EXTRACORPOREAL SHOCK WAVE LITHOTRIPSY
While “Extracorporeal” means “outside the body,” I would not exactly call my kidney stone pulverizing procedure an “out of body experience.” But it was as experience. And you just gotta love anything with the word “lithotripsy” in the name, right?
I won’t go into all the details, just a few for those who are interested (or maybe really really bored and thinking a quick ESWL might be a way to fill up a slow afternoon!) But that can wait a moment…
First, I want to say I’m very thankful the procedure went well, seems (so far) so be successful. And today, I’m not in any pain. So praise God for that and thanks to all who prayed! I’m supposed to see the doctor in 2 weeks and he will verify that the stone was truly obliterated and that all the bits have been eliminated (I uh… may be able to comment on that myself depending on how much noise those crystals make on their road trip), and that the right kidney is functioning normally again. Then… we get to do the left one! Be still by beating heart.
Anyway, the procedure no longer involves being immersed in a tub of water. No immersion… more of a Presbyterian style thing now, maybe? (ha.) I got to wear one of those cool hospital gowns… just my size, definitely my style, and I really look good in a pattern of white with tiny blue circles. Later, I checked the hospital gift shop but alas, they were no gowns for sale as souvenirs.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO…
Lying on the table, they mashed an ultrasound scanner against my side. It was in a bracket that kept it there. On the screen they could see if it was aimed precisely at the white blur which was my unwelcome visitor from the planet Mineral. Then the procedure involved having some kind of “shock waves” shot out of the head of that ultrasound scanner. Kind of a cross between a “sonic jackhammer” and a really expensive “shoot the aliens” video game. Over the next hour the machine zapped my stone 5,000 times. Yes, that’s a “5” with 3 zeroes… “five (count ’em, 5) thousand.”
It didn’t real feel so much like “shock waves,” but what do I know? The closest I think I ever came to shock waves was when my friends and I rushed the stage at a Who concert in the 70’s. I know for sure on that day, any stones (not to mention ear drums) in my ears were shattered instantly.
Anyway, this felt more like an sharp electric zap… bzzzt (one…), bzzzt (two…), bzzzt (three…) on up to five thousand. I was mildly sedated. After about 1,262 or 1,263 zaps I asked to be a little less mildly sedated. It was not really excruciating, but a bit painful and very annoying and I figured I’d rather zone out. So I signaled for another squeeze of the syringe into my I.V. It was a good call. I enjoyed myself after that (or at least lost all conscious awareness of not enjoying myself, which was good enough.)
At the end, they let Donna see on the ultrasound screen how the solid white blur was now very diffused. The doctor said that meant the stone was broken up.
Again, I’m thankful we discovered this before we were back in the jungle… thankful we have good doctors and a nice new hospital here in Manila… thankful for Donna and all she did to see me through it. (And she‘s thankful the hospital has a Starbucks where she could wait for all 5,000 zaps to be done!) Oops… not supposed to let you know we have Starbucks on the mission field! But you can relax… we don’t have them on Palawan (smile).