Kidney Biopsy

January 30, 2020

When this biopsy initially got scheduled, no one called me to discuss a good date. No one even called me to tell me it had been scheduled. I just happened to see it on my phone via the app the doctor’s office uses. I was pretty irritated by that. In addition, it wasn’t going to be done by MY nephrologist but the other nephrologist in the practice whom I hadn’t even met. And of course the day they scheduled the procedure is the ONE day I couldn’t cancel my clinic. Wednesdays are my busiest clinic days, and canceling those is really rough. Fortunately, I called the office, and we were able to push it back only one day to Thursday. I asked why my doctor wasn’t doing the biopsy, and they said her schedule was really packed, and this was the best way to get it done as soon as possible. I told her I was sure I already knew the answer to this but I had to ask anyway: “Dr. Y has done this procedure before, right? Like, a LOT??” She assured me that yes, he had lots of experience. Man I hoped so. My goal was to walk out of there with as many kidneys as I entered with.

When I called to discuss the appointment, the receptionist told me to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m., no matter WHAT time the automated appointment reminder thing told me to be there. She said the appointment reminder was telling people the wrong times, and when they showed up at that wrong time, it was too late, and the doctor couldn’t do the procedure. Got it. She also called me again at 5:00 the evening before the biopsy to remind me again: 6:30 A.M.!! I had completed all the blood work, and the clotting factor issue was normal. I was all set to go. I opted to go by myself, even though many people offered to go with me. I knew it was going to be a long day, and it would just be less stressful for me to go on my own. I brought a book, two phones (one just for games), a charger, my back up power pack, some water, and some snacks. (Were they going to feed me? This was a big concern. Ha.)

I arrived at 6:30 a.m. as instructed, and the office staff was correct: the hospital’s automated system told me to get there at 9:00. The pre-op nurse, Linda, was very nice, although she was confused why I was there so early. “I do what I’m told,” I said to her. But there was quite a bit of prep work.

She took my vitals, had me sign a consent form, and then couldn’t find the results of the clotting test since the nephrology office is a private practice, not directly affiliated with the hospital. I read it to her off my phone. Thank goodness for online portals.

I got a very fashionable green hospital gown and red socks. I looked like I was vomited on by Christmas. She prepped me for an IV, “Just in case,” she said. “Just in case they have to remove my kidney,” I thought. It was probably only about 7:00 a.m. by this point, and the procedure wasn’t scheduled to start until 9:00. So she had to find a place to park me. She found a relatively dark corner to park the hospital bed, and I promptly fell asleep. (That’s my super power: sleeping just about anytime and anywhere.) About an hour later, I was awoken by a radiology tech who moved me into a room. He explained the procedure: He would do the ultrasound of my kidneys, the doctor would come in, numb the area up, take a couple of samples, and a pathologist would look at them immediately to make sure enough material was obtained. The samples themselves were sent to a lab in Arkansas where all they study is kidney disorders.

I had to lay on my stomach for this entire procedure, and all I kept thinking was, “They need one of those massage tables with the cutout for your face!” It was freezing in there, naturally. He finished up the ultrasound fairly quickly, and then we waited for the doctor to come in. I think he got there about 9:00. He introduced himself but I was barely able to get a look at him since I had to keep my head down. He spoke with the radiology tech, and it was decided that the right kidney would be the one to get poked. The doctor injected lidocaine, and then took two needle biopsy samples from my kidney. I didn’t feel a thing. And I didn’t realize (since I couldn’t see) that the pathologist was actually right in the room with us. She said the first sample yielded 7 mm of material and the second 12 mm. “That’s all we need then,” said Dr. Y. They put a band-aid on me, and that was it.

Well, not quite. I rolled back over onto my back. They put a pad under that kidney to apply pressure to prevent bleeding. And I had to stay like that. For several hours. I was moved into the recovery room where I hung out for most of the day. Man that was boring. And painful. I had forgotten how uncomfortable those damn beds were. After I had my thyroidectomy, I stayed overnight in the hospital. I had no pain at all from the surgery other than a mild sore throat but man, my back just ached from that bed. But… what are you going to do.

I read my book, I slept, I listened to podcasts, played some games on my phone… and about an hour had gone by. It was gonna be a long day. And then I realized… I had to pee. I asked the nurse if I could use the restroom. Nope. If I was going to pee, it was going to be in a bedpan while laying flat on my back. Nooooo. I tried to put it out of my mind, but what was I going to do, not go for 6 hours? Finally, I just had to let it happen. The nurse was great, and I’m sure it was way worse for her than for me. Thank goodness I only had to go once while I was there. They brought me some lunch, and then I just hung out some more, still not able to move off of my back. After a few more hours, they took some blood to check my hemoglobin. If it hadn’t dropped significantly, that meant there was no bleeding from the kidney. It was 9.0. (It had been 9.5 on Friday.).

Then the search was on to find the doctor to see if I could leave. That took some time. And then I needed to pee again. Nope. I was just gonna have to wait. Once in a bedpan was enough for me. Finally the doctor returned the call, and I was allowed to get up and use the restroom, with instructions to see if there was any blood in my urine. NONE. Good sign. I was able to get dressed and go home. It was 4:00 p.m. I had a follow up with the nephrologist the following Friday so I was glad I wouldn’t have to wait long to get the results. I was beyond anxious to know what was going on.

Hemoglobin: 9.0.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

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