Friday, March 25, 2011

Security Stent vs Faith and (below) A History Told In a Previous Post

Faith makes things possible, not easy. ~Author Unknown

Faith is a passionate intuition. ~William Wordsworth

I've been remiss in blogging because I have been making up for lost time since feeling foot loose and fancy free for the last nine days. :)

I am going to share some things with you. You've read a lot of it before ..unless you are a new reader... but not all of it.

I can't help but wonder if I am being like the person in the joke, who when they get to heaven ..they ask God why he didn't save them from the flood. He answers that he tried to. He sent three different ways of escape (boats and a helicopter), and each time you refused stating, "No, I can't go with you. God will save me." Those are what I sent to save you, but you didn't get on board. (That was my version. The actual joke was better.)

I actually had two people tell me that joke in reference to my situation in within a short period of time. One was a stranger I met in the pool at the Y one afternoon and the other a physician. I admit ...I couldn't help but wonder what the odds were that I would here the same joke from a stranger and then a physician?

Anyway, I am still so grateful to have the big ureteral stent out.

This may sound weird ...but for as much as I was seriously ready to have the stent removed ...paradoxically ...I was also afraid to have it removed. This is because I related to it as a security stent. Kind of a security blanket ...helping me to feel all safe and like everything was okay long as I had the stent inside me. I was secure in the knowledge that as long as I was stented, the ureteral stricture would not close off again ...blocking the normal flow of urine from my kidney to my bladder thus causing a relapse. That is never a good thing. It has also been devastating to me because I have some of you know ...really been counting on total ...even miraculous healing, because ...I do-not-want the surgery ...ever. And ...even more than that ...well not more ...but still monumental to me ...being stented was synonymous with reconstructive surgery not being imminent. I knew that the short term guarantee was no longer there when the stent came out.

So ...the entire time I am stented ...I am also conflicted, because I don't want to be stented all ..but I do ...but I really don't ..really don't ...but do ...because it's a means to a hopefully happy ending ...a happy ureteral ending. So ...I put myself out there with my life on hold, swimming upstream against the odds - while the urine flows downstream in a wide open ureter via ureteral stent ...ever hopeful that THIS time ...God will heal me. I also know he doesn't need a stent to do it, although he usually does work through physicians and medicine. It would seem that perhaps his answer to my prayers to being healed is through surgery, that for whatever reason is my destined path.

But ...I just do not accept it. I also know that healing for some people comes after they've been through a long process. that healing could be in the natural or via supernatural intervention - GOD himself. I know that seems crazy to some of you ... perhaps most of you. I just know ...that I know that God is ABLE to do anything he chooses to do.

I thought I would be forced into the surgery in February and was gearing up for it, but was profoundly relieved to have been given one more opportunity.

Sometimes I joke that I am a walking paradox because I can have such opposite opinions/feelings within myself. Someone once joked it's because I am a Gemini - sign of the twins. Funny, but I in know way believe in the powers of astrology. Only God.

But, I digress.

I am telling you that I have great faith. I do. And yet ...with my reluctance to let go of the ureteral stent, it would seem that I lack faith. I guess it comes down to spirit always has faith. My mind is usually on board ...unless I start thinking about my medical uro history and allow fear to come in. Which, admittedly has been a good part of the time. Always anticipating that darn other shoe dropping. Rock and a hard place. Conflict within mind and body ...but my spirit is always on track with faith. When I link up totally with my spirit I do believe all things are possible with God ...including healing. And I know some think I am denial. I really am not. No one is more aware of the situation then I am. But ...everything in me has felt that I should resist.

I do know ...that after enduring this last stent for the length of time I did, that if this didn't do it ...well then ...the writing is on the wall, I guess. I'm not trying to be obtuse. I just believe in not giving up. And, I never really got the green light in my spirit, but for ever so briefly. I have felt a red light. If it's right ...I will know it and I will feel the green. ..and I have not.

I can't help what I feel. In my heart of hearts ...I really do feel I will heal. (I wonder if everyone would've just done the surgery, tried a little or resisted completely? What would YOU have done/do? And if anyone answers - why would you choose that path?)

So regrets. I am grateful for the reprieve and new opportunity for healing.

I believe I am healed.

