These past several weeks have been just this side of a living hell. Between my normal medical problems, and the stress that comes from the holiday season, I have been dealing with bronchitis. Add to that, this past few days have also been kidney stone hell.
The bronchitis started about a week after Thanksgiving, and gradually got worse. I was told by a doctor that breathing is overrated (no joke, he actually said that) but it is a habit that I have gotten used too over the years. At the height of my bronchial problems I was coughing so hard that I thought I had broken a rib. I’m doing better now, but I still sound like I have “Pop-Rocks” in my chest when I exhale.
This morning, Christmas Day, I had fallen asleep around 2AM, and kept getting woken up by the sound of someone standing over me breathing. I would lie there, listening. The sound was close, very close. Yet I knew in my mind that no one was in the room with me. I turned and looked, the bedroom door was still closed. The light from the clock radio cast enough of a glow that the only shadows I could see were the familiar ones of many years. I held my breath. The noise stopped. I waited. Seconds seemed like minutes, and then with an exhale the noise was back. That’s when I realized that the stranger breathing in the room was ME! So it is now seven in the morning, and I am sitting here with coffee and keyboard. Strange how the mind works, and how your own body will trick it into imagining all kinds of things.
As I said before I have also been dealing with a round of kidney stones. If you have never had one, count your blessings. If you have had one – my sympathies to you. The first one I ever had was back sometime in 1992 or ’93 while I was working as a deputy at our local city-county building. I had been having back pain for several days, and the pain had pretty much gone, turning into a dull ache. I had gone to use the head (restroom for the uninitiated) and while trying to relieve myself, I sudden found myself on the floor, nearly passed out. One of the deputies I worked with heard me scream, and came running into the restroom, discovering me on hands and knees with what little glory I had hanging out. I had no idea what the heck had happened, all I knew was that I was using the restroom and it felt like someone had ripped the inside of me out through my urethra.
I went to the ER, and after a dozen or so tests the doctor came in with the news. One side note question: Why is it that when it involves that part of the body I always end up with either really cute nurses or doctors? Or both? The results showed some blood in my urine, but the good news was that there was nothing else that had shown up on any of the tests. The doctor called it an isolated incident of a kidney stone, and with a few days rest, especially of that area, I would be fine.
Fast forward to 2009, and that is when the fun really starts. I started to have the same back pain, and then the pain shifted into my side and abdominal area. I went to my doctor and due to where the pain was he thought it was a kidney stone. So off to the urologist for a consult. I had been putting up with this for weeks, and it had gotten to the point where, when the stone would move I would end up on the floor in pain. They gave me the option of either waiting to pass what I thought was Gibraltar, or having surgery and they would get this monster out of me. I opted for the surgery.
The surgery went well, and while in recovery the doctor came in and said that they couldn’t find a stone. I had either passed it or there was some other problem. When you have kidney stone surgery the put a stent into the urethra, through the bladder, into the ureters and up to the kidney. The idea is to keep everything open and flowing as it were. A week went by, and the stent was becoming more and more bothersome, so I went to the doctor and he removed it. I didn’t realize that they had placed 30 feet of hose inside me (okay, maybe 12-14 inches, but it felt like 30 feet when he pulled it out). This was at noon on a Friday, and by 6PM that same day I was back in the hospital with sepsis.
A different doc came in to see me at 7:30AM that Saturday, and explained the need to redo the surgery and clear out everything. The surgery was done, and I spent a week in the hospital with tubes and IVs sticking out everywhere. After this little game of stone, surgery, no stone, sepsis, surgery, and stone, I recovered fairly well.
Other than the neurological problems that developed shortly after my bout of sepsis (no one will still say they are related) I was doing pretty good as far as kidney stone problems. That is until this past 6-8 months. I have been passing at least 2-3 a month, and what once was enough to knock me to my knees in pain, has now become just a major annoyance. Yes, they hurt like hell, but it is amazing what the human body can learn to tolerate.
So, right now I have a stone that has moved from my kidney into the ureter, and making its way towards its birth. I have become so in tune with these little buggers that I can tell when one is forming, moving and playing ping-pong in my bladder. The fun comes on launch day, that is when I get the eye-crossing moment of relief, and know that I am good for at least a few weeks.
The down side of kidney stones is that I get really cranky while they are making their voyage. My urologist told me, off the record, that when I have one start to form I can either have the surgery to remove it, or pick up a six-pack of beer and flush it out. Someone pass me a Corona.