Monday, April 28, 2014

Kidney Stones & Tummy Troubles

Reminder: These blog posts are a journal of sorts so that someone else dealing with kidney stones might see my experience and hopefully glean something helpful from it.

Warning: This is that topic no one talks about. Ahem. It's just not a pleasant thing to discuss, but it is what it is. And if you've ever lived in a third world country, you have talked about poop in your life more than anyone else. Apart from moms, that is. Moms all talk about poop.

If you have ever had anesthesia or even prescription pain medicine, you may have experienced "tummy troubles" aka constipation. Even though you are drinking lots of water (because it seems no matter what your illness or surgery is a big part of the solution is water), the meds are causing things to stop up a little. Now, this is great fun when you are also having pain in the general region.

In an effort to combat this issues, over the past few days I've had a small amount of Milk of Magnesia and small amounts of Miralax. The last thing I wanted was to be running to the bathroom because of taking too much laxative! Today I woke up around 3 a.m. The M.O.M. had started working, but thankfully not severely. Even so, it was enough that just when I'd get settled back into bed I'd need to get back out. Finally around 6 a. m. I drank some mint tea with honey. I had taken some hydrocodone at 3 since it had been 6 hours since my last dose and I was feeling some pain. I am only taking it at night now. It is now 7 a.m. and I have not fallen back to sleep. My tummy feels like it is settling a bit, but I'll have to see if I can sleep without any more the bathroom. ha, ha! Gotta laugh sometimes, you know?

I'm so thankful that I'm not REALLY having to run to the bathroom. I'm also thankful that my legs are not sore like they were the first 2 days. I don't think I would have been able to move as much as I've needed to do so.

I will be getting back on my smoothie routine which includes flax seed to help with this issue.

Now this is definitely a TMI topic! Remember, you had fair warning! :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I will survive

I know you now have Gloria Gaynor's song stuck in your head, "I will survive...." You're welcome. LOL!

Today was better than yesterday. It is not so painful to get out of bed or out of a chair to walk. I can turn over in bed without every muscle screaming at me. Now I am feeling the pain in my left side where the shockwaves were directed. My arm where I have carpal tunnel and arthritis is probably the 2nd sorest area. I think just having a weakened immune system along with nerve issues with fibromyalgia make me more susceptible to pain.

I slept for several hours solid, was up for a bit, then back to bed again. I did nap at one point this afternoon. I am calling it quits before midnight which is unusual for me but good. I only hope I can sleep pain free through the night.

I've not seen many more stone fragments come through today. I imagine it will take some time to wash them all out. I am able to eat & drink with much more ease today which makes getting the essential water into my system much better.

Took 2 hydrocodone overnight last night. Hoping for just the one I took this evening to help.

I have so much I NEED to do that doesn't take a ton of energy, but it does take some energy. Most of what I do involves use of my hands & arms so the pain makes it impossible to do the sewing, etc. I have waiting to be done. Even typing can be painful, so I have to be careful.

The Vicodin/hydrocodone is hitting so I am off to la la land. Good night!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Third Day---more boring yada yada yada about kidney stone recovery

Today is my third day on the lithotripsy trip. Last night I slept fairly solidly from 12:30 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. After that I tried to go back to sleep, but wasn't able to, so I got up & ate something around 9:30. I was able to sleep from 10 til noon.

I was able to get out of bed without feeling like I would come unglued. I am still very sore, but it's much more tolerable today so far. My throat is still hurting, so I'll keep doing what I can to help that.

The other day after the heavy doses of anethesia and after feeling so dizzy from the fluid in my ears, I thought I would never want to take hydrocodone again. My pain was bad late on Thursday, though, so I did end up taking 1/2 a hydrocodone, then a few hours later taking the other half. I've realized that my dizziness wasn't due to the hydrocodone, but rather the fluid, so I don't mind it as much at least at night time when I am trying to sleep anyway.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm blogging this mostly as a journal and to help anyone else who is going through the trial of kidney stones to read about my journey. So this next part is strictly for medical purposes ;). I have passed quite a few pieces of the stone so far. I have to catch it in a strainer then put the pieces into a sterile container to take to the doctor.

I'm planning on doing more of nothing today which has been my routine this week. I'm antsy to do something, but my body won't let me. I suspect a good nap is in the works while my family hits Six Flags. That's okay, I'd rather be napping than on a roller coaster!

