More than you might have wanted to know about kidney stones

12 January , 2014

Firstly, thank you to everyone for your support during this past week. My family for looking after the pink terrorist, carting my sorry self to and from hospital and daily visits (also gifts! I got a lovely pink flamingo soft toy, a festive balloon to decorate my drip stand which earned me the envy of all my ward mates, and flowers). My friends for daily check ins by phone, whatsapp and emails. And my secret place colleagues who sent me a giant floral arrangement and also checked in with me daily to see if I was still alive. Lastly, lets not forget the doctors and nurses at Wilgeheuwel hospital, who kept me well medicated at all times after that initial dry spell in ER while I kept answering them that on a scale of 1 – 10, my pain was at about 9. After I threw up in a dustbin and started sobbing like a baby they obviously started believing me and jumped right on that – for which I am very grateful.

You all rock! 🙂

So here are some of the questions I get a lot of regarding kidney stones:
– Is it as sore as they say it is? Yes…probably more than that actually.
– Is it more painful than childbirth? Well, I had an epidural for that so once again hell yes.
– What does it feel like? Like someone is trying to hang you from your lower back with a red hot meat hook…with serated edges…that vibrates and rotates.
– What causes it? Some people get it, others don’t. It can be triggered by many things. Too much calcium, some unbalance between calcium and oxelate (wtf ever that might be), not drinking enough water, drinking fizzy drinks, Mondays…whatever, you get the idea. For me personally it’s probably a combination of too much calcium and not enough water. Since I cut out calcium containing multi vitamins I managed to stretch my stone intervals from one year to ten years – probably going to carry on doing that as you can guess, and maybe up the water to see what happens next.
-How do they get them out? You know how your kidneys does a bit of filtering and them sends fluid to your bladder through thin little tubes…like that. If your rock is too big or spiky to find its way downstream on its own within a day or so then the urologist might shoot at it with a lazer to break it up…but it still goes the same way in smaller bits then. (it has become such a precise science that millimeters can make a big difference in your treatment plan these days: 4mm or smaller and you get sent home with a bag of painkillers and a pat on the shoulder, 4-6mm you get to wait and see in hospital – WELL medicated, 6mm lazer practice because there is no way that thing is coming out on its own…thanks to my very first ever CT scan I can say with certainty that mine was 5mm…side note: I really hope the medical aid pays for that little bit of diagnostic magic because it was over R4000!!! In 2004 they used a X-ray for that).
-How do you know when its out? Other than the delightful absence of pain, you get to pee through something called a Eurocup untill you catch it. It’s a fancy name for a collapsable plastic cup with a sieve in the bottom, in case you were wondering. It’s very unglamorous and unfun to use.

It’s been a very traumatic week for me, and obviously for Nicola too. It was the first time that we’ve spent an entire night apart for one, nevermind two. Shame, poor Nicola kept pleading with me to please not die (no idea where she gets that?!), and she was a bit intimidated by the drip and tubes untill I let her take a ride on the drip stand. My mom said she was really well behaved for the two days she stayed with them, and very concerned about me and why I couldn’t come home.

Ps! Hospital food is the yuck, but the periods of Nil per mouth while they’re deciding if you need an operation suck even worse. I am not really a picky eater, but when you make me order off a menu I do tend to expect something similar to my choice to rock up on the plate…or I get “testy”.

Pps! I am apparently blessed with the kind of veins that just can’t tolerate a drip for more than a few hours. My hands both look like they’ve been used as pin cushions!

I didn’t take a lot of photos (mostly slept to be honest), but here you go…






  1. Sjoe. You started 2014 with a bang! Poor Nicola. She must have been so scared. I don’t quite know what I thought about kidney stones but I do know that it’s sore. Somehow I thought that they cut open the kidney and physically remove the stone. Am OBVIOUSLY living in the dark ages. I hope that this is the VERY last health issue that you have for this year and I am soooo glad that you got through all of that in one piece. And alive!

