I am living with a 12 millimetre gallstone in my body.
2 months ago, I was in Singapore to sit for my Personal Trainer examination. After my exam, I was pretty pumped since I can finally take a break after 3 days and nights of intensive studying such a difficult exam.
Night came and I decided to go out for some drinks with friends. A couple of beers, cocktails and tequila shots later, I retired back to my hotel at 2am hoping to get a well deserved sleep.
For some reason, I started to develop pain in my stomach. It started out as some mild cramping inside, but soon afterwards it grew more and more intense until I was ready to rip my intestines out through my mouth.
I spent a good one hour curled up in a foetal position writhing in pain.
In the end, I couldn't take it anymore.
Went to 7-Eleven, bought some Tiger Balm and spread them all over my stomach like it was some jam and I was some bread.
Went back to 7-Eleven, bought some Actal thinking I'm suffering from gastritis.
Didn't help whatsoever.
By then it was already 3:30am. I hadn't had a wink of sleep and there was no sign of the pain going away. In this situation, I realised I had one choice only: calling up my travel insurance company, and find out where the nearest hospital is.
My insurance company directed me to the emergency department at a Raffles Hospital near Bugis. In true Singaporean efficiency, a doctor showed up within minutes, tap on my stomach a little bit before giving me a painkiller injection which quickly took the pain away. I was relieved.
The pain is gone but my medical bill came up to SGD180!!!!
KNNCCB. I would have killed myself if it weren't for my travel insurance.
The worst thing is, that was only Episode One. Since then, I had another 6 gallstone attack episodes. The episodes come one after another, like Star Wars Episode I, Episode II, Episode III.
What I hate the most is that for some friggin WEIRD reason, these attacks would occur past midnight and almost always after I had ingested either alcohol or oily food for dinner.
Each time I suffer an attack, I have to get someone to rush me to the hospital to get a shot of tramadol. The next morning I'd turn up to work like zombies. At one point, I sported at least 6 injection marks all over my arms. People must think I'm a drug addict.
To stop all these, my doctor said I must go through a surgery to remove my gallbladder. He said the gallbladder is not an essential organ and I can live without it.
Now, I don't like the sound of that. Why the heck should I remove my internal organ just because of a little stone? Some more if the gallbladder has no essential function, why is it that all of us are born with it?
It's not like you can compare gallbladders to something useless like pubic hair.
"OH, my gallbladder has no important function. Let's just take it out for fun! Weeeee!"
Still, I was baffled why I was in this condition.
From what I know, gallstones are only the concern of obese middle-aged pregnant women, not me!
Here I am living a pretty healthy lifestyle, exercising 5 days a week, eating 5 small meals a day. Although I occasionally go omnomnoming on sinful food, it's nothing more than a curry rice here or an alcoholic beverage there.
With my gallstone attack being triggered by alcohol and oily food, I realise the only way to manage this is to completely stop eating those bad food and replacing them with more fruits and vegetables.
Essentially, that means I have to undergo intensive detox, overhaul my diet and get into the habit of eating clean.
Well, of course that is easier said than done.
It is said that everyone needs 21 days to form a new habit. The first 21 days is always the most difficult and the easiest time to relapse and fall off the bandwagon.
Frankly speaking, it would do everyone good if we can all hold ourselves accountable.
The help I had came in the form of an iPhone app I use called the Great Eastern "21 Days" app.
The premise of the app is pretty simple.
Write down what I set out to achieve. Make myself accountable to either myself or my loved ones. Then tell the whole wide world what I am gonna do.
If that ain't enough, the app will notify me at regular intervals to stick some carrots and celery up my mouth.
I even dedicated a small fridge to my office, just so I don't give into craving and dive to the curry restaurant next door to my gym.
And guess what?
Since I installed that app, I began including so much more apples and salad into my diet. Within a month, I lost my craving for beer and curry and shed 3kg off my waist.
Best of all? I stopped having gallstone attacks. NONE AT ALL IN THE PAST MONTH!
The 21 Days app can be downloaded from livegreat.greateasternlife.com
On the same website as well as on Great Eastern's Facebook page, there are a wealth of health tips, details about the "Live Great" card which entitles the holder privileged benefits to over 700 participating partner establishments across Southeast Asia, as well as a myriad of other wellness tools.
The Live Great programme is all part of Great Eastern's bold change in direction, declaring themselves not just a life insurance company anymore, but a LIFE company.
Even I myself admit that I find information on the site extremely useful, especially in my line of work as a fitness centre operator.
Wellness Profiling Lite is a questionnaire on well-being for the masses (some companies charge a lot of money to do this for corporate staff!).
Daily Caloric Needs calculator (mine is 2600 calories) is great to estimate how much calorie is needed for weight loss.
Then there's something called Smoking Tracker, which should serve as a wake-up call for all the smokers out there.
I like it how it says, "YOU HAVE SMOKED AN EQUIVALENT OF 25 TIMES THE WEIGHT OF AN AVERAGE LUNG."
Hey, if that ain't a good enough reason to quit smoking, I don't know what is.