August: Where did it go?

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August 29, 2013 – Wow! Where did the month go?

August is my favorite month of the year and this year it just seemed to slip away. The month was punctuated with several memorable visits and gatherings which I enjoyed so much. And, we have plans to share this the last summer long weekend with friends.

Granted I wasn’t up to  functioning at a high level this month and maybe that’s a good thing as I do tend to overdo every summer. But I didn’t expect to have a crash course in what kidney stones were all about.

Learning about kidney stones

“Kidney disease usually does not cause pain, but in some cases pain may occur. A kidney stone in the ureter (a tube leading from the kidney to the bladder) can cause severe cramping pain that spreads from the lower back into the groin. The pain disappears once the stone has moved through the ureter.

A kidney stone can develop when certain chemicals in your urine form crystals that stick together. The crystals may grow into a stone ranging in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Most stones form in the kidneys. Very small stones can pass through the urinary system without causing problems. However, larger stones, when traveling from the kidney through the ureter to the bladder, can cause severe pain called colic. Most stones (70 to 80 percent) are made of calcium oxalate. A smaller number are made of uric acid or cystine.” Read more.

Kidney stone prevention and treatment

Those with calcium stones are advised to lower their intake of salt. The major inhibitor of calcium stones is citrate which is naturally occurring in citrus fruits. Four ounces of lemon juice mixed with 2 liters of water has been shown to increase urinary citrate levels. Citrate supplementation can be done effectively with potassium-magnesium-citrate.

High oxalate foods can trigger pain and inflammation, as well as kidney stone formation so a low oxalate diet is important, but one needs enough calcium to bind to the oxalate in order to prevent stones from forming. The paradox is that if calcium is  too low, then more oxalate is available to be excreted through the urinary tract to form calcium oxalate stones.  Hence, there’s a fine balance that needs to be maintained. 

For those with uric stones, a low proteins diet is recommended. Cystine stones due to a genetic predisposition occur in about 2% of all kidney stone cases and are often not visible on most x-rays, CT’s, and ultrasounds.  In all of instances of kidney stones, keeping hydrated is vital.

Kidney stones and pain

Some people have equated the pain of passing a kidney stone to that of child-bearing labor. Smaller kidney stones can dissolve naturally but passing them can be  extremely painful. Alpha-blockers are prescribed for moderate size stones but in the case of recurring stones other medications can be prescribed.  Surgical removal is the last resort in the treatment of larger kidney stones.

Related post found in this blog : Life on hold

Summing Up

My diet is a low oxalate diet. I’m also drinking gallons of lemonade and limeade. Cranberry juice and Grapefruit are contraindicated.  The medications are keeping the pain at bay as I continue to suffer through recurring kidney stone episodes. Next week when all the test results are in and my doctor is home from vacation I will make a decision re: further treatment. If the future holds surgery for me – so be it. This too shall pass and I’ll face whatever comes fully determined to recover as quickly as possible.

My deepest thanks for all the readers who have supported me throughout this pain-filled month. I love you dearly for being such faithful friends.

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  1. I would have loved a shot at imaging that stone…I’m kind of a local legend among the Radiologists. We techs are weird like that. We want to get a “positive” to justify our training, and the patients always want a “negative”. But ultimately I wish you didn’t have it at all! I know you, and don’t want you to hurt. I know it’s very uncomfortable. I pray you are well now.

    • Hi Gunta,
      I’m back from the dentist and getting the final crown done. I’ll be off to the doctor to get test results in less than an hour. Thanks so much for thinking of me.

      • You’ve truly been getting walloped with stones and crowns. It seems to me that nasty things generally happen in threes, but then you should be done with them for awhile. Hope so anyway!

  2. Hi Thief. I do hope you finally recover soon, all the waiting, seems like forever and must be terribly discomforting. I like the books you chose. Will be back to check on your progress soon. In the meanwhile, be as naughty as allowed. Best wishes from Berlin-Germany. Cheers.