Carpe diem! :)

You will see in the following reprinted post, just what a fight to stay away from the surgery this has been for me. Some of you may've already read the following post because I wrote it for the Positive Medical Blog back in September after I had a relapse with the right ureter. Discouraged, afraid, conflicted ..with a bit of forced peace ..I was trying to hold on to the green light feeling in my spirit because surgery was inevitable ...probably to be scheduled in February. But, as I have previously stated, I am so grateful that I got another opportunity to heal via having a LARGE stent placed in me after removing the small one. And so now recently removed ...and feeling great ...I enthusiastically embrace life stent free. :)

I am adding this previous post first of all for me, because it keeps the story all together for my own purposes and also to update any interested reader who may be new to this story. I began blogging because of urology issues and has been my way to vent every so often ..either by sharing my heart or venting about some exam, test, procedure or hospital stay. God knows ...medical things provide plenty of material for humor. :) I am pleased when someone lets me know I have helped them in some way by sharing my experiences. I am appreciative when readers share their own uro experiences or other medical things. I think insight is gained both ways ...and certainly comfort in knowing you aren't the only one going through something and seeing how other people successfully overcome their challenges. And support. I think it is important to encourage, provide hope ...or perhaps in my case ...voice of reason.

This story is going to end one way or the other and as you know ...I believe healed.
Reality to Fantasy ...Sharing My Heart About Surgery
Photo credit for ureteral stent

A ureteral stent is placed inside the ureter, entering first through the urethra and positioned up along the ureter so that one coiled end rests in the kidney and the other coiled end rests in the bladder. It keeps the ureter open to facilitate the passage of urine or stones without obstructing. It also aids in healing after the ureter has passed kidney stones or after procedures and surgery, so that it doesn't scar closed.
Photo credit

Some of you familiar with my posts already know that I have quite the urologic medical history. All thanks to one "You've been working on it a longtime" 6 mm kidney stone that struck at 4 a.m., at the end of May in 2004 ...with* the* most intense pain I have ever experienced in-my- life ..trumping ..yes ladies ..trumping labor pain.

I will spare you the hideous details of that day ..but suffice it to know ..that stone was my #10 pain. Since then ..whenever asked about my pain level on the pain scale ..I base all answers using the mother of all kidney stones pain criteria. Works rather well. I pray I n-e-v-e-r have to set a new bar for pain again. That will be enough ..thank you very much. Oh wait ..there was the in office ureteral stent removal ..quick ..but an instant TEN on the pain scale chart.

So ..that day ..after the trip to the OR to have said 6mm kidney stone removed and 2 ureteral stents in and out during the month that followed the stone attack...I was cleared after the following KUB in the fall.

It never occurred to me I would ever see a urologist again in my life. I naively thought that chapter was closed.

But then 18 1/2 months months later ...on New Years eve - December 2005, while working my Patient Access shift at the hospital ... the little urinary tract infection I thought I had ...exacerbated into much more. I ended up one sick lady the next night ...admitted into the hospital for the week ..complete with a side trip into the OR at the end of the week. It turned out that my ureter was totally constricted. This happened because it was damaged by that first and only kidney stone ..the mother of all stones 18 1/2 months earlier. It caused my ureter to scar closed over time, blocking the urine flow from the kidney... causing a serious infection ...among other things.

So I had a ureteral stent placed by a new urologist, to aid in keeping the ureter open and facilitate healing. I have had long periods of time in between stenting in which my ureter remained open ..but did have a relapse in 08. Surgery had been advised ..but I have resisted with everything in me because I am considered a high risk for this surgery. I have tenaciously and in faith held on to the possibility that I am healed.

Then last weekend ..I experienced renal colic late at night (see this post in SS), ended up in the ED the next morning(Saturday), OR on Sunday morning and am now currently sporting another ureteral stent. To say that I have felt discouraged and afraid this week is an understatement. It would seem that the rock and the hard place I have been in over these past four years is closing in on me and I am being forced into having the surgery that I have desperately been trying to avoid.

I have the most amazing urologist who has been stellar with his care. He listens and we work well together. I am so grateful he has given me every opportunity to heal. I am grateful for all the work he has done ..all the time and energy he's invested into my case ...all the while taking good care of me. I am grateful to his partners and their office/clinic staff. If I had to go through this stuff ..then I am so glad I was under that group's care ..especially my urologist.

People do go through much worse things ..but this whole process has not been a day at the beach. It really helped me as a patient to be able to go to a warm, friendly upbeat medical office in which the staff was patient with this patient ..who could get a bit squirrelly every now and then depending on what the procedure du jour was.

Surgery was recommended early on ...but I just had to try to give my ureter every opportunity to heal with minimally invasive treatment before agreeing to the high risk surgery. I suppose I have prolonged the inevitable ..but I do not regret the extra time I have had.

I do not.

And so this week ... my time has run out. It would seem that with this most recent turn of events ureter constricting again ..after only 7 months that the writing is on the wall and I have to do the surgery. Admittedly ..this past week ..I have not been taking it well. I have been having total wallow week. But today ..was the first day ..that I am beginning to wrap my brain around the fact that I am going to have to do the surgery. I actually had a good and productive day. I guess that happens ..good days when you rise up out of your self pity party. And fear. I actually have been way more fearful then feeling sorry for myself. Fear with a capital "F".

