Stents For Life.

by Carla D Harrington
(Vidor, Texas)

In my early 30s, I started having problems with my legs. After about 10 years, I was diagnosed with PAD.

It took so long to diagnose because I was so young. Anyway, both of my femoral arteries were completely closed. Only the Good Lord above kept me from losing my legs.

So, I had a femoral bypass. Eight years later, it happened again. I had another femoral bypass. The grafts from both of these surgeries press down on my ureters, causing the urine to back up into my kidneys, causing them to enlarge. So, kidney stents. I have them changed every six months.

So far, it has always been out patient. I am up to 9 times so far. I am only 53 now, so I have a long way to go with my stents and having to have them changed. Needless to say, my hospital loves me.

When I first got them, I thought that I would never get used to them. I would sleep on the couch right outside of our bathroom. When I had to go, I HAD TO GO. Honestly, I compared it to potty training a baby. you have to relearn everything. I couldn't go anywhere far. I needed a restroom close. If I did go anywhere, I located the restroom first. I carried disinfectant wiped with me because I hate public restrooms. But you got to do what you got to do.

It really took me, maybe 2 years for me to build the confidence to go anywhere. I was so scare that I might have an "accident". I cried to my doctor the entire time, he just kept telling me that I would get used to it. I did not believe him for a long time. It finally happened.

There are times that I still have to "rush" and have to use public restrooms, but it has gotten easier. I do tend to have a lot of blood in my urine. Sometimes after a stent change, I don't have any for the 6 months, other times, I bleed the entire 6 months. I have to stay on iron pills, because if I don' take them I get anemic. I also tell the people in the lab when I have to do blood work and urine test, that I usually have weird colors in my urine.

I have also had about 20 kidney stones so far. My dad had them too. They stopped counting them at 275. He had a LOT of them. He did end up having to go on dialysis. He had multiple surgeries on his kidneys (this was before lithotripsy}. My last stone may have been my smallest, but it was also my most painful. It was caught between my stent and my ureter. Thought I might die on that one. It was very painful. I have been very lucky so far, in that, I have never had to stay in the hospital for my stones. I have had lithotripsy on 2 separate occasions and when I was having my stents changed, my doctor found one and took it out. Mostly I have been able to pass the rest on my own.

One of my biggest fear was that I would have to go on dialysis. I am now at stage 3 kidney disease. My nephrologist said that they can't really fix it, because of the way they are damaged. They actually stay somewhat enlarged all the time.

I asked my urologist if the stents were damaging my kidneys. All he said was without them my kidneys would get more enlarged then they already are, and that would be worse. Plus on top of all of that, I have diabetes.

Through all of this, I have found that the Lord puts these things in our lives for a reason. I am not 100% sure what the reason is for me, but I think to show people that He always gives us strength and to have a positive attitude. My husband and I always try to find the silver lining, so to speak.

Just for instance, when we found out that I could have lost my legs, he told me that he would buy me a scooter. I said red with flames and a flag and he told me yes. It made me laugh and that was what I had needed. I try to keep a smile on, especially in front of others

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