Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Passing a 1 cm wide kidney stone makes you love morphine

Last week I wasn't just absent from my blog, I also happened to be in the hospital getting treated for a massive kidney stone. If you haven't had one of these, be thankful because it hurt. A lot. And I still have it in me.
This illustration pretty much explains everything.
See, the doctor decided to insert a "stent" during surgery. A kidney stone stent is a flexible plastic tube inserted between a kidney and the bladder to facilitate the passage of these horrible things. Basically, my urologist told me that I have to keep it in until March 5th (when I go in for follow-up surgery to have it removed). The doctor using a cystoscope threaded this thing into my ureter and left it in place.  It has hooks at either end to keep it there so that it can't drift.

Now, I had no idea Wednesday night that I had a kidney stone. All that I knew was that by 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night, I had a fever, was in severe pain that wouldn't go away, and that it felt like it was centered in my left lower back. Sometimes (when lying on the heating pad) I could feel my kidney pulsate.  That was maybe my first clue. I've been plagued with this pain off and on for about a month (sometimes having to go home from work sick) and usually it resolved itself within a few hours. I attributed the cramps to being maybe a bout of food poisoning, or just bad gas, or to over-sensitivity to cold (it's been really cold here in Salt Lake City). Honestly, a kidney stone is not the first thing that just popped into my mind.

But as Wednesday turned to Thursday, and it was 1:30 in the morning (last week) and the pain was not going away...I gave up and went to the emergency room. They admitted me, did a CT Scan in this huge doughnut shaped machine, and fifteen minutes later, the doctor came in and said, "Mike, you have a 10 mm kidney stone." Let that sink in for a moment...I have a rock trying to pass through a small tube in my body that is as large as a pea. O.o...
A picture of opium poppies. It's incredible that we have this flower. The drug
trade has given it a bad rap. But when used medicinally, this plant produces
wonder drugs. I love you opium poppy.
So in I went for a hospital stay. I couldn't eat anything because I had surgery scheduled the next day, but oh did I learn to appreciate the power of Morphine and other pain killers. Morphine works so fast. If you've never had it, it literally works in a few seconds. They inject it into your I.V. and the pain (which was an 8 out of 10) goes to like a 2 out of 10 almost instantaneously. I think it's remarkable that a flower (the poppy) can produce morphine, heroin, opium, and codeine (the same frickin flower!). That's just crazy. And I'm really thankful that we have poppies. Sure...the drug can be abused but when used for its intended purpose, it is a powerful tool.

The surgery was absolutely awful. I've never had surgery before so I didn't know what to expect. Waking up is what I imagine it's like for vampires to come out of torpor. I literally felt like I was clawing my way out of death. I had no memory of where I was or what the hell had happened. I was nauseous for like three hours and then for the next day, every time I went to the bathroom I urinated blood (it felt like liquid fire) and there was this horrible ache in my back because my kidney was all bruised up and swollen. I'm honestly terrified of the follow-up surgery scheduled for March 5th, and I hope it is not as bad. The Urologist (once stent was in place) wants me to just pass this 1 cm stone on my own between now and then so I've been drinking lots of water. If I can't pass it by the 5th, then when they go in to remove the stent, they are going to laser it apart or something like that.

Anyway, that's my story on my kidney stone. It really gave me a new appreciation for life, for medicine, and for health insurance. I'm sure my hospital stay is going to generate some massive bills. My brother says that if I need anything else done this year I should do it because this stay in the hospital is basically going to wipe out my high deductible (which is around $1,500 out of pocket). Ah well...what can you do? It's not like the health industry obeys the capitalism laws of everything else in our society. If you are going out to buy a shirt, you can check J.C. Penney or Kohls or other competitors to see what kind of sales they got going on. But when you are in the Emergency Room, it's not like you can go to another E.R. to see if they'll give you a better rate. You've got to take what you get and you're in no mood to negotiate.

Have a great Tuesday, and I hope you don't get any kidney stones!


50 comments:

L.G. Keltner said...

Ouch! I hope the rest of it goes well. I'm sure the hospital bills will be massive. My husband was in the hospital couple years ago, and we still owe money for it. Of course, his was bad because he'd just started a new job so he wasn't eligible for the health insurance yet. So we owed everything.

Mark Koopmans said...

