How to pass a kidney stone in 10 days without even trying

If I had this information, I’d be happy. The information alluded to in the title, I mean. Unless we really analyze the words, in which case maybe it doesn’t mean what I want it to. Ten days is a long time to be passing a kidney stone, so if this means the time it takes to pass the stone, with all of the accompanying terror and agony, runs ten days, then forget it! On the other hand, if it means that from realization that a kidney stone is present until the time the stone is out of the body is less than ten days (and not in constant pain) then I can get down with that. I just passed a kidney stone. It was longer than ten days since I first learned I had one, but shorter than ten days worth of pain. I’ll just tell my story now.

Roughly one month ago I woke up around 4am with intense pain in my lower abdomen. It was something I’d never felt before. At times it was sharp, and then it was dull, and then it ached, and the location seemed to move around. The pain kept me awake for an hour or so, but eventually I fell asleep again. When I got out of bed later the pain was gone, and it stayed gone for another ten hours or so. That evening it returned and was getting worse as time went on. This lasted approximately three hours before I went to bed. I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep, until about 4am again the next morning.

Once again I awoke with the sharp, dull, achy, floating pain all through the lower left side of my abdomen. Occasionally the sharp pains were occurring in my lower back along the left side of my spine. Some internet searching for my symptoms and the lower back pain suggested kidney stone. Two of my sisters and a brother-in-law have each had the experience of kidney stones and I was familiar with the legend of the pain they bring about.  I wasn’t excited to think I might be experiencing the same thing.

Thursday morning brought five hours of misery before my wife brought me to the ER. Luckily we live in a small town that has a small hospital. There were no lines in the ER, just a slightly spacey receptionist. I told her I thought I was dying and I thought that would be sufficient to get me in to see a doctor, but instead she asked if I’d like her to make an appointment with a doctor or send me to the ER. I thought the ER route was implied by the fact that she was sitting under a sign that said something to the effect of “ER sign in.” But I may have misjudged the whole ordeal, after all, I felt like I was dying.

Bilateral kidney stones on abdominal X-ray. No...

Bilateral kidney stones on abdominal X-ray. Not to be confused with phleboliths seen in the pelvis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After begging to see a doctor as soon as possible, I was brought back to a small cubbyhole room with a curtain wall. I was given a tie-in-the-back gown and left to lie on a gurney. They started a saline IV and soon sent me for a CT scan. Then I waited.

The pain continued to get worse for about another hour and a half before the doctor came back and I pleaded for pain medication. He provided two pills along with the news that I had kidney stones. I wouldn’t say that news was my worst nightmare, but it was pretty bad news.

I was given the option of staying in the hospital overnight and then having the urologist take the stones out the next day, or to go home and wait it out. Having no insurance, like I mentioned before, I opted for the do-it-yourself plan. I went home. A week later I had a follow up visit with the urologist and was given some useful information.

Kidney

Kidney (Photo credit: Joshua Schwimmer)

Over the weeks that followed I was occasionally beset with the pains of a moving stone, which apparently hurts primarily when the stone is leaving the kidney and making its way to the bladder. Once it makes it to the bladder the channel isn’t as narrow and doesn’t hurt as much. Kidney stones can be formed in different ways, but most are mineral deposits that can’t be broken up and must be invasively removed or naturally passed. My guess is that the stones I collected in my kidney were the result of dehydration following a gnarly stomach flu I experienced the week before. Without sufficient hydration my kidneys weren’t able to flush various minerals and stuff successfully, leading to the formation of three small stones.

On Monday of this week I started a temporary contract employment assignment, AKA a temp job. I woke up that day with a little taste of the kidney stone pain, but it left me alone most of the day. Tuesday was a different story. It hurt early and didn’t stop.

I explained to my new coworkers that my agony stricken grimacing was the result of kidney stones that were on the move. I felt it important to give them a heads up in case I turned yellow or passed out cold. I was able to survive the day, but in recollection it is all just a blur now. The forty-five minute drive home was awful and I was nearly in tears by the time I made it. The two hydrocodone I took when I got home brought some satisfying relief after about twenty minutes, but the pain never completely left me.

A little over fifteen hours after getting home from work on Tuesday, one stone left my body.

All in all it was an absolutely awful process. The worst is that the doctor said there were three stones observed on the x-ray. I’m only a third of the way through. Even now as I type this I can feel bursts of pain emanating from my kidney. I don’t know if it is ghost pain from the passed stone, collateral damage from the movement of the stone, or one of its successors getting into position to cause me more grief. The urologist told me stones can take months to pass sometimes, but it’s cool, just drink lots of water and keep good pain medication on hand. He reminded me of Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive, so I trust him.

The moral of this story is that kidney stones are not comfortable, so stay hydrated and keep your kidneys flushed.

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About paulbrodie

I am a writer and a musician. My education is in psychology with emphasis in industrial/organizational psychology. My work experience has been primarily with electronic document management. Academically and intellectually I am interested in criminology and sociology. I am married to my favorite person in the world and we have one daughter.
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5 Responses to How to pass a kidney stone in 10 days without even trying

  1. Pingback: Temp jobs are the blind dates of the employment world | Paul Brodie

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  3. Ned's Blog says:

    I’m damned jealous that you have responses of such high quality like from “Kidney Pain Symptoms” above. I need to up my game…

    • paulbrodie says:

      Your jealousy in this case is justified, Ned. I was pretty surprised when the comment above snuck through the spam filter, I mean, clearly it is a well thought out comment by someone not solely intent on driving traffic to their site. This is made clear by the fact that they posted it on my blog.

      Sometimes I think it’d be fun to allow all the spam comments to come through, but then I worry that once you let one in there’s no stopping them. My favorite part is “exploring in Yahoo.”

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