My Kidney Has a Rolling Stone

While I had a great time in Seattle getting some work done and taking some photos, the week ended on a bit of a low note: I ended up in the ER with a kidney stone. That was over two weeks ago. It has been quite the journey since.

About mid-week I started feeling ill but thought it was just the flu or food poisoning. By Thursday I was feeling really ill and skipped sightseeing and dinner with coworkers so that I could rest in my hotel room. I had to get up early Friday morning anyway to catch my flight. I woke up at 11 PM in excruciating pain and spent the next four hours trying to control it. The pain started in my right abdomen and radiated to my back. It throbbed from moderate to extreme and felt as if someone was cutting open my side. I tried laying in different positions, putting pressure on it, and breathing differently to varying degrees of success. Finally some Aleve calmed it down.

By that time I realized that something was wrong and I couldn’t fly home that morning. I moved my flight to Friday evening and extended my hotel by a day. I texted Sally and we agreed that I needed to go to Urgent Care in the morning. I Ubered over to an Urgent Care facility and they said it was one of two things: appendicitis or a kidney stone. Off to the ER I went. After some dilaudid and a CT scan the results were in: I had a 6mm stone in my right kidney. They gave me some meds, told me I could fly, and told me to schedule a follow-up with the Urologist.

I took my meds as prescribed and made it home without incident. The excruciating pain was gone in exchange for some dizziness and drowsiness. Saturday went fine but I started trying to reduce my medication to make it last until I could see the Urologist. Bad idea. The pain increased to excruciating levels and the medication wasn’t able to control it. Off to the ER again, this time in Dover. After another four hours, more IV meds, an x-ray, and more prescriptions I was once again back home.

I spent the next week working from home and taking my medication religiously. It kept the pain at bay. I saw the Urologist and she gave me three options: see if it would pass naturally (50/50 chance), have a shock wave lithotripsy treatment to break up the stone to help it pass, or have a ureteroscopy. The ureteroscopy would get rid of the stones directly but wasn’t the most exciting prospect for me so I opted for lithotripsy. In order to get lithotripsy I needed an ultrasound to make sure they would be able to get to the stone.

It took a week for me to get scheduled for the ultrasound and for the results to be read by my doctor. For most of the week I didn’t have pain and didn’t need medication. Apparently the stone had “parked” itself in a comfy spot. I got the ultrasound results yesterday and they said that they could see that kidney was blocked but couldn’t see the stone. Time for another CT.

I had the CT scan today and the stone is too far down for shock wave lithotripsy to work. I’m going in for a ureteroscopy tomorrow. It’s a day surgery and actually includes a lithotripsy to laser the stone before they pull it out. Kind of a two for the price of one sort of thing. They have to insert a stent (basically a big long tube) to keep my ureter open; they will remove it in about a week. Apparently the stent can cause pain and irritation and is the worst part of the whole thing. I’m not looking forward to that part but I am looking forward to getting this stone out. Once they figure out what it is made of I can make some dietary changes to prevent another one from happening.

I’ve learned more about narcotics and the urinary tract in the last two weeks than I wish to remember. This tiny stone has caused so much headache. I’m ready to get it out.


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