My extremely fun experiences with gallstones:
About 5 years ago, I finally put my head down and dieted and exercised and lost a good amount of weight. It was actually the first time in my adult life that I was under 200 lbs, and I was really excited and proud of myself. However I did lose the weight really fast.
Soon after breaking the 200 lbs mark I went out with my friends and decided to celebrate and have a dozen chicken wings (my first fatty meal in a long time). The next morning I woke up in the worst pain of my life. It was an extreme pressure right under my right rib combined with the feeling of an alien trying to claw itself out of my stomach. Imagine that really uncomfortable feeling of when you eat way, way too much food and just feel extremely bloated like you are going to explode, and then multiply that by 100. I was literally insane with pain and could do nothing else but sit on my couch with my head in my hands and pray that it would go away, as nothing I did or ingested made the pain any better, or made me any more comfortable. After suffering for a few hours, I decided to go to the hospital. While in the waiting room, my pain just all of a sudden disappeared (and that is the greatest feeling in the world let me tell ya, the end of a gallbladder attack). I still saw the doctor, and after an ultrasound, they figured out I passed a gallstone.
It turns out that when you have a fatty diet, your liver is used to creating all this bile to help digest the fat. It stores its excess bile in your gallbladder, and when you suddenly stop eating fat (as I did on my new diet), your liver is still producing lots of bile, but it's not using it, and you get gallstones in your gallbladder. When you then all of a sudden eat fat once again, your gallbladder calls upon its reserves to digest that fatty meal, and the pointy and jagged stones come out with it and gets caught in the bile duct, hence the alien clawing sensation. (This might not be 100% medically accurate but it's how I explained it to myself and it makes sense to me).
I have since had 4 or 5 more BIG gallbladder attacks in my life, each as horrible and insanity-inducing as the last. They each lasted about 4-5 hours, and I do not wish them upon my worst enemy.
Since getting health insurance, I decided that my next gallstone attack would be my last, and I had my gallbladder out December 2011. I have read lots of opinions about not getting your gallbladder out, but having been through what I did (I also had about 4 months towards the end where I couldn't eat anything without constant gnawing pain below my right ribs) I do not miss my gallbladder one bit. I would have it out any day of the week again, and twice on Sundays.
I am now looking forward very much to starting this Juice Fast that Tim brought to my attention.
If you are going to get your gallbladder out Tim, just a word of warning what to expect after. I don't know if you've ever had Laparoscopic surgery in your abdomen before, but they blow your belly up with air like a balloon so they can use cameras and instruments to perform the surgery with minimal invasion. It's amazing in that the recovery time is cut to a fraction, but as they cannot fully remove all the air from you, you wake up feeling like you have to rip the biggest and most violent fart of your life for about 3-4 days, but it will not come out. The air slowly dissipates and you eventually feel normal, but you never get that incredibly satisfying blast you feel for those first few days. Just a few pathetic popcorn pops.
I really hope your gallbladder is OK, but if it's not, do not hesitate to rip that sucker right out!
Hope this helps!