Let me be frank, kidney stones are not fun; nor are they a walk in the park for most people. I felt compelled to write an article on kidney stone pain, as I have dedicated the past 4 months of my young life to dealing with one. As is publicly available, kidney stones bring a new breed of pain which is both undesirable and crippling. Even "lesser" effects, which generally do not warrent pain, are unappealing thanks in part to the effects kidney stones have on the bladder and surrounding regions. For example, I initially realized I had a problem when I began urinating blood a few weeks prior to the actual onset of pain. Ironically, I thought this blood was a side-effect of another medication I just started taking two days prior for treatment of another disease. I had read online that pain in the side and wrapping around to the back would accompany this bloody urine, and as I had no pain; I felt I did not have a reason to believe I had one necessarily.
Shortly after school let out for the summer (the weekend after, actually), I found myself waking up at 3 in the morning to excrusiating pain in my side. Initially, I thought it was a cramp of sorts from sleeping the wrong way. I ended up in the emergency room at a local hospital because the pain would not subside after about 3 or 4 hours of trying to get a release in the tension. As such, I only had begun my journey through passing my stone.
At this point, I have finally passed my stone after three medical procedures. It has been a terrible experience to say the least, though I feel I may pass on some of my own knowledge of this illness.
1). Learn how to breath deeply and maintain composure.
One of the first things I acknowledged within myself was that I would have to learn how to deal with the pain and sickness that frequently was associated with my kidney stone. As a musician who plays some wind instruments (didgeridoo, flute), I have found my minimal skill in circular breathing; as well as skill from previous yoga breathing exercises I have done, worked very well in allowing me to maintain composure during the rapid onset of pain in this period of my life. This is not to say that deep breathing will equate to pain release, however it will at least allow you to be calm during your period of suffering.
2). Heating pad.
One of the few modern miracles which can be purchased in a store for a low price are heating pads. The pain during a kidney stone frequently radiates through the entire body. Though it will undoubtedly be focused on your side and around your back, after a prolonged period of time; you will begin feeling it every where. A heating pad will aid in releasing some muscle tention, and if you have enough heat it may allow your mind to be taken off of the actual pain and be focused on the warm compression on your side. I like heating pads because they work both physically, yet they also can effect the mind which is key for conquering kidney stones.
3). Take your pain medication.
Some people think they can wing it and manage the pain on the own, and perhaps some people can. I am not really an avid taker of medication, but nothing helped more than taking painkillers. Of course, take them responsibly and according to the dosages recommended by your doctor. One thing important to mention is that you may experience medication side effects as well. For the first few months, I was on several medications at once and suspect there was an interaction between some of them that rendered me feeling even worse at times. The pain had subsided, however now I was left feeling sicker in ways that were more similar to having the flu. Needless to say, I continued taking the medication as I was getting sick with and without the mediction; but it is important to acknowledge that these solutions are not the end-all to your pain: you will experience pain during this process, it is unavoidable.
4). Explore alternative treatment option(s).
Hang in with me for a moment here.
I know that the mere mention of alternative treatment option can conjure up visions of hippies and voodoo witch doctors.
Likewise, research has been fairly sparse...at least until recently.
Alternative treatments really consist of things like acupuncture and aromatherapy.
Introduced to me by my brother, who also had a very painful kidney stone, essential oils--which are used a lot in aromatherapy--are simply amazing in helping to reduce/manage pain from kidney stones.
There are tons of different essential oils out there, and there is no need to buy them all.
For kidney stone pain, though, I would really recommend two:
- Birch -- While this has been traditionally used to help treat skin conditions, it also can help reduce kidney and bladder discomfort due to an infection.
When used together, these two oils have been known to help reduce chronic kidney stone pain.
(Precautions: In general, when taking any kind of oil, it is important to drink alot of water and cleanse the liver frequently. They also shouldn't be used by individuals suffering from epilepsy and they should be avoided by women who are pregnant.)
Just like there are a ton of different specific essential oil types available, there are also tons of companies out there, with some being more legitimate than others.
Personally, an extensive amount of research later led me to become a huge fan of the doTERRA company and brand of oils.
This is the only company that has 100% CPTG (Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade) oils.
Now, in complete transparency, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding doTERRA's CPTG standard.
Some say that, because it is an internal standard, it is used primarily for marketing purposes. Essentially, they say, it is placed on bottles simply to drive more sales and make more money.
Others praise the company for thinking about its customers enough to devise very stringent internal standards, for the quality of its own oils. This, those people point out, is very commendable in an industry that has had very loose standards and regulations.
Either way, while I believe the quality of the oil is extremely important, there is also a lot to be said for personal experience.
Bottom line: Does it work? Is it effective? And, lastly, does it work with minimal (or non-existent) side effects.
If you are ever interested in trying these, there are several ways to purchase them.
You can always purchase them at their full retail price.
Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law have an account where they can be purchased at outstanding wholesale price(s).
Like Sam's Club or Costco's have wholesale memberships, doTERRA's wholesale membership is great because it offers you a very deep discount of 25% off the retail price, for a first year introductory price of $35 and, each subsequent year after that, it is only $25.
If you are interested in enrolling for a doTERRA wholesale account, my brother and sister-in-law have a blog with complete step-by-step instructions on how to do it.
5). Drink a lot of water and juice.
If there has been one good thing which has come from my kidney stone, it has been the fact that my diet has changed exponentially. For one, I now prefer water over any other form of drink. This will save me money in the long term, but is also more healthy for my body.
To say the least, water is vital during this stage of your life. You will hear it here, and basically anywhere you go. Water will help flush your system, and if your kidney stone is cooporative; it will help move it. Unfortunately for myself, I was not able to pass my stone without medical assistance (stent, lithotrypsy). These were not pleasant medical procedures by any means, so if you are able to naturally pass your stone; you will find it to be preferable.
6). If you have good friends, have them over while you suffer.
Going through large periods of time while in constant pain is not a fun experience. To keep yourself somewhat sane, I would advise having friends over if at all possible. They can not catch the "kidney stone disease" like a cold or a flu, however they can help you take your mind off the constant pain; and be there while you are in pain so you do not have to feel alone. My girlfriend was this person for me through a majority of my kidney stone, and I am not sure how I would have dealt with it otherwise. At a few points, I was about ready to get out a knife and cut it out. Of course, I don't advise this; but it is the sensation you will likely have at some point as well. The real goal for me during this period was taking my mind off the pain. The pain was consistent and virtually constant, ranging from a slight rumbling pain to more severe pains which wound me up in the emergency room or practically paralyzed for periods of time. Having friends to socialize with, and other distractions will aid you in this hard time.
I don't mean to sound negative about having a kidney stone, but the pain is often times unbearable and very constant. I would not expect to have complete relief (as I did not a majority of the time), however with these tips you may be able to keep yourself at least sane and allow the process to go a little bit easier. For many, the pain is very similar to "giving birth", however this experience is often prolonged.
If you are experiencing kidney stone related pain, feel free to talk about it in the comment box and I may be able to give you some personal advice. It is not a fun period of time to say the least.