Anyone who’s ever passed a kidney stone knows when another is coming. There’s a familiar, unmistakable feeling that accompanies each one. A dull ache in the lower back, a pain that just won’t quit in your testicles (for men anyway). Only someone who’s experienced a kidney stone can truly appreciate the pain they can cause. I may upset some of you ladies out there now. I’m not diminishing the pain of childbirth, but the one thing going for childbirth is that it doesn’t last for weeks or months. A kidney stone can take months to pass and no one wants to see the pictures afterwards.
Let me give you a little back story… A few years back, I recognised that familiar look of discomfort on a close friend’s face long before he had the slightest inkling as to the cause. The way he moved, along with the way he held himself, was a dead giveaway. At the time he had no idea, just thought it was a persistent bad back. Half an hour into our meal, he was rolling on the floor in agony. The others in our party wouldn’t believe that he could be perfectly fine one minute, in agony the next and then in another ten, feeling fine but tired. When I asked him if his bollocks were hurting as well, he looked at me with a mix of confusion and awe. How could I have known that his chuds were throbbing? I explained that what he’d probably experienced was simply a spasm caused by a kidney stone moving very slightly.
“SLIGHTLY!” I took my buddy home, gave him a hot water bottle and told him that if it got any worse, to call an ambulance. Either way, he was to see his GP the next day. As it happened I was spot on. The following week he was in theatre, having the same procedure that I had done a week ago. Six stones were lodged between his kidneys and his bladder. Two one side and four the other. His recovery took months of agonising stents, laser blasts, more stents and finally relief. Only to have to go through it all four more times in six years. His, is an extreme case. He just keeps growing stones and they can’t say why.
I’ve been relatively free of kidney stones for nearly ten years. My first was nearly twenty years ago. I had no idea what the pain was, or what the significance of both lower back pain and a feeling of being repeatedly kicked between the legs was. Not until I collapsed in the street, writhing in agony and dog shit. My buddy was with me then too (I’m beginning to think he’s bad luck). My wife and buddy took me home, stopping half way at a garden centre ‘because all I needed was a good shit.’ Cheers for that mate!
I spent the night in a bath of hot water – that’s all that relieved the pain. By 6 am my wife was taking me to Casualty. I was examined by a lovely camp doctor who said he “Was just checking me for a bowel obstruction.” He certainly enjoyed his job and my wife thought the whole thing was hilarious. That was a day of firsts. First bad kidney stone, first finger up my arse as far as it would go. Not even a kiss or a cuddle afterwards. Bloody cheek!
Diagnosis confirmed, I was sent home with a pocket of Tramadol and told to tough it out. Tramadol and I do NOT get along. I was prescribed one tablet three times a day. I took one tablet and was high as a kite for nearly two days. I hallucinated some horrific scenes and despite the buzz, I remember it all. I’m going to have to be begging for death before I take those again.
Fast forward to last Friday night. I knew that there was a stone coming as I’d been pissing Ribena(*) for days and I’d felt a few twinges. I’d been concerned that it would prevent me from attending Eroticon. Thankfully it didn’t.
Friday evening came and I was driving home. I could feel that tell-tale pain in my lower back start to rise. Then like clockwork, my bollocks started aching.
“Oh Boy! Here we go again.”
I managed to make it into the house – barely. I gave my wife the good news and climbed the stairs, desperate to make it to my bed with a sick bucket. My wife knew exactly what was coming next. We ate quickly, all the time I was asked if we needed to go to the hospital. Being a Friday night, I was reluctant. The place would be full of drunks by now. Then the decision was taken away. I passed out from the pain. My long-suffering wife, god bless her, arranged for childcare and took me to A&E reception, where she manhandled me to a chair and booked me in. She’s my guardian angel, wrapped up in a 5’ 8” Amazonian’s body. She truly is amazing!
