'I was having my appendix out and the surgeon spied the gallstones - all 19 of them' 

Phyllis Long had surgery to remove her gallstones after doctors discovered 19 of them when removing her appendix.

"In 1994, during a medical by my GP, she noticed that I had quite a few gallstones (about seven) and advised that I get them and my gallbladder removed. She said that the condition is called cholecystitis and that once my body had produced the gallstones, my gallbladder would continue to store calcium and produce more. But as the stones weren't affecting my appetite or my general health, I decided against surgery.

"Ten years later, when I was having my appendix out, the surgeon spied the gallstones – all 19 of them. He strongly urged me to have them removed. It wasn't a life-threatening condition, so I wasn't particularly worried about them, but I had been experiencing some symptoms.

"I'd been feeling a lot of pain after eating cream or dairy products. It was a peculiar pain because it was behind my ribs and went right through into my back. The discomfort was becoming more frequent, so when the surgeon confirmed what I had suspected – that I had more gallstones – I decided to take action.

"Ten months later I went in for elective surgery with the surgeon, who removed my appendix. I opted for keyhole surgery, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, as it was less invasive with a far lower chance of infection and I wouldn't be scarred.

"The surgeon removed 19 gallstones and my gallbladder. I was in the clinic for four or five nights, as I had low blood pressure, but recovered relatively quickly from the surgery. Although movement was slightly restricted for about 10 days, I was able to eat little and often. I was a bit anxious about going to the toilet, but after about 10 days everything returned to normal.

"Since the surgery, the pain caused by eating dairy products has totally disappeared and I haven't experienced any further discomfort. I haven't had any other problems since and am so glad that I finally had the surgery."

Page last reviewed: 27/01/2016

Next review due: 27/01/2018