Adventures in Kidney Testing

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been seeing a specialist because of chronic kidney infections. At my appointment with him he said he was going to send me for an ultrasound and someone would call me to set that up. He asked me if I was familiar with ultrasound, then quickly added, “of course you are, you’ve had 3 children.” Then he wrote in the orders for my ultrasound that he was going to ask the tech to pay particular attention to my left kidney because it is the most frequently infected one.

I went along my merry way that day and later in the afternoon someone did call me and set up my ultrasound with the hospital. The hospital scheduler instructed me not to eat or drink anything from midnight on the day of my appointment. The day of my appointment came and I woke up with a raging headache. Not even a trip to the chiropractor fixed it. I just wanted to eat something and take some Motrin. But I couldn’t. My appointment wasn’t until 1:30 in the afternoon, which was torturous. I decided to go to my favorite sandwich place and grab me a sandwich I could keep in my car and eat the minute my appointment was over.
I got to the hospital right on time and checked in at the front desk. They gave me a beeper type thing and I sat and logged into the hospital’s wifi on my iPod touch and checked my email. I was just about to start a rousing game of Trio Pro (that game is addictive) when they called me to be checked in. After the registration clerk scanned my I.D. and insurance card, asked me a bunch of questions, and made me sign my consent, she sent me over to the Women’s Wellness clinic where they do ultrasounds. Which made me wonder, what if men need ultrasounds of their various body parts?
Anyway, I had to go back outside in the cold to get there. The nurse was helping an elderly lady and told me to have a seat until the clerk got back. She was apparently on her smoke break because when she came back in, I could barely breath. Sorry to you smokers but I’m allergic to smoke and I have asthma. She asked me what I was there for (and she was not the warm and fuzzy type) and I told her a renal ultrasound. She said they didn’t have any scheduled that day and looked at my paperwork. She told me I was signed up to have a needle guided biopsy. Oh hell to the no. I adamantly objected and she got on the phone to admitting and said she was sending me to them. Then she sent me out in the cold again for another walk across the parking lot.
When I got there, there was a nurse waiting for me. Apparently they wanted to admit me, put me in a room for a “short stay” (whatever that means), sedate me, shove needles into my kidneys, and take pieces of them to analyze. I refused. I told them that they were going to call my doctor right that very instant because I was there for an ultrasound. And furthermore, who shows up for a biopsy alone? Wouldn’t you need someone to drive you home after being sedated? Or have someone hold your hand while they shove needles into your vital organs? So they sent me back to the clerk at registration who kindly called my doctor. He was on vacation and his nurse indeed confirmed that I was there for an ultrasound and told them to cancel my appointment and their office would call me later. I was really upset, because certain nurses were trying to bully me into having a unnecessary and quite frankly, scary, procedure. The registration clerk was really nice to me and gave me tissues. As I was leaving for my 3rd time into the parking lot, the nice clerks at the front desk asked me if everything was worked out and said they were sorry.
I walked to the car and called the hubs and was crying. I don’t know why I was so upset. Maybe because I was starving (it was now 2:30) and my headache was made even worse by the stress of the situation. And maybe because my time was wasted. Anyway, I ate my sandwich through tears and was grateful I got the cookie too. There’s no problem that a sugar cookie can’t solve (okay, there are, but I like to eat my feelings). I had to pull myself together because I had a client in the other hospital who I needed to go visit and she deserved my A game.
Two days later I called my doctor’s office. They hadn’t called me yet and I needed to have my ultrasound done before the end of the year. In 2010 my insurance covered 100% of all procedures; in 2011, only 90%. The nurse jokingly said to me, “what Marisa? You don’t want to just show up and have random biopsies?” She was really apologetic that someone got it wrong in the paperwork. She double checked my chart just to make sure that my doctor for reallies wanted me to have an ultrasound. It was sweet, sweet vindication to know I was right! She also told me I wouldn’t believe how many people have the wrong tests done just because they’re too afraid to say anything. She was proud of me for standing up myself. She obviously doesn’t know me because standing up for myself is one of my only talents.
Sidebar: I learned 7 years ago not to implicitly trust doctors and nurses to know what they’re doing. I almost died giving birth to my second child when a nurse tried to diagnose my placental abruption as a bladder infection. I really hated being told by this nurse, with a pat on my head, that she knew my body better than I did. So instead of being rushed into an emergency c-section I should have had, I was sent home to bleed to death. After a couple hours of unbearable contractions at home and bleeding severely, I stopped trusting in the nurse and trusted my own instincts. We have gut instincts for a reason. I went back to the hospital, where I delivered a healthy baby boy, and did not die in the process. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I have never again just trusted doctors and nurses without question.
Later in the afternoon, in the midst of a huge snowstorm and trying to say goodbye to my father who was leaving to go back home from his Christmas vacation, the scheduling person called me and re-scheduled my ultrasound for the next morning. I was actually glad I had to be in the hospital at 7:30 because that meant I wasn’t going to be forced to skip 2 meals (or even one). When I got to the hospital I was again sent back to the Women’s Wellness Center where I was on the schedule this time. Only the tech had me down for a abdominal ultrasound, not a renal ultrasound. Seriously, what is wrong with the scheduler in my doctor’s office? Luckily the tech was cool and listened to me and did the ultrasound on my two kidneys and bladder.
My doctor called me this morning with good news. He said my kidneys look good. If I ever get another kidney infection, I’m supposed to call him and then they’ll test my bladder to see if anything is wrong with that. For now, I’m happy to know nothing is majorly wrong with my kidneys. I need at least one of them functioning properly to survive. I’m a perplexed not to know exactly what is wrong with me, but at least I have a specialist now and somewhere to turn if I get another infection again. So for right now, my plan is to keep taking cranberry pills twice a day and counting my blessings.
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2 thoughts on “Adventures in Kidney Testing

  1. Oh. my. goodness. Sometimes I really do wonder how people who are paid handsomely for their work can make such blatant mistakes. One mis-schedule… understood… TWO? Wow… just wow. Hope they can figure it out so you don't have to suffer through it anymore…

  2. What is wrong with people!? Maybe I need to stand up for myself more. I think I just trust what people say waaaay to easily. People are dumb too, so that just makes me dumb!Im so sorry it was traumatizing 😦 But I am glad your kidneys are ok! Scotty only has 1 kidney. He had to get surgery when he was 5 😦 Poor kid! But if he would have needed a kidney his mom had 3! How weird is that? Anways– love you riss!!

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