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Life in the "Kidney Stone Belt"

October 8, 2019

Over the past few years I have been struggling with various health issues related to my Kidneys. Recently I read that we in the Midwest are living in the Kidney Stone Belt. Meaning that due to our climate, worsening with climate change, we are prone to developing stones because we sweat too much and drink too little. Combine this with menopause and arthritic inflammation and I become the perfect vessel.


It started out innocently enough. I am always "trying" to lose weight so instead of soda I would opt for iced tea. Always have loved deep dark greens... almonds a go to snack.  Grew up loving rhubarb pie, sweet potatoes... All foods I have eliminated from my diet or strongly limit today. 


I had an episode that I thought to be Food Poisening, violent vomit and diarreha, but after four days of suffering and not getting any better, I decided to go to the Emergency room.  They hospitalized me immediately with a severe UTI. I had no clue UTI could present this way. I experienced no pain or burning upon urination... Ironically the infector turned out to be probiotic bacteria that had built up in my bladder by not always voiding completely. I spent a full week in the hospital healing up. 


One month later I started feeling that familiar food poisening feeling but this time I didn't wait four days. Again I was hospitalized for a week with a UTI that had gone into my bloodstream. This time I got an extended stay in the ICU due to overcrowding. Really really no fun. Why was I getting these severe infections recurring? Turns out I had a large kidney stone that was harboring the infection. 


Many folks I know have suffered with kidney stones including my father and brother. I have heard that passing a stone through your urethra is one of the most painful experiences ever. My first stone was too large to pass. Lucky me. (?) And almost too large to blast, in the grey zone. I chose to have it surgically removed. So far I have avoided the pain of passing a stone but how many of you have gotten to pee out of a hole in your back? Jealous?


I developed another stone in the other kidney that is small enough to eliminate through Shock Wave treatment. Been through it now once and passed about half of it. Gonna get shook again soon to blast up the rest of it. Passing pebbles and sand is not painful, just weird. 


My stones are the calcium oxalate kind so I can do alot to avoid new stones through diet. Mostly I avoid high oxalate foods, like the favorites I listed above, and eat more dairy. My doctors best advice is to drink lemon in my water and to "pee more". Some supplements have been proven to help, magnesium for example. I will continue to research and write about this journey so keep watching!

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