Thoughts About Kidneys – The Kidney Stone Diaries

Kidneys are the bane of my existence. I know, this isn’t exactly what you expect to read when you come to an author’s blog but seeing as I may be radio silent for the next few days, I thought I might let you know that it’s entirely Keith’s fault. Who’s Keith, you may ask. Let me introduce you to Keith. Keith … is an asshole.

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease way back in 2003 (ish). At that time, I was living in Kansas City, Missouri and my doctor advised me that I may want to undergo a procedure called lithotripsy, which would bust up the stones in my kidneys into smaller particles that I could easily pass. (I later discovered this was a bald-faced lie. I’m not sure which was worse, the procedure or passing the “smaller particles”). At that time, I was advised there was a 5mm kidney stone in my right kidney and that was what they were aiming to break up.

After suffering through 2 rounds of lithotripsy (both of which I was conscious for and was summarily bruised from tit to hip for three days afterward), I was told all was well and they’d gotten the stones. There was happiness and joy, cherubs danced, Casey was finally at bat. Over the next few years, I continued to produce kidney stones but I was pretty much well versed in how to deal with it … I’ve counted upwards of 200 stones have passed through my kidneys and down on into my bladder, making me feel like someone has lit my insides on fire the entire time … so I mentioned it to my doctors but didn’t really need to follow up with it. I even laughed about it with my doctor from time to time.  Then 2014 happened and that bitch can STILL kiss my ass.

I began having pain. Like “I can’t handle this on my own” pain. Wound up in the Emergency Room down here in Florida and they did a CT scan. While they were doping me up with the good drugs, they casually mentioned there was a stone in my right kidney that was about 7mm.

Hmm. Right kidney you say? I wonder if that … no, they told me they got rid of that one. No way it could be the same stone. Ha!

Lithotripsy was scheduled. This time, they were nice to me and they knocked me out for the procedure (I still love that doctor. If you live in Vero Beach and you need a Urologist, go find Dr. Christopher Tardif. The man’s a dream.) Two rounds of lithotripsy later (and LOTS of visits to hospital and good drugs) they say the stone is gone. Huzzah!

It’s now 2016 … I have a CT scan to see the cysts on my kidneys (there’s a lot of them. My kidneys look less like kidneys and more like the Elephant Man is living in my flank) … guess what? There’s a stone. It’s in my right kidney. It’s now 13mm.

The fuck? That’s the size of a DIME! Oh and by the way, the ureters the kidney stones have to pass through? Yeah, they are (on average) 3-4mm. Do the math … I’ll wait.

This is what it feels like to pass a kidney stone that is about the same size as your ureters.

 

Apparently, the stone they have been trying to blast out of me since 2003 is INSIDE a cyst. And it won’t show up on an x-ray. So all the follow-up x-rays that I had done after the lithotripsy lied to my doctors and that little stone just kept getting bigger and bigger, causing me more discomfort and pain as it slowly overtook my normal kidney function. So, I named it Keith.

  1. It’s a stone
  2. It’s old
  3. It rolls around inside the cyst

Bonus points to anyone who gets the reference.

So that’s Keith. He’s still in there, hanging out doing his “I hate your kidneys” thing.

However, tomorrow (Monday 20 March 2017) I’m going into hospital to have a cystoscopy and to have a teeny tiny laser and scope go up into my actual kidneys to smash the stones in my kidneys to smithereens (Think of playing Asteroids but with kidney stones). It’s like lithotripsy but a bit more … invasive. I’m hoping all goes well and that this works to at least get rid of the stones in my kidney. Keith will still be there. He’s safe in his cyst for now … but I have a feeling the next procedure I have will be to get rid of him and that’s a whole different world of surgery and good drugs.

So there you have it … everything you never really wanted to know about my kidneys and had no desire to ask about. Things might be a little radio silent around here for a bit but I’ll be updating my Twitter @djordanpadrona and probably still be dorking around on Facebook.

Then I’ll get back to asking Fuzzy to please stop shedding on the new furniture.

Or I might be drooling on myself because … well … good drugs.

Word sprints: Do they work?

Word sprints are something I hear quite a few friends on social media talking about in terms of inspiration. I know, especially during the month of November when NaNoWriMo is in full swing, there’s an uptick in the number of people who participate in the activity.