    • I suspect that if they get VERY big, a more invasive surgery might be offered – but thank goodness that has never happened to me, or anyone I know…so I’m assuming they just do the lazer when it gets tough.

      I am very glad to have this episode behind me – thanks!

  2. Glad to read you are better! Thanks for the education on kidney stones, now I know more about it 🙂

    Poor Nicola

    • Thank you. I really am feeling much better now. 🙂

  3. Ah my friend…I have been thinking so much about you. I am so glad itmis over for now….and do hope that drinking more water will fix it for the future.

    • Thank you. I’m doing a bit of reserach on it too. It looks like magnesium might be the answer to a bigger gap?

  4. Gosh that sounds horrid 😦 Glad it was a short stint though!!

    • Me too! although it was my longest to date. Usually I’m in one night and out the next day with this kind of thing.

  5. Oh I do feel for you… I passed one at home once that had me rolling around on the ground, my wife called the Doctor who wanted to pick me up and put me on the bed before he gave me a pain shot… I told him if he touches me I bliksem him… inject me and leave me to die here on the floor was my wish… I have never felt anything like that… he told me it was worse than child birth because at least after child birth there is a beautiful result ,,, a tiny stone cannot be called beautiful, but it can be called all the swear words under the sun, and I have done that a few times…

    • Ooh ouch! You have all my sympathy. My dad passed one at home too a couple of years ago. My mom said he just about passed out on the bathroom floor with pain!

  6. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. I know that this is a sore experience. Have seen it with my hubby a few years back. I am glad that you are now home and take the time to get better.

    • I am very grateful to be home again too. There really is only so much you can do in hospital before you are bored out of your everloving mind! I slept…a lot…and when I wasn’t sleeping I took my drip for long walks down those passages. Also i spent a lot of time chattering with my ward mates, a very interesting bunch of people! For instance: the girl next to me was diagnosed with three kidneys! She’s been in pain for two years now, but they can’t find anything wrong with any of her kidneys so they just keep testing her and sending her on to the next expert.

      • 3 kidneys!!!

  7. OUCH! Seems I missed all the drama – Sorry you’ve had a crappy time! 😦
    Glad to hear you’re on the mend, though. Looking forward to that catch-up we didn’t get around to last year… ;-P

    • Thanks…I’m looking forward to that too. I just need a payday between me and any new socials at the moment. I can’t be the only one who has had a looooong December. 😉

  8. Jeepers ladypants:( The wars I tell you. I’ve never had them and for that i’m extremely grateful. You’re a very lucky girl to have so many people care about you:) Here’s to many many stone free years

    • Thanks Ruby 😀
      How are the bubble wrap pj’s treating you so far in 2014?

  9. O eina! Just glad you are all better now.

    • Me too! 🙂

  10. My husband has had kidney stones – and he keeps telling me the story about it being more painful than childbirth haha…(which in your case it was!)

    • In my case it definitely was! 😆 All I remember painwise from childbirth was bitching and whining because I couldn’t move or feel my legs. That was the worst case of pins and needles when the feeling started coming back and as soon as I could make my legs do what i wanted them to do again I was up and stomping around – to the shock and horror of the nurses (who just minutes before that told me that the sooner I got up and got moving the better i would feel – go figure).

      Kidney stone pain is all kinds of special. They seriously don’t have to do all the expensive and pointless diagnostics on me when I rock up to ER with one of them. I know exactly how it feels and how my body reacts to it. Instead of trying to make me pee in a cup and waiting around to be pushed down that CT tunnel, they should just save time and give me the good stuff pain meds and a bed to sweat it out in…and food. This nil per mouth business is not for me.

  11. Hells bells I am so behind the times!
    I’m glad surgery wasn’t necessary and that you’re home and stone-free.
    Your year can only get better now can’t it… 😛

    • So far, so good. It was a rough start.

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