Have a good Saturday.

Friday, April 25, 2014


I put this statement on Facebook but thought I'd share it here, too: I was thinking I'm so sore that I feel like I've run a marathon or done an all day workout. Then I laughed. I don't run or work out!

I managed to clean my tub and fill it with hot water and epsom salt. Then came the hard part: actually getting into the tub. I am literally sore from my neck down to my toes. I was a bit concerned that I'd get in the tub and not be able to get back out. Thankfully after soaking it helped my muscles enough that I was able to get out by myself. That would have just not been a pretty sight if my kids had needed to come help me. :)

We went to Walmart but it was slow going. The meclizine (dramamine's newer formula) along with 12 hour sudafed has cleared the fluid in my ears so I can turn my head without feeling dizzy. The biggest issue was just being sore. I had to have the girls put most of the items into the cart. I pushed the cart at first because it gave me something to lean on, but once it was full I couldn't push anymore. 

I have to wonder how much having fibromyalgia has to do with my level of pain. I have constant muscle pain daily, but it isn't this severe on a day to day basis, and certainly not this widespread. 

My throat is still very sore. I got some chloraseptic spray, some lozenges and am continuing with salt water and herbal tea sweetened with honey. WARM tea. Anything cold to drink hurts. I can get room temperature water down. 

I am supposed to be "pushing liquids." It is hard with my throat hurting, but I must be doing okay because little smitherings of Pebbles & Bam Bam are making their way into the world. LOL! 

I'm going to eat a gluten free Amy's meal tonight: Broccoli and Cheddar bowl. It seemed like it would go down easily. 

Since I only have a whopping 5 followers and I'm not sure anyone actually follows anymore, I'm using this as a journal of sorts. I want to go back and read about what they do during lithotripsy that makes your body so sore. Maybe somewhere down the road someone will wonder what another person experienced during this process and they can read this. But I wouldn't wish kidney stones on my worst enemy. Well, maybe on my worst enemy.....just kidding! 

My other "kids"---not a post for the weak of stomach

Years ago we sent out an annual letter with the line, "I had a kid.........ney stone." We didn't have kids yet so this seemed like a funny way to introduce the subject. It was April of 1992. Fast forward to January of 2011. Yes, 19 years later and 2 real kids later, I started this new trip down kidney stone lane. That year I ended up having 2 stones removed by ureteroscopy and passed some smaller ones. Since my husband and I like to take turns with major  health issues, in 2012 and 2013 he had oral cancer. As much as I hate kidney stones, I would rather he had those than cancer. It was not pretty. Oh, and I did have this little health issue of my own called a complete hysterectomy. The same week he had a feeding tube put in, then ended up in the ER from dehydration, and spent 2 months off of work (he was finishing his chemo & radiation by then, but the physical pain and wear on his body left him barely able to function). By the grace of God we made it through those events and even a major move, which involved a month in a motel and buying our first home after our rental was sold out from under us.

While we were in the motel, I  had  extreme back pain. I was going through physical therapy (wow, what a year we had), but one day the pain was so bad I had to stop as I was walking from the bed to the bathroom. I also had seen some blood in my urine. We went to the Emergency Hospital where I was told that I had bilateral kidney stones (meaning both kidneys were rockin' them), but no, that could not possibly be causing my pain since they weren't in the right position to do that. They also tried to do me in with morphine. I prefer dilaudid.

The pains subsided once we moved in and finished all our heavy box lifting, so I figured it was just muscular pain. Until Good Friday, that is. That night, I went to bed and felt like I was having the world's worst gas pains. They weren't in my stomach, but in my back. My stomach did hurt some, too. Here is a funny tidbit, I had taken a new natural supplement called, "Regular," which does what its name suggests! Or is supposed to. That night I was SURE that was causing my pain and that I was bloated and constipated. I got through the night by dosing with Maalox every few hours and taking tylenol. The next day I took some Milk of Magnesia, sure that would be the final cure for what ailed me. It did its job, but still I had pains. By Saturday night I figured out that these pains were kidney stone pains and at 3 a.m. Easter morning I woke my husband to take me to the ER.

