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KS Project: Ken Avatar
Location: San Diego, CA
First time dealing with kidney stones: 1970s while in Navy
Ken is 63 years old and just recently retired from the US Postal Service where he worked since the late 1970s. Before that he served dutifully in the Navy and toured in Vietnam where he saw action off the coast with hostile ships.
And this is the first time it happened…
His first bout with kidney stones started with a dull, nagging ache in his lower back, but was followed by a rush of searing, intense pain in his kidney before he dropped. Yes, he passed out because the pain was so bloody intense. But his troubles weren’t over.
Now he’s being rushed to the infirmary ward and being pumped full of pain meds… Great, at least the pain is gone. But now he’s having a stint shoved up his private parts to finally pass what he would now know to be a kidney stone.
Scary part is he was rendered completely helpless… couldn’t move and could only cry out for help. Contorting in intense pain and labouring anguished tears, this formerly proud Navy man was reduced to writhing around in the foetal position waiting for help.
What happened is uric acid crystallized in his kidney producing a 5mm stone that eventually Ken’s urinary tract tried to force out. His daughter, also suffering from kidney stones likened the experience to being worse than giving birth.
She would know after giving birth to two healthy kids, one of which a long, laborious birth to a baby girl. After making several trips to the ER lobby, Ken has been told numerous times that he needs to watch his diet and drink more water by his docs.
He still loves thick, juicy steaks, milk shakes, and every other form of earthly pleasures that tantalize his appetite. And he’ll continue paying a price for it. On one occasion while hanging out with his son and daughter, he had another kidney stone attack.
The pain was so intense that he literally howled, “I want to die… make it stop!” And this is the worst part.
Ken has been used to taking care of himself and his family. Remember, he busted his tail in the Navy and Post Office. Provided a stellar home in a friendly neighborhood for his wife and kids. Now he’s reduced to crying out for his daughter because she’s the closest one around to help. He can’t drive himself to the hospital because the pain is so freaking intense.
Besides that, he’s doped up on pain meds the rest of the afternoon and receives yet another lecture about dieting, drinking more water, blah, blah, blah…
There’re two things Ken has an eternal hatred for: lectures and hospital beds. So he’s begun searching for help in alternative forms of treatment. He peruses the web checking out places like Amazon, among others, to find “natural” remedies that promise to dissolve the stones, and even prevent them from coming back.
Problem is many of the remedies don’t seem to have any authority backing them. Where’s the dude in the lab coat saying it’s approved by the Feds or ingredients he’s never even heard of before.
Ken wants to know that he can be reasonably sure that if he’s going to be putting strange and exotic plants in his body (that aren’t pot), that’ll get the desired result (pass stones without pain), and keep him out of the ER. Not to mention, save his dignity in front of his family and friends.
Ken’s Why: This goes beyond just pain relief. Ken now lives in fear of these stones coming back. His doc has told him the blueprint to reduce the odds of getting him but this requires work and habits that Ken doesn’t feel like he can develop.
He’s tired of the monthly ritual of low, throbbing pain followed by what feels like trying to piss out a shard of glass. Then, of course, the dependency of a 63 year-old man on his 33 year-old daughter for help. And, not to mention, the paternalistic scolding by his MD.
Finding a simple method for passing stones and preventing them from coming back gives Ken hope that he can take his grandkids out for ice cream without sweating out nervous moments, all the while determining if that back pain is simply just being old, or really something more sinister.
Ken’s Fear: Ken’s kidney stones haunt him like a poltergeist. Every lower body ache or pain could be the bellwether moment when another stone comes back. It’s as if each time he feels just the smallest bit of discomfort, a stone is taunting “They’re here.”
He fears that the frequency and severity of the stones coming back will increase, and he’ll be shuffled in and out of the hospital. Ken doesn’t play golf anymore, or even go on long trips unless he knows there’s a hospital nearby.
It’s just come down to that. He’s living his life around rocks in his kidneys, and it will seemingly never end.