Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kidney Update

So here’s the deal:

A few weeks ago, I noticed some strange symptoms. They were all… well, let’s just say they all had to do with urine, and leave it at that. You can thank me at your leisure, for sparing you the details. I figured it was probably a bladder infection.

I went to the doctor, but he didn’t concur. He thought it was probably kidney stones, instead. We did some tests—including a urine test, some x-rays, and an ultrasound—and the tests didn’t really show anything. The urine test didn’t show any bacteria—at least, not anything that was out of the ordinary—and neither did the x-rays or ultrasound show any “big” stones, all of which was normal. So he assured me that the stone would just pass on its own. (He made it sound like a pretty innocuous process; “one day you’ll be going to the bathroom, the flow will suddenly be interrupted, and then you’ll hear a little ‘ping’ when the stone hits the toilet.” He didn’t mention the excruciating pain that most people think of, when they think of kidney stones.) So I went home, content that I knew what the problem was, and mentally preparing myself for a world of pain.

And then nothing happened. And then my symptoms seemingly started to get better. So I went back to him again, to find out if he was sure it was a kidney stone. And he said, based on the symptoms, that he was still sure, and that the stone had probably passed. (Which I wrote about, because I was overjoyed that I’d been spared the pain.) He told me that the stones will cause some minor damage to your insides, so the symptoms I still had would eventually pass. We also talked about an operation I’d had on my kidneys, when I was 2½. He wanted me to get some more information about the nature of that operation, and come and see him in another week, and confirm if my symptoms were gone. While I was there, he also checked my prostate, and confirmed that it was fine, too.

But the symptoms didn’t go away. In fact, soon after I spent another sleepless night, running back and forth to the toilet every couple of minutes. So I went back to him again. (Actually, this time I just called him.) He promised to get me a referral to a urologist, and I don’t remember the exact wording, but he said he’d try and do it quickly. This was a Monday.

I called his office again on Tuesday, to find out if the appointment was made. But I found out that there is only one nurse who does referrals, and she was out sick. Was there nobody else who could do it, in her absence? No. No there was not. So finally, on Friday, she came in, and faxed the referral to the specialist. Which meant another few days for the specialist to get back to her, for her to get back to me. But I found out on the following Wednesday—that’s a week and a half after I’d been promised to get my appointment quickly—that they’d made my appointment. For March.

So I’ve gone back to my doctor again, and asked him if there is anything he can do in the meantime. I’m worried because if this is a problem with my kidneys, I don’t want it to linger—I want to find out soon, and get it fixed. So we’ve decided, for the time being, to treat it as an infection. (Whether bladder infection, kidney infection, or prostititis, which is some kind of infection of the prostate, doesn’t matter. You treat them all the same: with antibiotics.) If it turns out that it is an infection, and the antibiotics work, then all the better. Personally—and I think my doctor agrees with me on this—I’d be much happier if my original urine test had showed some bacteria, to indicate that it was an infection.

So now I’m waiting for the antibiotics to work (if they will). In the meantime, I’m getting dehydrated, because I’m urinating so much that any fluids I drink are just going right through me. I’m also sick of cranberry juice. (I think I wrote that before.) I’m also missing coffee. (I think I wrote that before, too.) But I’ve decided to start coming back to the office, when I can. When I wake up, and it’s a “good day”, I’ll come in, but if it’s a “bad day”, I’ll work from home. And that’s the frustrating thing about my symptoms: Even if I feel really good, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because a few hours later I could be peeing like crazy again.

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