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Author Topic: Home at Last!
Crystal Stevens
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HOME AT LAST

How great it feels to be home! Nothing can express my feelings more than that after spending three days in the hospital. What started as what I thought was indigestion after getting off work at 11:00 pm Saturday 9/28 ended me up a few hours later in the ER and admitted. After x-rays and later a cat scan I was told I had a large kidney stone. I hope never to feel pain like that again. Evidently because of its size it hasn’t passed out all the way, and so I’ll be having outpatient surgery tomorrow (10/3).

After the first initial bout with pain in the ER, I’ve been pretty much pain free. It felt weird being held in the hospital and feeling perfectly normal. Kinda like being in a jail where you’re waited on hand and foot.

How I yearned to go outside and feel fresh air on my face. How I wished for one of my flutes to express my feelings and sooth the boredom. My husband brought in my latest crochet project, and I spent my time watching TV and crocheting. Can you say bored? I was urged to walk the corridors to help possibly pass the stone. Gangs of fun pushing an IV around the ward. I walked the whole thing in five minutes. So I did three laps to make it worthwhile. A couple of doors let me look out and see trees and sky.

I try not to bore you, but I missed my dog and my horses. I didn’t miss my husband much because he visited every day, which helped. I began to think it would’ve been better if I’d actually been sick. Then maybe I wouldn’t have been so bored.

My first steps out of the hospital were to feel a breeze caress my cheek, the sun warm my face, and breathe in fresh air like an intoxicating elixir.

Home! First thing I visited my animals, my children in every sense of the word. My dog, Sal, went nuts that Mom was home. Steve said she looked for me all the time. My mare, Terra, asked for a scratch on the withers and I obliged her.

Only then did I surrender to the urge to play a flute, something I’d wanted since my first day in the hospital. And the joy and celebration of new found freedom came out in a wild cascade. I played and played and played letting my exuberance fill my song until I couldn’t play no more. How good that felt! I was home... and free.

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History
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Wishing you a speedy recovery and more time with your horses, dog, and children.
Oh, yes...and with your husband. [Wink]

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Crystal Stevens
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Thanks Dr. Bob. My husband is and will always be the joy of my life. I'd be lost without him, and his support really helped me get through that hospital stay [Smile] . It just felt so wonderful to be back home surrounded by my "family"... two and four legged [Wink] .

Ginger

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extrinsic
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Hope your surgery went okay. Lithotripsy, arthroscopy, or endoscopy? Testing for the type of stone may ensue, though some insurance policies don't cover it and some doctors' practices don't believe testing is illustrative. Crystaline urea and stoney calcium (calcium oxalate) are the two main kidney stone categories.

I had a spate of stoney kidney stones lasting five years. Ambulance trips to the emergency room the pain was so intensely unbearable. Emergency room outpatient care because I had no healthcare insurance. Radiologists snapping pictures--X-rays and CAT scans--like a Japanese tourist. Same day released to my own devices, albeit with Vicodin and enormous hospital bills. No help from urologists. No one would do the recommended treatment procedures on an indigent basis, strictly cash up front, thank you.

I had two choices, hope and wait for the stones to pass on their own or wait for them to become life-threatening and then become eligible for emergency indigent treatment. I carried one large stone for a year until it passed, painfully, coming out with a piece of flesh attached. I had and passed a dozen stones during my stones age that caused ongoing discomfort problems.

I have diabetes. Adjusting to the disease is the underlying cause of the stones, though no doctor would confirm or deny that self-diagnosis. Eventually, a nurse-practitioner endocrinology specialist confirmed. Still, I got lttle to no guidance on preventative measures. I found out on my own.

After meals, a diabetic's blood sugar rises above healthy levels. Metabolic processes draw water out of cells and organs in order to flush excess sugars. Organs like the kidneys can become eposidically dehydrated due to the spot demand. Insufficient fluids for flushing the kidneys concentrates minerals that are otherwise flushed out in weak solution. Mineral deposits form and grow on nucleation sites in the kidneys. A stone forms. Some stones break loose and pass out through the ureter. Some stones continue growing until they reach a harmful size. A normal ureter is only 4 millimeters in diameter. Stones smaller than that may pass with comparatively little or no discomfort. Larger stones get hung up along the way.

One urology practice recommended dietary changes, eating fewer foods that contain calcium compounds and more foods low in calcium. Everything contains calcium. Another practice said the efficacy of dietary limitations was unproven and potentially would worsen the incidence of stones. For me, neither less or more dietary calcium made any appreciable difference.

