It ain’t over till its over

I went home Thursday afternoon in good spirits and apparent good health. I relaxed and recovered all day Friday with normal urinary and bowl functions returning. I eat and enjoy solid food and think I’m moving a little slow but this is not so bad. I’ll be good as new in a week or two.

Saturday I go to my woodturning club meeting and bum around with the guys sitting, standing and walking from 9 till 3. I do fine with a pizza lunch and a great vegetable soup dinner at home. All systems seem to be functioning normally.

Sunday I go to a woodturning class where 7 of us work one-on-one with the instructor from the Saturday meeting. Another great day of low stress activity, a great Fire House Sub lunch and veg soup for dinner at home. I’m feeling really good and have begun tapering off on the pain meds.

Then it happens! I go to the bathroom after dinner and fill the bowl with blood. All prior urinations had been normal. Then the next time I try to go I can’t pee at all. Cold sweat, nausea, Something isn’t right. JoEllen and Hannah call 911 and I take a bumpy ride to the hospital in the EMT van. That was Sunday evening at ~9:00 PM. It is now Tuesday noon and I’m still here.

The assumption is that a scab in the kidney incision has come off and entered the bladder and blocked the flow of urine. The first thing they do is insert a Three Way catheter about the size of a fire hose. Not fun but not as bad as I thought it might be. Getting past the prostate was the most ‘interesting’. They hook this up to pairs of 3 liter bags of sterile fluid and stat flushing the bladder of blood and blood clots. I think they have run 5 or 6 bags full through me at this time.

Sometime on Monday they turned off the flush and just let the catheter drain on its own and evaluate the amount of blood in the urine. Now the frustrating part. Even though I have a primary kidney doctor (whom I like very much) he is only at this hospital 2 or 3 days a week. As a result other doctors from his Urology Group come through to see me as well as the hospital doctor. They all have a different opinion about what they see coming down the catheter pipe. Is it clearing up? Is it too red? Are there more clots? Should we turn on the flush again. Should the catheter come out? Should the catheter stay in?

The bedside manner of this retinue of doctors varies from excellent to less than none. I don’t think these doctors have a clue as to how frustrating this difference of opinion is to a guy like me. I want facts and figures, whys and wherefores, risk vs. benefit. What are my options? Why would I chose one option over another? What is the downside of waiting? etc. etc. etc. The only doctor that is willing to talk to me on those terms is my primary kidney doctor (Dr. Braun) and he’s not here.

My blood count dropped overnight so the thinking took a turn to, we need to do an angiogram catheterization to find and plug this leaky vessel. So in prep for that they took me off of solid food again till that decision is made. When I ask about this angiogram procedure they can’t tell me the process or the risks but they think I need it. Not on your life till I know more!

My very helpful nurse Shawn takes up my concern and manages to get a call through to Dr. Braun who in detail explains the procedure and the risks. We together decide to wait a while longer to let the body heal itself before starting a new invasive procedure.

The issue is that I’m leaking blood from somewhere in the kidney. If it doesn’t stop I will need a blood transfusion. There is some risk in a transfusion but not extreme as far as I know. If I have the angiogram procedure they may or may not correctly identify the leak and plug it. There is a possibility that the plug partially or completely shuts down the kidney. Hey folks loss of this kidney is what we have been trying to avoid from day one. So Dr. Braun and I decide that waiting a while longer with the downside risk of a blood transfusion is not a bad course to take. The upside is that if the bleeding stops on its own we avoid another risky procedure.

I’ve got a lot of faith in modern medicine and science. But when things start to get iffy and there is a lot of speculation and little or no concrete evidence then I’m more inclined to rely on my God and the abilities that He has built into this complicated, fragile box we live in. So at this juncture we are waiting another day to see if my old body can’t stop bleeding on its own. If it doesn’t then I guess we go in tomorrow with the zappers to plug the leak. Either way your prayers are appreciated.

More to come I’m sure.