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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Have A Nice Lithotripsy

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/19/2021
Posted: 9/16/2008
Topics/Keywords: #Humor #Medicine #MichaelManion Page Views: 3293
In which Michael has a blast.

I spent today at the hospital with Michael as he got his third lithotripsy.

A lithotripsy is an outpatient procedure in which a sonic boom is directed at one's kidney, in the hopes of blasting a kidney stone into smithereens so that its components can be safely excreted along with other liquified waste, such as digested ice cream, chicken noodle soup, and beer. Given the alternative (passing a rock the size of a grape through the grain-of-sand-sized ureter and then the BB-sized urethra in the penis), the lithotripsy would seem like a preferable approach.

Michael, prepared to have a pleasant lithotripsy.

We were certainly led to believe a lithotripsy would solve the problem when Michael had his first one last year. Afterwards, however, Michael continued to find himself in pain and a subsequent CAT scan showed that the formerly 10mm stone had gone down to…9mm. Only the outer shell of the stone had shattered, leaving the calcium core intact.

Kidney stones come in two flavors. The most common are oxalic acid crystals. That's the kind I used to get, decades ago when I used to get a kidney stone every two years, whether I wanted one or not. The other, less common type of kidney stone is made of solid calcium. They are harder and, as we've learned, more difficult to get rid of.

So Michael returned, a few months ago, for a second lithotripsy. That one reduced the size of the stone to…7mm.

Still too big to pass on his own. Still big enough to cause random bouts of excruciating pain.

And so, today, I brought Michael into the hospital for his third lithotripsy, in hopes that this time would be the charm. This has been going on for so long that the hospital in which Michael's first two lithotripsies were performed, has been closed! So this one was done at Mountain View Medical Center, which is conveniently located just about two miles from our house.

I had to take the day off work because Michael had to show up at 7am, and I had to drive him, since not even the butchest of butch men can be allowed to drive themselves home after major surgery. And a lithotripsy is major, even though it's considered non-invasive. The sound of the sonic blast is equivalent to that of an explosion; people must be put under a general anesthesia to survive it. Even so, the area at which the explosion is directed feels, afterward, as if it's been kicked by a mule undergoing a bitter divorce. So the patient must remain sedated for a day or so afterwards.

Michael's urologist, looking entirely too happy to be performing the procedure.

Michael's urologist, looking entirely too happy to be performing the procedure.

As you can see in the photo above, Michael was in good spirits going in to the procedure. One of the things that cheered us both up was the discovery that his urologist, the doctor who would be performing the surgery, is gay. We'd had no reason to suspect this, even though when Michael blurted to him on a previous visit that I thought he was very cute, he blushed. But this morning, we commented on his attractive wedding ring, and he explained that it was actually just an engagement ring, since it wasn't legal for him to marry in Arizona, even though he and his spouse are raising four children.

Now I suppose some of you dear readers are mentally thinking, "Hmm…urology. Wouldn't that be a dream job for a gay male doctor, sort of like gynecology must be for a straight male one?" Of course, even while the reality for either must be quite the opposite of fun—aren't the majority of sex organs either doctor encounters, diseased?—I personally would much rather have a doctor who might find himself tempted to prescribe a catheter, be one with as much experience with penises as possible.

Some years ago, when I had a particularly bad kidney stone of my own (and before they started doing lithotripsies), my urologist (who was neither gay nor particularly charming), after gleefully announcing that my kidney stone couldn't have come at a better time because he needed to make a payment on his Bentley, neglected to tell me that after my surgery, I might possibly wake up with the catheter still inserted. I did, and had to spend the next three days fighting a panicky urge to rip the thing out of me. Trust me, this experience was everything you ever dreamed it would be. Nights were particularly painful, despite the inaccurate assurance from the nurse that I "couldn't possibly have an erection with an inserted catheter." Finally, when it came time to remove the thing, the person they sent in to do it was a thirteen-year-old girl wearing a candy striper's uniform. She sat on the side of the bed and fiddled with the controls of the device while chatting amiably about where I was from, and where she was from, and what kind of music did I like; and suddenly yanked the entire thing out of me, which felt like having my tonsils pulled out through my penis.

Anyway, they carted Michael away promptly at 9. I ran home to get some breakfast (Michael, who had to fast for the procedure, had had to ask me to stop telling him how hungry I was) and then returned. The procedure only takes about 45 minutes. I saw the doctor when I returned, who assured me things had gone well. However, Michael was still out cold. I read a little from the paperback I had brought. In addition to me, Michael had a cute little nurse named Tracy dedicated to monitoring his recovery. When he regained consciousness (which did not happen all at once but rather, slowly, sort of like the congealing of an egg) he was nauseous and generally miserable. Tracy added chemicals to Michael's I.V. like a chef tweaking the taste of a consomm√©. "Nausea? Here's a little Fenegrin…ooh, blood pressure's a little high, let's try some of this…"

Tracy wanted Michael to walk, and I offered to help him keep his balance. Tracy may have been concerned about her ability to do this, since she weighed about a third as much as he does. "That's really nice of you," she said.

I shrugged. "Well, he is my husband. That's what spouses do, right?"

The nurse grimaced. "You'd be surprised," she said. "You've already shown more care than the majority of husbands and wives I've seen, do. Mostly they just want it to be over so they can get back home or to work or whatever. They act like the whole thing is just an inconvenience designed to annoy them."

Eventually Michael roused enough to be able to slip on his shorts and A-shirt. We got him into the SUV and back home, where he felt good enough to go upstairs and into bed. I ran to the pharmacy to have his prescriptions filled, then came back and made him eat a couple of crackers and take his pills, and let him go back to sleep. About 5 o'clock he woke concerned that the hospital hadn't given him a strainer to pee into, as the other hospital had on the previous two occasions. I tried to explain that they probably didn't feel it was necessary, since they now knew what his stone was made of. But he would have none of that, so I had to go back to the hospital and beg a pee strainer from the emergency room nurse, since the outpatient surgery department was now closed.

By 8pm, when I was ready to go to bed myself, Michael came downstairs ready for dinner. Fortunately, Mary had made enough extra just in case. Michael decided he wanted to watch some TV, and asked what had been recorded on the digital recorder. I mentioned some shows he'd asked to have recorded, especially one from the History Channel called Modern Marvels. "What is it about?" Michael asked.

"I don't know," I replied. "You're the one who asked to have them recorded."

Always helpful, Zachary, who was also on his way to bed, said, "It's about these buildings that fell down and how they were constructed and what the builders did wrong."

Michael snorted, "Well, how about that—a nine-year-old knows more than you what's on your TV!"

And so, relieved to know that Michael had recovered enough to ridicule me, I went up to bed, a day's healing accomplished.