My Adventure with Large Kidney Stones and the Removal Thereof

I'm full of useless facts. In fact, I never shut up about them. But I have recently experienced something that I wished I could learn more about before it happened, and now I am going to provide the information for those who were, like me, curious. Be warned: I say fuck. A LOT. 

So here we go: My adventure with Large Kidney Stones (with colic) and the Removal Thereof by Ureteroscopy. 

How did it start?
Well, fifteen years ago, really. That's when I got my first kidney stone. But I digress. The ones I'm talking about now are numbers twelve and thirteen, respectively. Back when I was diagnosed with HSP it was noted that I had stones lodged in my kidneys. Both of them. But it was no cause for concern because they were: A) Still in my kidneys, posing no threat and B) I was being diagnosed with a fuck-me-sideways rare disease and nobody cared about "normal" stuff. That was a year ago. 

Three months later, after my HSP was somewhat under control, I started having back spasms. But not just regular ones, localized spasms on my right side, all up and down my back, so much pain I could barely breathe. I went to the ER, swiped my Fast Pass (that's a joke.) and got a CT Scan. The results? The Physicians Assistant put it like this: "You have an eight millimeter stone in your right kidney. That's about the size of a pinkie nail. It's too big, it has to come out, we're going to admit you." 

"Awesome!" I said cheerfully. Because fuck it, right? At least they were going to fix it. 

Cut to three minutes later, after, I presume, the MD on duty saw that I was on Medicaid. The P.A. returns. "I consulted with Dr. Fuckhead, and he says it's not a problem. It's still in your kidney. See ya!" She skipped away cheerfully. I was left behind, mouth agape. Gotta love the standard of care. 

note: I have feelings about doctors, specifically MD's. Not to say each and every one of them are pompous douchebags, but a good portion of them are. 

 Okay, then what? 
Then? Well, I suffered. For four months. Then, In January, shit started to hit the fan. Extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, blood in my urine - lots and LOTS of blood, scary amounts of it. So I go back to the hospital, a different one, in a different state. I moved, you see. The first trip (there were many) ended with the usual. "Here's a bunch of drugs, it's probably a kidney infection, blah blah blah fuck off." Two weeks later, I was back. This time the geniuses did a CT Scan and I got that line from a doctor I hear FAR too often. "I've never seen this before." 

As it turns out, those two stones they found the year before? Were on HGH of some shit. Cos they got HUGE. The one in the right, previously 8mm, was now a whopping 12mm, almost dime sized. The one in the left, which had been feeling left out, I guess, was 10mm. The ureter can only accommodate 5-6mm, sooo... 

They fixed it. Right?
Well no. Not yet. Because, you see, I had to go through this mess with insurance. Through this mess, I ended up back in the ER three more times. Insurance companies are bigger fuckheads than doctors, we all know that. One of the times I ended up back in, and another CT was done to be sure there was no blockage, The Dumbfuck Doctor told me that the stones couldn't "possibly be causing the pain, because they have not left the kidneys. I think the pain you have is caused by a cyst on your right ovary." 

Now, it seems to me that Dr. Dumbfuck skipped anatomy in med school, because the ovaries are nowhere near the kidneys, And don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I went to my regular doctor in tears, and was put on "Pain Management" for spasming of the muscles around the kidney do to trauma from kidney stones.

What are the best meds for kidney stone pain?
Everyone is different. I myself was put on a regimen of Percocet (an opiate based painkiller) Toradol (a very strong NSAID) and Flexeril (a muscle relaxer). I found that a combination of Percocet and Toradol killed the pain completely while keeping you alert, while the combination of Percocet and Flexeril knocked me on my ass and made me see pretty colors. My personal favorite is Dilaudid, through an IV, but for some reason they don't let you inject hard drugs intravenously yourself even if you're in lots of pain.

So THEN it got fixed, right?
Eventually, yes. The right things happened, the right people called other right people, referrals were granted, and I was off to UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco to see an expert, who took one look at my CT's and yelled at the stones until they came out.

