Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kidney Stones Are a Blast!

I am a bit late with my post this week. I hope you'll excuse me. I was too busy wearing a pretty gown.

I recently had some trouble with kidney stone pain. (See: "I'm Stoned, Again".) So, yesterday I was scheduled to have a lithotripsy, which is where highly trained medical personnel use ultrasonic shock waves to break up the large kidney stones into small kidney stone dust or kidney stone gravel small enough to pass out of the body during urination.

I say "highly trained medical personnel" because not any ultrasonic shock wave will do. I've tried strapping a boom box to my side and blasting some Quiet Riot at full volume at my kidney stones, but all that did was make everyone around me question my metal health (and mental health.)

It's strange that they call lithotripsy a surgery, because there is no incision. But, other than that it is like a surgery. They wheel me around on a surgical bed, pushing me down in to an operating room. They use anesthesia to put me all the way out. And then…well I don't really know, because I'm completely out. They might play tic-tac-toe on my stomach with magic markers for all I know.

Anyway, they call it a surgery, and they bill it as a surgery, so I'm going to trust that what they do is pretty much a surgery.

I'm an old veteran when it comes to kidney stones. This is the third time I've had lithotripsy surgery. (Nine more times and my punch card is complete for a free one!) My first one went off without much of a hitch.

The second one, however, wasn't a very good experience. First of all, when they tried to put an IV in my hand through which to give me the anesthesia, they had trouble finding a vein. No, that's not right.  They couldn't find a vein. Finally, someone attempted to find a vein in the middle of my hand, and they tried it with a great deal of force. They weren't successful, and the ensuing pain, which felt like someone had taken a knife and tried to stab it through my hand to the other side, was much greater pain than any of the pain that I had ever had from the kidney stones.

Also, when I woke up from the second one, I was disoriented, confused, cold, and a little damp.

Fortunately, I had a much better experience this time. This time, the only negative was the long wait beforehand. I was originally told to get to the hospital at 11:30. Then, I was called and told to come in earlier, at 10:30. It turns out 11:30 would have been fine.

The Wife and The Baby came with me to help me check in. I had been on pain pills and it's sometimes an adventure to fill out all of the paperwork when you are a little woozy from the pain pills. So, The Wife was there to show support and to make sure the paperwork was all filled out correctly.

The Baby was there because she's so darn cute.

They took me back to my little waiting room area and gave me the magic hospital gown. This time, for the first time I remember, the hospital gown came with some incredibly large pull-up blue underwear. The Wife thought I would think the large blue underwear was hideous, and it was. But, anything that makes the hospital gown even slightly more modest is a plus for me.

In my beautiful gown with my beautiful baby!
I was in my gown by 11:00 AM. A while later, the nurse came in to put the IV in. I was gripping the bed rail with my other hand, a sense of dread running through my entire body. Then she said she was done. What? I hadn't even felt a thing! Pat the Nurse was my hero for the day!

But, then the nurse left, and I was there waiting in my bed with The Wife and The Baby by my side. The Baby ate. The Baby slept. The Wife and I played word games on her phone. For hours. (We're a pretty good team on those word games.)

Finally, a little after 1:00 PM, they were ready to wheel me off to the operating room. (I'm glad I was there at 10:30, he says with a large dose of sarcasm.) They wheeled me through the labyrinth of hallways to my operating room. (I'm usually pretty good at directions, but put me in a hospital and I couldn't tell you the difference between north and New Hampshire.)

They put an oxygen mask over my nose and I saw them putting something into my IV. And that was that.

And then, I was waking up. My kidney stones had been blasted. Unlike the last time, I woke up lucid, warm, and not even the least bit damp. I got a Sprite and a vanilla pudding. (They hadn't let me eat or drink all day before the procedure.) When I finished, they asked if I wanted anything else. So, I got another Sprite and another vanilla pudding. (Why mess with a good thing?)

Soon enough, I was ready to go home. But not before there was some wrangling over the insurance. (There is always wrangling over the insurance.) Then I was wheeled out to the mini-van and sent on my way.

If you've ever had kidney stones or lithotripsy before, you know that's not the end, though. You see, in theory they break up the big kidney stones so they all pass out easily. In actuality, sometimes there are still some decent sized fragments left that can still hurt on their way out.

That's where my fun new toy comes into play. Yes, for the next several days I get to pee in a funnel with a sieve on the end, trying to collect all the kidney stone fragments that I pass. Yes, I get to be a kidney stone collector! (I'd much rather collect comic books, or coins, or maybe even stamps.) (Okay, probably not stamps.) It's kind of like panning for gold, except different.

Kidney stones: They're a blast!

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