I have never thought too much about kidney stones. Like everything else in life, until you experience it, you don't really give it much thought. Now I have experienced a kidney stone first hand and I am here to testify I'd have rather been left in ignorant bliss grateful that other people had them and I didn't.
I do not go to doctor's easily. I associate going to doctors with that same feeling you get when you open a package of cottage cheese that is a few weeks past its pull date. You do it because you have to out of morbid curiosity, but you are pretty sure that once you open the lid, you aren't going to be able to get rid of the stink.
I went to the doctor because twice I'd gone to work feeling fine and then ended up on the floor in the men's room blowing the porcelain tuba, much to the discomfort of my co-workers on the other side of the men's room wall. And the last straw was when some idigit planted himself in the bathroom stall with what I assumed was a copy of War and Peace and didn't come out for what seemed like an hour. So I ended up puking in my wastebasket in my office.
I figured something was wrong because it felt as if someone was sticking a knife in my groin and the waves of nausea kept coming long after my breakfast had. Fortunately for me, the doctor on call at the offices I go to wasn't one of those who simply told you you had a virus and to call if you were on your death bed. She looked at my urine sample and suggested that traces of blood in it indicated I could have a kidney stone.
My immediate reaction was relief. At least it wasn't my appendix, stomach cancer or some unknown disease brought on by my nasty disposition. I was a little concerned when I asked how you treat kidney stones and she said you simply drank water and waited for them to pass. This did not sound like a fun leisure activity to me. But to confirm I had kidney stones, the doctor scheduled an ultra sound at the hospital for the next day.
After another night of vomiting everything I even looked at, the ultrasound was a relief. I even forgave the admissions clerk who typed out loud and muttered constantly about EPD numbers, whatever those were. She also kept giving me accusing looks because some paperwork wasn't printed out ahead of time and I seemed to be a subversive type trying to infiltrate the hospital for an unauthorized ultra sound. But finally, after about ten minutes of typing and muttering, she printed out some forms, handed them to me without making eye contact and pointed me towards the radiology waiting room where a cheerful man took my paperwork and told me he'd let someone know I was there (presumably someone who knew how to work an ultra sound machine).
I sat in the waiting room watching a hostage crisis on CNN and reading a sign on the wall urging me to notify the person at the desk if I waited 15 minutes beyond my scheduled appointment. After 25 minutes, the ultra sound person came to get me and took me to a small dark room. Without a word she squirted some liquid on my stomach and began the ultra sound. She finished in about 20 minutes and told me she'd send the results to my doctor.
After another night of vomiting (I can never eat another Hawaiian steak slider as long as I live...not sure what I was thinking), the doctor called and said there was a blockage in my kidney and I needed a cat scan. So once again I was sitting in front of the same muttering admissions clerk devoid of EPD numbers and appropriate paperwork trying to infiltrate radiology for a cat scan. Another ten minutes of typing, muttering and nasty looks and I was once again in the radiology waiting room staring at the sign telling me to notify the front desk if I waited longer than 15 minutes. Ten minutes later I was escorted into a room for a quick x-ray and then scooted off to a room for my cat scan.
As I lie on the table listening to a computer generated voice telling me to hold my breath, the pain in my kidney started up again. The scan was quick, thank god and I was told to wait in the waiting room again while they faxed the results to my doctor. Within 15 minutes she called and told me an on call urologist had looked at the scans and said I had a kidney stone the size of Connecticut that wouldn't pass without medical assistance. She told me I needed to get into the urologist's office right away.
Within 15 minutes I was at his office trying desperately not to vomit on the counter. I was rushed into an examining room, handed a small kidney shaped dish (ironically) to puke in if necessary and told I could lie down on the examining table if it felt better. At this point, I believed the only thing that would make me feel better would be to have my kidney removed. Then in rushed a cheerful urologist who asked me if I liked to fish. I shook my head. Then he said, "If you were a fisherman, this stone would be a keeper. It's a whopper!"
Okay, when you are lying on a table writhing in pain trying desperately not to puke your stomach out, laughter is not the best medicine. Then the doctor proceeds to show me colored drawings of distorted kidneys and bladders and tells me this is what mine probably looked like. Then he said that I was being checked into the hospital for an operation in two hours to push the stone back in my kidney because it was stuck in the tube leading to my bladder and wasn't going any where. Then they were going to put a stint in my wing wang (my terminology) to allow me to pee freely until they brought me back to his office in four days to use an ultra sound machine to break up the stone so the pieces could pass.
Fifteen minutes later I was back in front of the muttering admissions clerk who was livid that I'd been there earlier for a cat scan and was now trying to barge into an out patient operating room. She was on the phone jabbering about the EPD numbers and how she couldn't admit me without them. I clutched my kidney shaped puke dish in my hand and let my head down on the desk while she babbled. She looked up and asked if I needed a bigger dish. I desperately wanted to puke on her, but shook my head.
After what seemed like hours, she put me in a wheel chair and wheeled me up to a room. Within minutes I was wearing one of those comfortable hospital gowns without a back and having IV's stuck in my hand. Mercifully, the IV's provided pain killers and anti-nausea meds. I almost fell asleep as they wheeled me into an operating room. Next thing I knew I was awake and being given a big orange pill that would "help me pee."
They wheeled me back to my room, handed me a menu and told me I could order anything I wanted off from the room service menu. Despite just coming out of surgery, I was really hungry. It had been awhile since I had been able to keep anything down, so I ordered soup, a sandwich and some ice cream. I'd barely finished it when they told me to get dressed because it was time to check out.
I felt fine when I got home. The only noticeable side effect from surgery was that I felt like I had to pee every ten minutes and the medicine made my pee looked like blood orange juice. The next day, I had an appointment at the urologist for my pre-op to get the stone blasted. I got there and was escorted into a surgical room where I was told to sit in an leather recliner while a nurse went over what would happen on my surgery day.
The surgery day arrived and I checked in, donned my comfortable backless gown and waited to be knocked out for the final chapter in the stone saga. Once again I woke up in a recovery area. There was no noticeable pain. They handed me a strainer and a cup and told me that I needed to watch for bits of the kidney stone. They told me they wouldn't be any bigger than a grain of sand. The first ones weren't. But as the night progressed, I became impressed by the magnitude of the stone. My collection jar rivaled my marble collection as a kid. And I marveled as the pieces kept coming.
So now I think everything has passed. On Monday I get to look forward to having the stint removed. I shudder to think of them doing that while I am fully awake. And I'm curious as to what they will tell me after analyzing the stones. If it is of a certain type, there is a pill they can give me that is supposed to keep anymore from forming. And god knows I don't want anymore.
I realize this post has included entirely too much information about my kidney stone, but hey, who else am I going to tell.