23 October 2013

24 Hours of Hell

Life has been very difficult for me lately. Five weeks of extreme discomfort culminated in a day and a half of very intense pain. I would love some prayers.

I've been talking for a few weeks now about some pain in my kidney. Sometimes it's just a dull ache, other times, the fire-like burn and sharp stabbing pain of a kidney stone. After many weeks of frustratingly far-apart tests, we finally reached a diagnosis that involves a kidney stone 4x larger than is safe to pass and enough backed-up fluid in my kidney to cause it to swell. All this translates to fever, chills, and back/kidney pain. Fun, right? So how about a complication?

We're pregnant! Yup, a little over 10 weeks. This pregnancy is honestly the worst of all three of my pregnancies so far. The nausea, fatigue, and food aversions are incredibly debilitating. I haven't been able to function probably for the last five weeks. My body is in starvation mode and as my waist grows thicker, my arms, legs, and face are thinning out. I feel weak, exhausted, and in constant discomfort.

The kidneys combined with the pregnancy had me feeling like I wasn't going to make it through the day on a daily basis. Every afternoon I wanted to just curl up in a ball of tears and ask Matt to come home early. Every night I would go to bed feeling like it took everything I had to make it through that day, and I had no clue how I was going to pull it together in the morning. I did everything the books say, eating frequent small, bland meals, drinking lots of water, taking naps. Nothing was helping.

Finally last Friday, I reached my breaking point. When Matt got home, I ran to the grocery store and bought everything I could find for nausea: ginger pills, ginger snaps, ginger ale, and sea-bands. I bought the sea-bands on a whim, figuring they were just a gimmick, but I was at the point where I was willing to give a gimmick a try.

Not. A. Gimmick. Within 20 minutes of putting on the accupressure bands, I went from 24/7 debilitating nausea to only 2-3 nausea spells per day. The best I expected was for them to take the edge off, but instead, they are the sole thing that returned my sanity to me. I still take the ginger pills a few times a day, but when I forget (or vomit them back up), I still totally have the nausea under control.

I was still having all the other pregnancy symptoms, but at least the worst was significantly diminished. Meanwhile, I spoke with a physician's assistant about the kidney. She advised that my options while pregnant are incredibly small. I can either do nothing and we'll just keep an eye on things until we have no choice, or I could choose to put in a stent now to drain the fluid and bring the swelling and symptoms down. The stent would go through already-existing openings and internal plumbing, meaning no incisions. I would still have to be knocked out and would need a breathing tube due to the nausea, but the only side effect, she said, is the urge to pee a lot. "Big deal," I told her, "I'm pregnant and peeing all the time anyway." She laughed and agreed.

So I went in yesterday to have the stent put in. The procedure went well. I woke up an hour after they put me down feeling relatively great. My throat was pretty sore from the breathing tube and I definitely felt like I had to pee right that second, but there was no pain. As I worked my way through recovery units, the discomfort grew stronger and stronger. A few minutes before I was to leave, I was begging for a pain killer. The nurse assured me that I would be able to get home and take some Tylenol sooner than they would be able to page the doctor and have him write a script for me. By the time Matt got the car from the top floor of the parking garage and to the front of the hospital, I was in tears from the pain. He sped the whole way home, me sobbing and shaking in the passenger's seat. When we got home, I tried to lay down, but no position was comfortable: walking, standing, sitting, laying down all hurt. A friend of mine started researching the type of stent I had and pregnancy and discovered a number of chat boards where every single person aside from one described the stent as the worst pain in their lives. These women were farther along in their pregnancies and talked about how once the baby gets bigger and can kick the stent, they would just lie in the bed screaming from the pain.  They were in the ER every 3-4 days for pain management. I seriously regretted the stent with every fiber of my being.

I called the urology clinic, I called the outpatient care line, I called whoever would listen and begged for help. I had about four pages in to the doctor to call me immediately. Whenever I would tearfully explain my level of pain to a nurse, she would say, "Well, you know, stents do cause discomfort." But this was more than discomfort. By the end of the 24 hour period, at least twice, the stent pain would rival labor pain. Pain bad enough that I couldn't talk during it. Pain bad enough that my back and stomach hurt from clenching.

The doctor finally called me back and ordered a prescription for vicodin. I asked if I went to an ER, if they could remove the stent, but he said they couldn't. Nearly sobbing, my voice almost gone from the breathing tube, I begged him to take it out. He put me down for an 11am appointment for the next day, which was today.

I slept about 3 hours last night, punctuated by wakeful spells of pain. I have one prescription to help my bladder and the vicodin, but alone, the pills did nothing. Together they could take the edge off, but I end up incredibly dizzy and barely able to walk straight. It was terrible, terrible, terrible pain and if I didn't have an appointment scheduled to have it removed, I don't know how I would have made it through the night. There is no way I could have made it through a second day with that level of pain.

There were some complications with the appointment (apparently doctors aren't allowed to schedule their own appointments), but it finally happened. The damn stent is gone. I told the doctor that I can't believe anyone would get a stent put in unless they were in danger of loosing a kidney. I personally can't believe this procedure even exists - I would seriously consider having them remove a kidney before I would get a stent put back in. He responds: some patients don't feel anything.

Those patients must be doing crack cocaine. There is no other explanation.

I am home now and have been stent-free for about 4 1/2 hours. There is still residual pain, especially when I first got home, and tons and tons of blood - perfectly normal, they say - but it tells me that my insides are very scraped up. The doctor said I should be back to normal within 24 hours. I'll give it 48 hours, but even this level of pain is more intense than just the ache I was getting from my kidney before I put it through hell. I just took a long nap and my pain level fluctuates rapidly with no notice, so at any given moment I could be doing good or bad, but right this second, things feel pretty manageable.

So all this is why I had to re-arrange my priorities and end my 31 Days commitment. Of course, I made the decisions back when I thought the stent would be the magic cure-all, and after the last 24-ish hours, I'm even happier that I made the decision I did. Anyway, I would really appreciate prayers for me and this baby. Everything I've done so far has been approved by the OB/GYN, but there are so many things I took with "very minor risks" and I worry that there have been too many very minor risks. I saw the baby at 9 weeks - lots of movement and with a super strong heart beat, but obviously, things can change quickly this early. Prayers are appreciated.


Amelia @ One Catholic Mama said...

Congratulations Jacqueline!! So happy for you guys about the pregnancy!

So sorry about all the kidney troubles and pain..that sounds absolutely awful. We will definitely pray for you and your baby!

Kate Sherwood said...

Congratulations and --- ow!

So glad you are asking for prayers, more than happy to keep you in mine.

Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

Cam Wollner said...

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness! That sounds horrible! Definitely praying for you guys!

I am so glad you finally got the stent out.

If there's anything I can do to help out, let me know! I've always felt like the first trimester is the worst time to have anything from a cold on up! Praying!

Liz E. said...

First off -- CONGRATULATIONS! I wondered :o). And secondly, holy crap! I hurt just reading this. Prayers for you and your littlest one. Hang in there and please keep us updated.