Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wabi-Sabi Health Update

I wanted to post an update as to why things have been quiet around the old blog lately. As folks who have been following my Twitter feed know, I've been dealing with some health challenges in the past 2 or 3 months.

Things culminated(?) with a current problem of a large 5.9 mm kidney stone that put me in the hospital overnight (for 2 nights) for the first time in my life last weekend.

The past couple of months have been quite a roller coaster health-wise beginning with a few gout flare-ups during the WV Legislative Session in January - March. I thought the foot pain was probably caused by spending too many days walking the marbled halls of the capitol and eating a less than optimal diet.

At the conclusion of the Legislative Session, I saw my doctor who prescribed Indomethacin for the gout, which seemed to help, but then I had lots of abdominal pain. I thought it was probably a side effect of the medicine, but the doc said it was probably my gallbladder and ordered an ultra-sound.

When I had my belly sounded, they identified that I have several gallstones, but were more concerned with a "severely fatty-liver" that showed up. The fatty-liver was somewhat unusual since my last alcoholic drink was in 1992. So along with a referral to a surgeon to discuss options for the "non-symptomatic gallstones" (which hasn't occurred yet), I was referred for a needle biopsy of my liver on April 28.

That test seemed to go as well as having a long needle put in your liver can go, but again I'm still waiting for results.

Then this past Friday, I was feeling really good. I had an appointment with my Doctor on Thursday, and although the biopsy results weren't available, she gave me a steroid prescription which seemed to finally knock out the gout and I slept very well Thursday night.

However, about 2:30 p.m. Friday my belly started hurting again, and I thought it was probably a gallstone attack since it was similar to other discomfort and cramping that I've had through these episodes.

After lying down for a couple of hours, I was feeling REALLY badly later Friday night and thought perhaps one of the gallstones had moved and was blocking a bile duct or something else internally. By 9:30 p.m. I asked Carol about getting the boys to a friend's house, so we could go to the Emergency Room.

Jake thought it was great that he got to go to a "sleepover" so late at night and we were off to the ER as the pain continued to increase to "10 out of 10, Good God please help me" levels.  The triage nurse was great getting me into the examination room, and by now I thought it might be an appendicitis or spleen or some parasitic alien.

Finally, I got some pain meds and they wheeled me back for a CT scan. That's when they diagnosed the source of pain being a 5.9 millimeter kidney stone. They gave me some Percocets and made a referral to a urologist for Monday morning.

We left at 1:30 a.m., but by 3:00 a.m. the pain was back with a vengeance, this time accompanied by nausea and vomiting.  After a shower and a pain pill didn't help, we were back at the ER by 4:30 a.m. Again they got my pain under control and did an X-ray that showed that the stone had moved.

Kidney Stone CartoonAt that point they checked me into the hospital and scheduled a procedure with the urologist for Saturday afternoon. He was very friendly and said since the stone had begun to move down my uterer that he would do a ureteroscopy and use a basket-type of device to go up and grab the stone and pull it out. 

That's with no incision, so you can guess which path he was going to take up my urinary tract. Fortunately, he said I'd be asleep for the procedure which was the best news I'd heard all day.

Unfortunately, a few trauma operations rightfully took precedent over my procedure on Saturday, so they scheduled the grab procedure for Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. 

All went well at the hospital Saturday, and I remember talking to the urologist and anesthesiologist before drifting off as the procedure began Sunday morning.

Things are somewhat of a blur after the procedure, but the stone apparently moved up and was unable to be grabbed or pulled out, so they put in a stent to aid in passing the stone. 

There were more pain meds and IVs and nausea every time they gave me something for the pain. The original plan was to go home Sunday, but due to the continued pain and nausea combined with the fact that I had follow-up appointment with my regular Doc at 9:00 a.m. Monday, they kept me in the hospital for a second night.

I was hoping things would pass in the hospital, but that didn't happen. After talking things over with my Doctor Monday morning, I came home with the stent in place and a medicine cabinet full of meds

Since then I have had the veritable joy of collecting and straining like a biological prospector panning for gold, but with no luck so far. I've also been drinking more water and cranberry juice than I thought was humanly possible.

The pain meds have helped the ongoing pain, but make me very woozy and have made for some interesting conversations during the past few days. As Carol said in the hospital, "Did you know you were talking out of your a-- when you were talking to the hospital Chaplain?"

Unfortunately, every time I have to pee, it feels like I'm giving birth.  We're talking fall down in the floor, weeping like a baby, "yes I'll vote for John McCain if you make this go away" discomfort here.  

Now in the wee hours of Thursday morning, I'm thinking that Monday's appointment seems like a long-time away. If things don't pass by Monday, then they'll probably try EWSL therapy to blast the stone to dust with sound waves.

Anyway, sorry to ramble on. If you made it this far you deserve a special blogger commendation, but I wanted to give an update about what's been happening.

For a better and more entertaining description of what my life has been like for the past week, enjoy this commentary, Kidney Stoned, from a fellow kidney stone sufferer.

Now back to our regular ranting and raving programming...

P.S. Turning 40 is a bitch!  I'm just saying.

UPDATE: I spoke to my doctor and my liver biopsy turned out well. Yea!  I have Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), which can be serious, but should be manageable with a change in diet and lifestyle (more exercise). 


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