Well. Today has been a rest and recovery day. I slept fairly well and was so happy to have my cat beside me to pet for my comfort when I woke up in the middle of the night. Yesterday, when I was waiting for my surgery, I just kept thinking about how much I wanted to be home in my bed with Jack when it was all over. And then- like a dream- there I was.
I've been processing everything in my head from this whole incident. There was a great deal of it that did truly remind me of labor.
Which makes me wonder why I voluntarily went through that four times, all without drugs. Phew. But when I'm in labor I walk. I walk and I walk and I walk. And I dance. Not a real dance, of course, but a bending, a stretching, a swaying of hips and and knees. And that's what I did yesterday and on Monday when the pain was so bad.
The nurse at the ER center said, "When I see a woman doing that dance, unless she's in L&D, I know she's trying to give birth to a baby kidney stone."
Oh, how I fell in love with that woman as she delivered the drugs to my arm through the IV she placed in the same vein the student phlebotomist had used last week. There were so many people I fell in love with through my ordeal who were kind and who truly wanted to ease my pain and take care of me. We bitch so much about our health care system and when I say "we" I include myself in that and yes, so much of it is broken but the people in it, the ones who put their hands on you, who listen to your story, you see you with the eyes of not just a medical professional but of a human being who wants to help alleviate your pain- that part of the system is still unbroken no matter how hard the system works to break them, and I am in awe of them and their work, their kindness, their training, their intelligence, their empathy, their skill, their willingness to go beyond what is absolutely necessary to help the people who need them.
Now let me stop right here and say that I am more than aware that I am an older, white woman of fortunate means with good health insurance and access to the system. I live in an area which may not have THE BEST healthcare in America but we have decent facilities for those who can afford them, sometimes stellar facilities.
The ER center we went to is one of those. And I will never forget the doctor (Tallahassee raised and trained) who had the most beautiful eyes and who reached out to find a urologist who could see me quickly and set it all up so that I could make an appointment for the very next day. He sat beside the bed, his hands on the bedrail, with literal truly good bedside manner, and discussed these things with us, and gave us the rundown on treatments.
When we left, at least three people said, "Come back if you need us. We'll take care of you."
And I knew they would.
And then the next day when we met the urologist, he, too, was as kind as could be and he said, "Now I don't want to try and sell you a procedure and eventually, that stone probably will pass, but who knows when?" When I told him that it had been bothering me for well over a month, he nodded and said, "Well. There you go."
"Let's do this," I said.
And we did. He did.
I got a text from our friend Kelly, the scrub tech, when I was on my way back to the surgical center, again in horrible pain as the stone was trying to move, asking me if I was the Mary Moon on the schedule for that afternoon. I wrote her back that I was and she assured me that my doctor was a very good one, and very nice, and although I would have let Jack the Ripper have at me with a rusty shaving razor in a Howard Johnson's parking lot to relieve that pain, I was so reassured to know that this doctor was a good one. And Kelly tells the truth.
After we checked into the surgery place and I was called back, the nurses and techs were all incredibly efficient. They have that place running like clockwork. And a group of techs came in to tell me that if I was friends with Kelly, I was friends with them and they would take care of me. The nurse who admitted me and did my vitals and got my IV started was kind and gentle. My doctor came in to see me and when he saw my obvious distress, he said, "Oh. It's bad again, isn't it?"
"Yes," I said. I was crying by then.
He immediately wrote out an order for pain relief and although there was some mix-up with the fact that no anesthesiologist had been assigned to me yet, the nurse tracked down whoever she had to in order to get those drugs to me. And she did. And I have to tell you, they hit me like a train, and I was flattened. I laid there and tried to logically examine the way I was feeling, the effect these powerful drugs had on me. I knew I was slammed and it was most interesting. One of the things that I was a bit surprised at was how I would have thought that along with the pain, they would have taken away my fears and worries but they did not. I fretted but the fretting was at a distance. I noticed that too. My right arm seemed to me to have no place to rest, no purpose. My left arm had the IV in it (same vein) but my right one just laid there, limp. That was when I really wished for Jack to pet. Mr. Moon held that hand when I asked him to and I so wished he could crawl up beside me in that tiny bed but of course he could not.
Eventually, everything was ready and I remember nothing about going to the OR. The anesthesiologist had given me one more dose of "calming medicine" and that put me out. When I woke up, I was back in that room with my husband and a different nurse and all had gone well. The doctor told me that he had not had to leave a stent in which was a relief.
The nurse whose job it was to get me ready to send me on my way home was from the Philippines and she was something else. She was just about the sweetest woman I've ever met. I think that at some point I began to remind her of her mother or her grandmother. She said, out of blue, "I want to bring my mother here from the Philippines," and the next thing I knew, she was insisting on putting my underwear on for me, and then putting my SOCKS on me, despite my protestations that I could do it myself.
