Pregnancy Week 29 / The Kidney Stone Saga

February 14th, 2010

Even if I wanted to write my typical pregnancy week-in-review post, I couldn’t. Because prior to 6 a.m. Wednesday, I have absolutely no recollection of the events that may or may not have taken place. I think my life will be forever known as Pre-Wednesday and Post-Wednesday. We are currently catching our breath in the aftermath of what was the most painful, dramatic and awful week of my entire life. And while statements I make like that can sometimes have a hint of exaggeration, I assure you that that statement is a hard, cold fact.

I was feeling OK this past week. Monday and Tuesday I complained of being a little more tired than normal, even a little queasy and a touch of not feeling well in general. So I took a long nap on Tuesday and generally took it easy and didn’t think too much of it.

Then, it happened. Wednesday morning Shelton left at an absurdly early hour, like 5:30, because he happened to wake up that early and figured he’d go in to catch up on work. I then woke up about 6:15 to go to the bathroom and then catch another two hours or so of sleep before getting up for good. At 6:16, I swear one of two things was going to happen: I was either go to collapse and die right there in our bedroom, or in that same spot in our bedroom I was going to deliver this baby. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the pain that was emanating from my abdomen, that kept me from standing up straight and made it nearly impossible to walk across the room to use the restroom. I made my way back to the bed and tried to lie down, which proved to be even more painful than trying to stand. So I got up on all fours, pushed my head in to a pillow and started bawling. Then I called Shelton and explained that I was in so much pain and he turned the car around and came home.

By 7:30 Shelton was ushering me out the door to go to the hospital, and I was bawling. The pain was like nothing I’d ever felt before, and the thought of having to fold myself into the Maxima for the 20-minute rush-hour drive to the hospital felt like more than I could bear. He called our OB, Dr. W, who advised we go directly to our delivery hospital as he didn’t know what was going on and they’d get in touch with him when they figured it out.

One of the nice things about being pregnant and going to the hospital for an emergency situation is that you get to roll directly passed the ER and right up to the labor and delivery floor. No waiting, no lines, no BS, just instant medical care. The way it should be! So that’s what we did. By the time Shelton wheeled me in to the L&D check-in, I was bawling again and barely able to stay seated in the wheelchair. They asked if I was in labor and I just shook my head and said I hope not.

They quickly put me in a bed and took a urine sample, which looked like watered down Coke, so that raised some concerns (we later learned I had blood in my urine). Then the lengthy process of taking my history and figuring out all my symptoms. A wonderful doctor came in and started interviewing me to assess what was wrong, they ran an IV line as a precaution in case it was something bad, called Dr. W, and I sat there writhing in pain. By 10 a.m. they had determined that it was most likely a kidney stone and I just sat there thinking how is this possible? Do this many bad things happen to one pregnant woman? Apparently, they do!

I was given a shot of morphine in that IV line and instantly felt like someone just wiped away all the pain. I was in la-la land and felt great for the first time that morning. I  was then taken down for a kidney ultrasound, because you can’t have a CT scan when you’re pregnant, which would have given us a much more definitive answer. The sono showed that my ureter (the tube that transfers urine, and kidney stones, from the kidney to the bladder) was not blocked. That’s really all they could see, that and my kidney was swollen. With that, they sent me home with a prescription for percoset, a filter to catch my urine and watch for a stone, instructions to drink about four liters of fluid, and instructions to come back if the pain worsened or any of a number of other symptoms presented themselves.

We returned home and I begged Shelton to stay with me as I was unsure what the day would hold. He filled my prescription and began pumping me full of Powerade and water. When the morphine started to wear off I took one percoset and went to sleep for three hours. I woke around 5:30 p.m., felt OK, but exhausted and got online to check email that I had missed that day. That would be the last calm moment we experienced for 12 hours.

