Oh Dave, I feel for you! I had my first gall stones attack in August 07, had 5 in 2 months before I worked out what triggered them for me then spent the next few months fearing eating anything vaguely fatty until I got surgery (in December - they'd classified me priority 1).
They are excrutiating. Even worse when you get to hospital and have to wait for 5 hours in pain with just a panadol.
I will give you the benefit of my research while it's fresh in my mind....
Gallstones can be caused by a range of things and is basically a calcification of one of about 3 substances in the bile your gall bladder stores - think of it like a gall pearl. The gall bladder basically stores bile the liver produces and regulates it's outflow into the stomach to aid in the digestion of fats. When the stones get big or are in a bad position they cause pain due to the fluid building up OR can become stuck in a biliary duct, or even tear one which is BAD news. Can also cause pancreatitis if it gets infected (and trust me, you WANT your pancreas) and can even damage the liver if it gets infected!!!!!!! You want your liver too.
So, what worked for me was to avoid fatty foods (in particular cheeses and meats). I found some vegetable fats I could tolerate, like avocado, but cheese would immediately set me off, and don't even think about sausages. Some people also can't tolerate spicy foods, but they were fine for me. I also started taking about 1/4tsp lecithin on my cereal - lecithin is an emulsifier and apparently can help keep the bile fluid and stop any more calcification happening.
There are a number of ways available to treat them - surgery, shock waves to disintegrate them or medications to disintegrate them, and the alternative remedies that claim to help you 'pass' them easily and painlessly. Surgery is the most common, shock waves and medication are generally used if you can't have surgery (too old, illnesses etc) but require strong painkillers while the still relatively large chunks are 'passed' through the tiny ducts and don't prevent a recurrence of the same problem, the alternative methods are absolutely sworn by by some people. I will let you research those yourself and come to your own conclusions, but I wasn't convinced by the level of evidence presented in their favour. Sometimes you can just have one or two attacks and then it just settles - you can have the stones with no problems as long as they aren't blocking anything, many people have them and never know.
I hope you don't get too many attacks though
35kg lost. (November 2005 - October 2006)
15kg gained again (as at October 2010).
Back to the drawing board - Let's do this thing!
"You can't change the winds, but you can change the sails"
"Reach out and take control of what lands in your lap"