More scans, indeed I had a 4.4 mm stone moving, plus a small one in the kidney, on the left side. On the right side I have 5 stones, the largest one is 5.5 mm. Of course, they tell you, "They could sit there the rest of your life and never cause a problem." Oh, that would be glorious!

The earliest I could get in to see the PA (the doc was booked) was Wed. so I hobbled along on Vicodin. Very strong vicodin. I've never had the 10 mg codeine hydrocodone before. I also got a migraine (from either lack of sleep or just pain or something). I hadn't had one of those since I got a night/bite guard for TMJ. It was a weird experience after 1 1/2 years of no headaches.

When I saw the PA she sent me to get an xray. The doctor was in the office, so he looked at the xray, too, and told me that this time I could get the stone blasted based on where it was and we could do it the next day! So yesterday I went into a surgical center to have lithotripsy (which, for you word nerds like me, I read comes from the words English Litho---of stone and Greek tripsy---to rub). I thought this would be a walk in the park after having ureteroscopy, where they have to put in a stent, then use a wire type thing to go inside of you to remove the stone, then  you get to keep the stent a few more days. There was the possibility that I could get a stent with this, but he opted not to do that. Yea! I knew I'd be going under with general anesthetic, but I've done that & usually it's pleasant & just means I get to sleep soundly all day.

Pleasant is not a word I will ever associate with this procedure again. I feel like they gave me too much anesthesia. In the recovery room they were saying, 'You should be waking up by now. Most patients are alert by now." Not me. I could barely lift my head. My procedure was finished around 7:30. They wanted me to be up and moving by 10. After I got home, I slept until 4:30 on & off then dozed more all evening. I think what's made this worse is that I have been dizzy all week with what I believe is fluid in my ears. That compounded with narcotics/anesthesia have made me very "woozy" feeling. I was able to get some meclizine and found that if I take that with 12 hour sudafed it helps. I also used a "Sinus Rinse" to try to get some of that moving out of my ears. I'm on Cipro antibiotic and they gave me shot of a major antibiotic the day before surgery, so if I have an ear infection, I'm pretty sure it can't live through this!

And my throat...oh, my throat. I knew it would be sore from the tube. The only other time I recall having a sore throat like this from a tube was one of my many endoscopies. I wish I had asked my husband to get some chloraseptic spray. I'm using salt water gargles and mint and/or ginger tea sweetened with honey. I also mixed up some "Magic mouthwash" with benadryl & maalox then added in some liquid (oral) lidocaine. The salt works better than that, though.

Then there is the asthma factor that has never been an issue with the other procedures. The anesthesiologist had me take a breathing treatment before surgery. When I finally got out of bed yesterday afternoon, I needed to use more albuterol. I've used the rescue inhaler about 4 times now in about 12 hours. I wanted to do a breathing treatment, but I can't find our liquid albuterol. I'll see if I can get a refill at the pharmacy & see if Natalie knows where I put the box when we gave some to a friend along with her nebulizer  after Christmas when she got sick (we had 2 borrowed nebulizers).

They told me I would probably be sore in the area where they blasted the stone. Blasted---shockwaves---a far cry from "to rub!" I am not sure what they did to me while I was under, but sore is fitting. It's just not limited to that spot. My kidneys are sore, by legs are sore, my neck is sore. I'm pretty sure if it's attached to me it's sore! :) I did NOT want to take more vicodin. I really thought I could go with just Tylenol. However, between the sore throat and the sore everything else, about 3:30 I took 1/2 a vicodin with 1 Tylenol (since I was cutting down the tylenol in the vicodin to just over 150 mg). It helped a tad. I woke up at 5:30 and took the other half. It hurts to cough. It's like I've just had my hysterectomy all over. But my throat didn't hurt after that surgery. When I cough it hurts from my stomach up to my neck. And I have a big stomach, so it's big pain!

Now, here is something I really didn't expect at all:
This is my arm where the blood pressure cuff was. I've never had this happen with a cuff or with anesthesia. At first, being a good dork that I am, I thought maybe it was red dye as I had dyed some fabric yesterday. But I looked closer and knew it was blood lines. And a bruise.

I would say my bottom line advice in all this is just don't get kidney stones. If only it were that easy. I've done the dietary things that should have helped based on my type of stones and urine samples they've tested. There are a lot of things that CAN cause kidney stones from berries & nuts to dark chocolate. My top things were red meat and salt.

