Julia, a CPA by trade, had no idea where her gallbladder was in her body (like most of us), nor what the small pear-shaped organ’s function was. But, every spring, Julia makes a point to attend a 9Health Fair because she says it is an inexpensive way to check up on her health.
Monday morning after a Saturday blood draw at Garden County Elementary, she was surprised to receive a phone call from a 9Health Fair medical professional. Julia listened to unsettling news that she should immediately book an appointment with her doctor to investigate high liver toxins. These numbers could indicate many different forms of liver disease, blocked bile ducts, or even liver damage by strenuous exercise. She was symptom-free, so what was the next logical step? After the knowledgeable and kind 9Health Fair volunteer explained it all, Julia knew she needed to act quickly – and she was right.
Gallbladders typically range in size between a small pear (before meals when the organ is full of bile) to a deflated balloon (after bile has been released into the small intestine to help with digestion.) Julia was walking around with an overextended avocado-sized gallbladder without being the wiser. After reading over the faxed lab results, Julia’s doctor initiated further testing and an ultrasound. All of the new information pointed to one conclusion: the enlarged gallbladder’s time was up. Julia was prepared for surgery. Due to its size, Julia would part with the organ through a five inch incision in her abdomen instead of the less invasive laparoscopic approach.
Living without a gallbladder requires very little alteration to your lifestyle, but not catching an enlarged gallbladder in time can lead to infection, tissue death, or rupture. Even though Julia did not experience nausea, vomiting, pain, or other ways the body signals a gallbladder problem, one simple blood draw at the 9Health Fair caught the stress signal in her blood. Julia is now fully recovered and has not needed to cut back on spicy or high fat foods, dairy, caffeine, or alcohol, as some do. She is back to enjoying all the summer activities Nebraska has to offer, thanks to the one small choice she made in the spring to own her health.