Friday, April 17, 2009

Kidney Stoned

I adore my grandfather. I feel like I'm so lucky to have had three grandfathers in my life to love. I mean, a lot of people don't even get to know one of their grandfathers and lucky me, I get three. I only have one left, Saba, so you can imagine how worried I was a couple of weeks ago when he was ill right before everyone came for Passover.

My whole family had the flu and Saba came over three Sundays ago looking peaked. He had to lie down and he told everyone it was no big deal, just the flu. Still, I was concerned. I was afraid he was working too hard, that he was pushing himself too hard for an eighty year old or that the upcoming influx of guests would be too much for him to handle.

"Just the flu."

By Thursday of that week my parents told me he was in surgery.

"Oh my God, for what is he ok?" I asked.

"Kidney stones."

Hmmm. Surgery? For kidney stones? I've never heard of such a thing. I know they blast them up with ultrasound, but surgery?

"Nope," my dad said, "The ultrasound didn't work. He told me they're doing surgery."

By the next day my grandfather was livid. He called my parents in an outrage.

"They didn't do surgery on me!" he exclaimed, "They put me to sleep and let me have a nap, then woke me up and charged me money."

To translate, my grandfather believed that the doctors had lied to him about the kidney stones; that they had lied to him in order to perpetuate some elaborate scam wherein they tell hapless old people that they are going to have surgery, when in fact they just put them to sleep for a couple hours.

"How would I know the difference?" he said, "They think they can get one over on me, but I'm sharp. At 80, I'm very sharp. I know when someone is trying to pull a fast one."

We asked him why he thought this happened.

"Aha! No incision."

"You have no incision from the surgery?" we asked.

"Nothing. The doctor is not so smart as he thinks. You want to really trick someone? You make an incision. Then they really think they are having surgery. How is the doctor so stupid?"

We then learned that for over an hour my grandfather made my grandmother scour every inch of his body looking for any possible signs of an incision.

"There is nothing," she confirmed, "The doctor lies. He put my husband to sleep and did nothing."

"But the real question here Saba, is this. Are you better or do you still have kidney stones?" I asked.

"No. No kidney stones. Pain is gone."

"So the doctor did something."

"Absolutely not! It is coincidence!!"

"So to confirm - you had pain before you went to sleep and woke up and it was gone."

"Yes, but this is coincidence."

Outraged, my grandfather hung up and vowed to call the hospital and expose the doctors and the terrible scam they had going to take advantage of old people. I can only imagine how the person who actually answered this call might retell this part of the story. It sounds like something from my old job.

Afterwards my grandfather called back, even madder because he hadn't gotten anywhere. They insisted he had surgery. He insisted he didn't, couldn't possibly have.

He then decided that he also never had cancer five years ago.

"All a big scam I tell you. How do you explain this. I have cancer. I have an operation. I go back and now cancer is gone? How do you explain this? I never have cancer. All a terrible scam."

We suggest that his lack of cancer after the operation is due to the fact that they cut it out, but we still can't explain the kidney stone issue at hand.

My dad finally called the doctor for him to try to make some sense.

"Sir, I tried to explain this to your father but he didn't understand. We removed the kidney stone fragments with a catheter. This is why your father doesn't have any incisions," the doctor explained.

We tried to tell Saba, but he wouldn't hear of it. He's still insisting he was the victim of a horrible con game.

I wonder how many calls like that the hospital gets, from old people convinced beyond all reason that they never had medical procedures. Thank God Saba's never heard that old kidney harvesting urban legend or he'd be swearing that was what this was all about.

Old people, you have to love them.


Dayna said...

I always tell one of my Aunts that when I get old I hope I never get old like her.

JDogg said...

Now this is a classic. Did you explain the catheter procedure to his satisfaction, ever?

Anonymous said...

I worked medical for 20 years and we had so many stories like this that we kept a diary of the best ones... the woman who had a "sperm" in her foot, the gent who wrote the threatening letter culminating with "I'll see you in cork" ... the lad who had to produce a semen sample and apologized because he "couldn't manage to fill the bottle" no matter how many times he tried. Souls who could not grasp what a "stool specimen" meant until I had to say, "look, shit in the bottle, okay?"


Lisa said...

Love the title! Perfect.

I'd like to start a petition to have you start posting some of your older stuff from the country club days for those of us who missed out.

(Okay, it's a shameless ploy to get to read more of your terrific writings).

Wide Lawns said...

Maureen that is hilarious. The next time I don't want to do work I'm definitely saying that I have a sperm stuck in my foot.

Anonymous said...

I have a rare kidney stone disorder called cystinuria.
I've had over 2000 kidney stones
plus, 86 surgeries, and thankfully only a few have been incisions.
Your Grandfather probably had what is called a ureteroscopy. It's a blessing he didn't have the open
surgery, but telling him that may
only make him more angry. I hope
they analyzed his stone(s) to tell
what kind they are. Often they
are calcium or uric acid stones,
and at 80, he definitely doesn't have the genetic disorder I have.
However, in order not to get one
again, it should be analyzed and
he can adjust his diet accordingly.

Glad he got rid of it, whether he
believes it or not:)


pocketdoc said...

I work in the medical field as well, and your grandpa's story is hilarious but just demonstrates to me that we don't always explain procedures to our patients as well as we think we do. His surgeon should have sat down with him and explained every step of the procedure, including the fact that they didn't have to cut him open. It's part of good practice and informed consent--you have to go over the procedure, why the patient is having it done, the risks and benefits, and make sure they understand all of it BEFORE they sign the consent form. I'm glad your grandpa is doing better, but next time he should maybe have someone with younger ears with him to make sure the doctor explains everything adequately!

TK said...

It's probably the indignity of them having to go through his "peepee" that has him in denial, LOL!

God bless your grandpa! And you for making us all smile.

Jean_Phx said...

I know it's wrong but I do miss you working at the country club - it was such funny place! Not that all of your writing isn't wonderful - but that place sure was fodder!

Anonymous said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

JoeinVegas said...

With relatives like this you know what to look forward to when you are that age.

Missicat said...

My sister is a GP in a rather rural town. She SO needs to write a book...She would definitely appreciate this story!!

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