My Own Arkansas Diamond
Apr 30, 2014
|Willis, Blayde and I are still at Lake Catherine State Park camping just a few sites down from my parents. It has been a mixture of play (sitting outside playing Sequence at the picnic table with my mother), hikes (Willis and I completed the Falls Branch Trail so far), yummy food, stormy weather (we are only 75 miles from Mayflower and the devastation caused by a tornado Sunday) and pain (see hospital story to follow below). My emotions have run the gamut of blissfully contented to agonizingly distraught the last four days.
Let’s talk bliss first… After the storms went through the area this weekend Mother Nature then provided us with perfect hiking weather to enjoy the fresh green leaves, downy baby geese paddling behind their parents on the lake, arrays of wildflowers, bubbling brooks and waterfalls. Of course there are also ticks and other insects to contend with, but for the peace and quiet of a green forest, a pristine lake, and the songbirds music we are willing to put up with the insect population. I posted some pictures of this “bliss” above.
Now let’s talk distress… On Sunday afternoon I had a sudden sharp left flank pain that caused me to see a blinding white light and dropped me to my knees. Willis and Blayde were napping on the bed so I crawled in next to them and remained in a fetal position till the excruciating pain passed and I was left with a dull ache. Once I could breathe normally again I talked myself into thinking it was just some odd ache one must endure as they age. So we continued on the rest of Sunday talking a walk around the park and enjoying some family time.
On Monday morning I rose to find my day starting off with rosey-tea-colored urine…but I "hid my head in the sand" and convinced myself that perhaps I hadn’t been drinking enough water (even though I drink LOTS of water) and I continued to ignore the residual ache in my left flank. So off Willis and I headed out to get in a great hike on the Falls Branch Trail. Once we finished our hike we enjoyed lunch and then my father and I went to WalMart in Malvern to pick up a few items. Once home I made a broccoli slaw to contribute to the family hamburger cookout at my parents RV (all the while trying to ignore the ever increasing ache that was now radiating towards my groin). Sadly I didn’t make it through the entire cookout before I had to concede something was really wrong and we needed to find a hospital.
So now here it is after business hours, I am in severe pain, and I finally had to face that the pain was probably a kidney stone (I have had a stone one other time in my life) and we don’t know where the nearest hospital is. So, I punched into the GPS for the nearest hospital and chose to go to the second nearest (the nearest was an Animal Hospital and I didn’t want them to shoot this old horse just to put me out of my misery) and off we went to Hot Spring County Medical Center after dropping Blayde off with my parents.
I was triaged quickly and put in a room. I had my doubts about the cleanliness of this facility when I was placed on a gurney that had clean white sheets on the mattress but somebody else’s blood smeared on the side rails and frame. However, I really hurt too much at that moment to care that my gurney had not been wiped down from the last patient. My nurse was a very kind and experienced man, Sean, and he quickly got an IV started and orders for an injection of IV Toradol. Within ten minutes we knew the Toradol was not going to work so Sean then gave me IV Dilaudid. I could have hugged him right then and there for the pain relief that injection brought me. Once I was no longer writhing in pain they were able to get a CT scan and discover that the diameter of my ureter is 3mm and my kidney stone is 5mm. This is not going to pass on its own.
Now here is where things got a bit frustrating. The ER physician, Dr. Duensing, seemed to be in a big hurry to get me out the door (despite my having insurance and being a model patient). His solution was that I should go back to our RV and then find myself a urologist the next day and let the urologist figure out what to do about the stone. Thankfully my nurse, Sean, understood that we are fulltime RV’ers and have no local doctor to turn to. Despite Dr. Duensing trying to push me out as quickly as possible, Sean became my advocate and called the answering service of the urologist on-call and asked that they call the ER doctor for a medical status report and set-up the urology appointment for the next day (Tuesday). Once Sean saw the ER doctor giving phone report to the urology doctor he discontinued my IV and headed me towards the door and out into the night with some prescriptions for pain medicine and a urology appointment. Sadly, the Dilaudid had made me so nauseated I couldn’t thank Sean properly because I was too busy puking my way out of the hospital. Some sight I must have made staggering out of the ER, barfing in a bag while Willis guided me walking towards the door.
I would like to say that is all that happened that evening but alas the story continues. There we were in a chilly and dark hospital parking lot, my injection for pain wearing off, and my dry heaving making it nearly impossible for me to be of much aid to Willis as he tried to find the nearest 24-hour pharmacy (luckily Sean had given some directions to Willis as we left). The nearest pharmacy was in Hot Springs. So off we drove through what are normally considered gorgeous curvy tree-lined roads but all I could do was get more and more car sick as the last of my pain injection wore off.
As soon as we picked up the pain med from the pharmacy in Hot Springs we drove back to the RV, retrieved Blayde from my parents (it is now midnight) and went back to Mongo. I took the pain pill, struggling to keep it down, and lay in bed shaking with misery for about two hours. But the pills just couldn’t cut through the pain, so we packed Blayde back up in his doggy car seat and drove to Mercy St. Joseph Hospital in Hot Springs (we saw that hospital when picking up my prescriptions) to try to find some help. I simply didn't trust that Dr. Duensing would do anything for me other than push me barfing back out the door.
Oddly as we pulled into the parking lot I started feeling better (or so I thought). I was still shaking and dry heaving but my stone wasn’t hurting me. We sat in the ER parking lot for about thirty minutes and then I decided that perhaps, by some miracle, the pain pill had absorbed into my system before I threw it up… so, since we had Blayde with us, I suggested we turn around and head back to the RV and I would try to “sit it out” until my 12:30 appointment.
We got three-quarters of the way back to the RV (again on curvy dark roads) when the pain came back with a vengeance which then started me dry heaving again. Willis said “that is enough of this!” and we drove the remaining miles to the park, banged on my parents RV door at 3:00 a.m. to drop off Blayde and he then drove me back to the ER at Mercy in Hot Springs and said “fix her!”
This ER staff at this hospital seemed much more concerned with my having a 5mm stone trying to fit into a 3mm ureter. They got another IV started in me (which is always a challenge) and gave me Zofran to calm my nausea and another dose of Dilaudid for pain. They contacted the urologist, Dr. Hollenbach, who I was supposed to see later in the day and told him where I was. I was then admitted and the kind nursing team in the ER turned me over to the kind nurses on the medical/surgical unit where they worked to keep me comfortable until the urologist could see me.
When Dr. Hollenbach arrived we discussed a plan involving a ureteral stent and I was then taken to day surgery and woke up with my stent in place. Now the plan is for me to keep the stent in for at least a week in order to stretch out my ureter so he has some “working room” and then he said he would “run the camera up there and laser that stone!”
So here I sit in Mongo with the discomfort of a stent, a kidney stone, and horse-pill sized antibiotics (maybe I should have gone to the Animal Hospital after all) until my Tuesday appointment. I do seem to be keeping these pain pills down better, and they help some, but I don’t expect to be pain-free until I am stent/stone-free! The way I look at it, I made my own diamond while here in Arkansas (the Diamond State)… I wonder if Dr. Hollenbach can get it out in big enough pieces to set in a ring?