"No, no! Let me!" she kept saying.
I had to hug her and I think she loved that so much.
And then she wheeled me out and tenderly helped me into the car and wished me the best of luck.
And so that was that. In some ways, one of the worst experiences of my life, in others, such a lesson in the way people can care for others, DO care for others.
Here's a funny story- when we were in the urologist's office, and he was discussing the possibility of having to leave a stent in me, he said that generally it could be removed within forty-eight hours. "I leave a string on it so that you can pull it out yourself," he said. "Like a tampon."
"Ooh," I said. That did not sound pleasant to me.
"It's so easy!" he told me. "A child could do it!"
In my mind, I could imagine gathering my five grandchildren around me and saying, "All right, kids. Here's a teachable moment for you- let's learn how to remove a stent from Grandmother's urethra!"
I was not in pain at that point, and when Glen and I were on our way home, I told him what I'd been thinking and although he did not find it that funny, I laughed and laughed and laughed.
I admit I was more than a little crazy at that point.
So. Believe it or not, Mr. Moon has gone to Apalachicola to meet Brenda. I insisted that I would be fine and all of my children have agreed to be on stand-by should I need anything. Rachel and Hank have both called to check on me, they have all texted. Before he left, Glen went to town and got me more food and while he was gone I actually got hungry and felt the urge to cook something which was a first for me in over a week. I made a little soup-chowder thing with a few bits of the last of the Easter ham, celery, onions, red pepper, broccoli, corn, and sugar snap peas. It was delicious. I ate a small bowl, Mr. Moon ate a large bowl, and the rest of it is now in the refrigerator for another meal. And so obviously, I am definitely on the mend.
It has been beyond beautiful here again today.
I did no such thing today. I walked outside and took the compost to it's pile, I did one small load of laundry, I have done crosswords and worked on my jigsaw puzzle. And I slept for two solid hours this afternoon.
"All right, kids. Here's a teachable moment for you - let's learn how to remove a stent from Grandmother's urethra!" Oh Jesus! That made me laugh so much. The thought of them gathering round and the puzzled looks on August and Maggie's faces. It's so nice that you recognised the goodness and the kindness in the health workers who were there for you in your hour of need. You live to fight another day.ReplyDelete
I'm glad I could make you laugh. It was just so funny to me, that image.Delete
It would have been impossible to not recognize the kindness around me.
SO relieved and happy to see your post tonight, Mary. You have made my day and I am so glad you are feeling on the upside of your long and painful journey. You have had many loving hands and hearts tending to you........ bless them all. I could cry, I'm so happy for you. Be gentle with yourself and take careReplyDelete
Thank you, Susan. There is no AI in the world that is going to be able to take the place of human kindness.Delete
My daughter-in-law is a nurse anesthetist, I will tell her that she is very much appreciated by her patients like you :)ReplyDelete
Without a doubt!Delete
I laughed out loud from the grandchildren teachable moment. Glad you're going to have one low-key time and that Mr Moon made it to his sister time.ReplyDelete
Well, I was hoping it would be low-key.Delete
I used to read letters in the newspaper about the wonderful treatment they had at ABC Hospital and i thought how sad their lives must have been to be so grateful. My care had been ok, medically fine but emotionally by rote. Then i found out what they experienced. A crew so great, warm and comforting. It was a revelation. I am so glad you were treated well.ReplyDelete
Carol- caring humans can make every bit of difference in the world, can't they?Delete
37paddington: A beautiful day after report. I am glad your caregivers were so loving and kind, and that you are doing restful things today. You are so very loved Mary Moon. I think you gave us all a scare.ReplyDelete
To be honest, I am still scared. The thought of experiencing that pain again is terriftying.Delete
You have put it so well. The health care system (wherever it is) may be in crisis but those who work in it go above and beyond. In fact, the worse the crisis, the harder those poor buggers seem to work.ReplyDelete
I had to cross my legs at the like a tampon moment. The last thing I could imagine is a tampon in my urethra!. Glad the grandkids didn't have to help.
He did NOT put the stent in my urethra. He was just describing to me beforehand what would happen if he had to.Delete
Thank goodness for the health care providers. I do not understand how they can constantly give the way they do.
What an ordeal ... thank the gods for the necessary drugs!ReplyDelete
Thanks for this most informative update!
That's the truth.Delete
I am so glad you had so many caring, kind & competent folks taking care of you! THAT often makes a big difference in patient outcomes. As a daughter of a nurse, I literally laughed out loud about the "teachable moment". One, because oh lordy did my mother believe in teachable moments, especially when dealing with bodily functions and such; and two, because you painted such a vivid picture of it in my mind.ReplyDelete
Rest, push fluids, and take it slow & easy!
