Dopers who've had kidney stones, what do you wish you'd known ahead of time?

I was given painkillers, but only ate one or two. It wasn’t constant pain, but it wasn’t pleasant either.

I was given a strainer, but didn’t manage to pass the stone, so I had to go get the procedure.

They sent the probe up my urinary track, which had a camera and miniature claws to grab the stone and pull it out.

The week it took for recovery was a far worse experience. I had to wear a stint in my bladder, which was attached to a string that ran down my urinary track and out my pee hole, then taped to the side of my penis. I had no bladder control while that stint was in place. Once the urine started coming, there was no way of holding it back. I had to sleep in my recliner next to the back door and jump outside the moment I got the urge to pee. Otherwise, I’d be wearing and/or dripping it. There was no way I could go to work, as the men’s room was too far away from my desk. I kept a towel covering my junk. My pride was not ready for Depends yet.

The day I went to get it removed, the nurse had me lie down, said “Ready?” and JERKED. She pulled the stint and the string right out of my pee hole. I screamed like it was the best orgasm I ever had.

Why didn’t they do lithotripsy?

Wish I had known? That the chance of there being only one is vanishingly small. :eek: Still, it would have been nice to have been expecting the ultrasound results. I was expecting to hear the size of my one stone, not the presence of fifteen or so.

There are more than two phases of pain though. There’s “birthing” the stone from the kidney. This is usually the worst part for most people. Next it gets into the ureter, then the pain really differs with the size and sharpness of the stone. I had one really sharp/jagged one that cut things up all the way out. I peed pink for a week.

Third, is the transition from the ureter to the bladder. For me this was very painful, I’m told most people don’t even notice it.

And then finally the trip from bladder to cup. I’m told men tend to be terrified of this phase, but when it actually happens most folks barely notice it.

So from my perspective, when the stones were birthing, until they were about halfway down the ureter, it would make sense that less water is the right strategy. But once the stone has turned the side and is headed toward the bladder, I figure the broader the stream,the less pain there will be. Plus just moving it along and getting it over with.

My brother had the ultrasound blast, where they put you in a tank of water and blast the stones to smithereens. He said even the tiny sand grains hurt leaving the kidney, but went much faster and then it was smooth sailing all the way out.

Take the pills and see a urologist. If the stones persist they could damage your kidney beyond repair.

Mine kept coming back on the right side and eventually the kidney had to be removed.

A lithotripsy to flush out stones is way less of an ordeal than the surgery it replaced.

Don’t wait around, make a doctor see you and take their advice.

I’ve had about 50 stones, the largest 13 millimeters (that’s half an inch). I’ve had one lithotomy and numerous cystoscopies (basket retrievals) and lithotripsies.

  1. 3 mm and smaller stones don’t hurt much. 4 or 5 mm stones hurt quite a bit. 6 mm and up hurt, but may also fail to pass and may require some kind of procedure.
  2. If a stone blocks your ureter, pressure can ruin the kidney on that side, but not in just a few hours.
  3. A stone up in the renal pelvis or high in the ureter can cause, in men, an aching testicle feeling.
  4. A stone traveling along the ureter can cause renal colic, the powerful hot aching cramping flank pain.
  5. A stone at the bottom of the ureter at the ureteral bladder junction (UBJ) can cause, in men, a stabbing feeling at the end of the penis. I’ve actually checked my underwear for thorns when experiencing this.
  6. A stone as it clears the UBJ can create quite a stabbing pain, but only briefly. Then there’s a poink deep inside, and the pain switches off like a light. If you’ve been gobbling opioids for pain to no avail, shortly after the poink you will realize you’re so goddam dizzy you can hardly stand, and realize that the opioids have actually been doing something, just not killing the pain.
  7. A stone in the bladder can feel a little irritating
  8. A stone passing out the urethra may not hurt, really – more of an odd tickling sensation.

I’ve had 2. The first was the smallest and the most painful. I tried driving to the hospital and got as far as a Children’s hospital. They weren’t allowed to treat me so they gave me morphine and an ambulance ride to the next hospital. There I got an X-ray and then an MRI. All that took about 2 hrs at which time the morphine wore off. for some reason they don’t give you morphine to go. The pain killer was iffy so I went back to the doctor a couple of times to get one that worked. I waited 2 weeks for it to pass and the urologist gave me the option of removing it surgically so I had it out that afternoon. I wish I’d gotten the option after the first week because the pain killers had side effects. It was a trade off between kidney pain and constipation. I used a laxative when I got the second stone and I already knew which pain killer worked so it was easier to deal with. That one passed within a week.

What I didn’t know was that the surgical stint was removed without anesthesia. That was not pleasant.

I’ve been in the process of passing a 4mm stone on my left side for a month now, my third one. My urologist wants to go up my pee hole and laser it, but the procedure and recovery sounded terrifying, and so I’ve been hoping to pass it on my own. I was in quite a bit of pain, but have been asymptomatic for 2 weeks now, so wherever it’s hanging out in my lower ureter, it isn’t blocking anything. For good measure I have stones in both kidneys biding their time.

What I wish I knew before my first stone?

  1. What do I need to do to reduce the chances of getting more stones. Mine are calcium oxalate, so that means reducing foods with high oxalate content (nuts, chocolate, spinach, certain teas), as well as cutting back on cola drinks but otherwise avoid becoming dehydrated and allowing the urine to become supersaturated and having a crystal form that will grow into a stone.
  2. That renal colic can often be held at bay by getting into hot water (as hot as I can reasonably stand) in the tub. I’ve found that peeing in the water can also help (just get a shower afterwards). I do this after taking a pain killer…ask your doctor for a prescription of Percocet or Vicodin to have on hand for emergencies.
  3. If the pain gets too bad to bear, get to the ER post-haste.
  4. Definitive diagnosis is done via CT scan. You don’t want a CT scan every week, since it is a lot of radiation, but it is extremely helpful (plus really cool to see 3D slices of your innards!)

I’ve had nine of them. They seemed to come at about four-year intervals. Each one took longer and longer to pass, the last one more than a year, with bouts of pain every month or two. The last one, though, was more than 20 years ago. I did an MRI a few years ago, they said I have stones as big as my thumbs in my kidneys, which are now too big to be going anywhere, and not to worry over much about them.

Most people have one in their lifetime, but there are those of us who are chronic formers of stones.

Had a stone two weeks ago and I agree 100%. My previous stone was 20 years ago and they didn’t have toradol back then (or at any rate didn’t provide me with any). It makes a world of difference.