Save the Whales!

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step RecoveryTomorrow, I’m going to have my beloved gall bladder removed.

It all started in November of 2013! I was in my office, on the phone with a friend who I hadn’t talked to in years and I started to have this incredible chest pain. I thought it was my heart and it was a growing pain that was so intense, I had to excuse myself from the conversation and hang up. I laid on the floor in the loft of my town house and was really scared.  And of course, being a nurse, became busy ‘reasoning’ that this must be PTSD and not my heart because the pain wasn’t radiating up my arm like a heart attack, because I don’t have a heart condition, because, because…. (You know the wizard of oz song, don’t you?) because, because, BECAUSE!!! “I bare-ly have high cho-les-ter-rol” (This line fits perfectly!). “la la la la la la la! We’re off to see the wizard…!”

Ok, so I got up and walked away from that episode and promptly forgot about it; completely forgot about it! I didn’t tell my doctor or my family or anybody. I just dismissed it. Then, in February, 2014, I was dating a guy for two months. We were talking on the phone. Remember? I was on the phone the last time it happened. I was again, in my office, on the phone, sitting in front of my computer and suddenly, the pain was growing; it felt like a sword was going through my chest. The pain was in my back, my chest, my sides and it was excruciating! Again, I hung up the phone quickly and laid down and tried deep relaxing breathing, like in child-birth, llamas! It finally passed and I thought, “I gotta break up with this guy!” And I did!

Once again, I dismissed the entire episode! What is wrong with me?  Where does this denial come from?  I forgot completely about this pain and went on my merry way. This makes me laugh because it is clearly a blind spot! A few days later, I traveled to a health resort. They told me I would be having a gall bladder/ liver cleanse in a few days and that I would have to prepare for it. I would have to only eat salad for two meals and an apple at the end of the meal for a number of days. My cousin, Lisa, who lives in R.I. flew in to join me. As I greeted her at the airport, I said, “Welcome to the hunger games! Let the games begin!” And I wasn’t kidding!!! We made a lot of funny memories at that health retreat and perhaps I should revisit this topic for its own post! For the gall bladder cleanse, we drank quarts of salt water and at night, we drank fresh squeezed grapefruit juice with 3 oz. of cold pressed olive oil. I gave up coffee, dairy, all artificial sweeteners that week so I had a terrible head ache the first three days. I sat with ice on my head and my feet in hot water for hydrotherapy. Then, when the head aches started to subside, I started the flu symptoms that I believe were related to giving up dairy and my Zyrtec allergy medicine. It suddenly dawned on me that I have been taking allergy medicine daily for over 25 years. I went from Seldane-D (I cried when they took this off the market because as a singer, I appreciated this drug! I wanted to put a statement on my albums: “Thank you Seldane-D!” in the credits! Then, I took Allegra. When that stopped working,  Clariton, and for some time, Zyrtec. Finally, I stopped this drug and gave up cheese and so I had a flu of sorts. Ok, I survived and I got off the antihistamines.

I mention all of this because the gall bladder cleanse that I did twice while at the retreat did probably buy me some time with this gall bladder, but couldn’t save my gall bladder.

It was in August that I went to the beach, the lovely Jersey shore, with my sister Carol. As we sat on the sand bank and relaxed with a beautiful breeze and the lovely green water and warm sun  at about four in the afternoon, the pain was back and it felt again, like a samurai sward was again traveling through my chest slowly and growing in intensity. This time, my emergency room nurse sister was sitting right next to me when it happened! I started to moan and figure out how I was going to lay down in the sand (we didn’t come with blankets or towels). I said, “Carol, check my pulse, I might be having a heart attack.” My theory that this was all some kind of PTSD (wishful thinking) was vanishing as I was relaxed in front of the ocean so that theory was now debunked!

Carol, looked at me and said, “I bet it’s your gall bladder!” She’s brilliant.

I went to my doctor a few weeks later for a regular check up. Did I tell him about the pain? No! I forgot about the beach incident. But, suddenly, the doctor was asking me some questions and he said, “Have you been having any pain?” Bingo!!! I remembered the strange pain. Now, I’m an RN, BSN, MSN nurse! How do you explain to the doctor that you have been having this terrible pain since last November! He was aghast and asked me, ‘Why hadn’t I gone to the ER? Why didn’t I get an EKG?’ I had no answer. I still don’t. I said, “I want to have my gall bladder tested. What’s the test for that?” He said, “A sonogram!” I said, please give me a script for that!

The sonogram showed a 2.9 cm gall stone and many others. Apparently, I’ve been housing a rock garden in my gall bladder. My doctor called me minutes after the test and gave me the number for a surgeon. I did go to the surgeon and he did tell me, there is no way to break the stone and you won’t pass this through the opening of your gall bladder. I wanted to at least try to pass this stone and started taking all kinds of gall bladder vitamins and studying what to do from a homeopathic stand point. My father, a Pulmonologist was calling me regularly  (That’s not normal for him!) to ask me, ‘What are you waiting for?’ And of course  to tell me all of the risks of waiting to get the golf ball sized stone removed from my body!

I finally booked the surgery for late January. I started to not feel well and pushed it up to early January.Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery

Some people fight to save whales! I fought to save my gall bladder. I surrender. Tomorrow at 12:30 PM I will give up the fight for my gall bladder. Thank you, in advance, for all of your prayers!

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery



“If you diligently heed, the voice of the Lord your God. and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments, and keeping all His statutes, I will bring none of their diseases on you.” Ex. 15:26
(The Master Physician).



Filed under Recovery

3 Responses to Save the Whales!

  1. Heather Saloka

    You are so heroic. lol…I will be praying for you, Sally, and looking forward to hearing from you again. Love you lots.


      Heroic? Is that a word that should be associated with simply trying to hold onto your gall bladder? Thank you for making me laugh so hard this morning. If all goes well, I’ll be home by 4 or 5. It’s the anesthesia and being out of control/ knocked out that I don’t like! Also, I’m not a big fan of hospitals. That’s why David was born at home. Sam’s birth in the hospital was a contributing factor. Wish you lived where I could talk to you on the phone when ever I want to. How annoying. Can’t you move? 🙂

  2. Santina Y.

    Praying for you Sally!

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