Sphincter of Oddi Attack – Remembering my Worst

Feb. 1, 2011

March 2008 and it was 10 days after having my gallbladder removed – I remember that day like it was yesterday. I had an appointment to have a six hour glucose test done since I had been having many symptoms of hypoglycemia which even continued after having my gallbladder out. I remember sitting there waiting with my sweater zipped tight and my hood over my head. I was freezing, pale and it was a warm March day. Three hours into the test I felt the sharpest pain in my upper, center abdomen just under my ribs. The motion felt so fast and tight like a sharp knife, in and out, in and out. My heart rate felt like it was doing the Jitterbug, skipping and racing around.

I was able to get out a quick “Help! I don’t feel so well.” Luckily I was in a doctor’s clinic that also handles semi-emergencies. The nurse looked at me and I went from ice cold to drenched in sweat within seconds. She got me in a wheelchair. I screamed for a few seconds and then all I could say was “please……help…….me.” By the time I reached the room I heard someone say, “it’s an anxiety attack.” I replied, “not……anixity…..please……help” as I grabbed my abdomen. The pain increased and it felt like a metal pole was being jabbed into me going all the way through my abdomen to my back then up to my chest. I had four nurses around me. Nurse one was drawing blood from my left arm, nurse two was setting up an IV in my right arm, nurse three was helping me drink a cocktail for pain and nurse four was holding my shoulders down. Another person came in and said that my surgeon said that it was most likely some kind of GI spasm. I kept trying to get the words out, “please…help…me, please…..help…me. They stood around me and I had tears running down my face. They asked if they could pray. They all stood around me saying the Lord’s Prayer to try to claim me.

I remember not being able to take a full breath. I could breathe in but not out. The pain was so sharp and tight I started to see white. They said, “Hypoventilation, you need to try and breathe.” I then watched my hands turn blue. Then they got me on oxygen. The pain was slowly stopping, my hands returned to a normal color and I rested there. They came back in and said that my D-dimer was up. I had to then go and have a lung test done to make sure there wasn’t a clot in my lungs. The test came back fine. I was sent home with some Levsin to help control the spasms. But of course I ended up getting another attack a few days later. Anyway, that is my story of my worse spasm. At least I passed the glucose test (even though I never really did make it all the way through the full six hours).

4 Responses to “Sphincter of Oddi Attack – Remembering my Worst”

  1. Cristie Says:
    February 1st, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Dear Julie,
    I just got done reading your post and it does indeed sound like you had nearly unspeakable pain. I believe that you or someone else said it was a biliary or sod spasm and I must say that although I’ve been in horrible pain that never has mine been as bad as you just described
    I’m wondering why they thought you might have blood clots in your lungs.
    I have taken Hyoscyamine (sp)? for at leastl 4 years and I know that it helps because I’ve run out for a few days before and it seems to really help my GERD but I can’t actually say I’ve ever felt a “spasm”, at least not like the one’s you described here or any one
    else’s description either.
    Good luck in Minnesota! Are you seeing Dr. Freeman and Dr.
    Sutherland or just Dr. Sutherland ? I’ve consulted with both and they are very, very kind and compassionate men/doctors.

    Take care,
    Cristie ;0)

  2. Julieb Says:
    February 2nd, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Hi Cristie.

    Yeah, the spasms have been said to be more painful than giving birth or having a heart attack. I believe I’ve had about 11 attacks similar to the one I just talked about. I still have nightmares about them. They thought I had a blood clot because my D-dimer was elevated which is a marker for blood clots. So when that is up it’s important to make sure it isn’t in the lungs since that can kill you pretty fast if it isn’t taken care of right away. In Nov. I had the same problem and had to have the lung test again. I’m not sure what causes it but it is frightening when they start to talk about blood clots. Hyoscyamine always helps with my spasms and SOD pain. I think I’ve been on it for 4 years too. But lately my Zofran has been replacing it. Zofran seems to help with my GERD as well.

    Yes, I’m seeing Dr. Freeman on Monday and then Dr. Sutherland on Tuesday. I’m really looking forward to meeting them. Did you meet with a transplant social worker when you were there? I have that lined up as well. The first thing they are going to do is a glucose test. The one and only time I was tested for that caused that spasm I talked about. Really hope it doesn’t happen again. That would not be fun!
    Thanks for wishing me luck! Means a lot to me. I hope you are having a pan free week so far.


  3. Gabriella Says:
    September 18th, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    You had a video talking about a cliaicnl study on sphincter of oddi disfunction. I had my gall bladderremoved awhile ago and am presently suffering from the symptoms NOW! I was removed 10 years agoand I have recently been hospitalized and tested ultrasound,cat-scan, and mri. no blockage found, but,my bile duct was dialated a lot!Process of elimination only left SOD please help!!!!!

  4. mike hubbell Says:
    July 13th, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I have had these attack for about 30 years it use to happen once or twice a year.This year, I have been in the ER 6 times so far with pain so intense I can’t speak without great difficulty. And the only relief I’ve found is narcotic pain meds in iv form, pills don’t work for me,and if I don’t get some on board soon after the attack starts my blood pressure soars into the danger zone like 220 over 113 for instance and I have to be admitted for a few days to get over it.Mine is caused by food my daughters is caused by stress and she gets even sicker.If the ems people take care of the pain in a hurry no problem if not it can be very dangerous for me and my daughter.If I get to the ER and the dr decides I’m just seeking drugs it turns into a nightmare. unsure what to do please help.

Leave a Reply