By this point I was balling my eyes out, blubbering like a toddler, my head in her lap, wiping snot trails up her black leggings. An hour went by and I’d deteriorated further, screaming as well as whimpering. Impatient, she dragged me back up to the triage nurse’s window to try and hurry things along. This is when I passed out for the second time. I couldn’t have timed it better if I tried. I woke up in a wheelchair, having been parked just outside the triage nurse’s room where we were apparently just a few back in the queue.
Another hour passed and I’d gone through two packets of tissues when my name was finally called. I was wheeled into a cubicle where I was asked what the problem was, you all know the how this bit goes. The plus here was that I was given the first ray of hope. A Diclofenac suppository, two blue nitrile gloves and a sachet of lube. I don’t think I’ve ever been so pleased at the prospect of shoving something up my arse. The best part was that the male triage nurse had no intention of doing it for me. My Goddess wheeled me to the toilets where I inserted that bad boy and half an hour later the waves of pain started to abate.
Back out into the corridor to wait for the next stage. I’d apparently been booked into A&E majors. Another hour went by before I was called into the Acute Assessment Unit. I wasn’t supposed to be there, but everywhere else was full. By midnight I had made it to A&E majors – but only because I needed to lie down. Apparently, there wasn’t a spare trolley in the entire hospital. By 4 am, I had a bed on a ward, a cannula, and some lovely drugs. Saturday was a blur of Oramorph and Paracetomol. I remember very little of Saturday. I remember being sent for a CT scan and that I was nil by mouth until 10 pm. Over 24 hours after being admitted, I saw my first doctor (or at least the first one I was lucid enough to remember, plus she was cute). She explained that I had seven or more kidney stones and that at least three of them were much too big to pass. SHIT! I was allowed to eat something but had to go nil by mouth from 4 am, just in case.
Sunday morning came and so did various theatre staff. I was taken down to the operating room at around 11 am where I was outed for wearing nail varnish by my health care assistant. Apparently, it had to go in the paperwork that I was wearing metallic purple nail varnish on my toes.
12 pm arrived and I awoke with rather a start from the anaesthetic, now the proud owner of a JJ Stent running between my left kidney and my bladder. Back on the ward, my urologist explained that he had to push the two stones that were already travelling through my ureter back into the kidney for a party with the three much larger ones that have taken up residence. That and the fact that he’d just had a camera up my cock would mean that I would be pissing lava for a week. He didn’t use those words, but the meaning was there. He also gave me the fantastic news that I had three and not two stones in the right ureter, that and that at 4mm, they were too small to laser. I’m going to have to pass those the hard way.
He prescribed me a lovely drug called Tamulosin to help relax my pipes enough to pass the three smaller stones on the right. Nice. Looking through the possible side effects and I noted these rather amusing ones. Common side effects include failing to ejaculate or when I do, it blows back into the bladder instead. Awesome. A not so common side effect is Priapism (for those that don’t know, it’s a persistent and painful erection). It tickled me that on one hand, this drug gives you a hard-on, but on the other hand, it can make it impossible to use it to it’s full potential.
I was allowed to leave the hospital once I’d been able to pass water. This is an odd sensation. The stent can be felt almost all the time as an urgent need to pee. The only way I know the difference between feeling like I need a piss, and actually needing one desperately, is when the pain is accompanied by an uncomfortable pull at the kidney which rises to agony if I don’t go within a minute. The best way for me to describe it is as a water balloon tied to the pin of a hand-grenade with a short piece of string. Let the balloon fill too far and, BANG! I’m calling this a piss-pull.
It’s been just over a week. The stones are obviously still all there. I’ve been passing broken glass and razor wire Ribena piss on and off all week. I’ve started to get used to the piss-pull sensations, and I’ve learned that my physical limits are pretty fucking low. Something so silly as a piece of tubing in the guts has me worn out after walking for less than ten minutes. Now I just need to wait for the next phase. The stones in the left need to come out surgically. There are only two ways that’s happening. Either they cut me open and remove them, or the preferred method is they send another camera back up my cock and laser the little fuckers!
*For those that don’t know, Ribena is a brand of blackcurrant squash.