Saturday, April 6, 2013

Everybody Must Get (Kidney) Stoned

Wednesday night, I was home alone; Pinky was working and would be staying at her place afterward.  I’d just finished the lovely barbecued ground turkey dinner she’d left me, and was scanning through the day’s blogs when the pain hit me.

At first, I thought I tweaked my back, because my whole lower left side just “exploded.”  I quickly realized, though, that it didn't have the hallmark of my usual back pains.  It was off to the side, and no matter what I did or how I moved, it wouldn't abate.  It was about navel-high, and radiated downward into the left side of my groin.  It felt like I was in an “Alien” movie and something nasty was trying to get out.


As I sat there, literally gasping, I began going through my options.  I am not one to go running to the doctor with the slightest malady, so I wanted information before I decided to do anything.  In my experience 95% of my aches and pains go away on their own.

I Googled “sudden pain left side” and started running through the options.  None of them looked particularly pleasant or temporary.  The leading contenders were diverticulitis, pancreatitis, appendicitis and kidney stones.  The first three had notes to seek medical attention NOW.

To me, that just meant I needed more input.  While I considered my options, I got up and tried to find a comfortable position, but nothing worked.  I felt nauseous, so I went into the bathroom, but nothing came of it.  Lying in bed didn't help, nor did sitting on the couch.

I was especially worried about appendicitis because I knew how bad it is if your appendix bursts.  My dad had appendicitis back during his youth, so I decided to give my parents a call.

Dad was able to dispel appendicitis as a cause, because the appendix is on the right side.  My pain was completely on the left.  But now that I scared the crap out of both of them, they urged me to call 911.  I thought I could drive myself to the hospital, because it’s only about 5 minutes away, but Dad made an excellent point.  If I drive myself, I’m likely to end up sitting in the waiting area all night, depending on the caseload.  If the ambulance takes me, I get right in.

While I wasn't comfortable with putting the EMTs out to come and get me, I also didn't want to sit and stew in the waiting room either.  I was still deliberating when I had to cut off the call.  Something was coming up.

I barely made it to the bathroom before I began hurling, with great intensity.  OK, NOW I was scared.  I almost never hurl.  Usually when I feel nauseous, I can deep-breathe my way back out of it, but not this time.  Last time I threw up, it was when I had the bronchitis and I was coughing so hard, all the crap I was coughing up hit my uvula and set me off.  Before that, I’d have to go back to a food poisoning case in the early 2000s.

Because I’d just eaten, the hurling did not go smoothly.  Not to gross you out, but it was pretty thick.  I only mention it because I thought I was going to run out of air while my windpipe blocked.  While I was in there, I remembered that I had the door locked and dead-bolted.  No one would be able to come in and get me without breaking down the door.  Why didn't I just have soup for dinner?

Eventually, it passed, and I immediately walked out to unlock the door.  My parents called back and I told them what happened.  Post-hurling, the pain began to abate a bit, so I thought I might be OK.  They still wanted me to call 911, but I wanted to wait it out.  Maybe it would get all the way better.  I wanted to make sure before I stepped onto the carousel.  That’s what it’s like for me… making that call is like stepping onto a moving, spinning merry-go-round.  Once I’m on, I’m carried away by forces I can’t control any more.  I’m at the mercy of the spinning horses.

I did decide to call Pinky though.  I didn't like the idea of being alone and choking to death on my own hurl.  I may revere Bon Scott, but that doesn't include dying the way he did.  I caught Pinky on her way home from work, so I diverted her to come here.

"Bluz, listen to your womans and go to the hospital, or you'll end up visiting me!"

While I was waiting, I tried watching the Pens game from my easy chair with a heating pad on my side.  That always helped my backaches.  I quickly realized, though, that it was only making it worse.  The only thing close to relief I got was by pacing around and rubbing my side.  Before long, I felt nauseous again, and had to return to the bathroom.  I tried to remember to breathe in deeply before I unloaded some more dinner, so I’d have more time before I could black out.

Next thing I knew, Pinky was there, and I told her about the whole situation.  I think that was the point when I “stepped onto the carousel,” because once I told her, there was no way I wasn't going to the hospital.  I just wanted to wait long enough so that I could prepare a bit… get some things together, get some clothes on, set up the DVR to record what I’d be missing… Dad had told me that they’d probably want me to stay on the phone until the ambulance got there, so I wanted to get ready first.

I was going to call them myself, but I let Pinky do it.  I know “me,” and one of my phobias is calling people (or places) I don’t know well.  I’d dilly-dally back and forth, trying to get what I wanted to say straight, before finally dialing.  Pinky has no such qualms, so I let her plunge straight ahead.  They didn't keep us on the phone though, so I was able to continue getting things together.

