Lose 10 pounds in one day

If you’ve had a polycystic kidney growing in you for a few decades, just get it removed. As I did two years ago, I shall share a photo of the kidney I had taken out. My surgeon emailed it to me today.

I do want to mention for the record that Duke’s Dr. R. is a fantastic surgeon. If you need any sort of abdominal-region surgery–and, geez, I sure hope you don’t–get him to do it. Both my nephrectomies were laproscopic, and it’s incredible how he can get these massive things out through some a small opening. (I suppose there’s that miracle of birth thing, but I’ll have to settle for laproscopic nephrectomies). My incisions have healed great each time. It’s also remarkable that he can get this giant mutant kidney extricated from the other organs. Everything was all twisted up in there, and he got out the kidney with everything else left unscathed. Just as importantly, Dr. R. is the kindest, most calming doctor I’ve ever had. Some of his colleagues are not so blessed, and I’d have gone out of my mind after both surgeries had Dr. R not reassured me that I was healing well and that I was doing all I could to help myself as a patient.

Anyway, so, as was the case last time, this was a massive kidney as a result of the innumerable cysts that had spawned over the years as a result of PKD. They didn’t weigh it, and there would be no way to know for sure how heavy it was, since cysts had to be ruptured to shrink it to pull it out.

So I’m about 12-15 pounds lighter now than I was three-and-a-half weeks ago. I attribute 10-12 pounds to the kidney and 2-3 pounds to a decreased appetite while recuperating. On top of that, I had lost about 7 pounds in the two months prior from a change in diet. I don’t have any before-and-after photos. Well, that’s not true, exactly. I have photographed my gut, but I’m not up for sharing those pics at present. Maybe if I ever manage to develop abs, I will show off before-and-after-and-after photos.

As the Bruce Springsteen lyric says, my clothes don’t fit me no more. That’s a horrible reference for me to make, since Tom Hanks’ clothes don’t fit him in Philadelphia because a virus is ravaging his body. But it is a way for me to work in a plug for my neglected Top 379 site (#151: Streets of Philadelphia). And, it is accurate; my clothes don’t fit me no more.

One of many reasons the Top 379 has ground to a halt has been the proliferation of Meat Loaf that I’ve hit at this point in the countdown. #146 is going to be Meat Loaf, and I’m not motivated to post it. [I have actually posted it now. Is Nothing Sacred. Good song.)

HOWEVER, and, gee, aren’t I so clever, I am going to post something that looks a lot like some sort of grotesque meat loaf.

Behold, my last native kidney


Dialysis flashback

On one hand, it doesn’t seem helpful to spend any time thinking about such things. On the other hand, whenever I shot this 80 seconds of video, it was my intent to share it so I didn’t feel quite so alone in the nightmare. I found it on my laptop a couple of weeks ago, stuck it on YouTube, and, now, here it is.

I forgot when exactly I shot this. It matters now. Whether I was doing the 3-3.5-hour shift or the overnight shift, quiet was rare and fleeting. Two years of this. Just posting for the record.

Nephrectomy wrap-up

I’ll say a little more and then, most likely, not much else other to reference whatever I’m doing to kill time during my recovery or if I feel compelled to make some point about healthcare.

I was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon, which is about two days beyond what I had hoped my stay would last. During my stay, it seemed clear that the various doctors on my case could not agree on the best course of pain relief. I would have one course explained only to have those plans altered hours later. I grant that the nurses generally did give me pain relief as I requested it or would fight the doctors to get it to me.

I kept my lack of regard for a couple of the doctors to myself, as I knew I’d have to deal with them for the duration of my stay. As I indicated a few days ago, as well as a couple of years, my surgeon was the only doctor I felt comfortable with.