Which goes totally against the faith in God that I really do have ..and goes against my normally optimistic and upbeat see the glass half full personality. I guess I latched on to the words .."She's not a good candidate for open surgery" or "It's not a good situation" and knowing I need to go to a teaching hospital and different surgeon all just paralyzed me with fear and I have never been willing to move forward. Ironically ..had I never heard the words ..or understood why I was high risk ..I would've had the surgery. But I know too much. And so I froze and resisted.

I also really believed I was healed because things were going so well. But, it is a silent chronic condition (You can't feel yourself scarring) and unfortunately I don't have warning until my ureter closes off and then it is a big deal and not something I can keep doing.

But what about faith? Is God not God? Do I trust him or not? Well it seems I will be free falling ...relying on his guidance and protection, because it is now out of my control. I don't like not having control. I have to let go. I have to have trust with a capital "T" in every person involved with my health care, ...especially the operating surgeons ..the gas doc and all the staff involved in the OR and post-op. All I can do is give it to God at that point.

Maybe it has always been that way and I just didn't see it.

It is not easy to surrender let go.

It is not.

But ..I know ..sometimes we have to do ...what we have to do... and now this is what I have to do. You can see how much I have wrestled with this.

And I had 2 C-sections. I do know something about open abdominal surgery. But it's a much shorter surgery and get a baby in your arms. After the reconstructive urology surgery ...I get another stent in my rebuilt ureter. Not as warm and cuddly as a new born baby. Well ..maybe if they let me hold it first. ;)

And ..actually ...I am a bite the bullet ...just do it ..face it and get it over with person. I always have been. Except with this. I have felt a MAJOR red light in my spirit. Friends, family and physicians ..have all told me to do the surgery. But it is NOT like going in for a routine appendectomy or gall bladder surgery. This surgery is a lot more involved.

And you know ..if a person has to have an emergency surgery or they WILL die ..the choice is obvious ..try to save your life with the surgery. I on the other hand am not under imminent threat of death and get along just fine with being stented ..although really, really inconvenient and some really can hurt. It's just a whole other ball game when it's not emergent.

A good example would be the pain of a stuck kidney stone. I KNOW ..I would take my chances dying ...over living with that pain ..which would be impossible to live with anyway. Or like we have a friend who went in for a regular checkup and his doctor heard something abnormal with his heart and sent him to a specialist the same day. That specialist told him you will be in the OR tomorrow having open heart surgery because you could die at any time. He had the surgery the next day and is alive and well now.

He did not have an option because death was imminent.

A coworker of mine said that she knew she could die while having the bariatric surgery, but she made up her mind if it was her time ..then it was her time. She urged me to do the surgery. But I could not.

Anyway ...I know I have to have a major attitude adjustment. I am grateful that there is a solution and I have an opportunity to have it fixed. The risks just scare me is all. And I pray there are no complications.

By the time I am actually going for the surgery I will hold my head up and demonstrate faith, fight to pull through and will have hope and a can do attitude. And not for show ..but really do it ..for me, for family and for the surgeons. I want to be strong for myself and others.

So ..really was a turn around day for me. And for the first time since one day last year ..I did get a green light in my spirit about it. I won't be doing it just yet ..but fairly soon. I need to work that out with my doctor. And I imagine that between now and the scheduled surgery ...I will vacillate between fear and faith ...but I am going to counter the fear when it hits with hope, good thoughts and faith along with prayer.

I hope I haven't offended anyone by sharing this... my heart ...about these things. I know people everywhere go through difficult situations and have to make tough choices. I'd like to know if anyone out there has ever been in a similar situation ..even if not medical? A situation in which they stalled and put off doing something that needed to be done? Have you felt afraid? How did you over come it? Or do you wrestle even now with fearful thoughts or serious concerns?

On a lighter note is the visual of where I am at:

All this time ...if forced into the surgery ...I have envisioned myself on the stretcher... with all fours ..arms and legs braced against entering through the door of operating room. Then recently my mind's eye ...I had 2 legs and one arm in the OR ...but boy was I tenaciously holding on to that door frame with a right handed vice grip. And THAT is just the pre-op area.

Even though I am more accepting today ...I may just scramble ..regroup like a cat and get all scrappy and then with the determination of a mule brace all fours ...again ...against the final OR door.

I can imagine gouging my nails into the metal frame in my attempt to hold on.

Then ..they STILL have to get me onto the table.

Okay I am gonna have to work on this more. I am making progress. :)

I know the OR staff appreciates patient cooperation in sliding from the stretcher to the OR table. And I am a frequent flier OR veteran at this point and I can skootch to the spot with the best of em. However, they may have to drug me first ..dull my natural instincts. Or is that when they flare up inhibitions? I've always worried about being too breezy with words in the OR once they give their special happy cocktail. But ...I think for this surgery ...I will welcome any kind of breezy. :)

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