Kidney stones cause pain which can easily be mistaken for tons of less serious problems, until you experience an episode of renal colic, which causes pain “to rival that of childbirth” as all the online medical websites say…mostly for the benefit of men, I think, so at least one group of guys can say they’ve experienced something similar. As someone who has given birth & passed a kidney stone (three actually) recently, I can assure you renal colic is entirely different and much more excruciating than childbirth. No woman would ever submit to labour if it was going to be 26 hours of the non-stop searing agony that is caused by even stones as small as 3 millimeters. I feel pretty bad for those stoner guys with their inferior male urethra.
In fact, because of all that kidney stone rhetoric I didn’t read a single book on childbirth, just a couple websites, and skipped all the childbirth classes because it couldn’t possibly be worse than having kidney stones, right? Looking superficially into birthing methods they seemed far less involved than my actor training. Here’s what I wrote to a friend on that subject:
“Yes, I’m both excited & nervous, of course, but mainly really ready to be unpregnant! Honestly I haven’t taken any birth classes–if all there is on offer is self affirmations & visualization/breathing techniques I’m already (over) prepared with a four-year degree.”
Now I realize that birth classes are probably physiological prep for parenting without killing your partner…all those calm breathing techniques are actually for later!
But back to my kidneys–having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GDM), I felt like a bit of a failure, diabetes does run in my family and I do love my sweets & carbs so I was blaming the diagnosis on those things. I had a specialist on my case who assured me had I only lost weight before falling pregnant I would have been fine. Oh the shame. I started a diet of meat & lettuce.
Late in my pregnancy my doctor went on vacation, leading me to see an alternate doctor who didn’t like the look of my blood tests. “Your kidney function isn’t good” so I saw another doctor who checked my cervix…but not my kidneys.
FLASHBACK! I know now my first episode of acute renal colic happened at 19 when I ended up in the ER on a college break. The type of stone I have doesn’t show up on x-rays. The ultrasound tech I saw that day obviously suspected I was pregnant & spent twice as much time inspecting my uterus so despite the fact my stone was already too large to exit my kidney nobody caught it until 2010~ twelve years after it first caused me serious pain. Sometime after my surgery in 2010 my right kidney shriveled and it’s function dropped to 30%.
CUT TO: the week before giving birth Even with knowledge of my stone history my doctors did nothing to check my kidneys but they sure did stress me out talking about c-sections because I had GDM and would therefore would have A GIANT UNBIRTHABLE BABY. (6 lbs, 7 oz the monster, and still a featherweight today at six months barely 13 lbs) The hospital later mistakenly x-rayed my belly while preparing for the possibility of an emergency c-section. Would a purposeful CT scan have been any worse?
I’ll never regain better function in my right kidney, and I’ll never know when it shriveled. Perhaps if I had taken my health more seriously the damage to my kidney could have been prevented and certainly the mystery of my GDM solved–weight may have been a factor but not nearly as big a factor as having only one good kidney.