Friday, August 08, 2008

Kidney Stones are not for the faint at...well...anything

Caution: Some contents may be more medically detailed than the average reader would want to know. This is about my kidney stones and recent UTIs.

For those of you who have been blissfully ignorant of my status as of late, I'll let you in on a little secret. I've been in the hospital. Now normally I don't like going to such places, mostly because they poke and prod, and generally do more things to make you miserable, but desperate times call for desperate measures and this is where I found myself recently. Let me start at the beginning...

Over two months ago I got a urinary tract infection (UTI) for Memorial Day weekend. (That's the last time I accept gifts for such holidays!) It was the first time in my life I have ever had this problem! I spent a couple of weeks drinking gallons of water, cranberry juice, lots of Vitamin C, colodial silver, you know, the works, and finally gave up on home remedies and went to the doctor. I think this was about the end of the first week of June. They did a urine test and discovered I did have a UTI. E.coli, to be exact, and I also had lots of white blood cells and red blood cells (those are just from that time of the month they said) Great! I had recently been on a Candida diet to empty my gut of "bad" bacteria and load it with "good" bacteria and thus had gone to great lengths and much expense to eat lots of acidopholus ladden products and such. Now I had to be on antibiotics- death to all bacteria, good and bad! This did not make me happy, but the UTI needed to go away, so I took Cipro for 5 days. While I was on it the symptoms went away, but the day after I got off, they came back. Hmmm...back to the doctor I went and said, "This didn't work." They actually told me that I just had a new seperate UTI and that I must have gotten two in a row. "OOOOOOKAAAAAAY....(this means "I don't believe a word of it, but you are the medical professional and I am the ignorant stay at home mom with nothing better to do than take drugs all day and go to the doctor in my spare time.)" They put me on Cipro again. This time a double dose for three days. Same song, second verse. I felt better during the antibiotic, but a week after being on it, the symptoms came back. I was getting really tired of drinking gallons of water, having to go the bathroom all the time and having lots of pain also. back to the Doctor I went. Well, I didn't have anything growing from this specimen they took, but I did have red blood cells (probably just that time of the month thing, they said...uh...OOOOKAAAAY.) Next antibiotic- something called Macrobid. That I took for seven days felt better and then, guess what, a week later symptoms came back again. This time I was going to the doctor and telling them exactly what I thought.

The doctor canceled my appointment, would I like to see a nurse?

NO! I'll wait for the REAL doctor.

A week later, gallons of water, yucky feelings, I met with my doctor. Uh...this is still going on and I don't like it and I don't think it's just different UTI's. I think all this is related and I think there is something stuck in my "tube" that makes it so that urine can't come out. I can feel it like it's plugging things up. (I really said this.) I even gave a stupid word picture about a rubber ball in a funnel and how when you pour liquid in a funnel it makes the ball foat a little until the liquid gets to the bottom and then the ball gets stuck in the bottom of the funnel and kind of rubs on the sides as it gets stuck. I told them that's what I felt like. (Well the red blood cells are probably from "that time of the month"...) I told them (not as nicely as I could have) that I had not been having a cycle for the last two months straight, one of those tests at least had to have been not because of that and that maybe they could consider that the red blood cells were because something inside was being aggrivated (you know, like THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG!!!!) and not because I just bled all the time! The doctor said...well I can give you something for the pain if you want it. Why don't you go home and see if the symptoms just go away and if they don't we'll put you on a low dose antibiotic for three months! ARG!!! I was NOT happy!

Then my doctor went on vacation. On Tuesday I called the nurse to say I wanted the pain med cause my lower back around my kidneys was a little achy. That was at about 4:30pm. At 5pm I called her back to say nevermind, I was going to the ER it hurt so bad. They have a little pain scale they use, 1-10 with 1 being almost nothing and 10 being the worst you've ever had. By 6pm, the pain was about 11. I've been at 12 before and I was throwing up uncontrollably it hurt so bad, but this time I wasn't throwing up, so 11. In the ER, they gave me some pain meds after they missed my first IV stick and hit the second one. I now know what it feels like for someone to "dig" to find the vein. I made them stop. I cried.

I hate needles, I've always hated them. People say, "Well, I don't know anyone who really likes them." and this is true, but I have always had a really hard time with pokey things. I passed out when I got my ears pierced. I've passed out twice from shots. I passed out when I slammed my thumb in the car door. Ok, that wasn't getting poked, but it was equally painful. I lay down to have any blood work done, I don't donate (sorry) and I get every nurse who's ever stuck me nervous that I'm going to jerk, tense up, jump up and hide in a cabinet, or scream and startle them. I don't do all that, I just cry. Somehow they always want me to "breathe" and they always tell me over and over that they are done and I can stop crying. Ugh! They just don't understand. If they would only just stick me and leave me alone for a minute I would be fine. But no, they have to pester me and then I'm stuck and mad at them to boot. SO all that is to say, that me a needles don't get along.

At least the nurse who stuck me for the second one had a good sense of humor. He said his job was like his Anger Management Therapy. Haha. I laughed. So, pain meds. Got some. Ahhh... Then I had an x-ray, (which by the way I forgot to say I had one on Monday where they didn't see anything wrong with me.) and the doctor said I had a kidney stone in my ureter and to go home with a good dose of pain meds and drink lots of water and walk around to try and pass it.

Late that Night I went home. I slept fitfully off an on, in pain, and drugged up on a narcotic, Dilaudid. I drank water until I though my eyes would swim and noticed that as much as I was drinking, less than half was coming out, I called the nurse and they said it was probably no big deal, but to keep pushing those fluids. yuck. I was feeling so bloated. I gained 3 pounds those 2 days! I wasn't hungry much, but the water was filling me up. Finally, Wednesday night I realized that I was on my maximum dose of pain killers and the pain was still up around a 6-7 (remember that pain scale?) and seemed to be going up. So, I went back to the ER. The first night I was in extreme pain and had to wait in the waiting room for, I think, about an hour. This night I wasn't in as much pain, but I learned the trick to being seen quickly. I threw up at the triage desk. I was just so sick to my stomach from all that water and the pain meds and the car ride there. It was aweful. They actually were trying to ask me questions as I was vomitting into a bag and the first chance I could say anything I told them to let me lay down and that I could talk to them then. New vomit bag. Wheel chair. Private room. Bed. Ahhh... If you ever want to get back there quickly just throw up at their desk. I didn't do it on purpose of course.

So, more pain meds need a CT scan, but you can't have one until in the morning, so rest easy- in the ER- for the whole night. They moved me to a different bed, an observation unit, where you have to be able to "take care of yourself" to be there. Why am I in the hospital????? Ok, I survived.

The next morning, before I was awake almost, I was wheeled into the CT Scan. Did you know that a CT scan is about the same as having 100 x-rays in radiation? Yuck! Scary! I had to not be pregnant for this procedure, which they confirmed, so you can all know that little detail too. It wasn't really that bad. I've never had one before, but it's just a matter of holding your breath at certain times and not at other times and being still. Later, the doctor came to talk to me.

I have not one, but two "of the largest kidney stones in the world" he says. I later heard from my husband that actually, the largest one was about the size of a man's fist. Ok, technicalities, but mine were 1 cm and 8 mm (only slightly smaller) for those of you without a metric ruler at your fingertips, think, small marble. Apparently people can only pass 5mm stones or less naturally. Anything larger must me removed differently. Ugh! Oh, and it was also completely blocking my right ureter. That's the tube that takes the urine from the kidney to the bladder. I needed surgery they said. I needed a urologist, they said. The urologist wouldn't be available until afterhours they said. How about waiting here in the ER until then, they said. OOOOOOKAAAAY. On drugs, of course.

The urologist arrived to do my surgery at 7pm. Of course, this wasn't fix it surgery, this was just put a stent in surgery. The stone needed a procedure called lithotripsy and the machine to do that only "comes to the area" every other wednesday. (This was Thursday of course, but thankfully the one just before the right Wednesday.) So, I went under general anethesia while they used the available access point to insert dye, scope, wire, a stent (flexible tube to drain the kidney to the bladder in the ureter) that was too small, then a different stent (28 in. long). The doctor later said that my kidney was so infected (huh!?!) from being completely blocked (huh!?!)that it was actually starting to abcess (huh!?!) and that was probably why I was having UTIs (HUH!?!) and that if the problem had continued for another week or two, I could have very well lost my entire kidney! (HUH!!!!) The words, "I told you so" come to mind. Oh well...

So, stent in. Go home Friday afternoon. I should feel back to my normal self soon, and just keep drinking lots of fluids until Wed. when we can blast those stones.

Friday to Wednesday, I did NOT feel like my normal self. I was miserable. I was in pain, things ached from the surgery, the stent made me bleed so I was told to "take it easy", and I found myself in bed the entire time with a few exceptions of coming downstairs to get a bite to eat or something. So, that made uh, 8 days in bed so far.

Wednesday morning I went in to the hospital in Peterborough, where the machine was and discovered to my disappointment that it wasn't a laser lithotripsy, it was just the regular lithotripsy. The difference is that the regular one is less invasive, all external and sort of "pulses" on your back in a certain location to send waves to break up the stones. It's not as effective and especially not as effective for stones in the ureter. I also have to wait for the particles to pass "naturally" which means leaving the stent in for another week at least. The laser one did involve going internally, but it has an almost 100% success rate for breaking up stones. The doctor sends a "basket"up to collect the particles and since all of them get out then, the stent comes out too. That wasn't the one I had.

I had the punch in the kidneys version, so my back is sore from the one sided boxing match I was in. The kids like for me to describe it as having my "rocks blasted to smitherinies". They find the violent description much more entertaining. Rachel is making a valiant effort at sympathy pains as she told me the other day she had a "rock" in her foot.

Now, I'm waiting to pass the "gravel". They say the things fragmented, but so far I've only had a few small particles Thursday and then nothing since. I'm still drinking gallons of water and if it wasn't going in one end and out the other I could probably float a small ship in the amount of water I've had in the last 2 months. I have an appointment for a followup xray this coming Wednesday and then they decide if I need to be blasted again the next week, or I've passed enough and can have the stent out right away. You can be praying for the latter one. Until then I'm still mostly in bed. The more I move around, the more I bleed and as they said they don't want blood clots in my kidney, I'm to try and keep the bleeding to a minimum. That means lots of in bed time, being still. Today I actually feel good. It's the second day I've been off pain killers and so I think to some extent it make the whole bed thing even more difficult. I think there's a long ways to go before this is over, but I do feel validated in a way that all my harping on things was for a good reason and not just something I made up.

It certainly has been an adventuresome two weeks. Oh, Brandon's computer got a virus at the same time and it hasn't worked since, our phone line shut down one day too. but my sisters are here helping out. The Jane and Amy versions and they are what's making our home survive right now. Brandon is almost back up with his computer and the girls are making it possible for him to get some work done, spend some time with the kids, and still have emotional energy for me, too. He seems to be doing ok also. When the girls leave we'll have to come up with something different, but God has provided for us so far and I am trusting him to do it tomorrow and the next day too.


lis said...

Whew I'm tired just reading about this!

Praying for you, Mary.

Claire said...

Oh. My. WORD. I'm so sorry. This is unbelIEVable... but I know you are not given to telling falsehoods, so I DO believe you. I'm praying for grace and healing for you.

Amy Sita said...

I posted a couple pictures of your kids on my blog if your interested.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog when trying to research what is wrong with my mother. She has had pain in her side to lower stomach area for 5 months now. She has been passing blood in her urine now for the past month. Since she has no insurance she waited to see the doctor. Yesterday she had 2 catscans; one to check for kidney stones and one to check her bladder for tumors. We're hoping its the former.

Anna T. said...

I am going through the same thing. I had three stones in my kidney and they lith. them. Three weeks later and I am still having trouble. The doctors send me for another x-ray and found that I also had two large stones right on top of each other blocking off my right kidney and that they had been there the whole time. I am going in for the stent at the end of the month and again the lith. but not the laser even though mine too is in the ureter. I feel your pain and frustration. Hope you get to feeling well soon.