Dude,

Have I ever said I *heart* your blog titles... I so had to come over to check this out and now I am so sorry for YOU... what a nightmare, but glad to see they didn't laser your sense of humor :)

Get well... you're going to need it on the 5th... but, seriously, man, hope you feel better soon :)

Andrew Leon said...

There was actually a piece on NPR today about how health care defies the free market (despite what some would like us to believe) for this very reason. You have no choice. You can't put it back and check out some other place, and, often, you don't even know what the cost is until after the fact.
I hope it passes.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh my word! That's absolutely harrowing. I hope you start getting better soon.

Fairview said...

Ye-Ow-ch! Hope it passes soon!

Trisha F said...

OUCH. That must've hurt like a bitznitch! Glad you got the first surgery over but it sux you have to go back for another. Oh well, hopefully the next one will be a lot easier.

Elise Fallson said...

I hope March 5th comes and goes quickly for you and you can put all this behind you. I've never been on morphine, but I did have to take codeine for a few days after breaking my foot years ago . . .

Ted Cross said...

That sounds miserable. I hope it gets bette quickly. I always heard contradictory info on these in the past--some said you needed to cut back on dairy (which made no sense to me given I already don't get enough) and others said it was a lack of dairy that caused them.

Mel Chesley said...

Omg! I certainly hope things go well at your follow up and that the stone has passed by then. Get better.

Francene Stanley said...

During my very long life, I've never had a kidney stone. Plenaty of other things have gone wrong though. Yes, it's times like these that we appreciate our health system.

Brinda said...

Hope you are back to normal soon. Or after the March surgery. More morphine, sir? Why yes. Here you go. I'll be thinking about you this week.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No ultrasound to try and break it up?
Had one as a teen, but much smaller and passed on its own. I learned diet has a lot to do with their formation, so I changed a few things and haven't had one since.
Sorry you have to go back. Deep breath - it won't be that bad.

Em-Musing said...

The pain of kidney stones is compared to labor pains. I REALLY sympathize Michael. And I do love morphine. Or demerol,or anything that takes pain away after surgery. Funny you should mention about comparing prices on health care. My guy had surgery just last week and, here in Mexico there is the socialized medicine hospital plus many small private hospitals. He opted for a small hospital to get in sooner. We met with several ones from several hospitals and we negotiated a price. Please know, I've been around mucho hospitals in the States and grilled docs up their, and I can say the hospital and surgeon here is top notch. Anyhoo...5 days hosp stay for stomach surgery, including everything = $1,800. And the nurses were there all the time. The 3 doc's bill total = $5,000. Oh, and the doc made a house call yesterday and stayed an hour! The hospital my guy was in was CostaMed...part of a medical tourism hospital. Expats come here for surgery and procedures, enjoy the beautiful climate then go home in a few weeks. Wishing you a pain and anxiety free day.

Sandra Almazan said...

Ow! I never had kidney stones, but I developed gall stones after my son was born and had to have my gall bladder removed. I haven't had any problems since, though it did force me to change my diet. I hope you can pass your stone quickly and painlessly!

Richard Hughes said...

Glad you're feeling better.

Cindy said...

"Waking up is what I imagine it's like for vampires to come out of torpor."

LOL. Now we know why Vampires are irritable when they wake up.

Anyway, I don't know why they just didn't laser it while they were in there. If you can put in a stent, why not just zap it?

Also, I know what you're going through. I ended up in the ER once in a lot of pain with a twisted ovary. And pain killers didn't work. 8 hrs of torture.

*Hugs*

PT Dilloway, Grumpy Bulldog said...

That sounds worse than my gall stone, although the symptoms were largely the same. It's good you're doing better and good luck on the 5th with the follow-up surgery.

Rusty Webb said...

Dude, tell them to start with the lasers... only try other stuff if that doesn't work. Well, I suppose you probably don't get to dictate your own treatment. And it's also a little late. I hope you get that thing out in a hurry and are done with it. Get well soon.

Ken Reid said...

Suck it up buttercup!! :-) just kidding mike! Thought you were trying to take my slacker title! That sucks having a kidney stone hope it passes fast that's very painful. Take care and get better!

CBame13 said...

"I love you opium poppy" made me laugh loud enough for my boss to glare at me. Hope you get that sucker out quickly!

