Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I have measured out my life in fluid ounces...

You may be wondering why you haven't heard any more about my kidney stone troubles. As it turns out, it's actually pretty hard to write anything clever, entertaining, and insightful about an extremely uncomfortable and often painful medical condition that refuses to go the hell away. So while I do still fully intend to write down every word of my experiences, it may be a little while before it all comes out. Until then, plain old blogs for you. But look! Fancy new background! Oooh, shiny.

So, yes, I am still quite, uh, stoned. I started out with seven, and to my knowledge - well let's say this. If my stones were a week, it would be Tuesday morning. About three weeks ago I underwent a fascinating procedure called lithotripsy - literally rock crushing - for the one large stone on the left side that caused all the ruckus. It's not as bad as it sounds. They crush the rock using sound waves (ultrasound, in fact) from the outside.

It was pretty bizarre. I laid on a table that was a lot like an x-ray table, and with good reason: it is an x-ray table. But with a sort of plastic hammock for a bed, and the ultrasound wave generator underneath. The last thing I remember before succumbing to the IV anesthesia (which is way, way better than being gassed, by the way) is having water poured into the plastic hammock I was laying on. That really did happen. The older machines required the patient to actually be submersed in a tank of water, and all of the newer ones require water in one way or another. Something about focusing the sound waves. Don't ask me; I'm not a physicist.

When I woke up my gown was damp around the edges, and I felt a bit like I'd been kicked in the back by a horse. That feeling persisted and got quite a bit worse throughout the evening, and I expected to feel terrible the following day. I didn't. I was tired, for sure, and it did hurt a bit, but it really wasn't bad at all. Beginning a few days after that I went through three days of terrible pain... and then passed a fragment of stone that was 2mm x 4mm. Eureka! Something to send to the lab, and at least it was a clear answer to all that pain.

Since then, not much has happened. My stent hurts like a mother from time to time. I saw some x-rays that revealed why - that thing is over a foot long! I had no idea. Not to mention that the rest of the pieces of the stone can't get past it, so they're just wedged in my ureter, pressing all up in there waiting to get out. They'll have their chance after Friday, when the stent itself makes its grand exit.

I have quite a mixed batch of feelings about that particular event. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure it's going to be a wildly unpleasant experience and that I'll be in a good deal of pain and discomfort for several days afterward. On the other, I have high hopes that once I'm over that hump I will actually be relieved of the pain and discomfort I've been in for over a month now. I've gotten to the point where I feel like I'm going to break. And I'm talking senseless sobbing in the shower kind of I'M GOING TO BREAK. Something's gotta give, and I keep trying to find a new body but the market is just so weak these days. So I suppose stent removal it will be. Happy Fourth to me!

So, to the Gods of Urology, I send out a little prayer for a smooth procedure with no complications... and as for me, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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