On the afternoon of September 10 of 2014, excruciating pain brought me to my knees. Having had one before, I knew the source of my agony was a dreaded kidney stone. If you’ve never had one, about the only way I know of to describe it is to say it’s like getting branded on the lower flank. It is a type of pain that I’ve been told is akin to the pain of childbirth. To the emergency room I went, where I was X-rayed and administered a divine morphine drip. The X-ray revealed the kidney stone was 5.2 millimeters in diameter, and was located high up in the ureter, near the kidney. Kidney stones should perhaps be called “ureter stones,” because in almost every case the stone does not cause pain while in the kidney itself. While a stone is in the ureter, urine flow is blocked, which causes the kidney to swell, inflicting great pain on its victim. Learn more about kidney stones with this fabulous link: a kidney stone site that explains all of this stuff in layman’s terms.
At close to six feet tall and 175 pounds, I consider myself a healthy individual. I don’t eat a lot of junk. In fact, I’m not much of an eater at all. I believe in eating just enough to healthily sustain myself. I exercise regularly, mostly by running four miles four times a week. Okay, so I get lazy from time to time and only do it twice. Still, though, I keep in shape. So how the hell could this happen to me? Answer: They don’t know right off the bat.
I’ve had a kidney stone before, about eight years ago. Though that stone caused more pain than this one, it was much smaller and I passed it while in the hospital. The whole episode was four hours from start to finish. No follow-up doctor visits were prescribed.
But this little bugger was different. It wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. They performed a CAT scan, which confirmed the presence of a stone high up in the ureter. After the pain subsided (courtesy of the morphine) I was sent home. I had prescriptions filled for painkillers and Flomax. While the painkillers were good fun, the Flomax didn’t help matters at all. For three weeks my doctor held back from performing surgery, advising me to drink water like it was going out of style. I also consumed a disgusting mixture of apple cider vinegar mixed with honey (one part vinegar to two parts honey). Diluted with water, I imbibed that mixture five times a day for three weeks. But throw that old home remedy out the window, because when I went back for another pricey CAT scan, they discovered the stone had not moved a single millimeter down the ureter track. The stone, in fact, got bigger. At 5.5 millimeters my doctor said it was a stubborn stone and large enough that there was less than a 50/50 chance of it being passed.
It was at this point that a platoon of doctors and other medical personnel gained unfettered access to my penis. I was knocked out for the surgery, which they said was a “minimally invasive procedure.” Folks, when they fish a tube through the tip of your penis and snake it up high in the ureter, that ain’t “minimally invasive” in my book. When I came to, a female nurse stood by my side as I held a container to empty my bladder into. And I’m telling you, I really thought I had to pee. Like a racehorse, in fact! For ten minutes I tried, then the doctor walked in and said to the nurse, “What are you doing that for? I emptied his bladder during surgery.” The need to go was a false sensation. When I got home and finally did go, it hurt like a motherfucker. Even once the pain medication for urinating kicked in, it still wasn’t very much fun.
After the anesthetic wore off, I felt like I had a live snake inside of me. That was thanks to the ureter stent, which stayed in for nine days, the first six of which were quite painful. Oddly enough, the last three days with the stent were pain free. It was almost like it wasn’t there.
But when I went to the urologist’s office to have it removed, I sure as shit knew it was there. All they did was apply a topical anesthetic to the tip of my package, and in the doctor went with a cytoscope. It burned and stung like a mother as the nurse and doctor maneuvered to extract that sucker. But in less than three minutes it was over. There was no residual pain at all after that. The doctor said, “Look here.” I opened my eyes (which had remained closed while I attempted to distract myself from the pain of the procedure) and there it was, the ureter stent, which was a slimy green tube with coils at each end: One coil was stationed at the bottom of my kidney, and the other in my bladder. The doctor smiled proudly, as if he were presenting a newborn baby to me. But that was one ugly baby that I had no desire to take home.
The kidney stone was composed of calcium oxalate. The doctor says I have to completely change my diet. The threat of another stone forming serves as motivation for me to adhere as closely to the plan as possible. I just don’t know about the part that says I can’t have chocolate anymore. Are you fucking kidding me?
So far the tab for all the medical bills tops $22,000. And they’re not done totaling everything up!
Pictured up top is a snapshot of my kidney stone, up close and personal.
I’ll never again take my personal privacy for granted. The only person I want handling my junk henceforth (aside from me) is whoever happens to be my girlfriend at the moment.
Until next time,