The well water I drank during my stones time was softened, removing minerals from the ground water, mostly calcium and iron. Many municipal water suppliers also soften water to varying degrees. My stones were the calcium type and contained iron.

Odd. I thought, lower mineral intake should minimize stones. I was drinking adequate fluids, three liters a day, but thought increasing fluids was a best course. Doctors said it couldn't hurt. It didn't help. Eventually, I discovered that water softeners also remove magnesium.

Magnesium is essential for more than three hundred metabolic processes. When metabolic magnesium levels are low, it is leached from bones to make up the difference, also leaching calcium in the process. Though I'm not sure, I suspect dietary magnesium insufficiency may also be an underlying cause of osteoporosis. Anyway, I started on a magnesium oxide regimen and I stopped having kidney stones. I believe the metabolic mechanisms of magnesium aid in metabolic calcium flushing.

I haven't passed a stone since I started on magnesium. Recent X-rays show no signs of stone formation either. Doctors have said magnesium supplements couldn't hurt but would neither confirm or deny the efficacy of that regimen. Actually, the endocrinology nurse-practitioner, for my diabetes, during the first and smallest stone said that a multimineral supplement was advisable due to excess flushing caused by diabetes and due to diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia medicines (hypertension and hyperlipidemia are complications of diabetes) increasing water-soluble mineral leaching.

A magnesium supplement was the most useful change that ended my stones age. Magnesium comes in several dose size pills over the counter. I take a 250 milligram magnesium pill daily, in addition to a multivitamin, multimineral supplement and a vitamin C supplement.

[ October 03, 2013, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Crystal Stevens
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Holy crow, extrinsic! I can't begin to imagine putting up with a stone for over a year. I'm surprised from what I've learned from my ongoing experience that your kidney didn't shut down after that length of time. You said that a 4mm stone is average sized, right? Mine is 8mm and lodged in the end of the urinary tract. I doubt very much if it'll pass on its own.

I wondered about well water too, because that's what we have out here in the country, and we don't have soft water. We have a lot of iron in our water along with lime, but I was told that shouldn't make a difference in my case. Of course I'm not diabetic either.

I sure hope you're doing better now.

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Crystal Stevens
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We left home early to do some shopping in Fort Wayne before heading for the Parkview Medical Center for my surgery... the surgery that didn't happen. Evidently complications have surfaced on one of my tests that must be resolved before proceeding any farther. So I have to call our family doctor and make an appointment with another specialist for more tests to rectify the problem before I can be put under anesthesia. Looks like it'll be early next week before the stone can be removed... I hope. I've also been experiencing discomfort from my body trying to eject the stone, and as such haven't returned to work.

So everything is on hold until I talk with my MD tomorrow morning. Man, I can't wait to get this over with and get back to a normal life again.

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extrinsic
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I suppose average size is relative. I don't know the average size of kidney stones. Mine averaged 3 millimeters. 4 millimeters is the size of the pipe: urinary tract, of which the ureter is the fibrous muscle tube between the kidneys and the bladder. An 8 millimeter stone probaby won't go into and through the ureter.

I passed a 7 millimeter stone with no ill effect, besides a year of episodic, extreme renal colic pain. A previous stone was 4 millimeters. At that time, the larger stone I passed was lodged in the kidney, showed on X-rays but was only 2 millimeters then. Concerns about kidney shutdown both worried and encouraged me. That would have been cause for emergency indigent treatment. In the long run, prevention has been my best course.

I continued working during the time and attended all my undergraduate classes. I came away suma cum laude regardless. I've since graduated master's school magna cum laude.

The kidney stone belt runs across the southern U.S., roughly along the Mason-Dixon line to the West Coast and south. Northern people have a lower incidence of kidney stones than southern people. Why? Different diet, hydration regimen, mineral content of drinking water, lifestyle, climate, genetics? I don't know. A magnesium supplement was for me the magic bullet. Maybe magnesium is more prevalent in northern drinking water supplies.

[ October 03, 2013, 07:47 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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I hope you get well soon, Crystal. I went through the same thing last year. I was prescribed oxycodone, but 5 mg every 4 hr and I may as well have been taking a sugar pill. I had to go to 15mg.

My urologist's name was "Dr. Leo" -- his family came from the same part of Southern China as my father's. Having the same family name is a bigger deal in Chinese culture than it would be here. The traditional practice of ancestor worship makes the extended family much more important. My father could name his male ancestors going back seven generations, right off the top of his head.