    • I am recovering and I’m feeling like this may be over. If the ultrasound had revealed anything important I think the locum doctor replacing my doctor while he’s on vacation would have had the receptionist book and appointment for me. As that didn’t happen on Friday I assume I’ll be getting good news from my doctor tomorrow afternoon. (fingers crossed)

  3. Hullo there darling girl, just popping in to see if there was any change, hopefully soon and though you have gone through hell to teach us, i am sure that many of us are drinking more frequently now, I have always added a drop of lime juice to my water so i hope that keeps me healthy. But seriously because of what you said when all this started, I for one am drinking more water too! Lessons learned. Oh there is so much to learn.. c

    • Hi Cecelia,
      I’m pretty sure I will get good news about the ultrasound results tomorrow afternoon. I think the stones have all passed now. From here on out I will remain hydrated and be very cautious about my diet.

      Scientists know that issues local to the kidneys raise risks for kidney stones. They also found out that urine oxalate levels in those with kidney stones do not tend to be very different from urine oxalate levels in the rest of us. Even so, reducing dietary oxalate can help reduce stones, especially if other treatments did not help.

      I’m have been spending the time I would have spent blogging learning about low oxalate foods. I wish I had listened more closely to Sandra a couple of years ago when she blogged on this subject. But it’s never too late to make a chnage and I’m doing that now.

      • Does this mean eat less spinach and leafy greens, and nuts and things? I do understand the hydration. Though i do believe that we each need to discover the diet that works for our bodies, this is why I don’t like the terms vegetarian or vegan or raw or whatever else, too many rules determined by someone else. best to discover our own diet. By diet i mean what we eat not dieting to lose weight.. And if the ultra sound is clear .. you can get on with your life.. that will be good..c

  4. Not a great way to have August fly by! I am glad the pain meds are helping and I hope all this will resolve without surgery. thanks for the prevention info – going to fix some lemonade now!

    • Hello there,
      I’m with you when it comes to sharing that hope. The thought of going to a germ ridden hospital does not appeal to me at all. It scares me. I haven’t been vigilant about keeping hydrated and we have had a very hot summer. I’ll be drinking lemonade and limeade all year round now so we can lift our glasses toast each other across the miles. :)

    • Hi Sunshine,
      I’ve heard it for years – drink 8 – 10 glasses of water a day but I never took that advice as seriously as I do now. Now I know from experience that remaining hydrated is critical to preventing kidney stone development.

    • Hello there,
      It’s always good to see your gravatar here and I thank you for your well wishes. I’m feeling better day by day. The dread of experiencing another episode of excruciating pain is over as I now have effective pain medication. I’m prepared to take what comes but I have hunch that all the stones have all passed now and it’s up to me to be vigilant about my diet and water intake to prevent more crystals from forming.

      • Thank you. :) After reading your post I went ahead and drank another glass of water.

        I highly recommend “Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! by Dr. F. Batmanghelid. After reading his book, I drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. I start off my day with a glass of water before breakfast to ensure I am hydrated. He cured patients with ulcers and other health conditions with water. He wrote that many patients are misdiagnosed with health conditions when it’s simply the body not having enough water.

        Happy to hear that you are healing well! ~ Marie

        • Hi Marie,
          Thanks so much for recommending that book. I’ll request it through inter-library loan. The sad thing about this is I was vigilant when it came to making sure all the dogs and kids and visitors kept hydrated. I neglected only me and that’s a sad commentary on where I was at as the month began. I formerly took pride in my level of self-care and I’m aiming to get back to where I was again and stay there.

  5. Dear TT – you may be interested in the Japanese natural treatment using Umeboshi plums. Highly alkaline, abundant in citric acid, antibiotic … among other wondrous qualities. They are incredibly salty and sour, but when I’m off-color my body is ravenous for them (in tiny doses). Wishing you speedy healing!

    • Thank you for that suggestion.

      Saturday Update: I looked for Umeboshi plums at the Farmer’s Market and asked for them without success. It seems I’ll have to get them from a big supermarket the next time I’m on the big island this week.

  6. Hey timethief so glad you’re on the mend. I should some of your references at the end. People tell me here in Alberta that there may be higher incidence of kidney stones??

    • Hi Jean,
      The pain is under control and that was the worst part. It still hurts when I’m passing stones but that isn’t all the time and the meds do work. I hadn’t been drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day and it has been a hot summer so I was dehydrated. I don’t eat a lot of high oxalate foods but I wasn’t exercising as much as I should due to lack of time.

      I wonder why there would be a higher incidence in one province as compared to the others.

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