The pain scale is bullshit. There would be a significant difference between my pain level at rest and perhaps a minute later if I needed to get up. Which pain number to report? There really needs to be a pre-op discussion about how the patient interprets the pain scale. You’re told that 10 out of 10 is “the worst pain you’ve ever experienced.” What’s tolerable for me? A 5? A 4? I would be challenged, “But you said you were a 5 earlier”. Anyway, I’m frustrated just thinking about it. Now that I’m out of there, I am in control of when I need more pain meds.

Hospital stays suck and will always suck. This one went better than my one from a couple of years ago. I hope it’s a long time before I have to do this again.

Resting comfortably at M & E’s. Will head home in a couple of days.

Neprectomy wrap-up day 3

Again, not posted bc I think its great blogging. Need something for those who ask and in case something happens.

I may report vastly different versions of how things are going based on the time of the day.

Doing fine in morning with painkillers working. In early afternoon, had first solid food. Got my cath taken out. Hit 1500 on my spirometer. Did a walk around the floor. Then got my first solid 2+ hour nap.

Earlier in the day, surgeon’s associate had bullied me with tough talk on using the spirometer and getting up to walk, implying I had been a slacker the previous day. This guy is far more experienced and knowledgable than the previous day’s Dr. C (J) but he still earns my affectionate nickname of Dr. Asshole.

So upon waking up from my nap, I was in terrible pain due to lack of self-administered med. My surgeon, who is Dr. Nice Guy, told me I needed not to push myself too hard, that I was doing fine with recovery but would need a couple more days. He basically contradicted the other doc.

So I’m here until at least Sunday.

Things quiet tonight except when I awoke from a nice nap again. Needed to get up to use the loo. Lack of recent pain med meant horrible pain coupled with extreme shivering. Nurse assistant “write down random temp” seemed wholly indifferent to my suffering. Wondering if its because I ratted her out yesterday.

Note to well-meaning visitors…please do not crowd me for long periods. Please do not attempt to be my proxy.

On another note, I briefly turned on TV at noon, saw on CNN that a couple of people had been shot at an elementary school. The scope had not become apparent.  I’m selfishly relieved that I turned off the tv and a few hours later happened to land on Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.

Nephrectomy day 2 wrap up

That was an especially fun four hours. Coughing causing agony. Dr. “C” continues to infuriate. I decide I must sit up to deal with coughing no matter the pain. Eventually stand up to get a change of gown. I have densitized myself to the rawest sharpest pain. Chest xray. Don’t know result but apparently one taken after surgery showed possible lung collapse and infection. Saw this in my online records. No one told me. But given more painkiller. I just hiccuped without seeing death.

And I’ve looked at thr surgery site. Two harmless looking holes. Large mass I’ve carried around for over 20 years is gone

Somewhat more than a tad paranoid

Dr. Chiang, let’s call him that, since it would be unfair to publicly call him out when he may be a fine intern. (I’ve substituted the J with a Ch.) That’d the attending physician. I am biased against doctors ten years my junior who can’t engage in a basic provider-patient dialogue and suggests that I start using my spirometer as a remedy for my fever. Agreed that the spirometer is helpful, but he simply presumed I hadn’t. I had been despite the discomfort of doing so. Ok,  so minor issue.

I’m just going to make an aside and declare that I hate typing on my Nexus 7 tablet. My thumbs ate challenged. Need a physical keyboard. Would switch to my oldschool phone with slideout keyboard but I’ve misplaced it for the moment.

And I really ought to be resting instead if stressing over the D team that’s in charge of me tonight. The phlebotomist who just did a double blood draw did an awesome job.

Anyway, forget the spirometer. They’re checking blood and urine and presumably will give me an antibiotic.

And if I die, I hold them all accountable.

H and K get Z. Someone please give Herman s good home. Leave Mr F with my vet.

Joking folks, though the care of the cats must be considered.

A tad paranoid


An hour ago, the unlisted NT took my temperature, came up with three readings that were all over the place. Rather than start over with a new thermometer, she just picked one…somewhere around 100.6 even though there had been one over 102. I guess she didn’t want to set up any alarms since I reported not feeling particularly feverish. I don’t know why I went along with it. I just had the nurse take it. It’s 101.8. And I feel a little nauseous. She’s paging “the doctor”. Who’s the doctor? Who knows.

