Upside Down Malformed Kidney : Symptoms Treatment and After Care
Nephroplasty: Definition: Surgical Repair of the Kidney.
In 1993 I found out that I had been born with an upside down kidney on the right side of my body. I call it an upside down kidney because the doctors explained that it was almost upside down and malformed and had never worked properly.
Either way it was purely a malformed kidney. I never even knew there was a problem until one day when I began to feel really ill.
My stomach had been swollen for years, but I just put it down to being too fat, or maybe suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I never realised that a renal problem was the cause.
When you see yourself every day you don't notice any difference in your appearance, and never in a million years would I have thought that I had any sort of kidney disease, or kidney malfunction.
I had been suffering with stress over that period and just presumed that my swollen stomach was caused by poor eating. On this particular day, I started to feel ill with pains in my lower stomach.
The strange thing was that I had felt a stabbing pain in my back just below the waistline. This had been going on for a few weeks, but not so painful that I took any particular notice of it. I even felt it when I was asleep, but it was just a niggling pain.
At 33 years old it never dawned on me at this time that I could possibly have been born with a malfunctioning kidney. Who would have thought it?
I do remember my mother saying that she had been really sick in her pregnancy with me, and had in fact taken Thalidomide tablets, but only for a few days. Thank goodness! Thalidomide was a drug given to pregnant women back in the late fifties and early sixties for an easier time. The side effects were horrendous.
Children had been born with no arms or legs. And many other deformities. I will never know if this is what caused my problems but it does seem a bit suspicious. I had been born without a properly formed gullet and a twisted lower spine. The hospital treated me, and after two months I was allowed home. My gullet is fine, and the spine was straightened.
My mother said she had taken out an insurance policy at the time to cover any extra medical expenses that I may need for my deformities.Back then the treatment was good, but she wasn't going to take any chances.
When I began to be sick I presumed that I had picked up a tummy bug. The pain in my stomach wasn't too bad at that point but it got steadily worse as the night went on.
My partner called the Doctor, but he just said to drink a lot of fluids and hope that it would be gone in the morning.
Sadly this wasn't to be. By midnight I was vomiting so badly they had to call an ambulance. The Doctor got involved and said don't be stupid, and please don't waste the Paramedics time!
Eventually after much arguing, the Paramedics arrived, took one look at me, and we headed out to the hospital.
On arrival I was given the usual tests. Blood test, blood pressure and heart monitor. Then I was told that I would be having a scan. Like anybody else I presumed that it would be fine and then I would be released to go home.
The first time I realised that something wasn't quite right, was when the young girl doing the scan, had a frown on her face. She then told me that she was going to go and get another Doctor. By now I was beginning to panic.
When he came in, he checked the scan and told me the shocking news. My right kidney was malformed and upside down. In shock, I listened to him telling me what they were going to do. I had two choices. Take the kidney out, or rebuild it.
I chose rebuild. I didn't like the idea of having only one kidney.
I knew that when I had been born I had been rushed to Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital London.
As I mentioned above, I had very serious problems. At a few hours old I had major surgery to correct them. And had to stay in hospital for two months. For some reason they totally missed the upside down kidney.
My first surgical procedure was really unpleasant. For a start it was the holiday period near Christmas and the staff were only keeping the main wards and A and E open. So I was taken down a dark corridor, totally on my own apart form the porter who was pushing me in a wheelchair.
On arrival in the X Ray department all the lights had to be turned on, and it was freezing cold. To my horror, I found out that they had to X Ray me, and then stick a needle through my back into the kidney so they could drain off the excess water that had built up inside.
Because the kidney wasn't functioning properly, the water had never drained properly so had built up and made the ureter, the tube from the kidney to the bladder, twice the size to cope with the pressure, hence the swollen stomach.
The water had to be drained. Now imagine a dark X Ray room, and feeling scared and lonely. Then add a huge needle being stuck straight into my back straight through to the kidney.
What I didn't realise before the procedure was that the kidney is the most sensitive organ in the body where pain is concerned. Speaking to a friend who is paralysed from the waist down, he told me that even though he couldn't feel anything, when he had this procedure done he felt every single pain. And it was excruciating.
The kidney acts like a sponge. The second the needle was inserted it sucked it up and 'grew' straight away around it.
I have never ever felt so much pain in my life. And yes I am embarrassed to admit it, I did scream the place down! In the end it took six guys to hold me down. This wasn't a hospital, this was Doctor Frankensteins lab. With only one light on and six guys holding me down and yes, me screaming, you can imagine what it must have been like.
I suggest anybody who is about to have this procedure make sure you are knocked out for it. Trust me, you don't want to go through that pain.
After they had finished I was wheeled back to the ward and promptly fell asleep.
Epidurals and Round The Clock Care.
After a stay of one week, the Doctors took out the drain. The drain was placed in my side through the skin to the kidney, and trailed down the side of the bed to a big bucket so that the water could seep out.
