Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Conclusion to the Kidney Saga

I’m sitting in my mother’s bedroom in Florida, my laptop sitting on a small sewing table whilst I write. I’ve just finished the Parish newsletter, and decided it’s time to write a blog entry.
I arrived in warm and humid Florida on 17th January and will be here until 17th April. That is another story. For now I want to write a series of blogs from the last two months of 2011.
At 6:00 am on Monday, 7th November, the alarm went off. It was the day of my kidney biopsy, and I had to up early. My friend “Miss Emerald” was arriving about 7:00 am to pick me up and take me to Reading. We wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time in case there was lots of traffic. However, the traffic was smooth and free flowing and we made good time. The hospital in Reading is very big and after parking in the parking garage, we walked for 20 minutes—from one end of the hospital to the other—to get to the correct out-patient ward. I was the first patient to arrive. There were only two of us scheduled for a kidney biopsy, so I knew we would be running pretty much to schedule. After I checked in, Miss Emerald took her leave and returned home. It wasn’t productive for her to sit all day at the hospital—as I was required to be there for a good part of the day.
Eventually the specialist came in and explained the procedure and the risks involved. But the peace wrapped around me like a warm blanket and I was very relaxed. I signed the forms and waited while the doctor and his nurse did all the prep. The preparation took longer than the procedure!
I was asked to lay on my stomach with a pillow under my hips. Then the doctor injected a local anaesthetic into my back in the region of my kidneys. After a few minutes, he injected a very large needle into my side. It was uncomfortable, and hurt a bit. Then he took two samples from my left kidney. He placed them in sample bottles with white labels on them, and asked me if I’d like to seem them. They looked like baby worms—very tiny. I couldn’t help but think how different they would look under a microscope, enlarged a couple of 100 times.
After the stitches were put in, I was told I had to lay flat on my back for an hour. This wasn’t too bad, as I had my MP3 player with me and put on some soft worship music. The last 10 minutes did seem long, as I was beginning to feel stiff. After the first hour I was allowed to sit up—but had to stay in bed for another three hours. I’d come prepared with a box lunch My Midnight Man had made-up for me. And I was given a cup of hot tea.
A book is always a good way to pass time and I’d brought “Heaven is in the House” by Bobbi Houston. Bobbi is the co-founder of Hillsong Church, Australia, along with her husband, Brian. She wrote the book about church life—and how it should be a place of warmth, acceptance, and significance. The Hillsong ethos is that church is a place for people to discover God’s purpose for their lives, a place where they can get their hearts healed and a place of belonging.
I had to remain in bed for a total of four hours after the biopsy, and so with good music on my MP3 player, I was able to complete the book in one setting.
I told the nurses, that except for the episode with the needles—it almost felt like a holiday. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day in bed reading? By 4:00pm I’d been given my follow-up instructions and discharged. “Miss Emerald” returned after having an afternoon nap herself, and picked me up. Traffic was heavier in the evening, as people were getting off from work.
My follow-up appointment with Dr. Naik, the nephrologist was on 24th November. Dr. Naik was originally from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and we embarked on that part of the conversation because neither of us have British accents! After reviewing the biopsy results, Dr. Naik explained that I had some mild damage to my kidneys, as well as inflammation. This was caused by taking anti-inflammatory drugs—i.e. ibuprofen and aspirin—over 20 years. I was now to change from aspirin-based pain relievers to things like acetaminophen and Tylenol. He also change the acid-blocker I was taking—from Lansoprazole to ranitidine—(known as Zantac over the counter). He said the Lansoprazole could also cause damage to the kidneys.
  • Then Dr. Naik reviewed the list of symptoms I had presented: Chronic Fatigue—must get about ten to 12 hours of sleep a night
  • Head aches
  • Muscle aches in neck and shoulders.
  • Tingling and numbness in lower arms, wrists and hands.
  • Foggy thinking—when really tired can’t organise my thoughts to speak
  • Muscle weakness—loss of support in top of thighs and knees feel like rubber.
  • Trembling and Shaking—especially when very tired or feeling stressed.
  • Over-acid stomach—often need to take Gaviscon along with acid blocker.
  • Sometimes I feel queasy when I get hungry, but then will also feel queasy after eating.
  • Occasional bouts of irritable bowels.
  • Episodes where my heart pounds in my chest, accompanied by tremors/shaking, breathlessness
  • Night sweats—I can go to bed feeling chilled, but wake up a couple of hours later with my pyjama top wet around my neck. Its so sweaty that I have to change it.
  • Suddenly feeling weepy, very sad.
  • Feeling overwhelmed when I get stressed, tired.
  • Oedema in lower legs.
  • Increased hair growth on my face and under chin.
  • Can only walk about 10 minutes without stopping for a rest.
  • Feeling anxious, fearful.
  • When I get shaky/trembly, I also get breathless, have difficulty concentrating and talking is an effort.
  • Mood swings/ irritability, depression.
  • Occasionally get light-headed.
  • Lethargy, no energy to do house-hold chores. Some days don’t have the mental energy for administrative tasks.

Dr. Naik said that none of these symptoms were related to my kidney damage. By discussing this with him, he was agreeable to me seeing an endocrinologist. He dictated a letter to my GP with this information and recommendations. I was scheduled for a follow-up visit with urine and blood tests in February. However, that appointment will have to be rescheduled as I am now in Florida. Other than that, this concludes the Kidney Saga. I’m glad to know why my kidneys are releasing blood and protein in my urine. I’m also glad that I have been informed that I can see an endocrinologist about my fatigue issues. Sometimes the system is slow, but eventually we do get where we need to go.