Around 6:00 the pain started to creep back, so Shelton offered half a percoset. I tend to be fairly sensitive to pain medication, and given how well the whole percoset knocked me out earlier, we thought a half would take care of the pain. But we were wrong. More wrong than two people could possibly ever be. Half an hour after that percoset the pain was back in full force. No amount of sitting, laying, standing, walking would relieve it. So another half percoset. Around 7:00 I climbed in to a hot bath, and while relaxing, it didn’t take the edge off the soul-crushing pain. This was followed by another half percoset. At 8:00 Shelton asked if I were hungry, and the only thing I could fathom eating was a smoothie, so he made one, and it took me a million years to drink it in between grunts, groans and moans. Then I took another percoset. Up to two whole percosets by 8:30/9:00, I had maxed out my dosage and the pain was beyond comprehension. Shelton called the doctor back and he instructed us to go back to the hospital, take another morphine shot, and prepare to stay a day or two.

Due to our recent back/forth to the hospital I had an overnight bag already packed. So we tossed the dog into her kennel, the bag in to the car, and I rolled myself, bawling once again, in to the Maxima. We tried to hit the main entrance and take ourselves up to the L&D floor, but the main entrance was locked. Which meant ER. At 10 o’clock at night. Shelton wheeled me in and the woman asked if I were in labor. I explained that I was there earlier, had kidney stones and just needed to get to the fourth floor. Here’s where the long ranty letter to my hospital will begin, because the admissions woman was so rude and told me I basically didn’t know what I was talking about and she’d figure out what to do with me. Mind you, I’m visibly in so much pain I don’t know how I was able to even speak to her.

For FORTY FIVE MINUTES they parked my wheelchair in a hallway in the ER, taking their sweet time filling out paperwork, that had been completed 12 hours earlier. Shelton was pacing and spitting nails he was so mad, I just kept urging him to relax and let them do their jobs. Finally someone from L&D came to collect me and we were then faced with the second bullet item on my long ranty letter to the hospital. I’ve never encountered a ruder, colder more incompetent nurse in my life. For the encore, she was followed by the dumbest, most clueless, sorry excuse of a doctor I’ve ever encountered in my life. All on the night where I would have rather been run over by a dump truck than suffer through five more minutes of what I was feeling.

Again, having been there earlier in the day, and realizing this hospital in the year 2010 relies on paper records and not a single electronic health record, had to capture my entire history yet again by hand. The doctor was asking questions and checking for symptoms that made no sense. TWICE we had to ask him if had called my OB to which he replied “Oh, we’ll get to it.” Maybe you can get to it when I tear your balls off with rusty pliers and you begin to get a sense of what I’m feeling!!! We told them three, four, five times I had been there earlier, Doctor so-and-so had given me morphine, it worked, just give me more morphine now. What did doctor doofus offer? Dinner. It was eleven o’clock at night and he wanted to know if we were hungry. Ef you and your dinner, give me a mother effing shot of morphine NOW or I’m going to jump out of this window because it will feel better!

Finally, Shelton made it very clear what we were there for and they decided to stop waiting to admit me and run an IV line and just give me a regular shot in the butt of morphine. Around midnight. About 2.5 hours after we arrived at the hospital. The morphine took the edge off just enough that I was able to stop crying and lie down in the bed and relax a little, but it by no means had the same effect it had had earlier in the day and the pain was still excruciating.

Shortly thereafter a wheelchair arrived to take me to my new room, where Shelton and I would end up staying another 36 hours. The bed was super comfortable, we had a private room with a bathroom and a nurse so amazing I was devastated when her shift ended six hours later.  They ran the IV line, drew blood and at 2 a.m. delivered a second, doubled dose of morphine. Which again, had little to no effect on the pain. Shelton stood by my bed while I stepped on his toes, clenched his hands, pushed my head as deep into his chest as I could, screamed, and I tried to not think about dying. At 4 a.m. they delivered a third dose of morphine and it still had no effect on the pain.

However, I was able to finally lie down in the bed and doze in and out despite the pain. I think exhaustion had taken over and I was just broken down. Shelton snuck out to tend to the dog at home and missed the single finest moment of the entire night. At 5 a.m. the nurse returned with a shot of dilaudid, a pain medicine they hoped would actually work. She shot it into my IV and within seconds, for the first time in 12 hours, I felt relief. It worked. So well that I slept for a solid 45 minutes without crying or moaning.

