Cllr Rupert Gibson, the Conservative representative of the Humshaugh ward on Northumberland County Council, had an operation last month to remove his gallbladder.
It was the culmination of several years of gallstones, including one incident where ‘the timing could not have been worse’, catching him out while he was chairing a planning meeting of the Tynedale Local Area Council back in February 2018.
As he headed to the meeting, a 4pm start at Haydon Bridge High School, he wondered if he had flu.
“As I drove over I could feel my torso tightening, but walking around the car park, it seemed to ease a little,” Cllr Gibson explained.
“I had a chat with a colleague who assured me he had had it, so I just assumed it was the flu.
“So the meeting started, of which I was the chairman, and it felt as if the sweat was pouring off me and I had a piece of brick in my stomach.
“I kept going, somehow, and all I can really remember was the pain and everyone going for extra clothing, as it was February and the heating went off being on school hours, and all I wanted to do was take clothes off!”
Cllr Gibson added: “I realised at the end of it that I couldn’t stand up straight.”
He described the experience as ‘excruciating’, adding “I haven’t given birth, but they say it’s on a par.
“I’ve had a worse one in the meantime, but it will not happen again. It’s about four weeks since I was on the table and I’m recovering quite well.”
The NHS overview explains that gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder – a small pouch-like organ found underneath the liver, whose main purpose is to store and concentrate bile.
It adds: ‘Gallstones often have no symptoms. But if a gallstone becomes trapped in an opening (duct) inside the gallbladder, it can trigger a sudden, intense pain in your tummy that usually lasts between one and five hours.’