Yolanda Renee said...

yes, morphine. . .GOOD! During my heart attack the pain didn't go away, but I no longer cared! :)

Kidney stones are the worst! Have had a few. Drink lots of water and do your research. Take care!

Jay Noel said...

Take care of yourself! Ouch. I had a friend that went in for the same thing. Spoke with him on the phone BEFORE and then AFTER the morphine drip.

Night and day!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Ouch!!! Although I'm not a fan of surgery or big pain meds, they do have a reason for being . . .I've had 13 surgeries so it's kind of a "know they do good things/don't like to have them" kind of thing for me. That morphine drip is a powerful thing - almost a little scary, really. (most other meds make me sicker than a dog)

Anyway, rambling too much.
I'm really glad you're done with that mess, and I hope you recover quickly and easily!

Jess said...

Wow- 10 mm??? Kidney stones are so terrible--I have a friend who gets repeated ones, and he says they're excruciating (his are actually smaller, so he passes them). So sorry about the surgery--hope you're feeling better soon!

mshatch said...

owch! So sorry about your kidney stone. I can only imagine how painful it must be.

Liz said...

Yikes. I hope everything gets better from here on out. Sorry you had to go through that.

Kevin Long said...

Wow. Sorry to hear about the kidney stone and you make a good points about the free market and medicine. It frustrates me to no end how much some of this stuff costs when if we had a true free market or *gasp* socialized medicine things would be better. Instead we have a hybrid system that has the worst of both and our costs are many times most other countries.

My thoughts are with you and I hope your problems 'pass' soon.

Michael Di Gesu said...

A good friend of mine suffers with them terribly.The pain is supposed to be like giving birth from what I hear.

Take care, Michael ... Drink lots of beer. That always seems to help him. In more ways than one. LOL. It will help try to flush it out.

The surgery isn't too bad. They just blast the thing and then you have to pass the pieces. That is the most painful .... passing the stones out of your system through tiny plumbing.

Keep us posted and don't forget to name your first child....

L.G. Smith said...

Oh, Mike, that's just brutal. Still doesn't beat childbirth! Try passing a head the size of a cantaloup through your body. LOL. Just messing with you.

Hope you are feeling better. That has to be miserable. So glad you got some medical attention when you did, though, even if you weren't able to shop around. I agree that is a very frustrating aspect to our healthcare. I once got charged ten dollars every time a nurse put on a pair of rubber gloves. Oy.

Charlie Holmberg said...

That is a HUGE stone! Yikes! You have my full sympathies.

Helena said...

You poor thing! The pain really must be dreadful, and if you've never had surgery before (I've had a few), then yes, all those needles and I.V.'s hurt and waking up is hallucinatory. I do know that morphia (morphine from poppies) was the only pain killer in the ancient world, other than getting stone cold drunk, so it's easy to see why the ancients considered the poppy to be a gift from the gods.

As for medical care in this country -- it's notoriously expensive. You could pretty much go to any other developed country (all of them have national health care) and get the same treatment for around half the price. Even though I've got health insurance, this is one reason why I keep a passport handy.

Get healthy soon, darling Michael. And my your kidney stone dissolve like sugar.

Catherine Stine said...

Oh, wow, Michael, I feel for you! Hang in there. You'll be able to endure the 2nd operation--just concentrate on how much better you'll feel with that effing thing out of you, right?
Everyone goes through one thing or another. I'm going to have a right knee replacement on April 30th on a knee that has been problematic for a while now--waaaaayy too many step aerobics classes!!!!!! But it's what I gotta do to stay mobile and active. It's all worth it.

Belle said...

Loved your ode to poppies. I didn't know all those drugs came from the same source. I did pass a small kidney stone once. Like you, I went to Emergency first and they gave me morphine. I was immediately flying high. I said to the doctor, "No wonder people love this stuff!"

Went home and passed it late into the night. I researched online and found if you soak a cloth in castor oil, lay it where the kidney pain is, cover it with plastic and put an electric heating pad on it that it will pass easier and faster. Also, sit up and rock back and forth or walk around. Movement helps move it. This is what I remember about the whole thing anyway. Good luck and God bless.

DEZMOND said...

oh, hell, what is it with us unfortunate bloggers lately? You're a second blogger who had to get rid of a stone recently. And I've heard that a number of bloggers are having or recently had some kind of surgery, me included. Maybe we should all move to WordPress :) Blogger is cursed :)

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I'm really sorry you had to go through this. :( *HUGS* I'm glad it's over!

