More than you might have wanted to know about kidney stones12 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!