The Things We Take for Granted

The gallbladder— like so many things— is something you can take for granted and forget about, as long as it is functioning properly. Frankly, I hadn’t given it a moment’s notice since high school biology…until this week, when my husband urgently needed to have his removed. Suddenly, I needed to know where it was, what it does, and what happens when you don’t have one. So, naturally, I drew it. Fortunately, it seems that this little organ is something that many people live without and don’t miss at all. Alas, I am sharing my findings on the gallbladder with you this week. And now you can go back to ignoring it, happily, once again.

Tips and Techniques– 1. Don’t let a crisis go to waste. Making this page was not only an excellent way for me to learn something, but it also gave me some restorative art time amidst many hours in the hospital. 2. If you are experiencing abdominal distress, fever, and extreme fatigue, see your doctor– you may have a problem with your gallbladder. 3. If a surgeon shows you photos of your spouse’s gallbladder taken during surgery, whip out your sketchbook to show that you’ve done your homework and know where the gallbladder is! 

p.s., My husband is doing fine, though his gallbladder most definitely was not. 

54 Comments on “The Things We Take for Granted

  1. Beautifully done, informative post! I’m glad your husband is doing well and hope the recovery is quick.

  2. I love this post! Both the awesome and inspiring overall visual appeal and skills of drawing and painting, as well as the information about the gall bladder. As my spouse and I learned a year ago, an infected and irritated gall bladder can kill! We learned of this in the middle of the night, with husband’s pain so awful he couldn’t get in the car so ambulance transported to the hospital. His gall bladder was removed, though his problem turned out to be systemically much worse and more involved. Long story, suffice to say I SO appreciate and love your post!

  3. Facinating! I’ve been without mine for many years, but I didn’t know what it looked like. Lol

  4. So glad he’s okay, If I ever land in hospital again will remember to ask for my art supplies, seems a great way to stay on an even keel.

  5. I love your humor Jean
    Thanks for the education. I knew the function but not the location; the vivid green in your drawing helps imagine it.
    Wishing Dan a speedy recovery!

  6. Blessed with a call from himself this am. Glad it is over and done with, great drawing, sorry for the need. sandi

  7. I had a liver transplant in 2014. Years later, during my annual ultrasound, the techie commented that I didn’t have a gallbladder. That was 100% news to me! Apparently they’d removed it when they took out my liver. And neglected to tell me or my husband! I thought that was pretty rat-finky!
    But, I am living proof one can function perfectly well without one. Speedy recovery to your matey.
    Janet ( from your Summer Sketchbook class) (which I am LOVING!)

  8. Ahh, you are wonderful, even if your husband’s gallbladder was not!! What a great “take” on the situation!

  9. This is an interesting and informative page. Plus, it feels so friendly, like nothing to be afraid of. I thank you for that and think you may have a book in the making that can help us all learn our organs and anatomy in a personal way. Thank you for sharing this!

  10. Love that you could turn this into, if not a thing of beauty, at least a learning opportunity! Healing thoughts headed your husband’s way, and thanks for the healing and joy that I draw from your art/science/nature notebooks!!

    • Thanks for your kindness, Carol! I’m glad you enjoy these posts and artwork. It’s a bit strange to put my art and life out into the wide world, but I am always heartened by what comes back to me in return.

  11. I loved this post and your suggestions for incorporating situations like this into art therapy. I have lived 18 healthy years now without my naughty gallbladder, and hope your husband goes on to enjoy his post gallbladder life as well.

    Happy thoughts from Sweden 🙂

  12. Glad you husband is doing well! This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing

    Sent from my iPad


  13. When I saw the subject line Jean I thought this week would be about galls in nature, boy was I surprised!
    Did you really show the doctor? I love this idea! Give Dan my best please.

    • Yes…Can you believe it? I did show the surgeon and he said, “Wow! Where did you get this? It’s beautiful!” Then he asked if he could have a copy. He was very enthusiastic!

  14. So glad to hear that your husband is doing fine and is past the crisis. I’m sure that your art was very therapeutic for getting you through it all.

