My kidney stone patients always ask me the same question; “How do you get a kidney stone?” They ask it in hopes of knowing what never to do to prevent from having to endure the pain ever again in their lives. I usually just give them a simple answer about not drinking enough water, or drinking too much soda (which apparently has nothing to do with it). Little did I know, I would come to know firsthand what they were going through and find myself wanting the same thing; to never have to endure the pain again.
The night started out harmless, we spent the evening up in Canada, enjoying the first of my 5 days off and trying to recover from a long stretch of work. A group of us got together at our friend Carley’s house where we made delicious sushi and had a great time getting to know each other a little better.
We finally arrived at the ER and I walked in with Max at my side, feeling very awkward ringing the triage bell instead of going through the back door like the employees do. Luckily, Dr. Gianarelli was on, the best night shift doc we have. After blood work, urine tests, and ultimately 2 CT scans, they found what I was dreading, an 8x5mm stone lodged right there in my ureter (a big bigger than a grain of sand). If you know anything about stones, 5mm is the “limit” to a stone that will pass on its own. Needless to say, mine was going nowhere.
It felt so weird to be the patient. I felt so helpless and ignorant. And if I ever have to have IV contrast again, it will be too soon. It made my insides feel like they were on fire and then I thought I peed my pants…Max thought that was pretty funny.
On our way out we were sent to speak with the lady who would give us some very bad news. I know it’s impolite to talk about money, but this is the thing that caused me more pain than Hurristone Sandy ever could. Apparently Max and I were very mistaken about what my insurance would cover, even after reading through the whole booklet that rainy day in Glacier. She informed us that the surgery would cost me $5,000 after insurance, and my heart sunk. I was absolutely dumbfounded. We left the clinic in a bit of a daze and parked down by the river. I thought about cancelling the surgery and letting Sandy pass with excruciating pain, before making some phone calls and finding out that I had already accrued 5,000 dollars worth of charges just with my ER visits (after being very misinformed by my supervisor). It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, or couldn’t afford it, but I felt sick thinking about spending such a huge amount on something as silly as a kidney stone. I thought of the places we could have traveled, the down payment on our first home, the computer I have been saving up for so I don’t have to restart it every 30 minutes when it overheats. I started to cry with frustration and then I realized a few things. First, it is amazing that I can afford a 5,000 dollar emergency without having to take out loans or wonder how I’m going to afford my rent. Second, I was so lucky that this all happened just a couple months after I got insurance, thereby saving me over 25,000 dollars. Lastly, I would be able to get rid of Hurristone Sandy for good, before having to endure his passage through the rest of my urinary tract.
So, disappointed but content, Max and I shared a delicious “last supper” of Mexican fattiness, and I took a long very bubbly bubble bath at the beautiful resort that would be our home for the next few days.
The day of the surgery went very smoothly. Max stayed by my side the whole time while they poked and prodded, but I was so lucky to have great nurses and doctors and had the upmost trust in them. I donned a hospital gown for the first time and was so excited to get my own pair of skidless slippers. Almost as excited as I was about getting those toasty warm blankets right from the warmer that I am always so sad to give up to my patients on cold winter days.
I have no idea how much time passed, but I finally returned to the original room and Max was there waiting for me, just reading and looking darling as ever. I spent the next couple hours in and out of sleep and pain. Max schmoozed the nurses a little more and after I passed the pee test we were given permission to leave (but not after max pushed me around in the wheelchair a bit, poppin' wheelies).
Today we toured the resort and at the end of our walk I was finally able to stand up straight again. I won’t go into the details of the pain or what I’m feeling but I can say that I am so grateful to be done with it all. Thank you to my loving friends and family who have been so thoughtful during these past couple of weeks and for all the prayers in my behalf…especially for something as silly as a tiny little stone called “Sandy”.
Oh, and whoever “Christy” is, is going to get a huge bill for this :)