Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 16 - Breaking Rocks

          The lithotripsy frightened me not at all. In fact I was kind of looking forward to it. It’s an interesting thing, and the place where they do it, the Kidney Stone Center at Memorial Hospital, is a fun place to be. I know this because I’ve already been there twice for lab work and x-rays. Everyone is good-humored and upbeat. They go out of their way to make you feel good. In my experience this kind of thing usually starts with the doctors. If the doctors are good natured, then so is the staff, and by extension the facility.
I like my urologist. He is Indian, but he was born and raised in Texas so he does not have one of those sign-song accents that you think of if you’ve seen too many movies or met some Indian transplants. He is very smart, very young, and very personable. He is too young to be doing what he is doing, but he capitalizes on his youth by being irreverent and taking a conspiratorial tone with his patients. He does not take himself too seriously although he does frequently lecture board certified urologists all over the state and has written some well received papers. He must be serious somewhere, but he is not serious with me and I appreciate it.
The nurses and technicians started flirting with me before I had a chance to flirt with them. I don’t know what’s up with that. I feel like I have a certain responsibility to my nursing staff public in the recovery room, and if these women are going to jump start the process before I even get any drugs into me then I am really going to have to kick out the jambs later. I don’t know if I’m up to the pressure.
They put me in a little dressing room where I have to strip naked and put on one of those ridiculous hospital gowns that tie up the back. I don’t know how they expect you to get one of those things on properly, but somehow I do. The x-ray tech stuck her hand through the curtain to get my attention, and asked if I need any help getting the thing on. I told her thanks, but the deed was already done.
“Darn,” she said. “I was hoping to get a look at your butt.”
I could scarcely believe what I just heard. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about this.
“Sorry to disappoint,” I said to the tech, “but you didn’t miss much.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” she said.
Anyway she took some pictures so the doctor would know where the stones were before he started the procedure. Then she took me to a staging area. I climbed into a rolling bed. They covered me up with a blanket they just got out of a warmer. They started an IV. They took my vitals. They asked me what I wanted to watch on TV while I was waiting. They brought me my wife. We were having a high old time. The nurses were in a party frame of mind. People kept stopping by to visit and ask me questions. I got visits from the surgical nurse, the staging nurse, the recovery room nurse, the nurse anesthetist, the anesthetist, and my urologist.
They all wanted to know pretty much the same stuff: what was I there for, which side kidney were we doing (left or right), had I have anything to eat or drink since midnight, had I had a bowel movement, did I need to go to the bathroom, where do I see myself in 5 years, what are me three best and worst traits and why? I was better at answering some of these questions than others.
Eventually they gave me something in my IV to help me relax. Relax from what I don’t know. This was about the most laid back, non-threatening, friendliest setting I’d ever been in, and the notion that I might require some pharmaceuticals to help me relax is near nonsense. Of course I wasn’t about to protest. I mean really. What harm could it do? Besides I didn’t want to upset the delightful ambiance by protesting.
I woke up in the recovery room. This is the great thing about surgical procedures. You sleep through the traumatic parts and wake up stoned and surrounded by women. I was feeling pretty good. Since there’s no cutting with a lithotripsy there’s no residual pain. The meds are less intense, so you wake up faster.
The procedure had broken up about half the stones in my right kidney. The 14 original stones were evenly distributed throughout both kidneys. The stones at the top of my right kidney have been pulverized into sand, but that sand is still in there and I’m going to have to pass it. To ease this process the doctor has inserted a plastic stint in my ureter—the tube that runs from my kidney down to my bladder. The stint is supposed to keep the sand from getting trapped in the ureter, clogging the works, and causing damage. The stint will stay in for a couple of weeks depending on how fast the sand passes. It may cause some discomfort. I’m to let them know if I have any serious pain. Other than that the doctor was pleased with how many stones he got and my prospects for a quick recovery and transition into the next procedure.
My wife drove me home. We stopped for lunch at a high-priced flatbread pizza place with snooty waitresses and some truly oddball, California inspired, fusion cuisine. It was all health food inspired, heavy on the whole grains and sprouts and such. I guess the idea is that the society matrons and trophy wives who inhabit that particular area of town need food that will help maintain their stick figures to go along with their Botox immobilized faces. My wife hated her food. Mine tasted like cardboard, but I was still a little high and trying not to interject any negativity into the proceedings. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are always welcome. Tell me what you like and what you don't. Information, encouragement, criticism--I don't care. A day where I don't learn something new is a day lost to me.