The truth about Stent Removal: And a Crystal
July 6th, 2022
Stent removed yesterday. Before the operation, I remember reading on Facebook some guy saying stent removal made the whole kidney transplant operation not worth it. It was that bad. That awful that he would have preferred to stay on dialysis or, I suppose, die if it came to it. Imagine writing stuff about a kidney transplant for dramatic effect, honestly, ridiculous.
It’s not exactly a comfortable thing, getting a thin white coil of plastic removed via your penis, but it’s better than having your blood cleaned all week and resembling a piece of raw dough. But then even dialysis isn’t that bad when you think of the alternative.
What is the Ureteral Stent?
It’s a bit of plastic about 10-12 inches long. The surgeon uses it to hold the ureter open post op so urine can pass through the transplanted ureter and into the bladder. The ureter is a tube that drains the wee from the kidney into the bladder. They wait about six weeks, once the connection has healed up, before taking the stent out out.
How they take the Ureter out
It all takes place at the far end of the hospital. I walk along with my mum.
“Maybe it’s down here so no one else can hear the screaming?”
“God,” She says. “Imagine that.”
I walk into the cold room.
A very friendly doctor asks me to get comfortable on the single bed. Impossible at the best of times. Harder still with your trousers round your ankles and the sound of rubber gloves snapping. He sits down and smiles again. Then fires a great ball of gel in there first. Pressure but not pain. Things going the wrong way. The nurse is an expert in comforting but even she can’t break the ice here. The family dinner when the divorce is being explained. I’m nervous. Everyone is. Dad’s run off with another man and Mum’s on her second bottle. Someone just speak. Say something. Fire that fucking horrific tube into me and get it over with. The cystoscope is squeezed in. Up into the place where it just feels strange. The pain is quick. Me and normality have finally separated. It’s over and we both know it.
“You can look at the screen on your left,” the nurse says. “Take your mind off it.”
I think about reading the inflight magazine while the plane’s spiraling downwards but decide to just stare right ahead.
“Cheers,” I say. “I’ll just think of England.”
Boris Johnson’s government runs though my head. The cold sweats begin so I return to the happier place and watch the camera inside my penis as the small pincer’s grab the stent.
Then out it comes in one flick of the wrist. Quick and painless. Yes, quick and painless. The removal is done and the whole procedure takes less than two minutes.
Back through the hospital. Desperate for a pee.
NOTE: DO NOT GO FOR A PEE DIRECTLY AFTER A STENT REMOVAL EVEN IF YOU REALLY NEED TO.
I John Wayne it into the loos and feel a marble of atomic waste blow out. My face starts involuntarily contorting like a dog in a car window. This was a poor decision. I wash my hands and go home. Still a nice amount of pain but it’s tolerable just sitting in the car. The biggest feeling is relief. It’s done. One more op to get the dialysis tubes out and I’ll be plastic free.
Later on I discovered that if I pee directly into a glass full of cold water it becomes vaguely bearable. Fine actually. This was after several attempts to pee again at home. Laughing at the absurd pain. Momentarily scared that the huge amount I’m still peeing, because of the new kidney’s great work, would mean I would just start bursting like a pipe if I couldn’t endure the pain and pee normally. I was imagining the pressure building, urine spitting from my tear ducts then bursting from my belly button. Thankfully not. I discovered the pee into a glass technique and avoided an emergency caesarean.
Next day feel fine. Relieved it’s all done. Terrible tension in my body though. The tension of the procedure has brought some numbness on my left side. Something to do with the fucked nervous system I’ve got from an old head injury. Do a small list in my head. That’s double leg fracture (drunk driver hit me), Brain contusion and kidney transplant in 32 years of being alive. Not bad.
The Crystal: A note from the diary
About eight years ago, I gave a little pyramid of crystal to Brien and Lils’s first born. And roughly 24 years before that, on the drove in Butleigh where I was born, or close by, I threw that crystal into the fire. The clearness of the quartz was shattered into a million pieces, but once the fire had died down, they saw the little pyramid was still perfectly shaped. Smooth and well-cut edges around a million imperfections.
The crystal was a gift. From a bloke called Dave that had a soft touch for being light fingered, around Glastonbury. I had that crystal my whole life. And the list of things I’ve had my whole life has one entry. Most of my coats last less than a year and I’ve managed to lose trainers on the way home from the shops. This is a significant object, is what I’m saying.
Eight years after I gave it away and 32 years after it was rescued form the fire, I was there again in a field in the west country. This time with no working kidneys and on dialysis four times a day. Tired. Running an event I had been planning for 18 months. One I was determined to finish even though my body was trying to stop me. So I felt just about as tired as you can get when little Sophie came up to me and held out her hand. Little eight-year-old Sophie and her parents right behind.
“We thought it had someone else to look after now,” they said. I had Elin on my hip.
Sophie passed me that old crystal back and I really started to try and not cry. Tried really hard. Failed. And old mates you’ve loved since you were younger than you can remember smiling their stupid faces at you doesn’t make it easier. Brien was there at Butleigh when I threw the crystal in the fire. And now were where here with our own little kids. Still with that bloody crystal. Me still crying.
One week later I got called in to have my transplant. A few days after that Brien texted me.
The Crystal ! And I started crying all over again.