Note from drb:
As my regular readers have recognized, I strive for variety in my blog (and in life). Considering that, I thought that you would enjoy hearing from a totally new voice once in a while. As such, I have invited another writer, Wayne Morgan, to share a post on Aging with Pizzazz.
[See below information about his book: Happy Birthday – You’re Old: A Boomer’s Guide to Aging: and Other Unexpected Developments.]
I hope you will welcome his charm as much as I do, and will enjoy his personal experience with ‘male childbirth.’
If you have ever had a kidney stone, you probably have a story to tell. Here is mine.
Of course, it had to strike while I was teaching. I was in the middle of an AP Biology class when I started to feel the pain. It felt a little like an urgent bladder call, but seemed to go up my back on the lower right side. At first, I thought I could wait to deal with it on my lunch break, but the intensity grew quickly. My class was full of super responsible kids, so I finally excused myself and made a quick trip to the restroom. When I began to urinate, I was completely shocked. Blood.
I knew this was not good. I asked a colleague to cover my class, told the office what was going on, and drove the short distance to my house. By this time, I was in excruciating pain. My wife met me at the door.
“Drive me to the emergency room,” I said. It was difficult to talk, but I gave her the short version of the story as we drove. I opened the window. I felt like throwing up.
“I might pass out. Just get me there,” I said. The pain was more intense than anything I had ever felt. I really did think I might pass out. I implored her to run a red light, but she was smart enough to ignore my plea.
I was relieved to be in the emergency room—until everything went into slow motion.
“Can I see a doctor now?” I was almost crying.
“I need to get some information,” the receptionist replied.
“We will get you in as soon as possible.”
I registered in agony. She told me to have a seat in the waiting room. The pain was off the chart.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it and returned to the receptionist.
“Can I just have something for the pain,” I pleaded.
“It might interfere with your diagnosis. We can’t give you anything until we know what is going on,” she answered. Her voice did not seem all that sympathetic. I hoped she got a kidney stone someday.
I felt like I had to urinate again, so I went to the restroom. When I returned to my seat, I noticed the pain became slightly less intense—perhaps dropping from eleven to nine on the ten-point pain scale.
When I finally saw the doctor, he seemed disappointed that my pain was subsiding. He was hoping to get a sample of the stone for analysis. Their composition can hold a clue to prevention. He speculated that I had passed the stone in the restroom. He must have been right because I urinated into a strainer for a week and there was no sign of a stone.
My wife said that now I knew what childbirth felt like. If that is true, I am surprised we have a population problem.
Kidney stones are solid masses that form from minerals in the urine. Most are based around calcium. They may range from a grain of sand size to pearl size. If they reach about 3 mm in diameter, they can block the ureter (urine tube from the kidney). This is the source of the debilitating symptoms of pain, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes bleeding.
Pain control is the primary treatment. Most cases resolve themselves in hours to days. Hospital procedures are necessary in stubborn cases.
People who have experienced a kidney stone or have a family history are advised to limit intake of animal proteins, salt, and sugar. Calcium intake should be moderated, and large doses of vitamin C supplements avoided. Cola soft drinks, overweight, and certain drugs may also play a role.
By far the most important recommendation for prevention of kidney stones is avoiding dehydration. Water intake will vary depending on exercise, weather, food intake, body size, etc. The oft-heard “rule” of drinking 8 eight-ounce glasses of fluid (mostly water) a day is a good starting approximation. Properly hydrated, you are rarely thirsty, you have light colored urine, and you produce six or more cups of urine a day.
Mercifully, over 90% of the U.S. population will miss the “opportunity” to experience a kidney stone.
Other kidney and urinary tract disorders may be of serious concern in some elderly. Kidney function gradually decreases after age thirty, but even those above age eighty typically maintain over 50% of their original capabilities. This is usually sufficient to prevent any threat to wellbeing. However, seniors may be less able to cope optimally with either dehydration or excess water intake.
Despite all of the jokes (and depressing TV ads), incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging. Between seventy and ninety percent of older people report full bladder control, although that number drops to fifty percent in those who are institutionalized.
Causes and Prevention
Two major causes of incontinence are weakened muscle tissue (common in postmenopausal women when estrogen levels decline) and increased urine retention (common in men with decreased urine flow due to enlarged prostate).
Weight loss can provide positive improvement in bladder control, especially in women. Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and urinary sphincter muscles may also be effective. In one study, women who lost weight and exercised reduced their incidence of incontinence by over 70%. For men, receiving treatment for BPH may reduce the incidence of incontinence since the bladder can empty more completely.
For both men and women, several medical interventions can be effective in treating incontinence. The choice will depend on the individual’s symptoms, health history, and physical condition.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wayne Morgan received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Education from Stanford University. He also earned a Master’s in Counseling from California State University. An educator for thirty-four years, he taught both secondary and college level courses in Health Education, Biology, Psychology and Counseling. The Author retired to Northern California where his interests include reading, writing and photography. He also enjoys annoying his tolerant family with bad jokes and puns.
You can find his book on Amazon by linking to it here: Happy Birthday – You’re Old: A Boomer’s Guide to Aging: and Other Unexpected Developments.
Featured picture: pisabay.com
Other pictures. Types of stones picture: Wikihow.com; size of stones picture: medicalnewstoday.com