By Craig Hastings
It’s been about two years ago that I wrote a column that really reflected my personal side. Back in 2006 when Colleen told me I needed to write my own column for our resurrected Tuscola Journal, I chose “My Personal Side” for good reason. My boys were very young and I wanted to be able to share with my readers my experiences raising them. I didn’t want this column to turn into an every week editorial opinion piece. Honestly, when we started this venture in 2006 there wasn’t a plan for me to have to write a column. News stories and events of course but never did I plan on writing a column every week of every month. I had zero experience and honestly I was a bit intimidated by the idea. But Colleen was right, if my mother at seventy years old was willing to finance the project and put her own fifty hours a week into making this a success, of course I needed to step up. Sixteen years later mom has passed away and I’m still showing up most every week in print.
This week I’m going to get back to the roots of my idea for this column sixteen years ago. Two years ago I wrote a story that told of my adventure beginning to end of my colonoscopy experience. Well it certainly doesn’t get any more personal than that! Surprisingly that story was very well received and I had many people comment to me positively and a few scheduled their own procedures after reading about mine. I put a lot of time and thought into that story and almost pulled it at the last minute because I was afraid it might be a little too personal. As it turned out I was glad it went to print. This week I have another medical procedure adventure to share with you. This one isn’t quite as personal as the last but, well, close.
Four years ago I had my first experience with a kidney stone on the move. I knew nothing about kidney stones, what to expect, why they form, how do they pass, how long it will take, etc. Most importantly I didn’t even know I had one just hanging around waiting around for the right moment to move out of my kidney. The pain that Saturday morning was almost unbearable. Had it not been for my leftover pain medication from an earlier shoulder surgery I might have been one of those people that just called an ambulance and got to a hospital as fast as possible. Through that first experience I learned a few things about kidney stones from Dr. Regan, a urologist at Christie Clinic in Champaign. Dr. Regan showed me on a computer screen in his office the images of a CT scan that had been done on me that pinpointed that first stone. He assured me it would be uncomfortable but it would pass. Go home and drink lots of water and keep moving around and it would pass, he said. If not he would “go up” and get it in an office procedure! After he explained that little procedure to me I went home and was bound and determined I was going to pass that one all by myself! No help needed by some snake thing that went up and..well you know drill!
In an annual visit to Dr. Regan this past May it was discovered through an x-ray that I had a kidney stone sitting in my left kidney. He explained my options to me. Maybe it will sit there forever or maybe it will move out the next day, no way to tell. However there was a concern with this one. It was larger than 4mm so if it did start to move it was going to be painful and maybe I wouldn’t be able to pass this one without some help. He suggested then that I consider having it blasted by sound waves. This would break it up and then there’s a procedure for flushing the remains from my system. Of course I elected to leave it alone. Bad idea. Last week I woke up at 4:30 in the morning in horrible pain. A pain I had felt only once before, four years earlier. How sure was I? I was passing a little blood too. I was 99.9% sure it was a kidney stone. So later that day I made an appointment to see Dr. Regan again. His office staff got me in the same day and after an x-ray, CT scan, and blood work I got the news. I had an 8mm stone stuck in the passageway between my kidney and bladder. Not good. Pain in my back was becoming frequent so something had to be done and quickly.
I was going to have to have this one blasted in order to get it to pass. Two days later I reported to Kirby Medical Center in Monticello. I had never been there before and I have to tell you I was very impressed. Everyone I came into contact with throughout the procedure were very polite and attentive. However, there was a catch to me getting this done. I was required to have a driver to leave the hospital after the procedure because I was going to be put completely under. I had no driver. One son is going to college and working and the other has just started a new job. Neither one of them lives in Tuscola anymore. Now what? My first thought was to drive up myself and tell the nurse that someone would be picking me up. That didn’t work. They wanted the driver’s name and telephone number before I arrived at the hospital. I was stuck because I had to have this done. The possibilities of leaving a kidney blocked are very dangerous.
I didn’t want to put anyone out. I didn’t want to ruin someone’s whole day waiting around on me at Kirby Hospital just to give me a ride home. As it turned out someone close to me volunteered to not only pick me up but to drive me up, wait on the procedure, update my boys throughout the procedure, pick up my prescription medication I would be needing, and offer to bring me supper! Adding to all of this was pleasant conversation all the way up and back. I certainly felt blessed to have someone volunteer their time and effort when they could have been doing something much more pleasant than waiting around for me. Anyway, thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this for me. This is the first time in my life I can ever remember living alone without someone to do for me if I was sick or injured. It’s kinda scary thinking about it now.
Well tonight I’m still recovering. It’s a several day procedure to get everything working properly again. There’s pain and very annoying symptoms associated with having a kidney stone blasted and waiting for the remnants of that blasting to pass through your urinary tract. My advice to anyone dealing with a kidney stone that’s discovered “before” it moves, get it blasted and deal with the aftermath of a blasting. The pain associated with a stuck stone can be pretty incredible. It can also be very dangerous to wait. Don’t wait. Yes I hated it but, the next time I’ll get it blasted before it moves out of my kidney. And I’ll make sure I have the same driver I had this time. Thank you to Dr. Regan and all of the staff at Kirby Hospital in Monticello. That community truly has to be proud to have such a facility in their backyard. I’m hopeful Tuscola will have such a medical facility some day.