Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Just When You Think It's Over...

The day finally arrives: Stent Removal!

It starts out pretty lazily, the appointment not being until 4. Yes, I know I'm supposed to keep drinking a lot, but it's difficult to force myself. Every movement means a new pressure against the stent, a new poke. More pain. Weeks ago, what is seemingly months ago, it was just a spasming reminder of something there.  My body didn't like it, but it was nothing like it is now. I tell those who ask that it only hurts when I move around or I'm sitting still.

They look at me funny.

I don't add that I think now I know what The Clap feels like, a burning every time I pee. It's a bonus.

I take what I hope is my last percoset in a long while, early enough in the morning that I'm legal to drive myself to the appointment. Steve has cards tonight, and one thing or another, mostly me, has kept him from going lately. If he feels up to going, I don't want to spoil it for him. If I need a driver, I can still pop another pill. Or is it that if I need another pill, I can still get a driver. Cause and effect is sometimes getting lost here. Like time. Has it already/only been how many weeks?

It turns out I don't grab another pill. Not then.  Not wanting to offer them any chance to figure out a reason to cancel this one on me, I show up to my appointment 45 minutes early, carrying purse, kindle, paperwork with complete address, jar of dried bits from the filter, and disc from the x-ray. Hmmm, maybe I should have brought a bag, too. There is an open seat next to a magazine table, so I take advantage of that space. Over the next minutes, the crammed waiting room empties out. I'm the last patient.

Maybe they even stayed open late for me.

According to the hand-out sheet on my chair with my clothes afterwards, they're supposed to ask me whether I've had my antibiotic pills as scheduled. They don't, but I'm not going to protest, since I have taken them religiously. They're the same nasty two-tone green ones I had upon leaving the hospital however many weeks ago, the ones which left that peculiarly repulsive chemical tang on my tongue. They didn't this time, but maybe that's a side effect of having taken them in concert with all the other stuff I was given after checking out. Any single piece of good news is not to be questioned.

Like getting to leave my socks on, keeping my feet warm.

The procedure itself is even briefer than promised. It's also surprisingly more painful. I try to dismiss that with the consolation that the stabbing of increasingly tender tissues is now over, and that's true. I can tell that just in sitting up again. While there is residual burning like I still really gotta pee, it's not that stabbing pain. I can start improving!

I wanted to take the stent home with me, partly out of a desire to abuse the thing, torture it like it has me, get revenge. I know, inanimate object and all that. The Doc refuses my request, vaguely referring to some state law. But I get a good look, trying to figure just which part of it was poking, stabbing, creating so much misery. All I see is what looks like a blue piece of plastic coated wire, spiral curled inside itself at both ends with only the outer curl able to touch anything. I can only conclude that either my body was overreacting, or whatever it was had sprung back into shape, erasing any clues. The Doc had nothing to offer as to why, seemed indifferent to my complaint of severe stabbing. Maybe they are too used to this. Maybe they just think we all are a big bunch of whiners. Worse, maybe they just think I am.

I wish him the joy of having one of these stents someday. He takes it with humor. Little does he know.

I'm just happy to be done with it all, heading directly home for one last percoset, the one I didn't think I was going to have to take. Or should I say, the first that I didn't think I'd need.

The burning didn't get better. As ordered, I forced liquids, more than willing to flush out any malingering bits that might remain as irritants. It didn't help. Not only that, but the pain was increasing in my back, what I'd come to recognize as the location of my kidney. I reread the handout about what to expect and when to call the doctor if....

Meanwhile I popped another percoset. This was just 3 hours after the previous one, meaning I'd be overlapping for a total dose of 10 mg. for a few hours. Sitting on the throne and rocking was the only thing that even hinted at relief, so the back of my legs got real used to the discomforts of a hard plastic seat. And yes, now for the first time in this whole journey, there was blood on the tissue. Barely, but there. It didn't qualify me for that late evening call to the doctor, but the steadily increasing pain did.

I got a callback from a member of the practice I'd never heard the name of before. Whatever. He indicated this was "to be expected" (so why hadn't I been warned to expect it? Did they think we were so suggestible that being aware of possibilities would create the effect?), and was just my body swelling temporarily and blocking kidney drainage. I should go take a couple of ibuprofin.

Uh, yes, we have that. Bottles full. I took 3. Then planted myself on the throne for more rocking. Any ease at all, I was clinging for dear life. This doc advised me to wait through it for an hour before heading off to the ER if it hadn't let up. I had changed into my PJs a couple hours earlier, so decided to be prepared and changed back into daytime clothes. Really: who wants to show off our PJs in the ER?

With all the comfort available having been claimed from my last half hour of rocking, I returned to the living room to see if a little conversation with Steve and a bit of late night TV humor might distract me while I waited to see if I needed the ER? About 45 minutes into the ibuprofin, the "bite" of the kidney pain began to ease off. I started counting down the pain levels. By the time I'd watched Trevor and Steve and tried to solve a few Wheels of Fortune - not my best night - we were down to a three and still dropping.

Steve and I decided it was safe to count on heading off to bed. And, I could finally enjoy the scent of wet desert, as we'd finally gotten enough rain to kick those mesquite trees into production. Windows open, everyone!

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