What is a Word Sprint?

For those unfamiliar with the term,  “word sprints” are when a writer sets a specific amount of time for themselves (typically an hour) and a specific word count they want to hit. And then, they do nothing but write non-stop. No editing, no revising (sometimes, not even spell checking); just straight up writing. Think of a runner who is racing towards the finish after a marathon; they sprint to the end in order to get the best time possible.

What are the benefits of Word Sprints?

For those who benefit,  it is inspiring and challenging to participate in word sprints. The idea that you are working under a deadline and you have to get so many words onto the page thrills some and helps them to focus on what needs to get done.

For others, prioritizing is the issue they deal with most so a word sprint puts them in a place where they know exactly what needs to be done and how quickly it needs to be accomplished so they don’t think about anything other than the page in front of them. The coffee could be burning in the pot and they would still be focused on their word count (okay, that’s not true. Everyone knows writers live on coffee and very rarely is enough left in the pot TO burn)

Some have mentioned that if they are having a particularly bad case of writer’s block, they use a word sprint on a completely different project to help get them out of hyper-focusing on what they can’t do and accomplish something else.

So, do Word Sprints work or not?

The answer is yes and no. While they may work for your style of writing, others (like myself) have a very different approach to my writing.

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I’m high pressure personality when it comes to everything. Adding in the pressure of getting 1,000 words on the page in 1 hour? That’s just asking me to have a nervous breakdown. And if I have a nervous breakdown, Embracing Magic will never get finished so you’ll all be left without the Pack.

And that should make you very sad.

Thanks for reading, stopping by, checking in. Feel free to leave a comment if you have a different experience or if I missed something.

D. Jordan Padrona
http://djordanpadrona.com
Urban Fantasy Storyteller
Closet Wine Drinker
Obsessive Coffee Addict Connoisseur

 

To Touch Magic

Writing To Touch Magic was something that came to me during the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event in 2016. I’d always known that I wanted to be a novelist (or, at the very least, a writer) but I lacked the motivation (read: nerve) to put myself out there.  I mean, I’d spent the majority of my life reading these incredible stories written by authors that I’d admired forever … my father gave me my first Stephen King book when I was 8 years old (I know, unconventional) and I just couldn’t see myself in those ranks.

In 2016, I began to experience anxiety attacks that would leave me crippled. I’d be crying on the floor because I was putting on my shoes (no lie, flip-flops were the worst offenders) or because the sky was blue. There didn’t seem to be a rhyme nor a reason for it and I went to see a therapist, who suggested I try writing down how I feel and keeping track of what was triggering the attacks. I failed miserably at journaling in that sense. I was never a ‘Dear Diary’ kind of a girl. But I did find that I when I felt jittery or panicky, I could read and it would help me to focus and one thing that was always readily available was fanfiction (go ahead, laugh. I dare you … you’ll never get a drop of coffee from me!).

I stumbled through a few fandoms of mine (yes, I’m a geek) and an idea popped into my head one day for a story. I thought, okay … maybe I can write fanfiction. It’s anonymous so if it sucks, no one will ever know. So I wrote something … it was barely a drabble … but quite a few people commented that they’d enjoyed it. So I wrote a little more … and then even more. Within a month, I found myself writing upwards of 50,000 word stories. (My longest, to date, is a multi chapter story with 275,000 words.)

Then along came October 2016 and someone on my TUMBLR account started talking about upcoming NaNoWriMo. I had no idea what they were talking about so I researched it. And decided that perhaps I could try it out … see if I could write a novel in 30 days. Turns out, I can!

To Touch Magic brings together elements of Salem, MA mysticism with the older magic which exists within the Hawaiian culture. Blending the two was sometimes difficult but I found the story writing itself. I fell in love with Finn as soon as I saw her in my head … the girl who stands out for all the wrong reasons and all the right ones … the girl who doesn’t quite fit … but has love anyway (oh boy does she have love).  Many of the characters are based on people I have known (there really IS a JenFur in my life and that really is her nickname) and places that are dear to me (Crowley House is the aforementioned JenFur’s family home). I wanted to tell a story of family and love … a story about overcoming an insurmountable obstacle … about finding your Ohana.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.