Thursday, January 27, 2011

follow-up

Yeah, that's right... that's what's I'm talkin  'bout. 


Again, I am home alone after leaving my precious husband at the hospital.  I drove home down Witkoppen Rd, watching a spectacular red African sunset,  talking to my good friend, Debbie (on speaker phone).  I walked in the door to my dog, Zuzu, who couldn't decide whether she was happier to see me or more desperate for a walk than anything else.  I took her around the corner in a way that would have made the Dog Whisperer choke...but it was getting dark, and I didn't have the time for perfection. By the time we got home, I started blogging...Zuzu scuffled in the kitchen, and caught a mouse.   

Mario, tonight, is in the hospital after a very difficult surgery.  Just to remind you, this was a scheduled thing: the kidney stone they had found in Mario on the 15th of January was blocking the ureter (the tube from the kidney to the bladder) and they put a stint in to help drain the kidney.  The problem was...the only way to do this surgery was to go in the same way the kidney drains. HELLO!!    

Yesterday we were coming home from Bloemfontein (after filing permanent residency papers...don't ask, it's another blog) thinking that Mario would be going in for a pre-surgery MRI and blood tests.  We were under the impression that he would have surgery the next morning.  Instead, the nurses sent him off for the MRI, blood tests and prepped him for surgery all in one hour (it was about 2 when we got there).  They told him that his doctor was operating on that day, and seemed surprised that we didn't know this.  When we asked to see the doctor they said he had been in surgery all day...and that he just did these all day long on Wednesdays.  They asked if Mario had been briefed on the surgery.  


We actually had been briefed on the procedure...it would be one of two unsavory scenarios, with the same entrance to begin:   
  • Scenario #1. The stint that was inside of Mario (the cause of all the recent pain) would be removed if the stone had moved down the ureter and into the bladder.  The stone would be lasered and broken up into bits so that Mario would be able to pee it out.  
  • Scenario #2: If the stone had not moved, or had been "pushed" by the stint back into the kidney, it would have to be broken up by a procedure called an Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL).   It is a procedure that literally pulverizes kidney stones anywhere in the urinary system, even ones blocking the ureter (like this one was) with sonar, or shock waves. The stone would hopefully be reduced to sand-like granules  that would be passed, which is what "normal" kidney stones do.  The doctor said the ESWL is similar to someone boxing your kidneys over and over, so it would be "sore".  
If this second option was done, the stint would stay in for another 10 days. We were dreading this option.  

They finally took Mario in to surgery at 8:30 p.m yesterday.  He was in good spirits and we prayed, kissed and parted. 

I waited for two hours, and finally in the waiting room of the surgery unit, the doctor appeared.  He said Mario had done well during the surgery, but  the stint that was put in to drain the kidney was actually not doing the job it should have been doing...so they removed it and put a larger one in!!  This was done after they ESWL'ed, so the doctor said Mario would be "very sore".  He also told me his kidney levels were too high and that he would have a specialist check in on him tomorrow.  He also said his prostate was slightly enlarged, and that he had some concern about it and would run tests in the morning.  Also, he had been catheterized to start the flow...

 "Don't look so worried!" he said, smiling.  I could have slapped him.  

"Did you say a bigger stint?" I managed to say, after the avalanche of bad news he just leveled on me.   

"Yes," he answered, flatly.  "The ureter was too small at the bottom to allow anything through, so we had to drain the kidney again."  He didn't need to explain the importance of this, and realized I was overloaded and disappointed.  "Don't worry," he said, "He's going to be okay."  

Mario came out of the recovery room, catheterized, EZWL'd, with a bigger stint in him (running from his kidney, through the ureter and into the bladder) and groggy from the anesthesia after such a long surgery.  

There were sinister forces at work.   Apparently he was the last surgery for a team that had been working since 6:00 a.m.   The nurses who had worked all day dropped his catheter bag as he was going into the recovery room and it yanked against his already "sore" male part.  By the time I saw him, the catheter was filling with bloody urine--very scary looking. It was the worst pain I had ever seen a human being in-- and this was my husband!!  

Mario was taken to his room, where he was given a shot for pain with a very long needle in ... you can imagine the scenario.  

Even as out of it as he was, he knew something was wrong.  He asked me what the doctor said, and was noticeably mad about the pain.  He kept saying "Something's wrong." He asked me what the doctor told me, and because he insisted on hearing, I told him.  He told me the story of the recovery room and the catheter pull...the nurses laughing at their mistake while seeming oblivious to his pain.  After a further examination by the doctor, the nurse told me to let him rest.  She kind of insisted I leave and go home.  

I did, realizing she was right.  Home was lonely, full of flies and I didn't sleep well.  

I woke up at 6 a.m. and jumped into the shower to get ready to go.  By the time I got to the hospital, Mario was standing up and getting dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.  The catheter had been removed, which for him  was the immediate source of his pain.  He was busy trying to figure out how to thread the IV through the sleeve of his shirt so he could function.   A vast improvement from last night... he was Mario.  I breathed a long sigh of relief.
He had already spoken to the doctor and blood work had been done.  The doctor said they came back "great" and that Mario's kidney levels were way down --probably thanks to the larger stint.  Even though he didn't abandon the idea of running further tests, he advised Mario to rest, which he tried to do today.

In the bed next to Mario was Earnest a young professional man who had had several of these surgeries over the past year.  After chatting through the dividing curtain, Mario and he started a pretty cool exchange, which led Mario to asking him (with IV in tow) if he could pray for him.  Earnest happily agreed, saying that he was a "born-again Christian" and he believed God could heal him.  I joined in the prayer, which was touching, two healthy men in the shared room for the same op... and both praying together.  Totally Mario, I thought.  Totally God.

After the evening visit with the doctor (who looked much relieved) Mario decided to spend another night in the hospital, for the drip antibiotics and the pain injections we can't do at home.  After lunch, a greek salad with calmata olives, Mario devilishly hid an olive pit in his bedside drawer.  When the doctor came around, Mario showed him the saved pit and said "Hey, look what came out when I was peeing!"

The doctor laughed, and admitted he was impressed that Mario could piss olive pits.  I felt like I was in a frat house.  

Soooo...tonight, he is feeling better; a little battle-scarred, but scheduled to come home tomorrow.

Needless to say, I am exhausted!!

At least I'm home with my dog...who is a female.  Girl's night.