This Too Shall Pass

by Elizabeth on July 7, 2011

(Via Etsy – Appropriate photo, no?)

 

It’s one of my favorite and most used proverbs but never have those words had more literal meaning in my life-Exactly nine days before my wedding, I woke up with my very first, want-to-tear-your-hair-out-excruciating kidney stone. For those of you who’ve never experienced one, I hope you never do! If I had to describe what it feels like, I’d say the closest thing is what I imagine it feels like getting simultaneously stabbed and shot in the gut. The pain eminates from your lower (in my case left) flank of your back, and radiates into your abdomen. It comes in waves  (like labor contractions) making it impossible to sit still… I’m pretty sure I flashed the entire EMT crew in my mini dress, squirming around in the back of the ambulance during what seemed like an endless trip to the emergency room. After copious doses of morphine and a CT scan I was diagnosed with a 4-5 mm stone and sent home with pain medication and a mesh strainer so I could try and catch the little bugger (Julian and I named him Stan-we figured it would help to have a name for morale and encouragement purposes so we could cheer him on to the finish line!) Too bad for my favorite kitchen colander – r.i.p – that it had to stand in as a substitute pee-catcher until Dr. Shah (also referred to by my mom as Dr. McDreamy) gave me the real thing. McDreamy said that normally a stone of this size passes on its own, but that there was no telling the timeline which could be anywhere from 24 hours to a month. So in light of my situation and not wanting to risk passing out mid-ceremony at the wedding, we scheduled surgery for Tuesday and crossed our fingers that Stan would make an appearance on his own before then.

 

 

My weekend consisted of two things – drinking and peeing, peeing and drinking. Julian was a total champ and a great nurse, he helped keep me on schedule with my pain meds (glooorious!) and homeopathic remedies (see below). Not exactly the romantic way I pictured my wedding week, waddling back and forth to the bathroom and leaving the door open so I could respond to Julian hollering across the apartment “Hey Baaabe…anything come out??” But that’s the funny thing about life. In it’s own weird way, it was a romantic weekend. I knew that part of what got me into this position was the insane amount of stress I was under the month leading up to the wedding, and not only did I realize how silly the things I got worked up over were, but it made me get very quiet with myself, knowing that my only job was to NOT freak out and to stay calm. Julian and I watched a lot of movies, got takeout, and hung out with the Boober (aka our beloved cat, Oscar).

 

Oscar

 

Then, on Sunday morning, about 72 hours after it all started, it happened! Stan the stone came out!  I was so excited I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Everyone asked me if this last part hurt and surprisingly, it actually didn’t. The ureter (canal from the kidney to the bladder) is much smaller than the urethra (canal from the bladder out of the body) so the most painful part is getting the stone into the bladder – at least for women, for men the latter can be quite painful, too. The stone was pretty amazing to look at – this sounds obvious but it really IS a stone! Hard and jagged and a greyish color. When I brought it to the urologist for analysis, the nurse gave me a quizzical look when I asked if I could have it back after the labs (the answer was no). I had become strangely attached after such an ordeal getting it out, and I think I also wanted to keep it for badge value. Oh well, I took pictures :)

 

Stan the Stone

 

Quick stone overview and what you need to know:
-There are four different kinds of kidney stones: calcium, struvite, uric acid or cystine. The large majority of stones fall under the calcium category (mine was a calcium stone) and its a good idea to get your stone analyzed so you know what caused it and how to try to prevent it from happening again. There doesn’t seem to be one cause for developing them, but genetics, hydration level, and diet play an important role.
-Men are more likely to develop stones than women
-Unfortunately a lot of people who get a kidney stone are at high risk for getting more, but there a lot of preventative measures you can take to keep them at bay
-The most important thing: Water – drink drink drink! The best way to test your hydration level is to look in the toilet and make sure your urine is virtually clear. If its yellow, you’re dehydrated.
-Citrus fruits, especially lemons, help stop stones from forming. Squeeze a fresh lemon into your water whenever you can.
-Watermelon, besides having a very high water concentration, help cleanse the body and ward off kidney stones.
-Eating calcium in your diet does not cause calcium stones, but there has been some research suggesting that calcium supplements increase risk.
-Eating high levels of sodium and processed sugars have also been correlated with developing stones.
Other homeopathic remedies if you develop a stone:
-Most important – WATER – preferably purified or distilled
-Hydrangea root
-Nature’s Way Kidney Formula
-olive oil and lemon juice (mix one tablespoon of each and take 2x daily)
-apple cider vinegar

Thanks to the wonderful Andrea Candee for sharing some home remedies!

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