Sunday, January 18 2015 01:26

Mountains of Pain plus The Cutest Part of Gallbladder Removal Surgery..

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Last month, as I stepped off a ski gondola and onto the ice-packed mountaintop approach to Schaffer's Camp restaurant near Lake Tahoe, I knew that something was really, really wrong with me. Just hours before, I was standing on the lakeshore (pictured above), and now I was heading for a farewell dinner along with other members of the media and our hosts from Kia Motors America as we celebrated the launch of their 2016 Sorento (reviewed here). What I'd originally thought was the result of drinking too much coffee throughout the day was pointing to something much worse, as a few folks asked me if I was ok - a stressed look no doubt starting to show through my body language. I tried holding out, but after informing the waitress that I wouldn't be dining with the group, I nearly passed out in the washroom before quietly slipping out and taking a seven-minute ride back down the Zephyr Express in complete darkness. At the foot of the slope, I would be taken via four-wheeler back to the Ritz-Carlton for what became perhaps the most frightfully painful night of my life. I texted my wife. I got some meds from the concierge, and I shivered through the night despite the warmth of the fireplace. I should've gone to the hospital.

After finally getting a few hours of sleep, I showered and gathered my things, emerging from my room just in-time for checkout, and with a few hours to spare prior to heading for the airport to begin my journey home. I did my best to play it off, but I was worried. 

The pain was excruciating - heartburn that radiated through my back, but was completely centered on my right side. A multitude of possible wrongs was hitting me, as my phone-based web searches were turning up everything from liver and kidney issues to appendicitis and gallbladder inflammation. Not long after returning home, it all happened again on a Friday night, and Saturday morning, I was indeed at the hospital getting checked out. 

And so it begins... Removing the Gallbladder of Doom! #surgery #horseshit

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

While I'm still overweight, my 2014 Fitness Challenge saw me drop 35lbs - the second major lifestyle change after quitting smoking nearly four years ago. Regular workouts at the gym focusing on both cardio and strength training had been good for me, and the result showed in my tests and vitals - everything showing good except for one liver enzyme that was really pointing toward gallstones - soon confirmed via ultrasound. Problem was, this was all revealed during Christmas week, and I needed to meet with a surgeon to get everything scheduled, barring any further attacks that would call for emergency surgery. My #1 concern was for my girls - making sure that I'd be here for them, and not disrupt our holiday plans and travels. The holiday season is stressful enough without a medical issue looming, but after the second major attack, the pain never went away - but festered with daily reminders that I needed to get things taken care of.

In recovery now, surgery done. Thanks for all the well-wishes! I really appreciate the love from all of you :)

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

This week,  slightly more than a month after that horrible attack in California, I had my gallbladder removed via Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. Meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday... EKG on Thursday... surgery on Friday. It's 1:26am on Sunday morning, and I'm back at home typing this from my office after another dose of Norco. 

Four holes in my stomach, sore as hell, but walking. #batman #surgery #gallbladder #horseshit

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

The procedure is exceptionally common, something backed-up by the much-appreciated well-wishers on my facebook page, many of whom have experienced this for themselves. An astonishing testament to modern medicine, I can't believe that I was able to come home on Friday night - just 15 hours after the day had begun (some patients have even come home earlier). Still, it's major surgery, and I have four holes in my abdomen, and it hurts like hell. There's gas pain, constant soreness, and I need to "take it easy" for awhile, which is hard for me - again, because of my girls. As my surgeon told my wife, "it was nasty" (his exact words), so I'm glad that this is behind me.

The best part of all of this has been the love and support not only of my family, but from all the friends online and off  (most of which I've never even met in-person) who have offered up kind words of encouragement and concern.

But the cutest part? Little Finley.

While Addie (5) is weirded out by the whole situation (and was acting out on Friday), 2½-year-old Finn accompanied me to the hospital for my EKG on Thursday morning. She was so unbelievably well-behaved and adorable as she sat and just sorta "took it all in." She watched as the tech wired me up and took the readings (a fast, five-minute process), and as the wires were removed and the tech said "we're done," Finley stood up and very clearly said: "Thank you for fixing my Daddy."

The tech was moved and said she'd never heard anything like it before, and didn't really want to explain that she wasn't really doing the "fixing," so I whispered  to just say "you're welcome."

I'm always fascinated with watching our girls learn and grow, and always wonder about how they process things - especially in times of distress. In this case, I think Finn's perception of healthcare has been well-informed thanks to two people: DOC McSTUFFINS and BIG HERO 6's BAYMAX.

Now, how long until I can start hitting the gym again?

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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