Well no, not really. He yelled at me to quit smoking and lose weight (I obliged) and told me he was getting, at very least, that right stone out, since the left one appeared to have broken down a bit and started moving. I was scheduled for surgery 2 months later and sent packing, drugs in hand. My surgeon told me I would be getting a ureteroscopy, which, to put it bluntly, involves a camera and laser being shoved into you pee-hole, up through your badder, up the ureter, and into the kidney, where the laser then blasts the stone to pieces and a little basket pulls them out, bing, bang, boom. Thank God this involves general anesthesia, so theres no need to panic. I'd never been put to sleep before, but people who had reassured me, you go to sleep, you wake up, it's done. 

The day after my surgery was scheduled, I got a call. My scheduled procedure had been moved up. To five days from then. 

So I had five days to prepare for this bullshit procedure... 

What was it like?
Honestly? Kind of fun. Once I was in pre-op, my surgeon approached me immediately and spoke to me in a kind, gentle manner, Nothing like the yelling he did at the appointment. He introduced me to my team, some of which were his students, for my surgeon was also a Professor at UCSF. He informed me that things were going to be a bit more complicated than we discussed. They were going into both kidneys (my pre-op X-Rays showed that rogue left stone decided not to leave, after all) and would be placing stents, which would run from my kidneys down to my bladder. The stents would not be removed for a month. Stents are simply little tubes that run the length of the ureter and allow small fragments of stone to pass without so much pain, as well as preventing infection. 

I was injected with a sedetve, kissed my husband goodbye, and they rolled me into the OR. A nurse told me I was very pretty (so random!) and my anesthesiologist placed a mask over my face. "Just oxygen." He said, smiling. I watched the team bustle around the room, and then the air changed. It felt thicker, tasted funny. "Keep breathing normal." He said. I took a couple normal breaths... 

And heard my name. I opened my eyes to chaos, and pain, SO MUCH PAIN. My nurse was calling my name cheerfully, trying to bring me around. I began crying immediately and shouted "I HAVE TO PEE!" probably loud enough for the entire hospital to hear. I didn't, it was just bladder spasms. I was injected with three shots of Dilaudid for the pain, and immediately jumped up and did a little jig. It's good shit. After I actually did pee (which was all blood, including large clots and a couple little rocks), they let me go.

It wasn't until much, much later, back at home, that I realized those stents were going to be a bitch. Once the anethesia and Dilaudid wore off, I was left with foreign objects attached to vital organs that don't like said objects. I'm not going to lie. The stents are painful. I have taken more painkillers in the past five days then I did over the past MONTH. Sometimes I think to myself this pain isn't worth it, but then I remind myself in a month this will be OVER, for good, and with all the analysis done hopefully I'll never get a stone again. 

That's where I am now. I found this forum on stent removal that reassures me that the pain is normal and that the removal, while scary, isn't so bad. Writing this article distracted me, too. 

In conclusion, I hope that, if you have stones, you're getting the proper care. I hope that if you're going to have them removed that this may have helped you relax a little. I hope you don't run into Dr.'s Dumbfuck and Fuckhead. And most of all, I hope you're OK. I feel your pain. Tell me your story in comments!


Changing Your Life, Everything All At Once

what a fucking tragedy. fuck. 
In the span of two weeks, this drama queen has had a bit of a busy life. Getting yelled at by my surgeon to lose weight and quit smoking hit home, so I set out to do both. Not easy, at the same time. But. In two weeks I lost 10lbs and I had my last cigarette on May 1st.

 Let me tell you, it's a bitch to get these patches to stay lit.

 On May 2nd, I get the call. "Oh, we had a cancellation. We're not going to make you wait two months. We're gonna laser that vital organ THIS FUCKING TUESDAY."

 So. As of right now I have 3 days to prepare for this. My first ever general anesthesia. In a flurry of activity, I spent the last two days spewing blood and urine into various containers, getting my stupid heart condition checked out in 3 different ways, and not fucking smoking. Fuck you, fuck you, you, you, AND you.

