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Monday, January 11, 2016

Age and Health

Last week I was admitted into the hospital with acute renal failure and stage II kidney disease. I left work early on Monday and Tuesday with abdominal pain and left flank pain. I knew I was trying to pass yet another kidney stone as the flank pain was all too familiar. However the abdominal pain was new. The last kidney stone I had about a year and a half ago passed within a matter of hours and I assumed this one had passed as well Monday evening. Of course my husband feels powerless when I'm having an episode where I'm either writhing in pain or pacing and rubbing my back so hard it leaves bruises. 

Kidney stone pain comes in waves. I've read and heard from woman that the pain is worse than childbirth. In my case, it typically starts on either the left or right side of my back. You can't sit still when the pain comes and it's difficult to explain what it feels like. Thankfully I've never been punched or stabbed before but that's probably the best way to describe the pain that comes and goes for hours, or in this case, days. I've tried unsuccessfully to treat the pain on my own with over-the-counter meds like Advil. However, each bout (I've had 3 so far) has resulted in trips to the ER. 

This last stone, actually there were two stones, couldn't even be tamed with morphine. After about 20 mins, the pain would return. The ER staff decided 2mg of dilaudid would put me out of my misery. And it did - well into the next day but not without a severe nausea reaction. 

Instead of sending me home to pass the stone on my own, the ER doctor admitted me as my right kidney was in renal failure after reviewing the CT scan. I had a 3mm and a 1mm stone stuck in the UVJ (ureter junction). The nurses were all pushing me to sign surgery consent forms without yet meeting and taking with the urologist. For two days my urine was strained and measured. And after a much painful Wednesday night, the stones finally passed. Thank goodness I did some research and knew what they looked like as not one nurse on the floor knew what to look for and like the previous two times would have flushed away the stones. When I did pass them, you would have thought I put up crime scene tape. I supervised the head nurse into how to retrieve the stones (small ones will crumble if you reach in directly with your fingers). I knew how important it was to keep these little bastards in tact so that they could be analyzed. Knowing the composition of a kidney stone will help determine what part of my diet is causing them. Of course heredity also plays a part as my late grandfather was also a sufferer. 

But I know that I've brought these on myself with one terrible vice - Diet Coke. Diet Coke and other dark colas contain phosphoric acid, a food additive, as well as a rust removal. It's corrosive and its chances of contributing to kidney stones and kidney disease increase by 15% when two or more cola beverages are consumed per day. I had an unhealthy habit of 3 - 4 cans per day. I could go through a 2 liter bottle in two days.

Water? What was that? To me it was the blandest of all beverages and I only craved or consumed if I ate ice cream, chocolate, or exercised. It simply was not a part of my diet. Until this last episode. Over the last few days, water has been my only beverage. I am determined not to have another kidney stone attack. I don't want to keep going through this and my body can't handle it anymore. I'm typing this post on the eve of my 44th birthday. Kidney disease is not reversible. But I can do things to keep from entering the final two stages. So my aim this year will be to focus on my health. I'm going to once again part ways with you so that I can stay focused on what matters. It's not fashion or outfits of the day, but making myself well.

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