Sunday, June 17, 2012

Getting Older is Not for Sissies

An example of a pain scale, from zero (no pain) to 10 (worst possible pain ever)

I have just re-calibrated the way I use the one-to-ten pain scale. Prior to this afternoon, I reserved “10” for childbirth and waking up from my back fusion surgery.

I live with what I judge is 6 to 8 pain every day, and medicate only when the pain approaches 8. I stood for a couple of hours pitting sour cherries yesterday, and woke up with back pain, which was expected. As the day progressed, the pain began to radiate from my high lumbar area to around the front—what one might call “flank pain.”

Nurse Cathy did a decent job of denying how bad the pain was or what it was likely to mean. I knew I had a kidney stone, I could not remember its size but knew it was in my left kidney. It was diagnosed by ultrasound in January of this year.

However, when I found myself on my bathroom floor, looking for anywhere to get comfortable, I had to accept the truth and diagnose myself with a kidney stone. The little bugger had worked its way loose.

After today I have a new pain scale and ways to relate to it.  Ten is a kidney stone on the move, period. I have never endured that kind of pain, ever. And I’ve had lots of different kinds of pain, but this takes the cake. I would rather have another baby, even a 100-pound baby, or have another fusion surgery than ever do this again. Childbirth is now relegated to a 9 on the pain scale. I’m going to drop my daily pain to a range from 5 to 7, and reserve 8 for the day after an active day, or a day I’ve walked on concrete, or a day after I’ve overdone yard work.

Unfortunately the 9-mm stone is likely too large to pass on its own, and I’m headed for a lithotripsy or a percutaneous nephrolithotomy. It took 4 IV shots of Dilaudid to ease the pain. I have orders to call my urologist’s office first thing in the morning.

The only good things that happened in the ER were: (1) I was taken care of by the daughter of an RN I used to work with at Mee Memorial in the 1980s. KCHS peeps may remember Denise Dart from Greenfield. Her daughter, Cassie, is her only child (Carlos Soto of Greenfield is her dad). I’ve not seen Cassie since she was perhaps 3 years old, and my strongest memory of her is as a preemie, just brought home from Stanford Medical Center 27 years ago. Cassie is a most excellent RN, needing only two pokes to start an IV on me (I have terrible veins). (2) I also got to see my step-cousin Molly, who was working a rare day shift, and invited her to come pick some sour cherries from my yard. (3) I semi-reluctantly went to the King City hospital, knowing there was a real possibility that the medical staff knew my siblings and would be eager to pre-judge me and believe I was seeking narcotics for my amusement (a trick they did). I was examined by a doctor who has been in King City forever (and I did used to work with him while I was on staff at Mee Memorial), and I was worried that he would not listen to me regarding my pain (I was audibly moaning, I could not help it!), and be reluctant to treat me with heavy-duty narcotics because I do take daily pain medication, and ultimately discount what I was saying about the pain. He didn’t, and Dr. Robert Hostetter I believe did the right thing by me. Dr. Hostetter had a full head of thick, dark hair back then. It’s thinner and gray now.

I am hoping that tomorrow’s as of yet unscheduled visit to Dr. Renfer takes care of this problem.  I really don’t like the idea of having this pain ever again. I had a final dose of Dilaudid at around 8 p.m. on my way out of the ER, and I had better take a Percocet for the pain that is slowly returning.

Once the stone is passed/retrieved, it can be sent to pathology to see what kind of stone it is, and what kind of dietary changes I need to make, if any.

The summer of 2012 is going to be one full of doctor visits… this unexpected kidney crap, my yet-to-be-scheduled left hip replacement, and yet-to-be-scheduled bilateral 2-level, rhizotomies for my back. I don’t dare ask what else can go wrong, and even with all of that, I consider my health good. Ad yes, I am a bit delusional I suppose.


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