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!