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Firstly, this is not an attempt to gloat here. I'm all too aware from years of suffering that I'll never be completely in the clear with kidney stones, ever. But I have had a rough going in the last few years, and this forum can be rough reading for those of us who suffer from them. So in the hope of raising some spirits, I thought I'd share some of my recent good fortune.
I had my one-year return appointment with my urologist last week and received an "All Clear" from him. Images were taken of my kidneys prior to the apointment, and they only showed traces of microscopic stones which he feels should easily pass on their own. The urine sample I provided showed no traces of blood or any high content of minerals. The doctor said something along the lines of "keep up the good work" and that said he'd see me in a year.
Needless to say it was a relief to hear this.
A year ago at this time I was preparing for ureteroscopic surgery to remove a 6mm sized stone. The immediate post-surgical experience was painful (primarily when I had to urinate), and that damn stent I had to have inside for two weeks and a day was a miserable experience.
Over the course of the last year I made my most concerted effort yet to lower the amount of oxalates in my diet. I'd done this in previous years too, but I always seemed to fall off the wagon after a few weeks/months. This time I made it a major part of my daily routine. I also dramatically cut my sodium intake -- this is hard to do because I was (past tense!) a huge lover of salty snacks, especially at night. And, of course, I've made a more determined effort to increase my water intake all day long. I still need to be better about this, but I'm better about it than in any previous period of my life.
The only other change in the last year is that the urologist prescribed Urocit-K (potassium citrate) tablets after my surgery, and I've been taking it twice a day ever since. I'll continue to take them going forward too. It had been previously prescribed from about age 35 to 45 , and I remember it being pretty effective then too. But when a former GP changed my blood pressure medication to Losartan -- which already contains a fair amount of potassium -- I was taken off of Urocit-K. I now take Amlodopine for high blood pressure, however, so that interaction is no longer an issue.
I know some question whether potassium citrate is really all that effective against the production of stones. I suppose like so many other things, it probably depends on the individual. I'm going to simply believe that it does help me. The co-pay for a 30 day supply with my insurance is fortunately only $10.
I am 59 years old. I had my first kidney stone at 25 and have had at least four surgeries to remove the larger ones. I can't even begin to guess at the number of smaller ones I've passed with awful pain.
My vigilance with the diet and water will continue unabated. This will always be a lifetime struggle for me. But it was nice to have had a stone-free year, and I sure as hell hope I can continue that for a while.
I wish the same for all of you. Keep the faith!
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