Nurse moms can be a blessing and a curse, can't they? I'm glad I could make you laugh.Delete
I am glad your level of care was top notch. Please rest and stay hydrated.ReplyDelete
I am, e. Thank you.Delete
This brought tears to my eyes because it made me remember the incredible kindness and care the health care professionals showed to Gregg when he was in the cardic ICU after having his lung removed. Those were the scariest days of my life so far, and I'll never forget all the people who treated him (and me) with so much compassion and tenderness. There was also a Filipino nurse who was wonderful his first two nights in there. She actually made us both laugh at a time when I thought we'd never laugh again. Even the security guards who insisted on walking me to my car when it was late at night made me feel cared for...really the entire hospital staff were just wonderful. Health care people are truly angels among us.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you're up to posting so that we know you're okay. You are so loved! <3
What a joyful soul this nurse we had was! She went so far out of her way to help me. I'm glad that you and Gregg experienced such similar care when you needed it so badly. Yes. They are angels among us.Delete
Those stents are also “pull out” for males and my husband was not having it. Alas, we have a lot of kidney stone issues at my house-some as big as marbles! They are truly painful and yes-some can be oxalate, uric acid, etc. and it can help to adjust the diet a little. I’m so glad you got this fixed.ReplyDelete
Oh good Lord. Do they blast those marble-sized stones?Delete
Glad you had such a good group to take care of you at the hospital. Hope you relax and rest and feel better soon. Don't overdo, tho, pamper yourself a little, Mary Moon!ReplyDelete
I am trying. Thank you.Delete
So happy to read this here today, for the good treatment you received and for the fact that you are taking it easy and healing. Sending more love. x0x0 N2ReplyDelete
Thank you, dear N2.Delete
I am so glad you are home and well. Maggie's paintings are beautiful.ReplyDelete
I think Maggie has quite a talent!Delete
So pleased that you seem back to your lovely self. Those kittens are so cute. I had 2 that looked a bit like that and I called them Holly ( girl) and Berry..her brother. Berry was tabby and white and the nicest of all my cats. Sadly Holly was run over when she was about 5.ReplyDelete
We always remember the cats we have loved, don't we? And the dogs, too, of course.Delete
What a day you had, and how wonderful the outcome!ReplyDelete
Some years ago, I edited research papers from a group of people I called the artificial urine gang (not to their faces) because they researched urinary (kidney) stones and for that would mix batches of artificial urine (no smell). With one exception, they were all geologists, working together to research rock formations, tiny rocks, admittedly, found inside human kidneys and urethrae. The most common of these rocks is the Whewellite, named after the guy who discovered it first, William Whewell (19th century). Legend is he/his family refused to have the term kidney stone changed to Whewellite and who wants to walk around claiming they had a Whewellite treatment anyway. Some biologists refer to these rocks as crystals and the ring tone of the urine gang's phone was "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" - I kid you not.
Anyway, they did research a lot and one of the findings I remember is that oxalate rich food (spinach and similar green leaf veg) can cause these crystals in most people if we consume them WITHOUT dairy fat. So mix some cream into your spinach or have a bit of milk/yogurt with it and you'll be ok.
That is a great story! Those artificial urine guys seem to have had a terrific sense of humor!Delete
I'd never heard about the dairy along with the greens. I will remember that. Thank you.
Excellent! I'm so glad you got in and got that treated. What a relief that must be, even if you're still in recovery.ReplyDelete
My last cat was a Manx. I miss her still, even though she was a feisty creature and quite ornery at times. (She didn't draw blood as frequently as Maurice, though!)
I've never had a cat who drew blood like Maurice.Delete
What a great account of a difficult time, even with all the caring people around you. I'm glad you're home resting and puzzling. And I hope you can avoid future episodes like this one.ReplyDelete
I am scared to death for this to happen again.Delete
I am so glad that you are done with this episode, although I do have to say, I am quite interested that he gave you a stent you could pull out yourself. I had to go back to the doctor for that. Turns out that he was rude af. I asked him a question, he walked out of the room without one word, walked back in and gave me a pamphlet, walked back out again. Not one word. He is part of the reason that I guzzle water. I've never met such a shockingly rude doctor.ReplyDelete
No. The doctor did not have to leave a stent in for this procedure. I am grateful. And boy- that sure DOES sound like a rude doctor.Delete
well, I'm glad that ordeal is over. onward to the next one.ReplyDelete
Well, kidney stones SUCK. I'm so sorry for you. I know you have weathered a lotta storms...and you can get through this too but crap. Sabine is right about oxalic acid.ReplyDelete
BTW I have a book for you. I took a detour from the thesis pile of books to read Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life by Suleika Jaouad. So so good.
Much much love to you dear woman.