Yesh, I wasn’t expecting my next badly-overdue post to be about this sort of thing, but apparently my run of bad health was due to be interrupted by a run of really bad health.
So I spent most of November, December, and the first part of January trying to figure out a chronic shortness of breath that was utterly unrelated to my perfect EKG, clear lungs, reasonably clear sinuses (it is Houston, you know). I got over that and was barely back to work a full week, when things went south, while I was up north. So I was in Dallas, hanging with some old, old friends from the college days, and doing some GURPS Space roleplaying. It was the 10th of February, a date that will live in no more infamy than any other, when I noticed I was urinating unusually often, and was feeling some pain in the left kidney. Just enough to get my attention, and I started seeing traces of blood.
Now understand, none of this was terribly unprecedented. If I’ve had one bit of luck after ten years of stones, it’s that I’ve easily passed gravel with only minor problems.. until 4am Sunday morning, when the bill came due. I started peeing nothing but blood, and lots of it. This went on until 8am, when it finally clotted enough to let me get some sleep. First thought was “ER”. Second was that ERs are full of sick people with nothing more than the flu and a (bad) excuse to give it to everyone else.
Third thought was that an ice storm was on the way, and an ER visit would result in being iced in. The extra delay due to the sleep almost did the job. (Residents of Duckfort and Brickmuppetville may laugh now.)
So we decided to head back to houston and hit the doctor’s office first thing Monday AM (12th). He went “Hm. Urologist, now.” an emergency appointment later, the urologist said “Hm. CAT scan, now.” Only i wasn’t reminded “no water at all” and chugged a few glasses to rehydrate. And the insurance was being snippy. So that Tues.AM i get the scan, which means I have to wait until Wed. for results. Two hung stones, one causing issues (total blockage) with the left kidney, including infection. Meantime, the blood tests come back to my first doc, late on Wed. White blood cell count 17,400, E.coli “over 100,000” My PCP is really weaselly.. “Most people would be in the ER.”
Since I had the surgery planned for Friday (16th), and being as I was not thinking clearly, it was another half-hour before the fact that I was losing control of my right side made me decide to put up with a hospital ER. We went to the one the surgery was going to be at instead of the closest, which was a great decision. They don’t seem to have the crowding problems. Still took 30 min to get in, at which point they looked at my vitals, the information I passed on from my doctor, and then shit started happening fast. Short version is I was going into septic shock, which was why i was losing control. New CAT scan, check. X-ray, check. The infection was so out of control, it was producing gas in the kidney. Nephrostomy tube to drain kidney, check. three liters of saline, check. Massive antibiotics, check, Port for drawing blood and putting in more antibiotics, check.
Somewhere during this, my brother asked, “Are you going to keep him overnight?” Heh. Bad thing about mass saline IV; raising the liquid level in the blood that fast causes fluid to start crossing the plenum wall — in the process of keeping me from heart failure due to dehydration, they gave me pneumonia. So, several days in ICU to get the infection(s) under control and kidney drained, Surgery was this Tuesday (20th), and home yesterday.
This was NOT my idea of fun, but it looks like I should recover well enough. Next tuesday (27th), I go back for a checkup and to have the temporary stent removed. Hopefully soon, I won’t need the handy emergency urinal….
Emergency pants are always a good idea. Emergency urinals are just tacky.