Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Theme of the week: Happy to be home

Steve was released from the ER in the late afternoon. We were happy to come home from St. Paul yesterday, but even more so today.

(I'll try to keep this narrative as sterile as possible for delicate readers.)

After the source of the pain was identified as a kidney stone, Steve needed to produce urine. But he couldn't.

I calmly insinuated that a catheter might be necessary.

Steve dislikes few things. Among them are hospital stays and catheters.

He tried.

No luck.

The RN stopped by and said that a catheter was likely.

"No," Steve said, as assertively as possible in his exhausted, drugged state.

The RN was taken aback and said he'd talk with the doctor.

Dr. Z thought maybe there was no urine to produce, so he did a quick ultrasound of Steve's bladder. That image revealed plenty of fluid.

The RN returned with another device to determine exactly how much fluid.

It was a lot.

They gave Steve some more time.

Nothing.

Dr. Z returned and said that a catheter was next. He warned that if the bladder wasn't emptied, his kidneys would stop working and other awful things would happen. Steve would need to be admitted, even.

As Dr. Z left, Steve declared that the race was on.

Steve won. He produced on his own, without a catheter, a few minutes before his deadline.

Whew.

He was released with a prescription for pain medication. So far he hasn't needed it.

Apparently, the most pain comes when the stone moves from the kidney to the bladder. The passageway is tiny. When the scan was done late morning/early afternoon, the stone was in the right distal ureter -- the long, narrow passageway between the kidney and bladder.

In general, when a stone is 5 mm or smaller, there is no outside intervention recommended to help the stone on its journey. (Larger stones can be removed or pulverized.)

Steve will likely pass the stone sometime in the next few hours, but there should be little pain. Just in case, we have the pain meds.

Some reflections from today:
1. When Steve has pain or a problem, our first fear is that it's related to his brain cancer and/or treatment. We both find it somewhat refreshing that he still has regular old problems. "Even if they're the most painful ones I've ever had in my entire life," Steve says. "It's good to know I'm 'normal.' "

2. We continue to find great joy and comfort even in scary moments.

When Steve's nurse told him to go the emergency room this morning, I was about to leave the house to take Katie to preschool. My first thought was to call Julie, our dear friend and neighbor, who often leaves for work about the same time. I was looking for a phone with her cell number saved when the phone rang. It was Julie, of course! As I asked where she was, she pulled into a parking lot to turn around. She arrived in just a few minutes and whisked Katie off to school. While we waited, Katie sat in the driveway to write a thank-you note to Julie. It looked like a cute scribble but really went something like this: "Dear Aunt Julie, I love you. Thank you for driving me to school. I want to do it again. I love you. Katie."

We were never lonely in the ER. Steve's parents arrived quickly. They never hesitate to take care of us. Pastor Andy was there in no time. All three surrounded Steve's bed while he was in the most pain. Steve's colleague and our friend Lori dropped by. Liz and Holly delivered lunch and kept me company, lending moral support during some difficult moments and questions.

3. Even pain offers hope. As Steve said during today's ER adventure: "One thing about today. It's very life affirming. There's pain, but that tells you you're alive."

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Tyra & Steve:
So glad to hear it was a kidney stone..sounds funny to be glad about that but we are.
We continue to pray for you both.
love,
tim and cheryl