My Gothic Body: Stone, part 2

TW: hospital, medical procedure

After learning about my stone I made an appointment with a urologist to discuss my options. He suggested a percutaneous nephrolithotomy as the procedure with the highest possible success rate for the large non-obstrutive stone in my kidney.

This means approaching the stone through a tiny incision in my back. Additionally a tube is inserted through the urethra, bladder and ureter into the kidneys to allow fluoroscopic guidance (i.e. the ability to introduce a contrast agent to allow better visualization when using bursts of x-ray to see what’s going on inside me in real time). I agreed to the procedure and we set a date.

On Wednesday, February 7, 2024 I awoke early and showered. After drying I wiped my body with some anti-bacterial wipes provided by the hospital, dressed in comfy clothes, and headed off, nervous but ready to get this over with.

Let me pause a moment to acknowledge my extraordinary privilege. I’m exceedingly lucky to have an awesome partner helping me with all this. J drove me to the hospital, hung out as I got settled into the pre-op gurney, and was there to provide whatever help I needed. Throughout all of this process I have been profoundly conscious of how lucky I am and what extraordinary privilege I have to be able to do this. I’m a mid-career professional with solid health benefits and the economic means to cover what my insurance does not. It’s a fucked-up world that restricts those not as lucky as I am to access to the kind of health care I received.

Eventually I was settled in, J left to get to work, and I alternated between dozing and working on my mindfulness meditation. While curtains kept me from seeing the others who were also in gurneys and also awaiting surgery, there was plenty to eavesdrop on.

One male Indian nurse was called aside by the head nurse and told he’d been taken off a patient. He was defensive and upset and the head nurse trotted out some balderdash about how some older women in the south expect to be called ma’am. What she didn’t say, but I think the talk might have gone better if she had, was — look, this racist lady doesn’t like your accent and complained. Let’s move on. But, instead of calling out the racist old lady, the Indian nurse kept getting signals that he was somehow doing something wrong, but without any clear direction on how to do things differently.

I recited my birthday a hundred different times for various doctors and nurses and eventually they switched on the anathestic and I slipped into a narcotic slumber.

I came to in the post-op holding room, a room of unknown dimension that held an unknown (to me) number of gurneys laden with folks coming out of surgeries of their own.

Apparently I had just missed the doctor but J was there and conveyed the news.

The procedure was called off before it could be completed. The stone remained untouched. It turns out I have an abnormally narrow ureter and in the process the lining was nicked slightly. To avoid causing any further damage the surgeon canceled the procedure and made the decision to try again at a later date with a slightly different strategy.

Next: Bag Life

to be continued…

2 thoughts on “My Gothic Body: Stone, part 2

    1. I know, right? Constantly falling apart. I hope someday I can afford a sleek European model. But I’ll probably just end up with a cheap, off-brand knock-off.

      Actually, now that I think about it, this screams DIY. Imma build my own body out of some spare parts I have lying around in the shed. (Don’t ask.)

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