Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Well I am officially a fifty-five year old man.

Why, you ask?

Because, my friends, I have kidney stones!!!!


(Do people admit things like this on blogs?  Because I do, apparently.)

Last Friday I was certain I had a UTI, and I called my doctor, who in turn phoned in a prescription for an antiobiotic.

Which didn't really make the symptoms go away.

Then Monday morning I woke up in such extreme lower back pain that I could barely walk.  I HATE being a wimp so I just gritted my teeth, took a shower, got my kids ready for the day, and we set off to drop off my in-laws, who'd been visiting, at the bus stop.  I had plans to go immediately from there to a friend's home for my church moms group.  The first meeting of the year.

But as I was driving away from the bus stop, doubled over in pain and wondering what on EARTH was wrong with me, I realized that there was no WAY I could make it to moms group.  I called Kevin (who was at work) on the cell phone, promptly burst into tears, and told him something was really wrong with me and that I was just going straight home.  During our conversation he mentioned that maybe I had a kidney stone.  And told me he was on his way home to take me to the doctor.

Now being that I am most definitely NOT a fifty five year old male, I thought the whole kidney stone thing seemed pretty far-fetched.  But sure enough, all the symptoms added up.  And because my doctor couldn't see me until late that afternoon, we made the decision to just have Kevin take me to the ER.  (There's a great Seventh Day Adventist hospital right down the street from us.)  I didn't want to wait all day, I was afraid that if this WASN'T a kidney stone, it could be something far more sinister (ectopic pregnancy?  kidney infection?), and let's be honest: I wanted pain meds.

After many hours in the hospital (sooooo frustrating), some blood draws, a urine sample and a CAT scan (but no pain meds, because the pain began subsiding shortly after I got there), it was confirmed that I did, indeed, apparently pass a kidney stone.  What in the world??!!  The lab results showed that NO, I did NOT have a UTI, and those symptoms I'd been having were because of the kidney stones.  Awesome.  The doctor said they didn't SEE any more stones in there, so hopefully I was done...

Yesterday I woke up feeling fine and took my kids with our homeschool group to a farm to pick berries and learn about bees.  A great day overall, minus Mary screaming and crying in the raspberry field, Yosef peeing his pants in the port-a-potty, and Anna having a melt-down after getting stuck in a bunch of mud.  But really, we had a great time.  The kidney stone issue had been resolved.

UNTIL 5:30 AM TODAY.  When I suddenly woke up.  "Why am I awake?" I wondered.  Until I realized that my lower back was in pain.  My left side hurt in an all-too-familiar way.  Yep, it was happening again.  This time though I was prepared.

And not because I'd filled my prescription for narcotic and anti-nausea meds.  That would have been too simple.  (I was feeling better once I left the hospital on Monday afternoon, and I didn't want to buy stuff I wasn't going to use.  So the prescription orders were sitting in my living room.)

But I was prepared for what lay ahead.  I did lots of deep breathing.  Some pacing.  Laying on my back and looking out at the sliver of blue sky I could see outside my window, using that as a focal point.  I told myself that the worst of the pain ought to be over by 9 am or so, based on Monday's timetable.

Around 7:30 am I suddenly had to hobble run to the bathroom and throw up.  Fantastic.
That's how Kevin found me, when he got up for the day.  Crouched in front of the toilet.  I'm such a classy gal.

And that's right, folks, I didn't wake my husband up.  I'm very much like a cat when I'm in pain.  I don't want to be touched, spoken to, or looked at.  I did want to tell him it was happening again, but I also wanted him to get his sleep.  So my reasoning was partly selfish, partly selfless. 

Of course he felt horrible when he found out it happened again, and ran to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions ($10 each, and a small price to pay for relief).  Neither of which I've taken, though, because I must have passed the second set of stones, since I don't feel like dying anymore.  AND, I'm still breastfeeding Mary Lu, and if I can avoid either a) having to pump and dispose of the milk or b) drugging up my eleventh-month-old, I'll do it. 

