More than ten years ago, following a regular medical checkup, I was informed that I was suffering from kidney failure, and had only 48% kidney function. Since no one in my family - to that point - had suffered from kidney failure, I was in denial for a period of time, but then figured that 48% wasn’t that bad, and that the diet that was prescribed was not overwhelming.
I was placed on medication, established with a kidney specialist, and placed on the first of several increasingly strict diets. I also was found to have slightly elevated blood sugar, and began taking pills for that. It took some time to accept that these efforts would not negate kidney failure and the need for dialysis and a transplant; they would merely slow the inevitable.
As the years passed, I continued to pass a series of kidney stones (13 in approximately seven years) and my kidney function slowly deteriorated to the point that discussion began to revolve more definitely around the possibility of future dialysis and, thereafter, a kidney transplant.
I finally changed from municipal water to bottled water because I felt it was common sense that water hard enough to leave a ring around the toilet bowl must be hard enough to do some damage. Thereafter the annual or biannual passing the kidney stones dropped off, but the deterioration of the kidneys continued, as there were already numerous smaller stones formed in each kidney. My father-in-law refuses to believe that the unbelievably hard water of Yankeetown could have caused my stones and hence my kidney failure. I cannot prove it, but I find the drop off of stones after abandoning Yankeetown water hard to otherwise explain.
Then, in the Spring of 1997, I began to have pain in my right kidney, but my family physician indicated it was not a kidney stone, but rather some other ailment. He indicated a gall bladder problem. While awaiting the results of tests, the pain became so persistent that I went to Ocala to the hospital emergency room where I was warehoused from early morning until after 9:00 p.m.
When, after persistent complaining from my children for some action, a doctor appeared to examine me, I was placed in the operating room immediately for the placement of a stint to relieve the pressure in what was a seriously infected right kidney, one infected by a blockage caused by stones. The gall bladder, it appeared, was not a problem. I have not been back to that physician, who will remain unnamed for obvious reasons.
I must thank him, however, for sending me to Harold Locay as my urologist. He has taken the time to explain everything to me in as much detail as I have desired. Also, his nurse, Debbie, has appeared to have taken my interests personally, even to requesting permission to attend the surgery when my access was installed. It made me feel more comfortable knowing that a familiar and caring face would be present, even if I were unconscious.
When the infection was under control, the stones were destroyed by ultrasound, but the damage was done. The possibility of a kidney transplant had become a foreseeable probability, no longer a mere possibility. After a Summer vacation in Scotland, the process began to accelerate, and I was staring reality firmly in the face.