I know that God is faithful and always has a purpose in things even when we don't see them. He says He can use  ALL things for His purpose. I also firmly believe that things like cancer and kidney stones are part of living on this earth full of sin. I am really happy to know that these broken down bodies of ours won't be going on to Heaven!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Your tax dollars hard at work

You know, when you've had a year full of cancer, surgeries and being forced to move, little things aren't the end of the world. They are, however, annoying. They're especially annoying when they're caused by our government supported businesses. This is a completely bipartisan government frustration. I thought I'd share this story before I go postal. Pun intended. Read on to see why. It's fixable, not life threatening, and minor. Like a bad paper cut. Or maybe a bad cold. Or a case of poison ivy.

When we moved out of our former house in early November we didn't know where our next home would be. Temporarily we moved into an extended stay motel. We had our mail forwarded to a P.O. Box near our old house for the interim.

We moved into our house on December 10th. I had mailbox keys, but no idea which mailbox was ours. As much fun as it might have been trying every box in the neighborhood, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't have left a good first impression on our new neighbors. I found our local post office branch (which is just an annex in a strip business center). I took the right forms to prove my identity and residency. They told me in two weeks I would have new keys but could use my old ones temporarily then told me where the box was.

I drove to the box they'd told me was mine. I tried the keys. They didn't work. There were three sets of boxes at the same location, so I tried box 5 on all 3. The key went into the keyhole on 2 of them, but would not turn. I drove to another set of boxes and tried all of the number 5's in that set to no avail. I knew I'd need to wait for my new keys.

During the time we were gone for Christmas I got a call that the keys were ready to pick up. Then we got home, my husband got sick, yada, yada, yada, and I didn't get the keys until January 2nd. I tried those keys today (January 3rd) in the box listed on the envelope the keys were in. They didn't work. I tried the other boxes with a number 5. Still nothing. Sigh.

I called the Post Office branch (the one that has no desk, just a door with an upper section that opens when you ring the bell----mind you, we are in the nation's 7th largest city, so this seems odd). They said to come BACK and bring the keys with me. I did that. The person in front of me left, so I assumed I was next. The lady told me to wait a minute. In the meantime, apparently the lady who'd been in front of me had come back in with her ID. You see, in order to receive your very own mail, you need an ID. Not to vote, mind you, or to get free benefits from the government, but to get your own mail from the government. Sorry, I digress. The mail clerk then took 10 minutes to find this lady's certified mail. What do you know? It was right there in the stack of mail but had been "filed incorrectly." Finally, my turn.

I explained my situation and she took my keys. She told me it would be 2 weeks before I get new keys or find out what is going on with our box. I explained that people had sent me mail and it should be in that box now. She asked if my mail was on hold. No, no one told me to put my mail on hold. "Would you like to put your mail on hold?" I'd like to GET my mail, not put it on hold. "Well, we can put your mail on hold and you can pick it up here." I want the mail that is in my box NOW. "Fill out this form and the carrier will bring it back here. You can pick it up after 3 days." Clearly, it takes 3 days to drive from the post office annex 20 minutes away and take my mail back rather than just knocking on my door like my old postal carrier would have done. I miss him. So, I fill out the form and mark one of the boxes that seemed most logical. Turns out I was supposed to check the one that says, "I will pick up my mail when I return." I told her I wasn't going anywhere and wanted my mail NOW. She told me that I could come pick it up after 3 days (we'd been through this part), but that once I picked it up that would end the hold cycle and I couldn't pick it up again. She knew by this time we'd been in the house since December 10th with no means to access our mailbox. She said she would "let" me have one extra pick up. How nice. I can get mail twice before they keep it from me again. Who knows? In two weeks I might get new keys to a box and we'll see if they work or not.

I miss the mailbox that was attached to my house in Waco, Texas. I miss having a box in front of my house. Actually, I just miss being able to get my mail. See, the stuff that's being forwarded to the PO Box is mainly medical bills. Until we owe something to the electric or water company, I should only have GOOD stuff in my mailbox!