This actually doesn't hurt as by this time my side was numb. The procedure to remove the drain was unpleasant but not that painful. Taking deep breaths and relaxing helps to reduce the discomfort.
I was then sent home for two months to wait for the main Operation.
On 9th February, I was admitted back into hospital. After being given Pre Med tablets to make me drowsy I was wheeled down to theatre.
I was told the Op took approx 8 hours to do. The surgeons opened me up and took out the kidney. After snipping bits off, and cleaning it up they then replaced it back the right way up.
This sounds a simplistic account, but I was told that our kidneys are deep within the body. So it's a major surgical repair job.
The other procedure was to place a stint in my ureter tube because they found it was twisted. So would help to straighten it.
When I woke up I didn't really know anything for days. I was kept on 15 minute watch by the nurses and doctors. I had been given an epidural in my back, lower spine, to keep the pain at bay.
An epidural is usually given to women who are in labor. The procedure uses a catheter inserted into the lower spine to give strong pain killing drugs or other medication to patients.
I had this for two days as the usual meds wouldn't work because the pain would have been so bad. They kept watch on me because of the epidural and to make sure that I was recovering properly. As I said, it was a very deep wound.
You May Have Kidney Problems If You Suffer With Any Of These Symptoms.
- Swollen stomach. Not just bloating but long term. The stomach tends to be hard compared to irritable bowel symptoms that can either be hard or soft.
- Continuous water infections/cystitis. Burning from the bladder.
- If you see blood in your urine get checked out by the Doctor straight away. I never had this, but it is one of the effects of kidney disease or malfunction.
- Stabbing pains in your middle to lower back, or at the front. In my case it was on the right hand side.
- Lethargy. Tiredness and depression.
- Dizziness. This symptom is classic of kidney disease or malfunction. Your blood pressure goes down really low, hence the dizziness. I noticed it more when I leaned over to get something of a shelf, or near the floor. The whole room would spin.
Dart Boards and Staples!
When I eventually recovered enough to know what was going on, I realised that I had another drain inserted.
Over the next few days I had lots of needles stuck in my stomach to stop blood clots. This can happen after stomach surgery mainly, but other surgical procedures too.
The shots were of something called Warfarin, to thin out the blood. And I must have had six a day! One nurse actually made a joke of it and said she was going to paint a dart board on my stomach!
I stayed in hospital for two weeks. After removing the drain, I stayed to recover for another day, then sent home.
But to be honest I felt as though I wanted to stay for another week.
I couldn't even lift a cup. For at least a month I felt weak, and I just tried to walk around the house to get my strength back.
The district nurse came every few days and changed my bandages. The scar was long and wide. I had staples still in. These are an alternative to stitches. I am not sure if they still use them or not. But at that time they were common. They did look rather like office staples only larger.
It was case of cleaning it and keeping my wound free from infection. Luckily all went well and the nurse eventually came out to remove the staples.
Now that sounds horrific, but in fact I never really felt it as my wound was completely numb because of the surgery. The nerve endings were damaged, and to this day I still can't feel a portion of the skin on my side.
I was still very weak but on my way to recovery. The stitches were out. The wound was healing nicely and all I needed now was one more procedure but that would have to wait six weeks.
After the weeks were up, I went back in hospital for one day to remove the stint in my tubes. I was placed under anaesthetic and when I woke up it was all done.
The whole incident took over three months in all.
Over the following weeks I became stronger and in June I went back to work. It wasn't easy, the pain was still there sometimes.
And there was rather a strange side effect of the operation. I noticed that when I lay down at night to go to sleep the scar tissue would 'twist' inside, rather like bad cramp. In fact it probably was a sort of cramp as it was still healing.
The trouble was, I couldn't get up! You use your stomach muscles to lift up and down. Now they were the ones causing the pain.
This in fact happened quite a few times over the years following the Op. Not very often, and less frequent as time has gone by. But it can still grab me today 20 years on.
- Over the years I have had to have antibiotic treatment for water infections. This happens approximately once every two or three years. It may not always show up as an infection of the water though, it may just appear as a swollen stomach and an uncomfortable feeling in and around the scar. This is an inflammation of the tubes and kidney. Either way, antibiotics are needed.
- Make sure you keep an eye on it. There shouldn't be any problems long term as this was a medical procedure to repair the kidney. Once it has been done it should be fine. Monitor your urine, and drink lots of water long term.
- Cystitis can be a painful thing too. Its not necessarily a side effect of treatment, but as many people will tell you, even if you are totally healthy without surgery cystitis can be painful.
- You want to keep your urinary system clean and healthy. If you are a heavy drinker now is the time to quit. If not, at least cut down on the drink. Your kidneys take a battering when soaked in alcohol, so make sure you drink safely.
If you feel that you may have kidney problems ask your GP for a referral. You can never be too careful.
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