I was going to post a new summary with the latest downs and ups…I had finally just started feeling a little better in the last few hours, finally getting sufficient pain meds. Now I’m having another WTF moment. All the nursing assistant had to do was take my vital signs. There aren’t very many of ’em. The temperature is a pretty important one.

Nephrectomy fun

Was intending this just for fb, but mobile phone app limits updates to x characters.

Don’t want to overshare tmi with tmp but fb can be a useful tool when not wanting to answer same questions multiple times. Though i may not be up to being interactive.

Surgery to remove remaining huge grotesque polycystic kidney was successful yesterday in that the kidney is gone and there were no major complications. However, pain management has not gone well. I have a huge inflamed cavity that feels like a bomb blew up. Any movement impacting torso or abdomen is potentially excrutiating. May finally have a new solution to manage this.

Never actually got a room. Went from noisy, chaotic recovery area to a more isolated recovery room that is usually quiet. Nurses have been a mixed bag, from amazing to awful. Duke is, as always, a mixed bag of competence, which is frightening considering duke is a top hospital in the world. My surgeon is awesome, i must say.

I wont get out of here too quickly since i basically lost a day due to bungled pain management. Maybe friday evening but saturday seeming more realistic.

Must stop writing and try to sleep, since ive got a dark quiet room for only who knows how long

Blogging blitz

Herman 2012.12.09

Even though I have not followed through on any sort of blogging renaissance, I think will undertake the task of blogging today to break up the monotony of house clean-up. “Clean-up” is not really an apt term. It’s more like get-house-chaos-level-one-peg-lower.

I have only this one full day for get-house-chaos-level-one-peg-lower and then small bits of Monday and Tuesday, before I head to the hospital Wednesday for the nephrectomy and, then, presumably, many weeks of being unable to do anything about the house chaos level.

My kidney pain subsided last weekend and was gone for a week, but it’s back today, likely a result of trying to push my bed six inches the other day. Large polycystic kidneys don’t enjoy being stretched by heavy lifting.

If I do follow through on some more blogging today, possible posts may include:
– New storm door!
– New back door!
– 15-year-old kitten pics of Aremid and Zellouisa!
– Recent pics of Mr. Featherbottom!
– More about the nephrectomy!
– Space heaters
– Potpourri for $200

Kidney chronicles

Not blogging much. Have certainly cut down on the health posts. But I’ve documented the kidney chronicles fairly comprehensively…so…

The right polycystic kidney that’s scheduled to come out in 16 days is raising hell one last time, a bit like Glenn Close rising up out of the bathtub. It’s reminding me in the most acute way why it needs to be disposed of. Probable cyst burst. Pain. Not quite kidney stone pain. I’ve had both, so I think it’s cyst pain, since I can actually get up and walk around.

But here I’ve been looking forward to this surgery lately for reasons of mental wellness and vanity. Psychologically, I’ve wanted this third kidney surgery (following one nephrectomy and one transplant) so I can be done with polycystic kidneys.* I’ve wanted the second ten-pound mass removed from me so I can drop ten pounds, and so if I look pregnant, it’s because I’m fat and lazy.* To be reminded that this kidney has also been fucking hurting me for 20+ years gives me reassurance that I’m not just having an elective surgery. I need this done in every way.

However, I didn’t really need this reminder. I’ve got shit that needs to be done in the next couple of weeks. I’ve to wrap up some stuff at work. I’ve got to figure some important things out. (They must be figured out in the course of the next couple of weeks. Not “must”. It would be nice.)

Anyway, so glad I shared and had a chance to use a Fatal Attraction metaphor.

* I also have liver cysts, which are a byproduct of PKD and which will only get progressively worse over time and wreck their own havoc on my body, but I will worry about that later.