Where My Kidneys Stand

Following my uteroscopy in July, I still had small bouts of pain in my left side. This was chalked up to the stent that had to remain in to allow my ureter to heal properly. I was initially supposed to have my stent taken out a week or two after my uteroscopy, but at that appointment I was informed that during the surgery, my doctor had discovered I have a high, narrow UPJ. This was the reason that the pieces of my stones hadn’t been able to move out of the kidney following lithotripsy in May, and why the “dust” from my uteroscopy in July, too small to be caught with the little net they use, had sunk to the bottom of the kidney and would likely reform into a stone.

According to my urologist, the pain I had been experiencing could have been caused a) by the kidney stones themselves, b) by the narrow opening, or c) a combination of the two. At this point, the stent had widened that opening, and my kidney had adjusted to having a wider passage. Following my stent removal, he wanted to do a renal scan of my kidneys to determine the level of obstruction, if any, from the narrow opening.

However, if the stent were to be removed then, there was the possibility that my pain would resume in full, or even worsen, as the opening resumed its “normal” size. There was also a possibility that the opening, having been stretched by the stent, would remain widened. Whether or not to have the stent out now was up to me–my urologist thought another month or so may help the latter scenario play out.

Because I had already placed a delay on my thesis, and because my thesis was due in September, I wanted as much time pain-free to work on it as possible. I opted to keep the stent in, worried that taking it out would cause the kind of pain my urologist suspected. We scheduled my stent removal and renal scan for the last week in August.

For a few weeks into August, my bouts of pain were minimal. The stent tended to cause spasms now and again, but nothing that kept me from living my life as the pain from the kidney stones had done. It was following a wedding in late-August that I found myself doubled over in pain and unable to move. I spent the night in tears, in bed, and had an emergency appointment with my urologist the next day. We were only one week shy of taking the stent out anyway, and so he removed it then. The spasms from the stent had also caused a UTI, and so I was placed on Cephalexin, an antibiotic I had already been prescribed four or five times since my lithotripsy, and absolutely hated.

The following week, completely pain-free for the first time in months, I underwent a renal scan. No one explained this scan to me in advance, and so I was surprised to find out that I would have to lie on a table for 45-minutes with radioactive materials injected into me, while the scanner takes a series of images. In conjunction, fluids are pushed through the body to help the material move quickly for the imaging machine. This was great, and kind of fun to watch on the screen, except that by the end of it, my bladder was about ready to burst.

The great thing was that there was absolutely no obstruction on either side. When I returned to my urologist in September, he confirmed that with no obstruction present, there was no need–at least at this time–to consider any surgical correction for my narrow UPJ. There is always the possibility that as I get older this may develop into a larger problem, but as long as I know to keep an eye on it, I’m okay for now.

My urologist also gave me options regarding the remnants in my left kidney, and the stones still hanging out in my right kidney. Neither side was causing me any issues, and as he explained it, they may never cause me issues. With my hyperparathyroidism cured, there is no reason to think that my body will continue to develop this many stones. I opted for no further treatment, and, unless the pain starts up again, will revisit with my urologist in March.

It has now been two months since that appointment, and Angry Left Kidney is still pain-free and happy.

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