My Kidney Stone

When I had a kidney stone from some time before April, 2009 to January 2nd, 2010 I couldn’t find any good information about what it would be like to actually pass the stone.  I now have personal experience.

Here’s the spoiler:  passage was very easy and mostly painless.

The pain of my kidney stone was sharp, hard to localize.  I didn’t know what is was for months.  The pain usually hit about 3AM and would not subside for an hour. It usually came when I had exercised or done sit-ups.  I figured that it was some muscle pain and tried to treat it that way.

A very hot bath did help.  Ibuprofen did help.  Changing positions did help.  About once a month, when the worst pain came, nausea and profuse sweating came with it.  Finally in August of 2009, the pain was so bad that I went to Patient First for help.  The first thing the nurse said was something like, “sure sounds like a kidney stone to me!”  I didn’t believe it at first.  When I saw the X-Ray I was convinced.  It really did explain everything.  The pain is so bad, but it’s inside where you can’t really place it.  Everything in the general area tenses up.  I was referred to Virgina Urology which is minutes from my house.  I started out with PA Wadsworth and then finished up with Dr. Kramolowsky.  I’m grateful to both gentlemen and the staff at Virginia Urology for taking good care of me.

My stone was 7mm long and 4mm wide.  It was slightly bent as if two stones had fused together.  By the time I went to the doctor it was sitting just above the bladder so lithotripsy was less likely to succeed because of the proximity to the bones of the pelvis.  The doctor gave a 75% chance of success.  The procedure is done under general anesthetic which I wanted to avoid.  If it failed, the doctor might go up and get the stone anyway with a basket catheter, and that’s a one way street in my books.

My doctor told me that the stone was almost out but that the last bit was the hardest.  The ureter turns around before entering the bladder, so the stone needed to make a turn to get through.

I was prescribed Flomax and told to drink.  I asked about the risks because while I wanted to pass the stone myself, I didn’t want to have permanent damage.  The risk to me was kidney blockage, failure and then kidney death.  The symptoms were high fever, pain, etc and I had a few days to act when that happened, so I decided to give it a try.  My doctor also gave me a potent pain-killer (Percocet) which I used 3 times one day in September (alternating with Ibuprofen) and once in December.  Ibuprofen was usually enough to manage the pain.  That day in September was pretty bad.

I must say, though, that once I knew about the kidney stone, the pain didn’t bother me anywhere near as much as before.  It was like I could focus on it and localize the pain.  I didn’t stress about it either.

My doctor gave me a strainer also to catch the stone for analysis.  After some time I switched to using a child’s portable potty insert.  It was easier to clean and to estimate liquid volume.

From August to January I drank.  I drank gallons a day.  I tried jump and bump with no noticeable change.  One week I drank a gallon of Coke a day with full strength lemon juice added.  I mostly drank home made lemonade with a little salt in it so I wouldn’t throw of my electrolyte balance.

Other than going to the bathroom a whole lot, I didn’t notice any change.  Over the months, I worked with my doctor, had regular X-Rays and an MRI.  They showed no kidney distress and no stone motion.  As time went on, my doctor started asking how long I was going to wait.  He was very patient and always worked with me.

On January 2nd, I wasn’t feeling well.  Naomi and the children went outside to do some yard work.  I stayed in and headed for the bath with a big pitcher of lemonade and a potty insert.  I also did something new.  I turned on the jets in the bathtub and pointed them right at my back.  From time to time I rolled over and pointed the jets at my front (about the waistline where I thought the stone was).  After a while I started to feel a slight pain inside.  It was pain like a deep knife cut on the finger.  I retrospect I noticed that I hadn’t used the potty insert at all even though I had been drinking plenty.

Well, all of a sudden I had to go.  I felt a pop inside and the next thing I knew there was a stone in the potty insert.  The slight pain lasted for a few months, but as of August 2010, I can say I don’t feel it any more and I don’t remember the last time it bothered me.

I went back to the doctor.  He said the stone looked like the typical Calcium Oxalate kidney stone and that if I drink enough, and don’t get dehydrated, my chances are that I wouldn’t get another one in my lifetime.

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