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!


shorebot said...

Jeez. And I thought being stuck with multiple IVs was bad enough.

I can't even imagine how you do it.

Anonymous said...

My stones have been small. Dealing with one now so just reading up. Your blog made me feel better - thanks

Jill S. said...

I have had and passed stones 4 times in 2 years and currently know I have a 16 mm stone in the pelvis of my left kidney, currently not being treated. Last night started to pass one on the right side. It was the usual spasmodic agonizing pain. I did not go to ER as I find it is more comfortable to labor at home and I have drugs to help with the pain. I compare the pain to labor because that is what the pain feels like except you don't get a sweet little baby at the end but rather an ugly prickly stone !
Anyway it must have stopped moving since the pain finally abated at 0530 and I fell asleep. I awoke late in the morning with no pain, so I figured I was ok.
No such luck it started all over again at 4:10 and finally stopped again at 8:30 I still didn't pass it so may end up ar ER despite my wishes.

James Lunsford said...

Stent removal for males is horrible! They pull that Stent out like a pull start lawnmower!

James Lunsford said...

Stent removal for males is horrible! They pull that Stent out like a pull start lawnmower!