Shelton returned around 6 a.m., at this point awake for more than 24 hours, and took a cat nap next to me. At 7 a.m. they returned for another dilaudid shot and shortly thereafter my OB arrived. I can’t even tell you how thrilled I was to see Dr. W. It was like the hell-on-Earth 12 hours had finally come to a close and he was there to tell me I wasn’t going to die. He told me the rest of the day they would give me dilaudid pills, that way I could prepare myself to be able to go home. The rest of the day I was in a druggy haze, moderate pain (but it was tolerable) and I was making 20-30 minute trips to the bathroom, thanks to the jug of water at my bedside and the IV drip of saline.

I was cleared to eat whatever I wanted, and took advantage of the fairly impressive menu. I didn’t have a huge appetite, but I managed to keep food on my stomach. Shelton worked most of the day and I slipped in and out of naps with frequent trips to the bathroom all day. Around 6:00 that night, they told me I could go home if I wanted and I insisted on staying. I was scared to death we’d get home, have another flare up and have to go through the hell of the ER and L&D check-in once again.

At that point I decided to start going every three hours for my pills instead of two, and I was managing just fine. At 11 that night the nurse came in to do a fetal monitor on the baby and I told her that while I was due for a pill at midnight, I wanted to try to sleep through it and I’d page her if we needed it. So I slept through it, and didn’t buzz for a pill until 2 a.m. When she returned to do the fetal monitor at 5 a.m., she asked if I was ready for another pill and I told her that I was going to pass, I felt fine. For the first time in 48 hours I was comfortable, without pain and relaxed. She also told me she’d had kidney stones at 20 weeks. So I asked her which was worse, and she said the stones were more painful than the labor.

At 7 Friday morning my OB returned to check on me. I told him that with a prescription I was ready to go home and he didn’t disagree. So they started the check-out process. At around 8 a.m. I went in to use the restroom as the nurse was finalizing my paperwork, and found the stone. It had passed. I was sorely disappointed when I saw how teeny tiny it was. For all I’d been through, I wanted it to be something I could brag about and be proud of, maybe have bronzed so I could wear it on a necklace. I just couldn’t believe something so tiny had brought me to my knees in the most unimaginable pain I’d ever been in.

Shelton brought me home, filled my prescription, and I slept the rest of the day, as did he. I think it’s worth mentioning that Shelton was awake for about 50 hours, never left my side, and took care of every whimper, request and trip to the bathroom I had. He was incredible and without him I’m certain I would have died. Throughout the entire agonizing nightmare, I was so thankful to have him there with me.

Also worth mentioning is that this baby I’m carrying is both incredibly strong and crazy. Given the narcotics cocktail I had, which they repeatedly assured me was fine for the baby, she never stopped moving. Not once. Kicking and rolling and playing the entire time. Every nurse that used the fetal monitor laughed as they literally had to hunt her down to find a heartbeat.

Another worthy mention, our friends the Amores, who swooped in and took care of our puppy while we were away. Amidst all that was going on we were so stressed over what to do with the dog and they didn’t hesitate a second to drive out to our house, pick her up, and take her not only home but to work for two days. God sends!

Friday night as Shelton and I were exhausted and ready to head to bed, a knock at the door startled us. I mean, 10 o’clock on a Friday night we don’t typically have visitors. Shelton opened the door to find my sister, sister-in-law, and niece, they’d driven five hours from Arkansas to come see us. It was the best get well surprise ever. Saturday the pain returned so I continued taking my pain pills. My sisters cooked, did laundry and helped take care of me, filling water and doing other small things. That afternoon we’d already planned to have my mom and aunts over to clean out and move the nursery to the basement and get the nursery set-up upstairs. The house was buzzing with a lot of women, and they with Shelton got our entire nursery put together. It’s beautiful and I’m loving walking in there and just looking around knowing that’s where we’re bringing our baby home.

Before this week, I didn’t know it was possible to experience pain like I did. It was brutal. I’m so grateful that it wasn’t anything more than it was, that we had a definitive conclusion and that overall I was very well taken care of by the hospital, Shelton and my doctor.

This morning we started week 30, meaning we’re at the T-minus 10 week countdown. Shelton and I are both praying it’s an uneventful 2.5 months. We can’t take any more excitement like this.