Anyhow, being a writer I had to ask, how does a medical student decide to become a urologist? I suppose that a lot of students enter medical school with the idea of becoming a pediatrician, cardiologist, but I don't imagine many young people grow up dreaming of a career in urology. It turns out Dr. Leo was something of an anatomy geek. In medical school he did a rotation in a urology department and got hooked on all the complicated plumbing involved. It probably didn't hurt that urology is the third highest paid specialty in the US.

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Crystal,

Again I am sorry to hear about your plight and the unfortunate delay in your procedure. I can only assume your doctors are optimizing your state of health before proceding in order to decrease the risk of complications (whether in regard to bleeding, infection, or renal function). I also surmise that your condition was not so severe to require emergent intervention. I've had to emergently place drainage tubes into the kidneys (i.e. percutaneous nephrostomies) in patients at times but it is far better to do so non-emergently. I do not know (nor ask to know) the specifics of your situation but (1) I am glad it is not emergent, and (2) before following any advice available or provided to you on-line, I urge you to discuss it with your physician. Everyone's complete medical history is different and will determine each individual's optimal care.

MattLeo,
I was unaware of your family's South China roots. That is fascinating, particularly in light of your delightful novel The Quest For Norumbega.

The genitourinary system is fascinating. In my first few years practicing in my speciality in the Army, I was by necessity assigned as a Uroradiologist (as well as other duties) and had the opportunity to work alongside and perform research with some of the greats in this discipline. I was the whiz-kid on Prostate imaging and was "hired" (without pay >smile<) as an Asst Clinical Prof of Uroradiology at UCSF where I lectured for a year--but in such august company it was I who learned a lot. Our bodies are amazingly intricate and wonderful machines, truly blessings.

However, I'll admit I similarly wonder at my colleagues who were entranced by Gastroenetrology and especialy Proctology. "Different strokes", perhaps.

Like your Dr. Leo, I am an "anatomy geek", but I like ALL of it. It was a great surprise to me that childhood dream of becoming a family physician, taking care of infant Johnnie to Grandma Nel, was swept away by the excitement and enthusiasm I had for the diagnostic investigative and interventional curative discipline of Radiology/Imaging. It is hard to explain. The best comparison perhaps is the feeling one has when falling in love. Or having an epiphany. You know it is right and true for you.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Robert Nowall
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Good luck with your stone and all sympathies. And remember, in the immortal words of Detective Sgt. Phil Fish (NYPD-retired), "Can't be too bad. The doctors say it's like giving birth."
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LDWriter2
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Should have said something last night...but I'm glad you are okay...more or less. But that was some "adventure".

Glad everyone survived without you too. [Wink]


Hope it works out real fast.

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Crystal Stevens
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I'll be seeing the specialist about the complication tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to have the stone removed before the end of this week. I'm so ready to get on with my life as usual.
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Crystal Stevens
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I didn't want to alarm anyone when I mentioned the specialist earlier until after I'd seen him, a cardiologist. I had an abnormal EKG when I was in the ER at the beginning of this mess that showed my potassium was dangerously low. That was due to me being very dehydrated at the time due to lots of urinating and vomiting. The doctors even agreed with my assessment but still insisted I see a cardiologist, which I did on Monday. The results were I was told my heart was healthy and my outpatient surgery could proceed.

The surgery was this morning, and the stone had to be cut into chunks with a laser. I was shown a pic of the stone and couldn't believe its size. I had no idea how big a millimeter was, so the approximately half inch in diameter stone shocked the snot out of me. They were talking about having to put in a stint to hold my urinary tract open, but Praise the Lord, it wasn't necessary.

I'm now home and typing this after a nap when my meds hit home. Urinating will be a trial for a couple of days and I'm hoping to be back up and around this weekend and back to work come Monday.

It's really felt strange having my husband Steve looking after me for a change instead of the other way around. He's on disability, and rightly so, with a heart condition along with other things.

Thanks everyone for the support you've given me through this trying time. It's helped me more than you could know [Smile] .

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I'm so glad to hear that you are on the mend, Crystal, and that you were right about your potassium levels.

Thanks for letting us know.

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LDWriter2
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I'm glad you;re on the mend too. And that things will work out, that's better I think.
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extrinsic
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Congratulations on successful outcomes, Crystal Stevens.
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Robert Nowall
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Best and all, and don't count on being "comfortable" for a while, yet.
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