You Have To Have A Sense Of Humor To Read Your Own Medical Records.

So, I went in for X-Rays last week as part of a post-procedure checkup to see if the Lithotripsy did what it was supposed to do. — For those of you just tuning in, I’ve been dealing with an uncooperative right kidney for almost a decade. After three procedures, each with varying degrees of success, I underwent lithotripsy in order to remove the last of the debris that was floating around in there.

According to the report, there’s still some “scattered calcific densities” floating around but the large 8mm behemoth is gone. Yay!

Here’s the thing, though. Have you ever read your own medical records? If you haven’t, you better make sure you’ve got a sense of humor. A cup of espresso wouldn’t hurt either as there’s a lot of repetition and technical language. But the sense of humor is important because, well… Here’s a quote from my X-Ray report…

The bowel gas pattern is normal… The bones are grossly unremarkable.

Say what!? For the sake of decency, I’ll leave my bowel gas pattern to the professionals, but my poor bones. — They say beauty is only skin deep but, apparently, my bones are “grossly unremarkable”.

Ah well. It made me laugh and I hope it did you too. 🙂

Recovering very nicely, thank you.

Dear readers, the following post was intended for publishing on Friday, the seventh of February  Unfortunately, as I was recovering from surgery, my close friend Fran passed away. I’m posting it anyway, along with an addendum, because it illustrates the kind of winter I’m having. 🙂

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So… I had Lithotripsy a few weeks ago. Was it painful? Not really, but I do feel as if someone kicked me in the back. The forecast for the day of surgery was heavy rain turning into wet snow by noon. Great!  My other half was thoughtful enough to reserve a room at the small hotel where he works. So, instead of having to wait in the rain for a bus at 4:30am, we could walk just a few blocks to the hospital.

I’m fortunate to live in Philadelphia, a city that has one of the largest and best healthcare networks in the country. We have Hahnemann, Jefferson, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania health systems all within the city limits.

I was the first patient Monday morning. Lucky me! The staff was thorough. At every step of the way I was asked to recite my name, date of birth, allergies, and the Magna Carta, then recite it all once more as I lay on the OR table. This was my fifth kidney procedure, so I’ve gotten to know most of the Pennsylvania hospital staff pretty well. One of the pre-administration lab technicians has a wicked sense of humor. I guess you’d have to if you spent your day stabbing patients in the arm in search of a good vein.

So I was laying on this strange operating table with a cutout underneath in which a water filled gel pad that emits sound waves protrudes. The doctor maneuvered me over the gel pad. The technician strapped me in. The anesthesiologist joked with me that I keep coming back for surgery because of their excellent selection of anesthetics. I don’t remember anything after the oxygen mask was placed over my face. I suspect the anesthesiologist slipped me a Mickey.

The next thing I knew, a nurse was hovering over me with a big smile. “How do you feel?” Like I want to go back to sleep. “Fine”, I said. I really did want to go back to sleep, though. I also wanted some more of whatever it was they gave me for pain. The chorus of The Floaters’ classic “Float On” comes to mind. 

“Float. Float on…”

 

After an hour or so of “recovery time”, I was wheeled out to the lobby where the reality of the day’s snow accumulation stared back at me. While waiting for a cab, we saw a bus and took it.

It was good to get home.

I made myself comfortable on the sofa to wait for love to return home from the pharmacy, bearing gifts of antibiotics and pain killers. You know when you think everything is okay, but you feel just a little off? Not anything major, just ever so slightly off center. That’s how I felt. The more I moved around, the less like myself I felt. Maybe I’d be better off laying down in bed.

Oh right… freshly cleaned sheets. YAY!

I turned on the TV, changed into some comfy clothes, and climbed into bed. That was all she wrote. I was out! Gone! I awoke the next morning stiff and achy and determined not to spend the day in bed.

I still feel a bit sore, but I’m doing well and trying not to use the pain killers too often.

Addendum…

A week later, we took advantage of the break in the snow by climbing up and inspecting the roof and gutters. Because I have a longer reach than Love, I laid down on the roof and reached over the edge to attach the Roof & Gutter De-icing Cable. As I reached and stretched, I heard what sounded like a snap, followed by a sharp pain in my rib, which was pressed against the edge of the roof. I’m not gonna lie. I panicked. After a few moments, I took a couple of deep breaths to inflate my lungs. There was pain, but nothing that indicated a broken rib.