Well, after I hurled again.  This time, I think I used up the last of the dinner.  Maybe I DO eat too much.

So, I got my cell phone and iPad out and made sure they were charged up.  I also had to figure out what to wear.  I decided to keep my sweat pants on, but I put on some undies.  I knew I’d have to wear the evil hospital gown, but I figured there was a chance I could keep my drawers on, so I wouldn't have to bare my ass all over the floor.

It took about 20 minutes for the EMTs to get there.  They came right as Pinky was checking back with 911, to see where they were.  They took my vitals and I answered their questions, and then went with them to the hospital.  Yay for my first ambulance ride!  They sure could use some new shocks on that wagon though.  Didn't feel too good getting bounced around like I did.

As expected, they got me out of the truck and into an ER room, but not before I had to hurl again.  I’m glad it was just the dry-heaves though, for the sake of everyone else in the lobby.  I had a little plastic tub to use, so they didn't have to call in the haz-mat team on my account. 

Now began a steady parade of nurses, technicians and doctors who came in to see me.  They got me hooked up to an IV for fluids.  But still the pain was coming strong.  All night it had seemed to come in waves; about every 20 minutes it would build up and I’d hurl.  They asked me to rate it on a 1-10 Pain Scale, and I gave it a 7.5 to 8.  (Initial onset was definitely a 9.)

Waiting for the doctor, I heaved again.  Now, I was starting to access lunch.  This was wearing me out.  I never knew throwing up was this exhausting.  All I could do was sit on the edge of the bed and rock.  (Which luckily, I was born to do.)  Eventually they got me to lie back, but continued to squirm and twitch.

Finally a doctor came in and told me that my symptoms represented a classic case of kidney stones.  They’d set me up for a CT scan and a drip with morphine and anti-nausea medicine.  Now we’re talking!  I've always wanted to try morphine.  

Once I was hooked up and things began to calm down, I used my cell to call the folks.  (Pinky had also called them after I went in the ambulance.)  I was able to tell them what was going on and what I had.  I also asked them if they can get Morphine at Walgreens, because they should really try it out.

I have to do things like that.  When I’m under pressure, I try to make jokes.  I joked with the EMTs, the technicians and nurses.  I was trying to figure out where to put my wallet, and I said, "I think I better keep it on me.  Is it proper to tip your nurse?"  I asked Pinky, at the time, if it was weird that I was already making notes for my next blog post?

The Morphine took the edge off.  It made me feel a little fuzzy in the head, but took the pain down to about a 4.  But I was also getting really cold.  I don’t know if it was the drug, or that the outside doors had to keep opening, but I was freezing.  Pinky used anything at hand to get me covered up… my shirts, my coat, and the sheets from the room.  She also went out and had someone bring in blankets.  I had to tell her though, be sure not to cover up my head with the sheet.  I didn't want the hospital to get the wrong idea.

When they asked again about the pain, they decided to change my drip to something called Dilaudid.  They said that 1 mg of Dilaudid was like 10 mg of Morphine.  And let me tell you, they were right!  Once they injected the Dilaudid into my drip, it was like the pain just started folding in on itself, by half each time, until it just winked away.  I knew I was going to have to remember this shit for the future.  Unable to refrain from punning the night way, I told my parents (and eventually the nurses) that I was Dilauded with my treatment.  One of my parents, (I don’t remember which because I was becoming increasingly “relaxed”) said they applauded the Dilaudid.

I got my CT scan done without any trouble and round about 10 pm the doctor came back to tell me that A) they’d be admitting me tonight, and B) I had a 7-mm kidney stone.  They scheduled me to see a urologist in the morning to decide how to treat it.

Seven millimeters.  Holy crap.  I got out my iPad and looked up how big 7-mm was.  You can see for yourself right here.  (Apparently, the size of your viewing screen impacts the proportions of a picture, so it would be misleading for me to post one.)  But suffice to say, I desperately hoped that they were talking 7-mm in length, not diameter.

Pinky and I decided that she should go home, because there wasn't really anything more she could do, and there was no sense in the both of us being uncomfortable.  They wheeled me up to my room, for what would prove to be a difficult night’s sleep. 

Which you will find out all about when I get to Part 2 in the next post.

28 comments:

  1. HO-LEE SHI-ITTT, Bluz, When you do get sick, you do a DOOZY! Replies from aunts, uncles, cousins is a uniform "YIKES!" and a resounding, "OOOOOUCH!!!"
    Does the word Plink ring a bell.
    Please be well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nice to have a malady that everyone has heard of, for a change. Less explaining...

