The surgery that wasn’t. Or, Sarah wants to be tagged as a difficult patient at EVERY office she visits.

So. This is really a continuation of everything that healthcare shouldn’t be. I’m not talking healthcare as in health insurance/how we pay for healthcare. Which, thank you Obama, seems to be what everyone means nowadays when they say “healthcare.” I’m talking the “old” definition – you know, actually caring for your health.

So when I was PG with Genna I had this intermittent kidney problem. I’d have blood in my urine, it would turn out to not be a UTI, then it would go away. That happened something like 5 times. I eventually had a renal ultrasound that showed several stones in there, but nothing that looked problematic. At one point, the kidney thing led to really strong contractions that were really painful, but not actually labor, and that sucked pretty bad.

I eventually saw a urologist, who recommended a CT Scan, which he said was perfectly safe during pregnancy. But when I asked what we’d do for treatment once we diagnosed the problem, he said that the treatment would be to wait until the pregnancy was over. So, gosh, why not just wait until the baby is born to do the diagnosing? So that’s what we did. Uh huh.

Then I had Genna. And the problem went away. Then about a month ago, I started with the blood in the urine again, exactly the same as before. Mild discomfort, no pain.

First, I had another renal ultrasound. Then another urologist visit. The urologist, turns out, didn’t want/need the ultrasound results (so I’m unclear on why I had that, and, um, paid for it). He breezed in, ordered some tests, and was gone. My first visit with him was literally 5 minutes.

I refused the contrast dye, but consented to a CT scan. He said the scan without dye would work just fine. The day of my scan, I was also scheduled for an appt with him, and potentially a scope up to my kidney. fun. So after the scan, I was instructed to disrobe and sit on this dinky uncomfortable angled table with a paper sheet over my naked hiney and wait.

The nurse tried to give me an antibiotic (in case the scope introduced bacteria, I get it) but hadn’t checked to see if it was safe for breastfeeding (after I asked) and also wanted me to take it before we knew for sure whether I was getting the scope or not. Hello? So the doctor came in and said that we wouldn’t need to do the scope. Then he kept talking while I was sitting there naked from the waist down. I eventually asked him if I could put my pants back on, please. (And then he never came back to finish our conversation, I was pretty upset about that.)

His news: the CT scan (though hard to see because I had refused to cooperate with the dye – which he said was fine!!) showed a 9 mm kidney stone stuck in my lower ureter. It was too big to come out on its own, we’d have to have surgery. He’d knock me out, stick something up there and pull it out.

And then it was like 3 minutes of him telling me it was so low risk it was hardly worth talking about. I mean, seriously. Even though I asked several times, he never once told me a single risk. Like, oh, some people never wake up from anesthesia. I know that’s rare, but it still bears mentioning. I asked what the other options were, and he breezed through a few that wouldn’t work, and explained that this was what I needed, blah blah, all in that tone my dad used to use on me when I wanted to do something like borrow the car to drive to Ames with some friends.

Mind you, the guy is YOUNGER THAN ME.

Let me pause right now to say that if I ever do have urology related surgery, this guy is like the LAST guy I want digging around in my private regions. He said “shit” during my first appointment. Seriously?

So I left the office in tears. Oh, and he also told me that I’d probably need to stop breastfeeding for at least a day after the surgery. When I called the surgery center to discuss this with the anesthesiologists, the receptionist (whose only qualification is, what, working the front desk of a doctor’s office?) said that she knows you have to pump and dump for 24 hours after some other procedure, so general anesthesia is probably more like 48 hours. Um, as it turns out (and as the anesthesiologist who called back said, as well), you can nurse again as soon as you’re awake. yeah, suck that, mr. urologist.

So… that was all on Tuesday. The day before, Monday, I spent most of the day in lots of pain. LOTS of pain. Every time it got so bad I wanted to go to the ER, it started to get better, so that was good. I drank some straight apple cider vinegar, and some mixed with lemon juice. I read online that that helps. It certainly tastes like the most horrible thing you can imagine.

Nobody’s still reading this, I know.

Friday, I had a pre-op physical with my family doctor. The nurse asked about my last tetanus shot and said I’d probably get one when the doctor came in. I guess they were planning to do surgery with old, rusty, poop-covered tools? She further said that it’d also have diptheria in the vaccine. I basically said that I had no intention of getting that shot, particularly since the very same doctor I was about to see advised me as a teenager to never take another vaccine again.

Our family doctor is a gem. His nurses drive me batty. To their credit, they don’t claim to be the doctor. (that sounds snotty. I mean, when I was seeing an OB, the nurses assumed they’d know what the doctor would say, and would argue with me claiming to speak for the doctor. the nurses at my family doctor’s office don’t argue on the doctor’s behalf.)

He listened to my symptoms (no more pain, no more blood, no discomfort. A strange sensation when I pee that can not be adequately described, but might be kind of vibrating, or twinging. And peeing a lot, small amounts, frequently) and said it would not surprise him if my stone had already moved into my bladder. From there, it’s usually just a matter of time.

Sunday, I woke up and went to pee and something GIANT fell out. I screwed up my courage and stuck my bare hand into my toilet bowl to fish it out. Ewwwwwwwwww. It’s fully as big as the tip of my pinkie finger. Yeah. Didn’t hurt coming out, though. Guess that particular body part is pretty flexible.

Monday, I called and cancelled my surgery. Today, the urology office calls back. The doctor wants to see me again. I asked why. She didn’t know. I said that I guessed I’d need to know why I needed an appointment before just coming in. I’m not unwilling to come in, I just am not paying for something until I understand it better.

So the doctor himself called while we were at Story Time. He doesn’t disbelieve me that a stone came out, but he doesn’t think it was THIS stone. Probably, it was a smaller stone. Because THIS stone was really big. Too big to come out on its own. It’s pretty stuck in there, and if we leave it, it could cause kidney damage.

I think it’s strange that suddenly, he can see so much about the stone from the scan, whereas before he said he was just kind of guessing based on what it looked like, but he couldn’t tell for sure where my ureter stopped and started on the scan. And if there’s this giant stone stuck in there, how did another item as big as my pinkie fingertip get around that other big stone to come out? And why didn’t IT show up on the scan? (I know, I have two kidneys, but the other side hasn’t been hurting and has never shown stones on the ultrasounds or the CT scan.)

I’m thinking of telling him that I’d be willing to come in for an appointment and another CT scan, but if I’m right and he’s wrong, he has to pay for it. I think that’s fair. He’s the expert doctor. If he’s so sure he’s right, he should put his money where his mouth is.

And it’s not just the money (well, it’s 80% the money). But I can’t bring kids to these appointments. First, Genna would just be trouble, but second, I can’t bring kids to a CT scan. So Randy has to take time off from work, yadda yadda, and we’re slowly but surely completely using up our vacation time so I can see Dr Major Dick. Not cool.

So, there you have it. The surgery that wasn’t.


One response to “The surgery that wasn’t. Or, Sarah wants to be tagged as a difficult patient at EVERY office she visits.

  1. Wow! You sound about as fun for doctors as I am! LOL. I am fighting with them right now too.. I have appointments with gastro, hematology, and surgery. Boo.

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