Monday, September 14, 2015

Kidneys : The Story So Far

I've had kidney pains for a number of years now and had reported them to my GP. My blood pressure was off so as well as urine tests I was sent to the hospital to get a blood pressure monitor I wore for 24hrs. Every hour it would bing and then take my blood pressure as usual with a cuff that tightened. The blood pressure was recorded and after I returned the machine logged and checked. At the time everything BP wise was fine and I was given a course of vitamin D tablets and told to try and get more sun. A few years passed before I went back with more kidney pains and a swelling that went up and down in my right leg right near the bottom of my butt on the side. Nothing was done and I was told it was related to my monthly period/hormone cycles. 

Obviously now I know it was all related to my endometrioisis which went undiagnosed for 20+ years... When I first started getting severe pains near my right kidney in April one of the first things they checked was for kidney stones by doing a CT scan. It was then found that my left kidney was severely damanged and had been for years with something called hydronephrosis. This basically means that the endometrioisis had formed in a build up around the left ureter (the tube that runs from the kidney to the bladder) in particular squashing and squeezing it until no liquids could pass from my kidney to my bladder. There was a lot of scar tissue as well and my kidney had shrivelled and shrunk in size and was full of water so was quite rubbery and a bit like a balloon.

The right kidney had been functioning by itself for who knows how many years and was basically going into crisis too hence all the pain and eventual collapse. Work needed to be done on my kidneys ASAP to save my life and enable me to keep my left kidney so an operation to put stents in both ureters was planned. These would open them up and allow fluid to travel from my kidneys as usual to my bladder and would also mean that the ureters would be more visible during my main endometriosis surgery making damage to them less likely. 

The surgery is fairly simple I was assured even though it sounded fairly icky! A general anaesthetic would be given and then stents put up my uthetra (the opening where you pee out of above the vagina). These would then be unrolled and join the kidney to the bladder and overcome any blockages in the tubes. I remember my dad being all ok cool about it and me saying erm no, nothing is supposed to go up the urethra...!!! This was scheduled as a day surgery and I would come out and spend the night at my dads house near by before going home as usual. 

This was my first ever operation and general anaesthetic. I suffer from anxiety and so was very nervous and trying not to have a panic attack going in to the anaesthesia room and I was so grateful that they let me keep my stuffed cat toy Mini Morg with me. They drew pen arrows on both arms to show stents were due to be placed in both ureters. I remember them telling me I was feeling sleepy and me replying no I certainly was not... And then I woke up in recovery! The catheter felt so strange and I felt a strong urge to pee so insisted they put a bedpan under me even though I couldn't use it. It was a natural thing, to pee into something and not have it collect down a tube with no conscious peeing by me. 

It turned out the operation hadn't quite gone as planned. The right stent had been inserted no problem, but the left they hadn't been able to do despite trying for a lot longer than usual. This was the side with the hydronephrosis and he extensive endometriosis damage. I was scheduled for another operation two days later and instead of being able to go home was admitted to hospital. 

The next operation was with a radiologist and I was to be awake for it. I was given sedatives and pain killers, both would have an amnesiac effect so I wouldn't remember most of the operation. They were going to cut a hole in my back and try to insert the stent into my back, then my kidney and down the ureter into the bladder. Basically going from top to bottom this time. They again let me take Mini Morg with me to cuddle for the duration of the surgery. I don't remember a lot besides them taking lots of X-Rays of my back the entire time to help place the stent until they got to my bladder... It was so uncomfortable and painful in such a strange way. It gave me a really urgent urge to pee but hurt at the same time. I remember saying ouch a lot and them offering me more pain killers and sedatives which I gratefully accepted but felt cold and stung all the way up my arm. 

By the end of the surgery which had taken double the amount of estimated time, the stent still wasn't in the correct place. Another surgery was scheduled for two more days time to again have a general anaesthetic and go up the ureter to pull the stent down and into place. By this time I was feeling pretty low and frustrated. If the third surgery didn't work they planned to go back in through my back again and push it down more which I just knew was going to be horrible... Apparently due to the hydronephrosis my kidney was so full of water it was like trying to pierce a water balloon. 

Fortunately the third surgery worked and my kidney stent was finally in the correct place. Three surgeries in six days and a few days later I was ready to go home. My leaving the hospital is a whole other story...! 

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