Like I said, this isn't life altering. It isn't cancer. No one is getting a feeding tube or having major surgery. We aren't being forced to leave a home. We aren't living in a motel anymore. It's just a mailbox. That doesn't work. Paid for my you and me. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how YOUR tax dollars are hard at work.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To Buy or Not To Buy, That is the Question

For 24 years we have been renting homes. Apartments, houses, a bungalow in the center of Africa. If we'd bought a house early in marriage we'd have it paid in complete by now. We had a different course than most, though. We planned to live in Africa as missionaries so buying a house wasn't in the picture. We did go to Africa, but it was only for a year. So, at ages 31 and 39 we started over with a new baby and no idea what we'd be doing. That was 17 years ago.

We're in a situation now which will likely force us to move. The house we are renting is being renovated to sell. We will be offered the option to buy the house or he could possibly allow us to lease, but the rent will be higher. Most likely we won't be able to afford to buy this one, so we are looking at other houses and learning a lot about loans.

Due to financial issues, we cannot get a conventional loan until October of 2014. Also we don't have money for a 20% down payment. We can likely qualify for an FHA loan, but it has to be manually underwritten so we can't get prequalified. That requires 3.5% down, which we've been offered as a gift.

We've always heard mortgage is cheaper than rent. That's true. However, mortgage isn't the only monthly payment with a loan. There's interest, homeowner's insurance, and taxes. Then 1.75% up front, then 1.25% monthly. That adds up fast when you're talking about over $100,000. In fact, it can add up to $200 a month. That is the catch for us right now.

We just learned today that with a USDA loan (for which we should also qualify) there is no MIP/PMI. There's also nothing down with a USDA. There will be some expenses at closing, but not much. The only thing with a USDA is it has to be in certain areas & NOT in city limits. So, we'd have to find something in our price range/size that is outside of city limits but not TOO far for driving to work/churh/homeschool stuff we do with others. We could get more house without that MIP to contend with and taxes outside of city limits are lower.

If the house we are in was low enough, we could buy this. Because it is owned by an investment company, we wouldn't even need to get a loan, but could do in house financing. I am just not sure how that would work as far as the APR.

A program we'd like to use for a loan is NACA ( They provide a 0 down, 1% below standard APR loan with no MIP/PMI. They are "character based" not "credit based" so they don't care if your credit score is low. They walk you through the process. You have to show that you can pay your bills on time, pay your rent on time, and keep your bank account above 0 for 12 months, or 24 months if you've filed bankruptcy before they will loan you money. They want you to be successful at owning a home & not get into something you can't pay. As the contractor told me today, with the investment company, if you can't pay your loan, they just kick you out & they resell the house. It's not about the people. Neither is FHA or USDA. Well, USDA is probably more so b/c they want to build up rural areas. Since we did file bankruptcy several years ago and are only one year out, we aren't able to do the NACA right now. If we do buy a house we could possibly consider refinancing through them.

Of course, the last option is to find another house to lease. Then we are back to square one: Rent usually costs more than mortgage.

We've lived in a bungalow in the center of Africa. We've lived in apartments, in old homes, and in small homes. We aren't looking for a big house to feel like we've "made it" or to feel pretentious. We do want space for Phil to have a computer work area so he can work on other computers at home and an area for me to sew, especially to quilt, so that I can earn money to help with expenses but still homeschool. We'd like a kitchen with a good space for me to cook since we have special dietary needs. We'd like kitchen storage for my Pampered Chef products that I use for us and for shows. We'd like the girls to each have a room of their own so we can move things that we have in the living room (and craft room) into their rooms. I'd love for Bethany to develop her artsy skills and have a space to work with that. Natalie would just like a quiet space of her own. Of course, a room of your own isn't a necessity in life. It would just be nice after spending almost 15 years in the same tiny spaces. If we stay in this house I will lose my sewing room, but with the girls taking their things into their rooms and getting rid of a LOT of unneeded items, I think we could make it work. Eventually I would want to close in part of the garage or put a little shed in the backyard that I could use for sewing (with an air conditioner).

Ultimately, we know that God will put us where He wants us. We know He will provide the finances we need. We don't want to presume He will provide for us to have a house that costs more than we can afford, though, and want to be good stewards. He has promised to provide for our needs. He has not promised me a 4 bedroom home with a pool in the backyard and a jacuzzi tub!

So, there you have it. After a year full of cancer and surgeries, we now get to figure out where to live. Life is never dull! Pray that we will make wise decisions and not get overwhelmed in looking at homes and figuring out costs. Thank you!