J.L. Campbell said...

Mike,
Sorry to hear about your ordeal. I know (though people who've suffered from the same thing) what a horrendous experience kidney stones can be. Hope that somehow the follow up isn't as traumatic.

Stephen Hayes said...

I imagine that when trying to pass one of these monsters it feels about as big as that asteroid that recently came close to the Earth. Hope you're feeling better.

Donna Hole said...

Feel better soon Dude. My ex-hubs went through this a couple of times. It wasn't pretty.

......dhole

Laura Eno said...

The worst part for you right now is having the time to dwell on the second surgery. It will be a relief to get rid of the problem though. Hang in there, bud! We're all with you, ready to slap you out of your poppy stupor. :)

Julie Flanders said...

My mom and a good friend of mine both had kidney stones and said it was the worst pain imaginable. I'm so sorry you went through this! Hope the bills aren't too awful. Take care!

Melissa Bradley said...

You poor thing! My sister faced this exact same thing last year. They tried alot of different things to get the stone out, but in the end she had surgery. Glad you're better now. :)

Mina Lobo said...

Poor baby! (Please excuse that; I'm sorta empty-nesting and got a lot of maternal angst in me that pops out when i least expect it.) I'm so, so sorry you went through that. My mom's mom (I think) passed a kidney stone, said it was as bad as giving birth (which she did 4 times, so she should know). I'm sending you healing mojo and lotsa <3 <3 <3.

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

Holy moly, that just sucks! and, 1 cm, that is HUGE! I passed a kidney stone half that size once, and I was in agony for 9 days straight. Heating pads are your friend!

Ever since I have had a stone, I drink at least 2 liters of water (sometimes in the guise of tea) a day. Haven't had a stone since, had the small grainy stuff, but no more stones!

Sending loads of blessings and healing bubbles!

Matthew MacNish said...

Holy shit, Mike. I can't believe I missed this post. I hope you're okay, man!

James Garcia Jr. said...

Oh, man! I'm very sorry to hear about his, Michael. You did crack me up with the "I love you" opium poppy comment, but I'm sorry you have had to go through this. I hope the next post will reveal that you are back on your feet again or very close to it.

-Jimmy

Michelle Sheets said...

I know what you went through. I currently have a 11mm kidney stone. I have had the stent in for a little over a week now. That thing is so uncomfortable. Wednesday was the Lithotripsy surgery. Not too bad(I think mostly because of the morphine I was given before I left). For the first two days, I was doing well with the so called "sand" and particles. Now I am still hurting from the stone in my kidney(Doctors says if in the kidney it will not hurt)bull crap it hurts, esp. after using the bathroom. The stent adds to my aggravation. It is difficult to work all day. I may have to have the surgery to break it up again. This is miserable and I am so hateful because of the pain. I have Fibro pain and don't need this added to it. Hope you are better.

Michelle Sheets said...

I still have the stent in after a week and had the lithotripsy done for my 11mm stone. This is so miserable. After the lithotripsy surgery and with the morphine I walked out of the hospital wanting to go shopping.(I didn't) Morphine wore off and the pain came back. My doctor doesn't think the pain is bad because it is still in my kidney. Well, I have news for them, it hurts. I'm sorry you had to go through what you did.

Cathy Kelley said...

My daughter is going thru the same thing. She is to be hospitalized for 2 weeks.
My question is...why place someone thru so much pain? Why mess with the stent? If the stone can be crushed via laser, why not go that route and have it out doing one surgery verses 2 and the time between?

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

@Cathy: My Neurologist explained it to me like this: The original stent was needed to widen my ureter so that the tool could be put into place. My stone was extracted whole via a basket on the end of a wire. However, removing the stone in the basket traumatized the ureters and they would have swelled closed had another stent not been put in place to prevent this. So I think that the three surgeries are needed considering that these very delicate tissues cannot be traumatized much. My best wishes go to your daughter. I sympathize with her so much.

Unknown said...

Have had at least 12 to 15 kidney stones within the past several years and can honestly say the pain is worse than childbirth. Mine are uric acid stones and I cannot drink enough water to stop these attacks. The ER is the only place to grand morphine is the only drug which eases the pain. I feel for you having this daunting condition.