I have to tell you that passing a kidney stone is SO INCREDIBLY PAINFUL.  It reminds me a little of childbirth, and a little of a migraine (but instead of the pain being in your head, it's in your lower back and side.)  I totally used my mind-over-matter and breathing techniques I use during labor.  Sadly though, unlike at the end of childbirth, I have no cute little newborn to kiss and hold once the pain subsides.   Nothing to show for it except for apparently some itty-bitty sand-like particles that, while formerly in my kidney, are now in the toilet.  (None of which I have seen.  I feel a little gypped.  You'd think that something capable of making you feel like someone is repeatedly stabbing a knife into your lower back would really be something to look at.)

So here's my word of advice to all of you: DRINK LOTS OF WATER.  Lots and lots of water.  All the time.  I do a semi-decent job when it comes to water consumption, but I'm not overly consistent with it and there is room for improvement.  Plus, I live in a really dry climate, which contributes to the likelihood of getting kidney stones.  Soda doesn't help either, although I actually haven't had much soda lately, and I definitely drink FAR more water than soda.

They say 5% of women experience a kidney stone at some point in their life.

Lucky me.

To the other 95% of you: count your lucky stars.  Enjoy your carefree days of walking upright and not having to call on what you remember of Lamaze breathing techniques in the wee hours of the morning, while the rest of your household is sleeping cozily in their beds.

As for the rest of us, well, we can be glad I suppose that we women are tough as nails and can birth eight-pound babies and, yes, pass microscopic kidney stones too.  All pain-med-free if need be. 

But now that I have a prescription narcotic sitting happily in my bathroom cupboard, I may not be able to take one for the team if this happens again.  It might just be too tempting as I'm pacing and breathing and mentally transporting myself to a peaceful sandy beach.

For now though the worst of the pain seems to be over.

And I think I need a nap.


Joanie said...

Ouch! Take care of yourself. I'm trying really hard not to find this story so amusing, but Brianna, you have such a gift for storytelling. But really I feel for you. You really should get to be holding someone little right now! Man, what a bummer.

Brianna Heldt said...

Joanie heehee, it IS a bit amusing! :)

Katie said...

OOOOH, I hope you feel better soon! I am in the 5% with you, and I was far from 55 when I got them too (I was 23)! And, I too, am a lot like you when in pain . . I hobbled around and even walked to the post office before I finally had someone take me to the ER. Praise God, though, that was almost 13 years ago and I have not had any since! I think driking tons of water helps.

Rachel said...

My friend has had chronic kidney stones for the last 3 years or so. She has a few home remedies I can get for you if this happens again. They have to do with chugging Coke and eating asparagus by the bundle. I am so sorry and pray that this was the last one! Mike has one a while back too, he looked like death.

Brianna Heldt said...

Katie I am so sorry you have gone through this---but GLAD to know I'm not alone!!! And SO happy you haven't had it happen again!

Rachel, I love Coke AND asparagus, so that sounds good to me! :)

Charla Liedahl said...

Yikes! I have heard that kidney stones cause some of the worst pain imaginable. Sorry you had to find out!

BJ said...

I feel your pain! I had a kidney stone nearly 1 cm. in diameter get stuck in my ureter. They symptoms hit 4 days before my due date for my fifth child. Four days of hospitalization and crazy narcotics, and I only felt mildly better. Then Baby decided to show up one her due date (my only one who did), but came full-face presentation, so off to surgery for a section. I felt way better after the section, so dr's assumed the stone was gone. The day before I was to go home, it hit again, and I was off to another surgery, on my anniversary, to blast the stone. I got out two days later, spent two days home, had a very painful stent removal, and then was re-hospitalized for a pretty bad kidney infection for four days. So, again, I feel your pain. It's scary and horrible, and right up there with labour pain. Hoping it never happens again for you!

Amber said...

Hey Brianna! You are not alone. My sister had kidney stones when she was 22...and last month at 37. Hers however are related to stress, not being dehydrated. She had to have these last ones lasered to break up, and they had to put her under. Be thankful you were able to pass yours...and without pain meds? SO impressive!


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