Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kidney Stone Surprise

Medical calamity whining to follow, so if you don't like hearing about other peoples health problems, skip this post. You've been warned.

I spent two hours last Sunday morning in the St. John's Lebanon ER with a surprise kidney stone. Fear not, there won't be any photos of it.

I woke up about ten to seven am with excruciating pain in my right side. Sometimes I have a little pain in my back in the morning. I'm 43. It happens. I tried rolling over. Still pain. I got up and went to the bathroom. Still pain. By the time I'd made it around the house, I was nauseous. The next trip was to puke up my non-existent stomach contents as a result of the pain. Good times.

Bryon heard my problems and subsequent moanings and came in to investigate. I told him I wanted to go to Urgent Care so we got the early morning wheels into motion. He called Grandpa and we debated (well he debated I just mostly nodded) between Springfield and Lebanon. Since I was thinking this could be a week long deal and immediately planning for the worse case scenario, I voted for Lebanon so he could visit my bedside while he was at work.

I was suffering. It was way worse than labor had been because at least that came and went and you knew there would be a break no matter how brief and an end in sight. My braincells weren't firing well enough after only fifteen minutes of that pain to see any end to it and there was no relief.

It wasn't a sharp pain, or an ache it was just constant PAIN. I managed to get some clothes on, changed shirts twice because I couldn't stand anything touching my throat, like a collar. I brushed my teeth, grabbed a trash can to puke in and we were on our way to Marshfield (the opposite direction of the hospital by the way) to drop off Grace at Grandpa's.

Grace really, really wanted to go along because she's totally digging doctor and veterinarian stuff right now, but I wasn't in any mood for an intern. Bryon and I dropped her off on the street and she crossed the apartment grounds to Grandpa and we were off.

By this time Bryon was pretty sure it was probably a kidney stone. I was thinking exploded appendix because it felt like a definite explosion of some sort. He may have offered up other possiblities but honestly I was just in my own little bubble of PAIN. I kept puking and occasionally opening my eyes to see what mile marker we were on because they were not passing quickly enough to suit me.

Bryon later told me he was driving 85 mph. At one point I did notice some sirens and a patrolman on the other side of the highway but apparently he was after some other lawbreaker. Good thing because I think I would have just puked on his shoes.

We FINALLY got to the ER and they got me in and started an IV. They couldn't get my vein in either arm (big surprise there, I'm always like the last kid getting picked for dodge ball when I donate blood because I'm a hard stick and no one wants to do it). I think I told them all of this, but it probably mostly came out as "UG". Bryon did tell them I was a hard stick too. They finally got it into my hand and I know I asked repeated times for drugs. Pain drugs. Good ones.

I finally got them. The dear nurse that was administering to me was the nicest sweetest man, which of course I didn't totally appreciate until after it was all over, and he was working fast. My pain was just faster. He asked me what my pain was 1-10, 10 of course being the highest. Ten I said, definitely 10.

The meds knocked the pain back down to maybe a five but I was still sweating and squirming all over the hospital bed. Then we got to go down the hall for a CT and I had to stretch out on my belly and hold my breath while they radiated me.

By the time we got back to the ER suite I was ready for more drugs and asked for them. Ask and ye shall receive my friend. My concierge, I mean ER nurse, pumped me right up with a nice vintage of something ...dol. And it was good. No more pain. I also no longer had any vertical hold on my vision, but at that point what was a little dizziness and lack of vision? I just closed my eyes and dozed off for a few minutes blissfully pain free.

Bryon came back and told me I indeed had a kidney stone. Then the ER Doc came in and told me the same thing. It was three millimeters and had already passed from my kidney through the tiny little tube and was just about in my bladder. Apparently that tiny little tube was not built for solids and is usually flat until you get some liquid worked up and processed and ready to complete it's journey to the great beyond. So when something solid, like say a giant jagged boulder goes through it, it feels like you are passing glass.

ER Doc said anything less than six millimeters would pass no problem. Uh huh, I wasn't planning on ever testing that theory. Since Sunday, I've heard from lots of kidney stone survivors who of course all had their own horror stories. Much like childbirth only a unisex, equal opportunity affair. Many have even told me it's worse for men. Seems only fair since we have to give birth and can still get a kidney stone. 

The entire episode only lasted about three hours for me. I'm pretty sure that was mostly because Grandpa took Grace to church with him and the first thing she did when she walked through the door was to seek out Pastor Gary and ask him to pray for me. He did. The whole church did. I guess it sure worked ;)

I was a little loopy as we left and got a pain med prescription filled that I didn't end up needing and by the time we got home I was good as new. They wanted me to try to "catch" my stone. I won't go into the detail of how one does that, but you can imagine if you are so inclined.

I was unsuccessful in that endeavor. I think I must have passed it when I went one last time before I left the hospital. So now I'll never know what kind of stone it was or what offending food or beverage might have caused it. They suggested drinking lots of water with fresh lemons squeezed into it. I drink lots of tea usually. When I was pregnant with Grace, more than seven years ago now, I stopped drinking soda and switched to tea. I don't know if the tea caused it or something else, but I've drank nothing but a little coffee each day and lemon water every day since. It was a good motivator. I don't want another one. Ever.

I Googled today finally to see what I could do to prevent it and  this is what Mayo said...

You may reduce your risk of kidney stones if you:
  • Drink water throughout the day. Drink more water throughout the day. For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing about 2.6 quarts (2.5 liters) of urine a day. Your doctor may ask that you measure your urine output to ensure that you're drinking enough water. People who live in hot, dry climates and those who exercise frequently may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine.
  • Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, tea, chocolate and soy products.
  • Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose nonanimal protein sources, such as nuts and legumes. This may help reduce your chance of developing kidney stones.
  • Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements. The calcium in the food you eat doesn't have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Continue eating calcium-rich foods unless your doctor advises otherwise. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, though, as these have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones. You may reduce the risk by taking supplements with meals.
Now out of all of that ... the only thing I eat a lot of are tea, chocolate and meat. So I guess my stone might have been a chocolate meat smoothie. 


So that is the tale of my surprise kidney stone. Here's to hoping there will not be a sequel.

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