4/24/14 Renal Miscalculation

Renal calculus. Otherwise known as kidney stones. Something, somewhere has been miscalculated. The sum is pitiful.

I wrote about a kidney stone incident a couple of years ago, indicating that since my old friends had returned, then perhaps things were back to normal in my body. It is wishful thinking,though, since it is unlikely that things will ever return to normal in my body; they will merely return to the new normal, as the older we get, the more new normals we have to adapt to.

I have had a tremendous outpouring of love, sympathy, and empathy from my friends over this kidney stone. The truth of the matter is that a kidney stone is a terrific inconvenience. In my case, it is not life threatening, since the stone, though seemingly the size of a soccer ball, is not above average as far as kidney stones go. Even at that, it reuses to be ignored, thus it causes tremendous pain. Well, they make medicine to deal with that and have been gracious in dispensing it to me. Once you are a known kidney stone patient, they do not withhold pain meds from you…they serve them liberally and encourage you to take them. I was once young and tougher, and liked to be manly and refuse them, but have learned to embrace them. I suppose I am not as tough as I used to be, but then again, I have learned that a tough stoicism earns you nothing here, and sometimes stoicism is not all that it’s cracked up to be. This is one of those times.

Having said that, let me go on to say this: There are those who have expressed concern over my painful inconvenience who are in the midst of fighting battles far greater than a mere kidney stone, and these days, kidney stones are mere to all except those who are nursing one…they seldom are a matter of life and death.

I am touched that others would think of me in the midst of a far more immediate struggle. I know what they are capable of, because I have been in that struggle, also. My friend Gene starts his bone marrow killing chemotherapy on Monday. For two days they will give him chemo which will completely destroy his own bone marrow and immune system. They will then implant previously harvested stem cells from his own system back into his bones on next Thursday, giving him next Wednesday off…a free day, as it were.

From that, Gene will grow a completely new immune system, one that is free from Multiple Myeloma. If it works, he will be cured, but it is not as simple as it sounds and the whole business is fraught with danger. Those remarkable stem cells will grow into red blood cells, platelets, NK cells, B cells, T Cells, and all the other sorts of blood cells we need to survive. When it takes hold and begins working, he will need to take all his childhood vaccines over again, since his new immune system will have no anti-bodies of its own to ward off infections. Gene will be in isolation for six-weeks, staying in a patient hotel adjacent to the transplant center.

He came down and stayed a week with me and accompanied me to the chemo center. We even held a concert in the chemo room one day, and were invited back any time. The patients, nurses, and doctors all liked the music. This was one of the most rewarding times I have ever played music. Even in the midst of discomfort, nausea, and chemotherapy, we can have some joy.

My friend Mark is dealing with colon cancer, is post-surgery and is now taking chemotherapy to make sure that any radical cells that may be floating around in his system are rounded up and dispatched lest they take root somewhere else.

Then there is me and my leukemia. At the moment, the leukemia is at bay. I go to Houston for my annual checkup there on May 14. I expect it to be like the last one I had, but I have no guarantee. The leukemia could be back, as they tell me must happen one day. When it happens, if it happens, then it will be what it is…much like this kidney stone.

I am along for the ride on this one, and others will decide, perhaps tomorrow, on just what course we should pursue. I’m sure that Uroman will ask me, “Wanna try and pass it or get it blasted?”

“Blast it,” will be my immediate reply.

I’ve had lithotripsy before…twice. History has shown that they have to work particularly hard with the sound waves to get my stones to break up. The result is a broken stone, but a very sore and bruised side where they bombard me thousands of times with those hypersonic waves. I wonder how many dB they are, and what frequencies? I suppose GOOGLE is my next stop after I finish writing this, or perhaps a nap, since the dilaudid (hydromorphone) is calling me to Morpheus, or perhaps I’ll lay down on the hard plank floor of the front porch, which, remarkably, seems to provide some level of comfort.

With a kidney stone, you take comfort wherever you can find it.

“This, too, shall pass,” it has been said in the worst of times.

This is not even the worst of times. It is merely an un-ignorable inconvenience.



©2014 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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