 Sorry. It says on my patches that I should warn those around me I may be slightly irritable.

I'm terrified. Also excited, relieved, pissy and hungry. Don't forget sick! Came down with a cold today. (And God LHFAO)

Wish me luck, for my next blog I shall be minus one 12mm rock.


The Kidney Boulder That Wouldn't Quit

Ode to my kidney stone

Vital organ,
so much trouble,
large stone - normal?
No, double. 
Size matters 
in this case.
A boulder cannot 
be erased. 
But it can be broken up with a fucking laser shoved up my pee-hole. 

*takes a bow*

Whilst in an incredible amount of pain for the last month or so, I remain cheerful. Probably that has something to do with all the drugs - or, as the doctors call it, "Pain Management." While not a huge fan of narcotics, I have been using them abundantly lately. Soon enough I'll have the surgery to remove this... fucking... thing. It's the size of a dime. In doctor-speak, it's "HUGE."

I was put on this "pain management" after my fourth trip to the ER for said kidney stone. Guess they got tired of seeing me. So instead of getting intravenous injections of heavy narcotics every week or so, I take them daily in pill form.

I used to ask why this crap is always happening to me, but I've lately learned not to question it. Probably this nonchalant attitude is also thanks to drugs.

My surgeon yelled at me to quit smoking and lose 17 pounds. so in addition to all that is going on around me, I'm dieting and want a fucking cigarette AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!


The Evolution of the Internet, or, How I Gave Up Facebook and Got My Life Back

Fuck Facecrook
Once upon a time, there was an internet addiction.

Internet addiction is something we don't talk about anymore, being that everyone has a smartphone and chooses to look down at it and play as opposed to smiling, meeting the eyes of strangers, of forcing oneself to speak in awkward situations. Think about it: how much do you use the internet, text messaging, facebook, every day? I'm willing to bet it's a fucking boatload. I know it's a fucking boatload. I gave it up.

I've been on the internet since 1996, when I was 13 years old. Back then we had Usenet to be social and web hosting sites like Geocities, Tripod and Angelfire to build profiles for ourselves and link them in out Usenet signatures so that people may see grainy scanned pictures of us and a list of favorite bands, books, movies, and other randomness. Out of that grew fansites - those who became savvy of the html language would build websites, basically shrines, to those whom they obsessed over on Usenet. My own biggest haunt was alt.fan.conan.obrien and my shrine to hime became so big that I signed contracts with NBC at the ripe old age of 16 and ran an official "fan network" site for them. (here. here's the page. shut up.) Yes, I was obsessed with Conan waaaaaaaay back before he became a hipster favorite, and way before that sexy, sexy beard.

Eventually, Conan O'Brien on the internet consumed my life and I ducked away, realizing that I was getting nowhere. Now of course I regret that, wishing I could be part of the amazing Team CoCo, but hey. Can't live in the past.

Then came blogs. I had one, everyone did. Back then blogs were more diaries than news or entertainment, and it was thrilling to get a glance into the everyday lives of people you had never met, never will meet, don't particularly even care about. And it's thrilling to have people come from all over the world to see you, complimenting your graphics, your code, your opinions, your writing style. I became stuck on the blog, updating daily the most intimate details of my life, until I realized that was dumb and backed off, once again.

Then... came social networking.

I never did Friendster. I saw it as ruining the 'net for what it was - and intricate web of intelligent people sharing everything with each other - because it was user friendly and invited everyone else in. But then, THEN came MySpace, everyone on the planet was on it, and in 2005, I signed on to spy on my employees talking shit about me in a group they'd created for the restaurant we worked in.

I became obsessed, once again.

We all know the story. MySpace eventually graduated to facebook. Nobody can really say how it happened, it just sort of... did. And I became VERY obsessed with facebook. Not with friending, like some people, but with Pages, with Fans, with Likes, and, most of all, the Illusion.

