Have I ever told you about these? Kidney stones are fun. I highly recommend them for everyone.
I’ve had kidney stones several times. The first time was about 8 years ago. Every couple years since then I’ve generally had them again.
That first time I was out for a buffet lunch with several friends. The lunch was awesome and I overate. Soon after I left my belly began to hurt. The pain grew. I figured it was food poisoining. After about 90 minutes the pain went away. The pain returned again in the late evening. Once again it went away after an hour or so, but now I knew it wasn’t bad food.
The next time it popped up that weekend, it didn’t go away. I went to the hospital and called my mother since I didn’t know what the problem was. The cure was to hydrate via IV and give me some pain killers. That worked fine.
Here’s what it feels like. The pain grows fairly slowly. At first it just feels like a muscle twinge in your lower back. Then it grows. Imagine someone punches you in the kidney. Take away the initial shock and the first agony where you are doubled over. What you are left with is the dull pain. That is what is feels like to me. As it grows it becomes less localized and moves around so the pain covers you entire abdomen on either the left or right.
For me the pain never becomes unbearable, but it does grow to the point that it becomes the only thing you can think about. Then my body starts to react. I’ll start to cough and eventually feel to urge to vomit.
As soon as the stone moves so that the ureter is cleared the pain goes away. This can happen in just moments. One second you are sitting there groaning and the next you only have a tiny ache left and then five minutes later you feel fine.
The best cure is to drink liquids and push the stone out. This doesn’t work it is is too big and completely blocks the passage. Also if I reach the vomitty stage it is impossible to keep even water down. So off to the hospital – intravenous liquids, an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller has always worked to relieve the pain.
But that might just mean the stone has turned so it isn’t blocking the passage and is just waiting to strike again! That is when you need surgery. There are three surgery stages. The first is lithotripsy. Lithotripsy is awesome.
They use an ultrasound to locate the stone and then ultrasonic waves to break it up. The whole process takes about two hours from when you arrive at the hospital. After your side feels bruised and you might pee a little blood, but it is mostly without pain. You get there, watch a video about the process, strip to a hospital gown and get an IV started.
The you walk into the next room where the lithotripsy bed is. Imagine your typical dentists chair, but raised on a pedeastal and fit so it is raised on the sides a little. When you lie down in it, the is a plastic hammock where you lower back rests in the chair. They strap you down just a little and then fill the hammock part with water so your lower back and bum get a bit wet.
Then they give you some painkillers through the IV (not a full general anaesthetic) and everything gets a bit fuzzy. I’ve fallen asleep at this point, but other times I’ve been awake throughout. The ultrasonic gun goes under the bed and points at you through the hammock and the water. There is also an X-ray machine that they point at you from the top. The gun fires with dull thumps. You can vaguely feel it, but the impacts might be like a gently massage through the pain killers.
After a few minutes of that everything is done. You get off the table and go back to the waiting room. They you nap for 30 minutes until the painkillers wears off, get dressed and go home. They give you a Tylenol Three perscription.
The second option if that doesn’t work is an uteroscopy laser thing. I don’t recommend this. It sucks. Actually the surgery was fine. They give you a general and you don’t notice a thing. It is the after effects that suck. I had a significant amount of pain and the stent they left in actually blocked the passage itself when I became inflamed enough. That sucks. Plus immediately after the surgery I had zero bladder control. (Really, I stood up and liquids leaked down my leg.) Plus the general made me nauseous.
When they go up that way, they can use a laser to crush the stone, or a crusher tool, they can use a little cage to pull it out, etc. They often leave a stent in place since the trauma from the surgery (I think) might cause inflammation, so the stent keeps everything open.
The last option is to cut you open and go in and get it. I’ve never had that thank goodness.
So if you have the opportunity, I’d recommend lithotripsy since it is fun, but overall the whole kidney stone experience if one I don’t recommend.