Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Story of my Illness

I probably ought to wait a week or so to write this, given that I'm not yet out of the dark woods. But I'm so much better than I was.

Kidney stones, as I said earlier, started all this.

I have two massive stones, and they jammed up in my urethra, which just for the record I do not recommend. Not only does this cause pain beyond comprehension, it also will cause urine to back up into the kidney, causing it to swell (and also hurt amazingly) and sooner or later begin to die.

This is why when you go to the ER with kidney stones, they get you in right away, organ death being nothing to fuck with. (The people at the ER were great, by the way, even the second time, when I went in on Saturday night, when they were swamped.)

The first time, they kept me two days, putting in a stent (bypassing the stones, as they thought) while also giving me IV morphine and fluids. I went home and was better for maybe three days, though still very sick.

Then very rapidly I deteriorated, with non-stop vomiting, more pain, and a general feeling I can't even describe to you. I've never felt that bad. As it turned out, this was because my kidneys were, in fact, shutting down. (Again, do not recommend.)

Back to the ER, where they admitted me once again. The urologist guy I'd seen while I was out came by at four a.m. (everything in hospitals happens at night) to tell me the CT and ultrasound showed the stones jammed up against the top of the stent, blocking it. They had to put a new stent in.

"I thought they did lithotripsy," I said. "I thought they broke up the stones."

"Not yet," he said grimly. Apparently the entire state of Arkansas has one lithotripsy machine and it won't be at this hospital until December 27th (when I'm scheduled to have it done). Good thing we don't have socialized medicine, huh? Some people might have to risk their lives waiting for proper care.

Anyway, they gave me more morphine and fluids, put in a new stent, threading it past the stones this time, and sent me home to wait until the machine is available. Since the stent isn't blocked by the stones now, my kidney function is improving, and I'm feeling much better.

On the other hand, I spent the past two weeks either vomiting or queasy, unable to eat anything at all (literally -- I tried to eat a cracker and couldn't manage), so I'm down 12 pounds and so weak I can barely walk out to the mailbox.

Looking back (1) I should have gone to the ER much sooner, except I was still hoping I would pass the stone on my own and (B) I should have gone back to the ER much, much sooner.

But given how much all this is going to cost (the hospital $$$ person has nicely set us up with a payment plan, as they will), yeah.


Athena Andreadis said...

One lithotripsy machine for the entire state??? Beyond appalling. As long as the stent keep working until you get it done! Heartfelt wishes for a quick and total recovery.

Anonymous said...

WOW!! Thank you for the education!
Very best wishes! Hope no further problems between now and the procedure being completed.

Anonymous said...

Socialized medicine is wonderful and I hope we get it soon, but it will not result in lithotripsy machines in every hospital. In every nation, big-ticket machines have to be kept busy in order to not waste money sitting idle, so they either travel around or patients have to go great distances in order to have their procedures done. Sad but true. So sorry for your awful 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Sounds horrible. Hope you recover soon!

Social healthcare here in Sweden is not perfect, but it is a lot better than this, most of the time. Cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would be against it.

delagar said...

" will not result in lithotripsy machines in every hospital."

Nah, I get that. But the big whiny lie pushed by conservatives and insurance companies is that the American system is better because capitalism = no waiting for your medical care.

Which is bullshit, as anyone who has ever dealt with the American Healthcare System knows.