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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A kidney stone and the US health care system at work

It's been a trying week.  I want to thank ALL of you that gave me your well wishes on my health issue last week - I really needed your prayers!  Since several of you asked I thought I'd explain what happened.  So, this is NOT a crafty post, but it's not gory either.  I'll have the winner and a crafty post tomorrow.

First, I woke up with a start on Monday....that's a week ago Monday....at about 5:50 a.m. with some pain.  At first, I thought it was 'womanly' pains, but I don't have those anymore....thank you Mirena....I was confused.  Then it got WORSE.  After vomiting and moaning....screaming....with pain for 45 minutes....while my dear, wonderful husband took care of the girls....I crawled back into bed covered in sweat, but the pain had lowered.  I realized what it was - a kidney stone. 

I had a kidney stone in my early 20's,  just one, and that passed in a 1 - 4 hour episode.  The memory of that pain was 'burned'....engraved, tattooed, stamped, etched, carved....into my memory.  But unlike the one 20 years ago, I had 2 more episodes that day.  Hummmm....that was different.  Next, 3:33 a.m. Tuesday, in the bathroom again, vomiting and in MAJOR pain.  By the grace of God, my in-laws are in town.  DH called them to watch the kids and we were off to the ER.  Now when I say ER, I mean the luxury 'boutique' hospital that opened a few  years back.  Bouns - quick ER times...it was 3 am after all....Little did we know, that choice would make this experience last 3 weeks longer.

....They give you excellent pain meds in the ER just so you know....   After ushering me into a private ER room with personal escort, they took blood, had me pee in a cup and ordered 'films'.  One $$$$ CAT scan later showed that I had a 7MM stone that was wedged in my urethra just below my kidney....nothing was getting by that sucker....  The ER doctor said it was a 'good size' stone and 3 hours later, we were heading back home with prescriptions and a 'referral'.  LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE.   Here's why I say that....

If we had gone to a bigger, well staffed hospital, they would have scheduled the stone removal as soon as a urologist could consult and an OR was available.  We know I didn't go that route, so allow me to continue my story....

I slept the rest of the Tuesday while my hubby worked a 12 hour shift and my in-laws took care of the kids....thank you....  I called first thing Wednesday morning for an appointment with the urologist the hospital referred us to, it was scheduled Thursday at 1:30 p.m..  I had 2 more episodes that day. 

Thursday, I felt pretty good!  On a scale of 1-10, I was a 6-7....episodes are generally 9.5-10....and pain was controlled with the pain meds the ER doc gave me.  I talked with the urologist and he took another set of 'films'.....this time just x-rays..... and it confirmed the size and the fact that it hadn't moved - at all.  Remember when I said I had a 7MM stone?  That is actually is more than DOUBLE the normal size of a kidney stone, much to large to pass on its own. .....THIS is when a real hospital would schedule an OR.... The doctor discussed my options....sonic waves vs. laser vs. retraction....and he suggested doing the Lithotripsy, aka: sonic wave treatment.  Cool....easy and painless....he shuffled me off to the scheduler, she took my number and said she'd call before 5 p.m.  with my treatment time, it was currently 3:15 p.m.  At 4:50 p.m., she called.  I was scheduled for 11:30 on TUESDAY....yes, that was 5 days away from then....  Here's how the conversation went from there:

     Me: TUESDAY?  You mean I have to go through the weekend with this pain?
     Nurse:  Yes.
     Me:  5 days....vomiting pain....
     Insensitive nurse:  Well.... he gave you a prescription for pain meds.
     Me:  Yes, but that doesn't take away the pain....
     Stupid, insensitive nurse:  You can take more than 1 pill if you're hurting or go back to the ER for a pain shot.
     Me:  IF I'm hurting?....by this time I'm in tears....


That's when I took my health care into my own hands.  My brother-in-law works as a nurse at the hospital we should have gone to and gave me the name of a urologist  with offices in the same building as the hospital.  Since it was after 5pm, I had to wait and call Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. when the office opened.  I explained my situation, how I got their number and that I was desperate for their help.  The doctor had procedures planned starting at 11:00 that day, and if I could get in right away he could see me.  I checked in at 9:50 am, while having an episode with hubby and 3 year old in tow.  After waiting 2.5 hours....he did have to squeeze me in....and 2 episodes later, I must have looked quite terrible, 'cause he admitted me immediately....without seeing any 'films'.... and put me on his surgery schedule for that day.  I finally got into the OR at 5:00 p.m.  What he discovered was that my stone, didn't want to leave me.  It had wedged itself into a curve of my urethra and was blocking  my kidney off from extracting all the loveliness that kidneys extract.  After 5 attempts with lasers and scopes, a hole in my urethra and a stint, he was finally able to get it out.....I love him, really, love....  This whole experience will be over in 3 weeks when I can get the stint removed.

What I learned from this experience:
First: Go to a real hospital ER, even if it's filled with drug addicts and crazy people and you have to wait for hours.  They will have all the things needed to help you.  Had I gone to the real hospital on Tuesday, I would have had the Lithotripsy done that day.  Since I didn't get in until late Friday, the machine was unavailable.

Second:  You are your best advocate.  If you don't like the answer  you are getting from one doctor, go to another one.

Third:  Drugs in moderation are your friend.  Especially if you're at a level 9-10.  Use them.

Finally:  Stupid, insensitive nurses should all be forced to experience long, drawn out pain without meds.  ....perhaps bamboo shoots under their nails....Only for my entertainment and satisfaction.  That's all.

3 comments:

Ange said...

I have to say I love the bamboo shoots under the nails idea. That totally cracked me up.
I've had a kidney stone that they told me was 10mm so I feel your pain and hope your recovery is quick. :)

Jennifer Rzasa said...

So sorry to hear about your troubles! I hope things are much better....and I agree- bamboo shoots!

"LZ" Linda Z. said...

Bless your heart! I do have to say, I pray that you feel better, and may I recommend, (from a fella kidney stoner), you have to get this from your doctor, it is a Rx for TheraLithXR, theralogix vitamin & mineral supplement. Believe it or not, it's vitamins, but it's specifically for those that get kidney stones.

I know your pain, I had kidney surgery in Jan. 2006, had the PCNL, Percutaneous nephrolithotomy. I had a stag horn stone that was shutting down my kidney, by 33%. They were able to get it out, over 4" long and filled my kidney, but I was getting stones, again.

Some people are just prone to it, but I can honestly say that the vitamins help.

Good luck and God speed!!!! I pray that you heal quickly.