markbernstein (markbernstein) wrote,

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The Stone Saga

So I've been kind of quiet lately. (Granted, I haven't been posting much here, but I'll also be linking this to Facebook, and I've been quieter than usual there.) The TL;DR is that I had a kidney stone removed last week, and I'm slowly recovering. I hope to be back to normal soonish.

Honestly, it was a surprise. I wasn't aware of any particularly bad pain. But I went in some time in late January for a standard physical, and had the usual blood tests. Those showed some elevated numbers indicating a "fatty liver". To be safe, my doctor told me to go in for an ultrasound, to make sure there wasn't anything more than that, like a growth on the liver. The next available appointment for that was mid-February.

The ultrasound didn't show anything on my liver. But it took longer than planned, because the nurse spotted some fluid retention in my left kidney, and took some extra pictures. Those weren't definitive enough, so she recommended a CT scan, which was scheduled for March 10th.

That was a Tuesday morning. An hour after I got home, my doctor's office called. I did, indeed, have a kidney stone, and they wanted me to make an appointment with a urologist. I did, for Friday morning, just before I left for Dorsai Thing in Indianapolis.

The urologist told me that the scan showed an 8mm stone, which had traveled 20% of the way down from my kidney. At that size, it wasn't going to pass by itself. It was also in a position where trying to shatter with sound waves, one of the two available options, only had a 50% chance of working. So, after thinking about it over the weekend (and talking with a doctor/friend, who commented, "I don't know why you're not writhing on the ground in pain right now"), I opted for the "go in and get it out" approach. The appointment was for April 3rd.

A week before, the urologist's office called. There was a problem with the equipment at the surgery center, and they'd had to order new equipment. Which meant my appointment was pushed back to April 10th. By this time, I was feeling the stone, and was, if not in pain, constantly uncomfortable, so I wasn't thrilled by the delay. I was more than ready.

Monday morning, April 10th, Sharon and I got up at stupid-o'clock. My procuedure was the first of the day, at 7:30 AM, which meant they wanted me at the surgery center by 5:30. Neither of us got much sleep Sunday night - I was hurting and restless, and that kept Sharon up.

Being that early meant a lot of waiting around. They did a good job of getting me settled and ready, and the anesthesiologist gave an excellent briefing. He used a combination of a drug (propofol) via IV to put me under, combined with gas to keep me there. As warned, I had a sore throat after for a couple of days, from the tube they used to keep my airways open for the gas.

I don't remember anything of the procedure itself, and wouldn't want to. They didn't make any cuts. They went in through my urethra to the ureter, with a gadget that somehow combined a camera, and laser, a basket, and whatever was needed to install a stent. The camera was to find the stone, the laser to break it up, the basket to pull out as many fragments as possible, and the stent installed to widen the ureter and allow any fragments they didn't get to pass more easily.

I realize that as surgery goes, this is relatively minor and non-invasive. There were, after all, no incisions. But it's still quite an insult to the system, and I know it. (Warning - squick ahead) I didn't stop seeing blood in my urine until Friday, having (I think) passed the last fragment late Thursday night, and found since then that it doesn't take much activity to start me bleeding again. So I'm taking it very easy.

I'm not in a lot of pain, but I'm tired and uncomfortable. They couldn't give me an appointment to get the stent out until May 5th. I think I'm going to call and ask to be notified if anything earlier opens up.

My original hope was to only take Monday and Tuesday off. I ended up working half days the rest of the week, as that was all I could manage. The best thing is that I've had a lot of time to read, so I've now finished all the Hugo nominees in short story and novelette (they're all available online), and all but one of the novella nominees. (The China Mieville story is expensive, and I'm not a huge fan of his work, so I'll wait to see if it's in the electronic packet from the convention.) Now it's on to the four novels I haven't read yet. I've also started watching "Stranger Things".

It gets a little better each day. I have my membership and room for FilKONtario, but won't decide until Thursday or Friday whether or not I'm going.

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