Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Dark Side of Food and an Unhappy Gallbladder

On OGW, we've covered just about everything from durian fruits to loaves of French bread and beyond!  But we haven't discussed the dark side of the culinary world; and by "dark side," I mean the bad, bothersome, and often unpleasant side effects.

Don't worry I'll get to the point soon enough, but first I need to explore a personal story arch.

I've always loved food... that doesn't mean I appreciated what I was eating, but I did enjoy it.  I enjoyed it so much by the end of college I weighed almost 230 lbs.  Now if I was 6'6" that wouldn't be a problem, but since I top out at 5'7" wearing a thick soled pair of shoes it became a bit of an issue.  I was overweight, had a size 40 waist, and was winded going up a single flight of stairs. 

Me on a trip to Mexico in 2006

Unlike some unfortunate liberal arts majors, I was lucky enough to land a great job complete with an in-house fitness center after college.  I started my transformation slowly; 10 minutes on the treadmill almost killed me the first 2 weeks.  The weight started to come off, and by the end of year 2, I weighed 145 lbs, and had a 29 inch waist.

Me in 2009, post-loss

We've all heard about the dangers of being overweight; diabetes, heart disease, the list goes on and on...  But we don't really hear about the dangers of being healthy.

Now, I am immensely grateful to have lost the weight, but unfortunately my gallbladder doesn't quite agree with this sentiment.

As it turns out our livers aid in the digestion of all manner of things.  They are, in short, incredible organs.  They allow us to process alcohol, synthesize proteins, and digest fatty acids with the production of various compounds.

Enter the dark side... and by dark side I mean bile. 

In short (and I mean "the short, short version"), the bile produced by our livers enters the digestive track and allows us to digest lipids (fats).  Our gallbladders store any excess bile so that it can be "dumped" when needed to aid in the digestion of particullary fatty meals.


After loosing weight, my liver never got the memo to produce less of these compounds.  As a result, the excess bile built up in my gallbladder and began to solidify as "gallstones."  These stones can block the bile duct causing extreme pain and in some extreme cases serious infection.

Now as a devoted foody, I still enjoy fatty meals on occasion.  Which means that gallbladder occasionally attempts to empty itself, causing the stones to dislodge and enter my bile duct.  From the women I have spoken to who have both given birth and experienced gallstones, I have learned that the pain is similar in intensity, though often not as long in duration. OUCH!

My worst attack occurred last October and lasted for over 24 hours, followed by a period of jaundice and some less-than-savory digestive side effects.  In hindsight I probably should have gone to the hospital, but c'est la vie.

So as a result of my love for all things food, the gallbladder must go! 

Eat good food (in moderation). Drink good beer (in moderation).  And above all, stay classy (and remember to exercise)!

1 comment:

  1. A.) Hubba hubba!
    B.) Farewell, dear friend gallbladder!
    C.) A flawless operation, and speedy recovery to you!


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