So yesterday, I had another kidney stone removed.
It’s become a bit of a tradition, really. Since my first run-in with a kidney stone in 1992, I have averaged a kidney stone incident every four to five years, almost without fail. The first couple seemingly passed on their own – a seriously painful experience that I would not recommend to anyone – but I’ve now clocked up no less than four operations to remove larger stones that would not pass on their own.
It seems I am genetically predisposed to create them. After my first operation to remove a stone in the early 2000s, my specialist referred me to a dietician, who made some recommendations about things I should cut out of my diet to try to prevent the stones forming. I was told to avoid, or severely limit my intake of, a variety of foods including nuts, strawberries, chocolate, and even tea. Despite my misgivings – tea, chocolate and strawberries are three things I really enjoy – I was a Good Boy and did my best to limit my intake of these things, and drank water until I felt like a six foot bottle of water myself. All to no avail as it turns out, as without five years I was back in for another operation. Limiting my intake of these things seemed to make little or no difference, so for the most part I’ve not really bothered limiting my diet since then.
Since that first operation, I’ve been attending six-monthly appointments to have my kidneys scanned, to keep an eye on things. At my last routine appointment earlier last year, what appeared to be a reasonably sized stone appeared on my X-ray, so I had a feeling something was afoot. Towards the end of the year, I started getting familiar twinges that got more and more painful – I’ll spare you the gory details, but the general feeling was one of something being stuck. My next routine appointment was nearly upon me, though, so I stuck it out. When the scan was done, nothing seemed to have changed – but I was still feeling distinctly under the weather, so I badgered my specialist to look further. Sure enough, the subsequent CT scan very clearly showed a huge stone that had voyaged out of my left kidney and was now lodged in an inconvenient place, hence my discomfort. Surgery was booked immediately, and as it turned out, I didn’t have to wait that long – just over a month, which is damn good for our ailing NHS.
So early yesterday, Steen drove me over to the hospital and I was admitted for surgery. It very nearly didn’t happen, as the hospital was low on available beds, so there was an anxious period where I sat awaiting confirmation that the surgery was, in fact, going ahead as planned. Props to the ward’s senior nurse, though, who juggled beds with dizzying skill and found me a side-room, ensuring that the operation could go ahead. An hour or so later, it was into the deeply flattering disposable undies, compression stockings and backless gown; and then, after a brief walk through a tightly-wound maze of corridors, I was given a gurney to lie on, a cannula was fitted to my left hand, and it was off to the land of nod courtesy of my over-enthusiastic anaesthetist.
The offending stone was then removed via laser: they run a thin probe on a flexible hose up through places no probe should go, locate the stone, and destroy it with a laser attached to the end of said probe. I like to think of it like a miniature game of Asteroids, only without the saucers. Having reduced the stone to so much dust, they then extracted a tiny piece for testing, to check its consistency. This accomplished, I was wheeled back into the ante-room where I was returned to reality, given back my glasses, and taken back to my side-room to come round properly. Although they pump you full of painkillers, the procedure doesn’t leave you in particularly great pain – as usual, the first 24 hours post-op are not much fun, but after that I’ve been feeling pretty good for the most part – except when I visit the loo. That’s the bit they don’t warn you about: the probe having gone where it has, every time you pee for the next two or three days, it’s a bit of a horror show. Again, I’ll spare you the gory details, but… well, you can imagine. The process of peeing smarts something wicked for the first couple of days in particular, but the real unpleasantness concerns what you’re actually peeing. Thankfully this stage rarely lasts more than a couple of days before things start to improve, so I’m looking forward to the weekend, by which time I should be well on the road to normality.
Anyway, all this is by way of reassuring anyone who heard I was going into hospital that all is well, and I will be right as rain in a few days. In the meantime, I have a comfortable sofa to lie on, and a shiny new blu-ray boxed set of The X-Files to indulge in, so life could be worse. All this happened almost four years to the day since I had my last kidney stone surgery, mind, so perhaps I should just save everyone some time and get myself booked in for four years hence now.
Right, these X-Files blu-rays won’t watch themselves. 🙂 I’ll post another update once I’m properly up and about.