How much would you pay for an ice-cold Coca-Cola? One buck? Two? Five? Would you pay twenty five thousand? Twenty five thousand dollars ... that is the cost of one lithotripsy treatment at Memorial Medical Center. Seeing that statement took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.
Not that we'll owe the whole amount ... that's the wonder of health insurance after all. Still though ... 10% of $25,000 is $2,500 ... and since the staghorn on the left is going to require two to three more treatments ... it looks like we'll be hitting that catastrophic mark again this year ... and we'll probably hit it by mid-March.
Bleak financial information aside ... for anyone wondering what lithotripsy was like ...
We checked into the Balis building around six a.m. All the normal pre-op stuff followed ... medical history, inserting the IV, etc. They gave me a gown and hospital pants ... and for the record, I hate hospital pants ... they are not sewn for a normal human shape.) And shortly after that, they walked me back to the area.
Now here's the interesting part. They don't sit you in a tank of water anymore. Apparently that's old school. Now, you sit up on an operating table. It has a half-circle cut out of the side that they're working on ... and a round device is pressed into your kidney area. At this point, they start the "happy juice" ... and the world goes dark.
Now ... as a side note, once in the operating room, I assured the doctors, nurses, and anyone else in the room that I could do this without anesthesia if they would just let me try. They had a good natured laugh while they assured me that I couldn't. One nurse explained that she accidentally got her hand between the patient and the sound wave generator once ... and said it really hurt. I told her I'd heard it feels like having a rubber band snapped against your skin. She cringed and said, "Yes ... if it was a big rubber band and they stretched it really far."
At this point the anesthesiologist took a moment to talk to me. He said that years ago they used to just sedate patients ... not completely put them under. But patients did feel the pain and did react to it ... and by putting patients completely under, they can eliminate most kidney stones in one treatment instead of three or four.
So, I woke up groggy ... but all the kidney stones on my right side are gone. I'll be honest, for the next week or so, I had some back pain. Nothing overwhelming ... but it was definitely sore. We'll still have to go back and address the stag horn ... but so far, so good.
So ... do I want that Coca-Cola? More than you can imagine. But it's not worth $25k and that's basically what I'd be paying ... because I'd be starting the process all over again. Right now I'm caffeine and phosphate free ... and I'm just going to have to keep it that way.
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves
I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
The New Seekers -
I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing
Original Coca-Cola Version - 1971