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.
Broken 6mm kidney stone (left) compared in size to a dime (right).
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.
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…
Murphy’s Law, as it relates to medical issues, seems to apply even more so on weekends, when most hospitals run with minimal staff.
A new kidney stone joined the party on Friday evening. Thankfully the pain isn’t that excruciating “death would be better” misery that often accompany these things. If it was, I’d have to spend a weekend in a hospital room attached to a morphine drip waiting for Monday. Surgeons generally don’t work on the weekends.
These painful little gifts from hell show up frequently enough that I’ve become a pro at recognizing their calling cards; lower back and flank pain followed by endless trips to the restroom, where I can be heard screeching out a passable Robert Plant impersonation.
I drink an average of two to three liters of water each day. That’s significantly more than before my right kidney declared war a few years ago. Unfortunately, hydration only tells half the story. There are other factors that determine your propensity for kidney stones. Though technically not hereditary, if your father had kidney stones, chances are you will too.
Due to my history of kidney trouble, this will probably not be my last tango with these microscopic menaces. So I’ll keep drinking water, eating a low sodium diet, and wondering what the hell it was I did in a past life that Karma deemed it necessary to torture me so.