I had ERCP and gallbladder removal 2.5 weeks ago. I really didn't have problems before, except once a year when gallstones moved. As was the case almost three weeks ago, when I went to the ER wanting to rule out heart problems, I ended up being admitted for emergency surgery. You can imagine I didn't get a lot of time to do research before, so it was something of a shock both mentally and physically. They wouldn't even let me go home to bring change, my phone charger or a tablet/e-reader, but I managed to borrow a phone from one of the social workers, so I could arrange for someone to take care of my cat.
I was allowed to eat a small meal on Sunday night (before midnight), then was not allowed anything to eat or drink. I was sent to ERCP surgery at 2:30 p.m. the next day, and came back to the ward around 4 p.m. I was up before they knew it, because I had to go to the toilet.
I was then again put on no food or drink, and had no idea when my gallbladder removal surgery was going to be. I was told I might have to wait until 8:30 p.m. or the next day. Long time with no food or drink! Luckily, they came and sent me down to surgery around 8 a.m. the next morning, and I was the second patient going in. My surgeon was great, and I had to explain to them that all the sores I had on my stomach was from my cat kneading on me.
My surgery was done laparoscopically. About 5-10 percent start out that way and have to be changed to open surgery, but in my case that was not necessary. I woke up in recovery around noon, so about two and a half hours after going into surgery. I had four incisions, and one of them on the belly button was bleeding a bit, but that is also the largest incision they make. It's awkwardly placed, but it also means if there is scarring, it won't be very visible. For the other three, they are almost completely healed by now.
Due to nausea, I spent about two and a half hours in recovery, and got all the medication they would give me, both anti-nausea and pain meds (Dilaudid). Once I got up to the ward, I got no more medication. I was up on my feet a couple of hours later, but because I was tired, I went to sleep.
After waking up, the ward would only let me get liquids, however, the surgeons had told me I could start eating almost immediately, so I did argue a bit with the nurses. In the recovery area, I got sorbet, which I was not allowed on the ward. At about 8 p.m., my doctor came by and told me I could go home. When she heard I hadn't eaten solids yet, she asked me to eat something before she sent me home. I had half a ham sandwich, some melons and pasta, and that satisfied her. I got home that night, and it was *so* good. I did have some problems moving around in bed, and of course my cat wanted to climb on top of me. I let her do that, since they had permitted that at the hospital. It was a bigger shock to the system to have 12 pounds of cat on four legs jump up on my stomach than moving around did!
In any case, I did not have diarrhea much. I would characterize the two or three episodes as loose stool, and I could easily hold it, with no need to run to the toilet. I suffered more from constipation and started using stool softeners.
I used some pain meds going to bed at night, but I didn't really need them. In recovery, I've been battling fatigue, and this is the first day I haven't had my midday nap, and I don't feel I need one yet. The only problem I have is that I have gotten some light acid reflux, and that is a bit worrisome, so I will talk to my PCP about this. I have had my post-surgery appointment with the surgeon, and he was pleased with my progress.
For those who wonder, I am 44 year obese female with diabetes, so age, weight and health doesn't seem to matter much in recovery. My diet has not changed much since before surgery, since I was eating a healthy enough diet before (despite my weight, which is slowly going down and has been for a long time). I gained some weight after the surgery, but not a lot (5-10 pounds, but to me that's practically nothing; it might be daily variance).
So in conclusion: no pain, no serious complications other than acid reflux (which should go away in time anyway), no particular scarring, and no change in diet. While there are a lot of horror stories out there, and anyone having to go through this surgery should be aware of what to expect, most of us get through it without many problems. Good luck to all!