  15. Ah gall bladder was the only surgery I’ve had that was quick, pretty painless, and improved my life! I’d been down to eating cucumbers comfortably, now can eat pretty much anything. Good recovery to you Dan!

  16. Thank you Jean for your lovely art work which I have enjoyed for many years now – silently. But your husband having his gall bladder removed prompted me to make a reply to you. My own husband has had his gb removed also, and I always noticed that whenever he had anything at all fatty to eat he would toss and turn all night (and groan in his sleep, so that neither of us got a restful sleep that night!) HOWEVER, I heard on a diet chat site that (for ppl with no gb) if you take an OX BILE tablet or two before eating anything fatty, it helps to digest the fat. So we gave it a go- and IT WORKS! … my husband gets his delivered from overseas, but you probably can get yours at your local health food store….. all the best to you both, Marylin Smith

  17. I loved your colorful anatomy lesson! If the ‘nature thing’ doesn’t work out, you could always become a medical illustrator. What a great use of otherwise wasted time. Best wishes to your husband in his recovery.
    Kay Jenkins from Westport Art Group

    • Thanks Kay! I hope I don’t have to draw organs for a living…the medical realm is not really my thing. But it was a good way to pass the time and learn a few things. Now back to flowers, trees, birds, mushrooms, etc.! Hope to see you in Westport. — Jean

  18. So many things come to mind, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, or “Seize the moment!” Etc….. This painting is beautiful… medical encyclopedia quality, no less! You’re the best!

  19. Jean! I’m totally flabbergasted and even more relieved your husband is doing well! You said it! Who needs a gall bladder anyhow? I love your art therapy page. What a great way to learn, calm your mind, and educate those of us who had no idea! Wow, this surgery is old hat for surgeons. A beautiful job, and yes ….. I would definitely frame this! Maybe the guild of science illustrators is interested! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Ouch! I know the pain it can cause! Glad he’s doing well. I journaled a stay i had in the hospital a few years back. It was helpful in my recovery. Although there were no sketches. Great idea.

  21. THANK YOU ALL for your very generous support and kindness. It’s helpful to hear your perspectives and I appreciate your good wishes! Hopefully I won’t have to make another anatomy or hospital related page for quite a long time.

  22. Oh my, I wish your husband a speedy recovery and you some interesting paintings.

  23. Subject husband Daniel here: thanks for all the good wishes for my quick return to health. I feel I am well on the mend with increased mobility and far fewer wincing movements than yesterday after discharge. Flattered to be the catalyst for a blog post!

    • Glad you’re doing well Daniel…as I mentioned to Jean, one or two OX BILE TABLETS are amazing to have when you eat fatty food (my husband here in Australia buys his online, but you will probably be able to get them at your local health food store.) My husband takes one or two with the meal, but the person in the chat that I found out about them from said that they take theirs about 1/4 hour before the meal…but either way it seems, they work. Mostly he has just one, but if it’s something really fatty he will have two….definitely has made a big difference for him – but he didn’t hear about it from the specialist doctor! Your wife is an amazing artist and I love that she is willing to share her tips and techniques with others… God bless both of you!

      • Thanks for sharing your experience and advice Marylin. Dan is doing well and we’ll see how he does with various foods in the coming weeks and months. I really appreciate you reaching out!

    • Daniel, I’m glad you’re on the mend and Jean, thanks for the creative response to a challenging medical situation. Sending well wishes to you both!

  24. I love the story behind this drawing! Well, except for the pain and surgery part. Glad to hear hubby is doing well. The journal entry is delightful and full of information. And I am inspired by your Tips and Techniques 🙂

  25. Absolutely brilliant! (Why didn’t I think of that when Joe had a stroke?). There’s nothing like visualization to understand things. I love what you did here and I hope the recovery has been smooth.

    • It probably would have been harder to sketch something more serious, like a stroke. Still, I would need to get a grip on how that works internally, too, so who knows! Recovery is going well…Thanks!

  26. Wow Wow Wow. Glad that Dan is recovering well, and that you have the presence of mind to launch into learning, drawing mode. You are amazing.

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