On Thursday the 2nd of January, I was scheduled to have my kidney operated on to remove two stones that had become too big to pass naturally. I had met the surgeon on three occasions, twice for him to apologise to me. You see, this whole experience of mine is just one big—cock-up and possibly my fault
The first time we met was when he said that owing to my list of medical issues he considered an operation too much of a risk under general anaesthetic and would prefer using electro-magnetic laser beams to break the stones into smaller pieces which would be easier to pass. There was a period in my life when renal colic and I were on friendly terms and this form of treatment was one I’d had many times and although considerably modernised, it held no mystic for me.
I attended the appointment to be blasted only to be surprised by the radiologist’s discovery of me having a pacemaker recorded on my medical records as being in-situ. ‘Oh no,’ he said. ‘We can’t proceed with this treatment until I know all the ramifications involved.’ Off the table went I, dressed and away home wondering what next. Next came the first apology from the surgeon which left me believing that the electro-magnetic waves might affect the pacemaker but as soon as they stopped the pacemaker would recover. No mention was made of a full operation.
Then came the letter. ‘An appointment has been made for you to attend surgical admissions at 7am on the 2nd of January. I thought the change of mind must have resulted after a reexamination of the scans.
I arrived on time, went through the scrambled pre-med assessments and pep talk signing on the dotted line for what I stupidly imagined to be the macho-thing of putting a weak heart and emphysema through a procedure that a bull-like me would laugh at. I gave no thought to the possibility of the bull becoming an ox, nor did I worry when hearing the second apology from my soon to be torturer—‘Sorry to have mucked you about, Mr. Kemp, but in half an hour’s time you will be stone free.’
Two hours thirty minutes later I was told the operation had been far more complicated than he’d thought. Apparently, my prostate gland was enlarged forcing him into strange manoeuvres to get passed it with his instruments of torture. My prostate gland is mentioned on my medical records as being permanently enlarged with part of it containing cancerous cells. Perhaps he had missed that entry when reading about my medical issues. Common sense would advise leaving well alone and not aggravating the gland.
That didn’t worry me then. All I was concerned with was the bag I was connected to that captured the blood infected urine I was passing via a catheter tube. I was repeatedly told all would be well even though I was not to be allowed home that day. By Friday, I was told, I’d be in my own flat.
Around 6am Friday morning the catheter tube was removed by one of the two-night nurses. Half an hour or so later I went for a shower. Whilst there I attempted to use the toilet to urinate. The pain was terrible and on the beloved scale of 1-10, a good 8+. I managed only to pass a small amount of blood. With the aid of my stick I got back to my bed and sat in the chair beside it. I think no-one else was awake then; that wasn’t to last long. Soon I had an urgent need to use the bedpan. This time the agony was off the scale and nothing like any renal colic pain I’d experienced before. I screamed uncontrollably as the pain hit my kidney and then travelled into my bladder. Morphine was offered and I took it. An hour later I thought I was about to die.
I had gone to use a bedpan in a toilet that I hadn’t yet used. Luckily the toilet was tiny and as the pain hit me I fell against the door but I grasped at something that held me upright. A nurse was the other side of the door calling out if I was okay. Somehow or other I managed to unlock the door and get into the wheelchair that appeared from nowhere. This time the pain did not go. I never saw my reflection, but I felt clammy and by the attention I was getting from the assembly of nurses who’d gathered around, I must have given the impression of death in a wheelchair!
More morphine, then a doctor’s instructions to insert another catheter which resulted in the loss of the pain. Two devotees of the surgeon were at the end of the bed after he left asking if I could manage at home. By choice, I live alone. My ex-wife and I get on well when not living in each other’s pockets. She had stayed in my flat since Wednesday night looking after my little dog. Yes, I could ask her and yes, she would possibly agree to stay, but I wasn’t going to ask. I was without pain for all of Friday and on Saturday I returned to my dog and flat. On Monday the district nurse arrived with what she said the hospital should have given me when discharged, but no matter, I had it now.
It has been seven days now spent at home and for the vast majority of that span of time my armchair has supported me admirably. I have cooked baked potatoes on two evenings and had bread from my local bakery to feed on for other meals. I’ve lost about 8-10 pounds in weight which in truth I can afford to lose, but exercise is something I cannot do. The follow-up appointment to this kidney procedure is on the twentieth of this month with X-rays and a CT Scan at 8:30am followed by a visit to the surgeons’ clinic at 9:15. It’s there the catheter and the stent are due to be removed provided the previous examinations show no abnormalities.
I’m of the opinion that it will be at this clinic I will be facing some difficult decisions. One could result in leaving me permanently incontinent or another could be an operation to either reduce the size of the prostate and risk the cancer carried therein spreading to other organs and bones, or remove the gland and face the consequences of that. I not medically trained, but having a stent and catheter inside me for two weeks must have caused the muscles that are used to retain fluids in the bladder to certainly weaken their effect, if not to eliminate their ability for good.
Before the 2nd of January I had kidney stones with the possibility of pain sometime in the future. Today I’m stone free but with the possibility of pain, or worse, in the future. I was stupid to agree to this operation. I shall not be so quick to agree with the next one to remove the four parathyroid glands that make the calcium that amongst other things, make the kidney stones.