Better treatment through lithotripsy

I HAVE a history of kidney stones since I was 16. Pain hits you in your side, your back in your groin depending where the stone is. Have you ever experience childbirth pains? Well, it’s far worse than that and I am not exaggerating! While you have a bundle of joy after all the agony, torture wrought by kidney stones rewards you with nothing – just insignificant crystalline particles. If they were diamonds then the suffering might just be worth it. But no such luck!

Our kidneys filter waste from the blood, and they create urine. Salts and other minerals in the urine sometimes stick together to form small kidney stones. It is not really the stone that causes the intense pain but the blockage they cause when they move to the direction of the ureter and push their way downwards.

Being a stone former, I have learned that I never leave home without my painkillers stashed in my bag. It can hit you anywhere at any time and when it explodes, it is like Mt. Pinatubo belching out with all its fury.

I live quite an active life. I enjoy all forms of exercise from pelota to tennis to some swimming and in the latter years, 6 a.m. at the Lagoon for aero-dance, some yoga, belly dancing, jazz, ballroom, and on the milder side – walking for 30-40 minutes. These activities quite tempered the multiplication of the stones allowing the toxins to secrete through sweat.

Over the years, I have come to be friendly with my stones. You build up a confidence that when the attacks come with their attendant excruciating pain, the saying “This too shall pass” will hold true. A stone former manages to be familiar when the pesky pain inducing nugget has passed from your kidney to the ureter until it reaches its “crowning” stage.

But things have changed since my apo came into my world three years ago. Gone are the ritualistic exercises and even the walking became few and far between. The order of the day was to laze around and watch the development of this precious gift from the Good Lord. So, the once active person metamorphosed into a couch potato devouring the big “No-No’s” namely my favorites – chocolates, cakes, and all the dairy products.

Last October, while in Cebu, I started experiencing pain on my left side which accelerated to radiating despite downing painkillers. We rushed to the nearest hospital – Cebu Doctors. The resident doctor insisted that I be admitted but I was adamant. Just make the pain go away so they injected the pain killers intravenously. After many hours in the ER and more doses of the pain killer, I was finally relieved. The following day, I went home but by night fall, the pain recurred and to the Sanitarium we went. On the third day, with the pain again making a comeback, it was to the Riverside but this time, I decided to be admitted. Three ERs in three days was quite a record. Three days in the hospital, the stone did make its exit.

I don’t know what it is about Cebu but on my way home from the plane early this August, I started having pains again on my left side. August became a month of many trips to the ER, in between admission to the hospital, a series of ultrasound and IVPS which revealed the presence of stones on both kidneys. The years of dormancy has paid its painful price.

Dr. Melvin Ibañez, who has so ably taken care of our family over the years, recommended Dr. Richie Yusay. Dr. Richie explained that there was one stone that was beyond the allowable natural passage which was below one centimeter. If a stone is too large to pass on its own, several treatment options are available. Surgery which was definitely not my consideration; a Ureteroscopy also not an option; and Lithotripsy. Lithotripsy uses sound waves to break up large kidney stones into smaller pieces. These sound waves are also called high-energy shock waves. That sounded more to my liking especially it is non-invasive and an outpatient treatment.

Dr. Richie was kind not to push me to a decision. Still armed with the confidence and perhaps a bit of conceit that I have successfully passed stones over the years, I gave myself a chance to try to so naturally. However, when my son, Luigi, and I measured how big a 1.5 cm stone would be, literally like a shock wave, I made my decision. There was no way I could pass that.

The Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital is the only one that has the machine that performs EWSL (extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy). It was inaugurated on September 1. However, they did some treatments before the formal blessing and I was one of those who had the procedure on August 30.

A patient who will undergo the EWSL has to go to the Stone Center of the Regional Hospital. Three wonderful nurses, Ritchel, Paige and Cherry Pie, advised me on what to do and what papers were needed. On the appointed day, they likewise made it very welcoming and comfortable for me and the other patients scheduled that day.

My procedure was done by Dr. Richie Yusay and the anesthesiologist was Dr. Jorge Masa. I was blessed to have all these doctors and nurses attending to me. I thank all of them for their tender loving care and their excellent bedside manners.

I would also like to thank Dr. Julius Drilon, the medical center chief, for making all these improvements in the regional hospital possible.

For everyone’s information, private procedures are performed every Tuesday while for the public it is on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For indigents, this treatment is totally free.

As the most common comments go, finally public funds are put to good and right use!
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