncture points of the Earth? What might happen if we blast a pipeline through one? As we are a living breathing extension of the Earth, what happens when we frack and poison, slash and burn the land? I can’t help but wonder if our good health is based on the free flowing energy of the Earth’s Meridians. What happens when there is disruption of that energy? I suspect that it is enough to create ill health in us. Since we have been making poor choices for the environment for my entire life, perhaps my gallbladder weakness stems from that? Does not seeing the huge environmentally disastrous human endeavors playing out, contribute to a lack of feelings of personal worthiness?
There is Mystery.
Certainly I have noticed over the last few months that my decisiveness has been at an all-time low. I am not feeling daring these days – more along the lines of being a bit sluggish. Or sludge-ish I suppose. In any event I haven’t been exhibiting “A lot of Gall” lately. Who really knows why I have been stricken with The Sludge? I may have sludge due to basic physiological anomaly that makes me susceptible, or I could have sludge as a direct result of the Tamoxifen, or I could have sludge because my gallbladder meridian has been disrupted by my mastectomy, or conversely I ended up cancering as a result of my gallbladder chi being weak to begin with, or Sludge is a result of my fellow humans messing with the planet on a horrific scale, and I am a conduit for some of that disruption of the Earth’s Meridians. Or a whole host of other unknowns that may or not include any number of things. Coming to peace with mystery is always a good plan.
There are things I can do to try to clean out my gall bladder, which I will endeavor to do. Detox is one of my Five Actions of Wellness after all. As is Joyful Movement. Giving myself time to heal emotionally is probably a good idea. Eating some foods that support liver and gallbladder function, while avoiding things that are hard to digest might help. It is definitely time to give some more love to my inner Honorable Minister, and I don’t mean Trump.
Finally here are a few nice articles on the Gall bladder from a Chinese medicine perspective: