Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kidney Stones.... My story.... Part One

This story started some time ago. Over the last, oh, maybe 6 or 8 months, my body seemed to be wearing down. I was having all sorts of issues with becoming tired, feeling weak, my bowels stopped working for a few days, I would get this on and then off fever and in general I really started to feel like crap.
At first I thought this might be associated with medications I was taking (depression, blood pressure, cholesterol). I talked to my doctors about the meds and we did some adjustments and it really didn't have any impact. I was just getting worse and worse.

One week I'd just had enough and went to the local instant care provider. I had just run down in a major way, and felt like crap. My bowels stopped working, I had no fever at the time but I was to the point that I was needing to lie down for a nap every 3-4 hours. I also had developed a slight pain on the lower left side of my back that week for the first time. Now to me this was a warning sign, because I've experienced pain in this location before and that was when I had a kidney stone previously. However, the previous stones ranked a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale and this thing was like a .5 or so. The doctor and I figured it was a small stone passing and that it would be on it's way soon. We both wondered if my problems were related to the stone and so he gave me some pain meds in case the stone started hurting worse and I went home.

Two weeks later I was worse physically. I was even more tired, worn out and just always feeling sick. This time I was not feeling the stone at all and I was more concerned that I had some infection in my intestines somewhere. I went back to the instant care clinic and they decided to CT Scan me.

I sat in the office of the Clinic, wondering what it could be. I had all sorts of things going through my head... cancer? some weird virus? Flesh eating bacteria?

The doctor opened the door and came in the room. On his face was the look of someone who just had seen something they had never seen before.... Looking at his face I said to him, "Um.... you are not allowed to give me very bad news."

He looked at me and laughed. He said, "Sir.... I have never seen someone with this many kidney stones ever. You are my patient of the day. You have seven kidney stones in your body. If you had a fever you would be in the emergency room now".

SEVEN stones? These were not small stones either. The smallest was about 3mm and the biggest was over 10mm in size. They were spread all over creation, from my kidneys to the ureters and in between. Seven little nasty looking stones. The doctor gave me a referral to a urologist and I left the instant care clinic knowing that I'd found the reason for my troubles, and knowing that for the first time in my life (aside from having my wisdom teeth removed) I was going to have surgery. For a man 45, when you realize that your going to have your first surgery ever, you all of a sudden start to feel old. Very old.

I'll get to the surgery in a later post and my post operative care.... I think there are some interesting things to share there. What I want to share from this experience is that not all kidney stones hurt like hell. It was a lesson in not making assumptions. For months and months these stones were in my body and because I did not recognize the symptoms as being stones and rather attributed them to something like a virus, I ignored the problem and it got worse. The moral of the story then is that if you start feeling bad, it's worth getting it checked out. Also I think there is a second moral .... be active in your health care. I believe I should have asked for a CT scan on the first visit to the instant care clinic because I knew something was wrong. Sure we thought it was a smallish stone, but the other things going on in my body should have made me realize that this was not the work of a single little stone going down my urinary tract... one that was so small that it wasn't hurting me in any way. In retrospect, clearly based on all my symptoms, something else was going wrong and I should have realized it.

Next time I'll post about my hospital experience. I have to be honest, as far as such experiences go, I don't think it could have gone any better. Frankly, it was amazing.

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