Lithotripted!

Today’s blog entry is brought to you by the word lithotripsy. Can you say “lithotripsy” boys and girls?

You’re probably wondering why it’s been a month since I’ve written anything. Well, there has been more than just work to keep me busy! I’ve got enough material for a dozen journal entries. But the doctor told me to pace myself, so I’ll start with a New-England-Journal-of-Medicine one.

My body, for some unknown reason, has an affinity for kidney stones. I had one in 1989 that hurt more than having an ear chewed off by Mike Tyson. It hurt more than being rammed by an errant Russian Soyuz space capsule. It hurt more than… well, more than reading about me telling you how much it hurt over and over again.

Anyway, I’ve got another one. Or had, I should say. The solution in this case turned out to be “left renal shock wave lithotripsy”. For you non-M.D.s out there, that means using special shock waves to break up the calcium deposit in the kidney without invasive surgery.

All I knew was that I had a 7:30 am appointment to have this done. Well, at the last minute I find out that a) I have to have someone drive me home because of the medication, and b) I need to show up at the hospital by like 6:00 am because the procedure is supposed to START at 7:30 am. Of course I turn to my girlfriend with a pitiful look on my face, and she is more than happy to get up at 4:30 am on her day off and drive me to the hospital.

So we go. She is extremely patient while I have to fill out paperwork, they start an I.V., give me medication, take x-rays, etc. Well, even though I hadn’t eaten in 12 hours like they told me, the x-rays were still unable to show them where the problem was. They have to know exactly where the stone is because the shock waves can damage your kidney or liver or something like that if they’re directed to the wrong place. So they sent me home with a prescription for a “Fleet kit”.

Now what do you do when you get a prescription? You take it to a pharmacy, right? Well, we couldn’t find the right Fleet kit (#3, in case you were curious) at the first pharmacy. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. Eventually we found one.

This Fleet kit thing is the kiss of death. Basically you cannot eat anything for 36 hours, and you have to take pills and drink an absolutely horrid solution that cleans out your entire system in a very unpleasant fashion, all the while giving you other aches and pains. Add to this the fact that you’re hungry and tired, and you can begin to see that I was not very good company. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the several Valium they gave me, which turned me into a zombie for the whole day.

So they reschedule me for another attempt at the lithotripsy only two days later. Oh joy. Same time, same place. So she gets up (again on a day when she should have been able to sleep in) on Saturday and goes through the whole thing with me again. Is this a great person to have around or what? This time the x-rays are good and they go through with the procedure.

She also went out and filled my prescription afterwards, and made me some food. After the procedure was done, they gave me a t-shirt that has an image of a huge stone being exploded on the back, and in large letters it says “LITHOTRIPTED!”. Frankly though, I think she deserves this more than I do.

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