Glasses Houses and Stones

By Chris DeWald



First, I offer my congratulations to all the survivors/caregivers who submitted to last months contest. They were all well thought through and well received.


My article this month is to bring an awareness issue that survivors and caregivers should lend some credence. Most of us have lingering nerve issues medical professionals refer to as “Peripheral Neuropathy.” Peripheral Neuropathy is one of the most common diseases most people have never heard of…and yet, upwards of 20 million Americans have it. Peripheral neuropathy is caused by damage to your body’s peripheral nerves. This damage disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its muscles, skin, joints, or internal organs. It is like the body’s wiring system breaking down. Neuropathy can lead to numbness, pain, weakness and lack of coordination.


For me and as well as other readers, it is the “pains from nowhere” without provocation and akin to John Mosby’s Raiders during the Civil War, strike, and then disappear. Yes, you first ask “What was that?” Some of us get complacent to these phantom pains, itching, cramps and brush off what may be a serious complication.


How many of you after a few years post stroke say “I’m not going to the doctor as I feel they think I am nuts” from all the previous dealing of Neuropathy. I confess, my hand is raised. Some may also be cash strapped -- having to choose which meds or even eating. You are not alone and I see some people shaking their heads.


Let’s take Kidney Stones. According to an article in USA Today Kidney stones result from salts crystallizing in the kidneys, often triggered by dehydration, causing famously painful blockages. Nationwide, kidney stones strike about 12% of all men and 7% of women over their lifetime. I am in the 12 percent. According to Pharmacy Times, an analysis of 50,000 stroke patients with diabetes found that many failed to manage their symptoms before the stroke. The patients had high rates of obesity, hypertension, cholesterol disorders, and poor control of glucose at the time of the stroke.


So what do kidney problems and strokes have to do with me? According to Tandutrust, Diabetes can go unnoticed for several years till life-threatening complications associated with it are detected. So it is referred to as Silent Killer. It affects vulnerable parts of the body especially the eyes, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and feet. The patient may develop complications such as kidney dysfunction, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and non-healing wounds.


The complications of diabetes are different in Type-1 Diabetes and Type-2 Diabetes.


  • Type-2 diabetes is more associated with strokes and heart attacks.

  • Eye complications develop at a faster pace in type-1 diabetes.


Controlling blood sugar immediately on the onset can prevent many complications and also reduce severity in others.


Hmmm, I have had type II Diabetes years prior to my stroke and did not know. I was already in touch with a kidney stone and saw no correlation until I started writing this article. At least one in ten people develop a kidney stone during their lifetime. They can experience severe, unrelenting and debilitating pain, often associated with nausea, vomiting and blood in the urine. In some severe cases, deteriorating kidney function can eventually lead to kidney failure, which is fatal without dialysis or a transplant operation.


Most kidney stones consist largely of calcium and can vary in size from barely visible to the size of a golf ball. Smaller, mesh-like deposits of calcium, which can only be seen with a microscope, can also lead to poor kidney function. The causes of this abnormal calcium accumulation – in stones and mesh-like deposits – are poorly understood and infrequently studied.


Blood? Bleeding? Internal? Those on Coumadin/Warfarin must be aware of this factor. Kidney stones travel a long distance from the kidney through tubes and bladder and other nomenclature. Most stones are not smooth and abrasively make their way outside the body which causes bleeding. A large stone bleeding on its course can lead those on warfarin to have quite an episode that can lead to infections, severe bleeding, death or “worse”….


Why is the writer writing about Kidney Stones? Six months after my stroke, I had one stuck in my Urethra. I was on warfarin. Being on such a large dose of warfarin, I was bleeding where I could see it. No operation was possible until I was weaned off warfarin. This was a Catch 22 situation, having my kidney die, or risk possible death from another clot/stroke? During this time, you enjoy the pleasantness of Lovenok, which is like temporary Warfarin injected into the stomach. My shots were everyday for 2 weeks. Pain? Indescribably delicious!!! Want depression after your stroke, have at it.


The bottom line , you must form some type of bond between the doctor and “YOU.” I am sure most of us have pains, but are they real? Yeah, you oldsters with post strokes know what I am talking about.


Stones? Have that back pain just at the lower portion of your ribs or did you pull a muscle? Gee, what does a stone feel like….Severe pain where you double over in the fetal position and start throwing up. Good Clue for one that it lodged. Do not fool around!!!! Dial 911 (or the emergency number in your country).


If you think you are forming one or one is doing a dance in the kidney, your doctor can perform a simple urine test to find out. Now those on warfarin, please understand that “Trace” blood can be found in the urine and it is normal as we are “internally gentle” If you are like me, I hate telling my doctor anything as I feel I am disturbing them from other patients in worse condition. Is this you also? So, what does it take to just leave a urine sample for your doc and ask it be analyzed?


Having a stroke is one step in the big picture. I am largely numb on my left trunk, arm and leg. So I don’t know when I have issues. I am very much in touch with Mr. Neuropathy. Talk to your doctor. They are not mind readers. This is not only for Kidney stones, but many other complications after a stroke. Call their office, leave data for the nurse to be “charted” so you keep everyone well informed. Tell your caregiver, although I bet there are also some that won’t for a variety of reasons. Yeah, I see you people who want to drive and won’t tell your caregiver you had a dizzy spell.


You can not fool yourselves and please, it’s a 60 second phone call to keep in touch with your physician. Please don’t be caught without the ability to speak and have someone take guesses with your life.


Copyright © March 2009

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

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