I'm just about to head off to do some blood work at the hospital in anticipation of a trip to the doctor. So I'm feeling inspired for a potentially squicky TMIT. Have you got (or recovered from) any exciting/disturbing/amusing medical conditions?

(Serious TMI below, though more in length than squick.)

Today's blood work is a basic metabolic panel for a nephrologist. For those of you who don't know, a nephrologist is who you go see when your urologist discovers that one of your kidneys is no longer functioning. I had some issues with kidney stones about ten years ago. Had them treated and no problems until about 18 months ago.

So, 18 months ago I get this persistent dull ache in my right side (the same side that had the stones before) just below my ribs. Thought it might be mono, which I had in college*, until I learned that my spleen is on the other side so I dropped that self-diagnosis and went to see the doctor (urgent care, not my regular doctor). She's convinced it's my gall bladder and sends me to do an ultrasound on that. No dice. No duh.

Regular doctor gets the results, knows my history, sends me for a special x-ray procedure where you lay on the table for an hour while they take multiple pictures and inject you with some sort of dye. Which has to be done fasting. I hate fasting. "Hey look, you've got a kidney stone. Go see the urologist. "

I go see the urologist. You've got a kidney stone, we can get you into surgery (non-invasive soundwave stone destruction, same thing I did ten years ago) in about six weeks. Get a quick x-ray on your to surgery that morning. So I wait, get the quick x-ray, get to the hospital and find out that my stone has grown too big for that kind of surgery. "Go see another urologist who does a more invasive surgery."

Advertisement

I finally get in to see the other urologist. Do the moderately invasive surgery and have a stent put in my ureter to help get rid of the fragments. I do another one of the special x-ray procedures and go back to have the stent removed. There's still a portion of the stone left behind because the laser thing couldn't get at it. But I'm not in any pain anymore so it's okay.

A few months pass. My kidney is starting to ache again. Call the urologist. "Go do a special x-ray." Find out there's now scar tissue blocking my ureter causing a blockage and hence the discomfort. Get a bigger stent put back in in the hopes it will stretch out the scar tissue. This one coincided with a family car trip from Michigan to New Orleans and back. Stents are not comfortable and irritate my bladder in such a way that I need to pee almost constantly.

Get that one removed and do another x-ray. Still blocked. Next option, have the scarred section of my ureter removed and reattach the healthy portion to my kidney. Oh yeah, and six weeks recovery with no driving. I get paid by the hour basically and have two sick days per semester. Can this wait until after finals week in December? "Sure, let's put a fresh stent in to keep you healthy in the mean time."

Advertisement

Fresh stent, constant peeing, low level UTI. Fun times. By the time I get in to see the urologist in December and try to schedule the next level of surgery I'm looking at missing the first three weeks of the next semester. Would it endanger my health to wait until May since I don't teach in the summer? "No problem, let's change out that stent one last time just to keep it fresh." The stent comes out, he does a retrograde dye test and the blockage appears to be gone. Yea! No new stent! I'm healed! Or not.

More time passes, my kidney starts hurting again. Special x-ray. New stent. New test: Renal scan to track my actual kidney function in real time with a stent ensuring proper drainage. "Your right kidney isn't doing anything. There's no reason to have a stent in that side. Let's take it out. Oh, and you'll need to see a nephrologist."

So, today, blood work to figure out if I keep my run-of-the-mill July appointment with the nephrologist or if things are so bad that they need to bump me up to a much sooner emergency appointment.

Advertisement

*The college mono was courtesy of the then "future" Mrs. Hatrack. I married her anyways and have not regretted it.