So, if you need your walk shoveled or someone to carry your groceries in from the car, please be kind enough to ask someone else. I think I’m gonna lay low for a while. 😮

This Is My Very First Time. Please excuse me if I ramble.

What a great weekend, right?

Saturday was a beautifully warm day in the midst of bitter cold snap, so I went outside. Not because I wanted to. I dislike crowds and as everyone knows, winter weary people flood to open spaces at the first hint of warmer weather. Saturday was no exception. The reason for my trek into town was to buy a couple of pairs of loose fitting, heavy weight (read ‘warm’) athletic pants that I can wear after my outpatient surgery on Monday. I’ll be having Lithotripsy, a process of breaking up kidney stones with ultra high frequency sound waves. I’m told there will might be pain, so loose fitting clothing is in order.

Stones1a

Broken 6mm kidney stone (left) compared in size to a dime (right).

This will be my fourth medical procedure to remove kidney stones. I’ve had more stents in me than I’d like to remember. But this is my first lithotripsy. I’m a little nervous, so you’ll have to excuse me if I ramble on. The procedure is fairly straight forward. I’ll lay on a platform with an opening through which a gel sub-woofer will blast death metal at my kidney. The stones will pulverize. The end. Easy peasy! The thing that makes me nervous though, is that one of the stones is 8mm in diameter, or about a third of an inch. I passed a 6mm stone last year (pictured on the left).  When you vibrate a large stone against the soft tissue of a human kidney you risk further damage to the kidney. Internal bleeding is a very small but real concern. The benefits vs. risks have all been explained to me, so I’m going into this with open eyes.

I’ve been dealing with kidney trouble for some time now. Technically, I have kidney disease. Though I prefer to think of my right kidney as a spoiled brat that is starving for attention. I don’t talk about it much because it doesn’t define me. When stacked against my friend’s end stage uterine cancer, my health is pretty damned good. I don’t like to complain about the small stuff. I can handle the small stuff. Every now and again though, my kidney makes itself known. That’s when you’ll hear me, loud and clear.

2012 kidney surgery scar kinda looks like a railroad track.

2011 kidney surgery scar kinda looks like a railroad track.

Friends and family all have their “helpful hints”. The number one I receive is to drink plenty of water and cranberry juice. (For the record, I do drink plenty of water. I’m never without a glass of bottle of water, preferably with a slice of lemon.) The other big suggestion is to lay off the salt. Everyone blames salt. Poor Salt. My kidney stones aren’t sodium based. Nope. Mine are special. My kidney stones are made of calcium. According to analysis, my stones are Calculi composed primarily of: 40% calcium oxalate monohydrate, and 60% calcium phosphate (hydroxy- and carbonate- apatite). In other words, my body doesn’t break down calcium as well as it should. The lazy bum! It has something to do with my parathyroid, a gland I had no idea existed until just a few months ago. My doctor put me on potassium citrate and suggested I drink lots of lemonade. (Apparently, lemonade helps break up the calcium). My dentist however, is horrified by the thought of what all that citric acid is doing to my tooth enamel. I find this hilarious!

My doc put me on a “low oxalate diet” which means I can’t eat as much of those leafy greens that I love so much. Seriously, I do love my greens. I told my doc, “Good luck with that.” I’m willing to reduce my intake of leafy greens, but I just can’t give them up completely. I can go without sweets, but broccoli rabe and I are deeply in love.

Today, as per doctor’s instructions, I’m eating light. Salads, watery soup, and clear broth are the order of the day.  No dairy – not even with my coffee, which is frowned upon but not forbidden. Mayo and cheese count as dairy, right?  I can have juice, but no pulp. Why don’t I just kill myself now? Actually, it’s not all that bad. I’ve got plenty of homemade chicken stock in the freezer.Add a few carrots, some celery, and… dinner!

Did I happen to mention it’s Super Bowl Sunday? No wings for me! — Wait! Is killing myself still an option?

Instead of preparing for the “big game’ I’m doing laundry, setting clothes aside, and putting fresh sheets on the bed. After a hospital stay, so matter how brief, there’s nothing better than coming home to freshly cleaned bed sheets. It’s the little things in life that make me happy. Isn’t that what life is all about? Being happy? 🙂

Stay tuned, dear readers. Maybe I’ll take some more pictures. 😉

PS: Here’s a fun little video I found that demonstrates, in layman’s terms, what I have to look forward to…