What follows is written not for sympathy but as words of warnings to my fellow anglers and to anyone whom should read this.
It's been a while since I've written anything, or fished for that matter. The reason for this is that I have been consumed by pain and discomfort. Simply put I have found myself barely able to complete the simplest of daily tasks due to my predicament.
To even begin to explain how I came to this I must go back nearly a year. Followers of this blog may recall at a stretch an incident when one morning I was travelling out on a session and found myself feeling a little peaky. On that particular occasion after parking the car I was quickly out bent double wretching and gulping for air. At the time I concluded this was either something to do with my eyes or a case of travel sickness. Things though developed through the summer of last year that confirmed this was not the case and that I had an underlying health issue that was the cause.
Maybe a month or so later at work I had one of those unnerving moments that really knock you back. The same heady sickness was encountered, but this time it was accompanied by expelling some rather pink urine. Thinking or hoping it was something I had consumed, water was quickly swallowed and a second trip to the facilities confirmed some definite bloody urine. This began my initial whirlwind journey through the NHS services. First was a trip to the walk in centre, which was shortly followed by Accident and Emergency and then on to the urology department. At this point it was concluded that it was more than likely a bladder infection, which was treated by a course of antibiotics and it happily seemed to cleared up.
Less than a fortnight later the bloody urine was back and a little less concerned this time I headed to my GP. Several visits and samples later I was referred to the urology Department again this time for further investigation by way of a Cystoscopy . I have linked that, but be warned of the virtual discomfort that will greet you once you've clicked through. The purpose of this examination was to check for any abnormalities or signs of cancer. When I actually heard those words come out of my doctors mouth I don't mind admitting I suddenly started thinking back over whether I had wasted my life at any point.
Happily, if painfully, the initial examination confirmed I had normal healthy bladder and now they needed to scan me, X-ray me and generally prod me to try and find the underlying issue. A couple of weeks later the results were in and I was summoned to the hospital for judgement. It turned out that I had grown my own little 6mm kidney stone in my left kidney and more than likely this moving from my kidney to its resting position near the bottom of my left urethra, was the cause of both the blood and my episodes of illness. Now though all that remained was how to get the little begger out. A couple of attempts at taking a drug that dilates the urinary pipes failed, though the drugs in question had some interesting a different side effects I can tell you.
After six months of diagnosis and treatment it was concluded my only option was to have the stone physically removed by having a rigid Cystoscopy under general anesthetic to laser the offending stone into dust. The obligatory lengthy waiting list led me into this year and if it wasn't for the fact that I had caught a break and my stone seemed relatively painless, I suppose I might have been annoyed by the length of time it took to get a operation date. In the end though with only one last minute aborted attempt I finally found myself entering the hospital, and that's where the pain began.
I woke groggy a few hours after I'd been knocked down feeling like I'd had a train driven through my genitals. Once fully awake though the fun really started! The first draining of my bladder post surgery quite literally ended up with my passing around half a litre of blood and nearly blacking out due to the excruciating pain. Over the next three days of lingering in the hospital, my urine finally cleared though the pain got no better at all. After chatting to the doctor who had performed the operation he confirmed that he had no choice but to insert a stent into my urethra to aid in the healing and that this would be removed in a couple of weeks.
The word stent will forever be etched into my mind till the day I die. In short a Ureteric stent is a plastic pipe that lines the inside of the urethra. It is around 26cm long and goes from inside the kidney down to the bladder, kept in place by a loop at either end. This allows the free flow of urine from the kidney though the urethra to the bladder.
This simple pipe is the most evil yet useful piece of plastic known to mankind. From the moment mine was inserted till the moment it was removed I suffered from what is known as urinary reflux. The best way to explain this is to think of the bladder as a balloon. As it fills with urine it expands and when you go to the toilet it contracts forcing the urine out of your body through the natural and easiest exit. When you have a stent in place, as the bladder forces the last of the urine out the stent allows some of that urine to be forced back up into the kidney. The only example I can think of how that feels is the sensation you get after taking a savage blow to the testicles. So every time I went for a pee it would at first feel quite normal then right at the end it felt like I had been kicked in the nuts. I know everyone loves a few statistics so here goes; an average person urinates seven times a day, when you have a stent that increases to more like twelve times a day through irritation. My stent was in place for thirty days (thanks NHS waiting times!). So night and day for a month I felt like I got kicked in the balls three hundred and sixty times. Add to that the stent rubbing on the inside of my kidney during any activity, the bloody urine and the general discomfort of having 26cm of alien plumbing fitted and it adds up to me wishing an entire month of miserable life away until it was removed.
The conclusion of this unhappy period was me actually looking forward to another man probing my private parts with a device 5mm thick to fish the dammed stent out, and when he did the relief at its removal was instantly felt. Quite literally one day I felt like shit on a stick and the next I was back to normal and the ordeal was over.
Finally the words of warning. The reason for me having this kidney stone was attributed to dehydration. I will be the first to admit that I don't drink enough water. In fact on occasions when out fishing for example I would take 500ml or a litre of water and quite often not drink more than few sips over up to six hours. Really we need to drink between 1.5 -2 litres of water a day to maintain our kidneys health. So heed this write up as an example to make sure you drink plenty of water through the day and when your'e out on your next session, no matter how consumed you are by the fishing make sure you keep hydrated or you to might find yourself with a few painful probings or worst off, with a stent fitted.