      Delete
  2. Our Walgreen's pharm says we need a note from our Son to score some morphine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I need a note from my mom before I can write it. Freakin' Obamacare...

      Delete
  3. Ugh.
    I do so hope your pain went away and you are feeling ok now. I had a 9mm stone in '07 and another (7 or 8 I think) in '10.

    I dont ever want to go through that pain again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pain was gone before I left the hospital, and I'm hopeful it stays that way. I do NOT want to do that again. (But at least I'll know what it is.)

      Delete
  4. Yikes! That sounds awful. Glad you can keep your sense of humor through all of that excruciating pain and hurling. The barfing alone would scare the shit out of me. I'm terrified of getting nausea from my teen years, when I barfed 6x in one night and thought I was going to choke to death on my own vom. ::shudder::

    Hope you're back at 100% now that the giant stone is out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what I was scared of... Choking to death.

      Yes, the pain is gone, but I never said the stone was out... I'll fill in the details in Part 2.

      Delete
  5. Cassie told me what was going on. That's horrible! I had something similar when my falopian tube up and caught an infection. The pain was insane and I thought my side had exploded. And yea, dilauded is magic medicine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geez, between my dad sending messages to my family all over the country, and Cassie telling my blog friends, this grapevine is really spreading.

      Funny how we never heard about Dilaudid before we needed it, but damn if it didn't work like a charm. It's a freakin wonder drug, if you ask me...

      Delete
  6. The post was a good mix of quasi-technical detail and humor with just enough grossness. I give it a 7 in honor of the size of your stone. :-)

    But seriously, that did not sound fun (except for the drugs). The throwing up alone is enough to send cold chills down my spine. I went through that about two months ago, and it was the most awful four or so hours I can recall, maybe worse than labor.

    Looking forward to part two!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I swear, Facie, besides not knowing what was wrong with me, that scared the living shit out of me. No one should ever have to throw up alone. Granted, it's no bargain for the other person in the room, but they serve a valuable purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Replies
    1. You should have seen the look on my face when the Dr told me that! You could see it, right there, as I comprehended the size of the stone versus the opening through which it needed to pass. But just as quickly, I realized that I had access to really wicked drugs!

      Delete
  9. I would just like to say "Bravo!" for the born to rock line. I LOLed.

    Feel better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ginny.

      And I was proud of them. Tragedy makes for the best comedy.

      Delete
  10. oh man, you are making us wait?????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part 2 will go up Tuesday night. At risk of providing a spoiler, I come out OK. Can't say the same for that stone, though.

      Delete
  11. Wow!! That's horrible! Glad you're feeling better!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    ReplyDelete
  12. Deb, sorry I deleted your comment. But thanks. The saga continues...

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have to admit that I was in a hurry and was going to bypass this post for later, but the toothy alien drew me in. I read an amazing article the other day about the guy who played the alien and how he was housed in a different hotel than the rest of the cast to increase his sense of "otherness" and how he went back to Africa after the filming and killed himself. So . . . glad it was just a kidney stone for you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don’t know, Katie… kind of sounds like an urban legend, to me. Suffice to say there was nothing about anything like that in the bonus materials on the Alien DVDs. The guy in the suit was just another stunt guy from the crew. Maybe one of the offshoot movies…

      Delete
  14. Hospitals often are freezing, the temp being okay for the staff but not so much for the patients. Anyway, your Google search turned appendicitis even though the pain was on the wrong side. I can't make sense of that unless it's possible for the pain to be referred (that is felt somewhere other than where the problem is).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that's the problem with the searches. What turns up isn't always what you're looking for.

      Delete
  15. Holy hell!! I go to Disney and you go to the hospital. Although, I didn't get any good drugs, so maybe we're even? ;)

    I had no idea you were recuperating when I emailed you this past weekend. Sorry about that. But sounds like you were at least up and about by Sunday when you went to the game. Glad you are feeling better. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with writing your next post in your head during a crazy experience. I do it all the freaking time. What do you think I was plotting half the time I was in Disney? Why else would I take pictures of a dancing penis? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's all right... I was OK by the weekend... until some new issues developed. I'll have more on that as soon as I can roll out some more posts.

      Delete
  16. See what happens when I'm away from the blogs for a few days?

    Nice. A 7-mm. Go big or go home; that's what I say.

    Haven't gotten to part II yet, but it doesn't seem like this is one you can pee away. Ouch. All I can think of is that huge meteor heading to earth in Deep Impact.

    Hit the IV button again for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m starting to agree. Feels like that stone has been rolling around the bottom hole in the bladder for a week now, like a golf ball, rimming out of the cup. In other words, it’s letting me know it’s there, but not exactly going anywhere.

      Delete