Sunday, 2 June 2013

A small but sore lesson

So... I have learnt to eat healthy, I exercise and am generally pretty healthy. But, I keep getting kidney infections and have had 2 big kidney stone episodes and the big question has always been "why". I mean, I drink lots of water, don't have calcium issues or any of the usual risk factors.

The reason I am blogging about this is because the lesson I have learned is one I am sure others may also may have similar and I hope this can help other athletes.

Firstly, what does a kidney stone feel like? Well, for me it started with me getting cramps whilst out running - I am fit so this is usually a sign of something brewing. I then thought I had an intense back spasm but to be honest, I had a gut feeling that it was not (cause I was nauseas which for me is a sign of bad pain and a fever or something). But, I decided to be an optimist and I went to the Biokineticist, only to find out that, yes my upper back is still messed but where I was having pain was not messed. I then got so nauseus that just looking at food made me want to throw up (think from the pain). I eventually went to the doc and my symptoms were classic kidney stones so I I had an ultrasound. For the first time, it showed something. My left kidney was enlarged which was a sign that I had stones. I was put on meds for stones and told that if I was still in pain on the Monday I was to call the doc.

Over the weekend the pain continued and my fever got worse. On Monday, I felt awful!!! I called the doc and was referred to a specialist. This was scary! I have had kidney stones before but this time was my worst because of how long I had felt ill - by now nearly 10 days of pain and nausea and I had lost nearly 2kgs. The specialist confirmed the enlarged kidney and sent me for a ct scan - the most expensive 10min of my life!!! But, it was confirmed: a stone close to passing and one in my kidney.

I spent the rest of the day on my couch hydrating and flushing my system. It's kinda gross but I also had to strain for stones and when I had passed 2, I figured it was all over yet the next day I still felt sore and exhausted (had passed one in the early hours of the morning). That evening I had a great dinner with friends and as we finished dinner I was hit with the chills and the start of pain. By the time I got home I was in agony and my amazing little dog was by my side.

Anyone who doubts whether a dog cannot look after a human, should rethink their belief because K was literally by my side, acting like a hot water bottle and following me every time I moved. (He is not by nature a dog who cuddles so this is unusual.) He stayed glued to me until the stone had passed with a glorious plop and feeling of relief.

So... Maybe the 1 stone broke up but in the end, I had 2 sore stones and 1 that made me want to cry. People say the pain is worse than child birth. Well, I don't know what child birth feels like but I know that there are no words to describe this pain!! And, each stone has its own, unique level of gut wrenching pain.

My kidneys are still irritated (the doc says that's normal) and I having to be extra cautious of my liquid intake but, I am feeling amazing again and can't wait to get on the bike again. Am going to try fit a 30min session or 2 this week to get the legs going again.

So... What caused these little suckers? Dehydration in Europe. On race day I had only had 2.5 bottles of liquid in over 7hours, add to the international flight the day before where I am sure I dehydrated and then my not hydrating properly after my race. The timing is almost spot on for kidney stone formation. Think I have finally learnt my lesson: hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. Before, during and especially after events!

Kidney stones are not fun. So, if you are am athlete and am reading this, I know there is much literature on over hydration etc and I don't presume to know more than those doctors but I do want to warn you: if you are going to race with as little water as possible or think you are not thirsty on a cold day (my issue), please focus on hydration after your race (and no, not just beer)!!