Cursed with Kidney Stones, Urologist Cracks the Case

Cursed with Kidney Stones, Urologist Cracks the Case

No stone unturned for this chronic kidney stone sufferer.

image descriptionYakima Urology Associates

Many people get kidney stones once in their life. It’s something they never forget — the searing, intense pain.

Other folks, like Stephen Stokesberry for instance, get them again and again. And it seemed to Stephen they usually strike at night or on the weekend, and often when he and his wife are traveling far from home.

“I think the first kidney stone I had I was probably 40,” he says, thinking back. “I’ve probably had at least seven instances in my life.”

“That tube between the kidney and the bladder is really tiny,” he says, “and when the stones are in there, it hurts like hell. It’s like a red-hot knife jabbed into your nether regions.

“I end up in the emergency room because they always happen on the weekends. Or I’m in Winthrop at 9 o’clock at night. That time it meant a 90-minute ambulance ride to Omak.”

Kidney stones are no joke. Stephen is particularly susceptible to calcium oxalate stones. The most common type of kidney stones, they are linked to foods high in oxalate, a naturally occurring substance found in plants and animals.

Or, as Stephen puts it, “Everything I like is not good for me: peanut butter, broccoli, fruit with small seeds, almonds ...

“I think the first kidney stone I had I was probably 40,” he says, thinking back. “I’ve probably had at least seven instances in my life.”

“The pain can last half an hour or up to two hours. Once the stone passes into the bladder, the exit tube is much bigger. The stone must have passed into the bladder, because the pain went away. I went home.”

Emergency room care is great for, well, emergencies. But for Stephen’s continued care for kidney stones and other issues, he has long relied on Mark Uhlman, MD, at Yakima Urology Associates, a specialty clinic associated with Virginia Mason Memorial.

“He’s my primary doctor as far I’m concerned,” says Stephen. “I also have prostate problems, so I see him regularly.

“About a month after I had that latest round of kidney stones, it was time for my six-month prostate checkup. Dr. Uhlman was looking at my records, and he saw from the MRI that I had many stones, about 16 of them. He said to me, ‘You know, I should blast these all out.’”

Stephen made an appointment. Dr. Uhlman took aim at Stephen’s kidney stones right in the office (using a process called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy). The procedure, in and out, took about two hours.

“They blasted them all apart, but they’re still in me,” Stephen says, matter-of-factly. “They’re sand now. I’m not supposed to eat certain foods so the stones will pass through. I’m also supposed to drink almost a gallon of water every day.”

Stephen takes his recurring kidney stones in stride, being the veteran that he is. But if he could give younger men a bit of advice: he’d tell them, “If you don’t want to be surprised by a kidney stone, you should go to a urologist to find out if you’re conducive to kidney stones. You should also interview your father and other male relatives.”

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