What's the Illusion, you ask? Why, you know very well what it is. It's the little embelishments you add on to your posts to get people to comment or like it. It's the life you build for yourself and present to these people whom you "know" but never see, and who in all actuality could not give less of a fuck about what you made for dinner. It's posting about how dinner came out amazing, and everyone ate every bite, yum yum, and six or seven people "like" that and a friend comments "yay, way to go" and you sit on the computer and wait for this because that's why you posted it in the first place. It's getting angry at someone who says "so what, you cooked dinner, big fuckin' deal?" and unfriending them, deep in the Illusion that such a thing should matter. It's your other friends gathering around you and morally supporting you when you announce the unfriending, because what a bitch, why say such a thing, how could she?

This is, of course, a broad scenario. replace "dinner" with, essentially, any situation and you get the heart of facebook. And those who become obessesed get bored with this and turn to Pages. Arguing with strangers, getting yourself in trouble. I lost a job once because of a local gossip page. on Pages you get all walks of life - and all of them willing to fight. That old flame war adage (this has been around for a LONG time) "Arguing on the internet is like running at the special olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded" is tasteless, offensive, and, well, true. People back arguments by information they find on Google and Wikipedia, not by using their heads. The obsessed, like me, eventually become bored with that, and seek power: a Page of their own.

I went as far. I started a comedy page of my own and was mildly successful, with a total of about 30,000 fans. Then I convince a group of friends of mine to start a page with me, and it took off overnight, we were hugely successful, and although the Page belonged to me and seven other women, I spent pretty much all of my time getting new fans and catering to the Illusion, this life on the internet. Things went kind of bad for me, in my life, and a big, big chunk of it unfolded on facebook. Embellished, of course.

I gave up facebook, one of the hardest things I have ever done, and things immediately began to calm. Instead of spending my days checking, reading, and updating my facebook and my Pages, I spend my days cleaning, cooking, playing with my son, enjoying time with my husband, even BAKING for fuck's sake. I'm very happy to do it.

You can only go so far when something is holding you back. Find that thing, and you will be better. For me? It was the internet. I spent so much time obsessing over the little world I created on facebook that I forgot about the bigger picture - and now, with it gone, I have no choice but to be happy. Funny how that works, huh?

If you are reading this, and you feel like your life is closing in around you, and you don't know how to get out, pick the one thing you spend most of your time on and DUMP IT. Get rid of it. Odds are that thing is hurting you, even though it may be (and I've heard people describe facebook and such like this, even myself) "all you have" you will soon discover that without whatever that thing occupying your life is was all you had because you made it that way. Do you have kids, a lover, a home, dinner to cook? Dishes to do? Do that instead, and enjoy life. Not your obsessions.

If that "thing" is facebook? You don't have nearly as many friends as you thought you did, and even fewer people who are willing to pick up a phone or even shoot an email your way. Facebook friendships are friendships of convenience, nothing more. Just like your life on facebook is just what you make it, nothing more. I, for one, shout to the world, ENCOURAGE people to give up that facade. Take a step out, blink, see the world for what it really is, and your relationships for what they are. You don't have 300 friends. You have maybe 2 or 3 who would call you if you didn't have a facebook.

Now I'm simply writing a children's book for my son, attempting to illustrate it. Something I never thought I would be able to do.

I still, of course, love the internet. It's a powerful tool and a fun place, but I, like any addict, must learn to take it in moderation. And facebook? Well, it's been 4 months, and I do miss it. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of things - pregnant friends, marriages, pictures... but I remain strong. I won't go back. Occasionally I still log in on my husbands profile, check out my old page, peek at people's lives, but mostly it makes me sad, that I got so deep in the Illusion, and how deep some of the people I love are in it. I've become a black sheep, ostracized by my lack of social sharing and thumbs up. If you choose to give up facebook, you will find that the people still on it, and especially those ones deep, deep in the Illusion, might even be aggressive toward you, defensive, as is facebook is theirs and theirs alone and you giving it up insults them. When you run into those people, tell them to go hug their kid or do the dishes, put down their phone and smile at a stranger, take a chance on getting lost and, for fucks sake, nobody cares that you made dinner.