The Day I Was Diagnosed as Being Totally Tubular – or How I Learned to Love RTA

Have I mentioned how much I dislike the urology practice to which I go?  No?  Probably because if I get on a roll about it, I won’t stop.  Let’s just say that today did  nothing to redeem this practice in terms of how much faith I have in them.

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So today was my post-surgical follow up visit after stones were removed from my kidneys.  The stones were analyzed, and they were deemed to be mostly calcium phosphate stones.  After further review of my medical records, the doctor diagnosed me with a disease called Renal Tubular Acidosis.  It sounds way more fun than I think it’s actually going to be.  When I hear “tubular”, I think waves and sand and sun kissed surfers with white blonde hair and a six pack (abdominal and liquid).  Apparently, this is not the case.

I have more tests to go through over the next few weeks, but I think the most important test that lies ahead of me is the test of my courage at finding another urology practice.  I hate starting over with new doctors, and there is a big part of me that thinks if I stay on top of my care with this office, I can negate any potential damage the incompetence of the staff will cause (like today, when I walked in, and they wanted to know about taking my stent out.  Ummm, you mean the one I took out myself after 48 hours, as instructed?).

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While untreated, this disease can lead to total kidney failure, I had a really awesome sign that made me feel so much better about the way things will go.  My dad, who died from renal failure as a complication of his diabetes, loved Tiny Tim from the Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol”.  I grew up loving the story, and even now, I will watch every version I can find over the Christmas holidays.  Driving home from the urologist, worried about this new diagnosis, I started furiously Googling to see what information I could find that the doctor didn’t give me (which, by the way, was none).  I found this:

One researcher has theorized that Charles Dickens may have been describing a child with RTA in the character of Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim’s small stature, malformed limbs, and periods of weakness are all possible consequences of the chemical imbalance caused by RTA.1 In the story, Tiny Tim recovers when he receives medical treatment, which would likely have included sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate, alkaline agents to neutralize acidic blood. The good news is that medical treatment can indeed reverse the effects of RTA.

Pretty sure it was a sign from my dad.

And on that note –

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N is for Nephrology – a-to-z blog challenge

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Nephrology is the study of diseases of the kidney.  There are lots of diseases of the kidney.  I happen to be the recipient of one chronic kidney condition that truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

I have chronic kidney stones.  Some people are great at many things.  It turns out, I am great at one – making really awesome, amazingly sized, freaks of nature kidney stones.

This, as you may imagine, is not fun.  Believe it or not, I can tolerate the pain for the most part.  It’s the messing with my ability to pee that irks me.

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I don’t have time to go at whim, so it’s important that I maintain an ability to “hold it”.  Kidney stones impede that ability.  Most of the time, I am timing a potty break before a kitchen timer beeps, a school bell rings, or I have to be out the door to go somewhere.  When I sit, I expect the few seconds of inconvenience on my way to where I am destined to be.  Kidney stones have made it so that I’m not quite sure I’m finished when I think I’m finished.

Believe me, I know, with the possibilities of other medical conditions I could be afflicted with, this is minor among them.  And I am grateful this is what I have to put up with compared with others.

But allow an old broad a few minutes to moan.

Crossing Acute Renal Failure Off Of My Bucket List

Whew – that leaves only bungee jumping and typhoid fever!

So, in obvious response to my threat of naked hot tubbing with the new tub, the supreme powers that be saw fit to smite me down to prevent the possibility of widespread hysteria at the mere thought of this pasty white sack of flour nude.  In hot, bubbly water.  This, apparently, is a sight reserved only for those making chicken soup.

I was happily getting ready to go to parents’ weekend to pick Eilis up at camp last Friday, and I came down with chills.  I had minor back pain, and based on a history of kidney stones, I briefly thought it might be that – but when the excruciating, I’d rather give birth to quintuplets without the benefit of medical intervention pain never materialized, I chalked it up to bad Chinese food.

After a weekend of chills and cold sweats, it seemed like a good idea to skip our planned visit to Niagara Falls and head home.

My family doctor has been my family doctor since I was 19 years old – with the exception of the time I lived in FL.  I never once laid down on his exam table.  I’ve been in there with all kinds of ills and chills, but never felt compelled to lay down.

It was perhaps the fact that I was laying down that prompted him to send me to the ER immediately.  He’s very good at this doctor thing – he should consider a career….just sayin’.

Long story short, in acute renal failure with sepsis, they admit me to the ICU.  What a great place, ICU.  Private room, private nurse, all the IVs you want – and I even vaguely recall there might have been a TV.  It was like staying at the Grand Floridian, only less, ummm, Floridian feeling.

I’ve got a long road to go.  The acute renal failure has left me severely anemic, and the cause of the problem in the first place is indeed an enormous, the size of Stewie from Family Guy’s head kidney stone that is blocking my kidney from draining.  That has to come out, so I’m looking at a surgical procedure at the end of the month.

But in the grand scheme of things, I’m here.  When the ladies from the local Church came to pray with me and give me communion on Sunday, I admit, I cried my eyes out.  Having heard all week long how many hours away I had been from dying, it was overwhelming on a dark, dismal, rainy day to have this lovely woman, dressed in sunshine yellow, there to celebrate with me my going home.

I should pledge to do something great with my life, now that it’s been saved.  But I really try, every day, to do something great for someone.  So I’ll just pledge to continue to be me – for as long as you’ll have me.