Kidney Series

June 07, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I can't confirm that the stone was there in 2018. But if they found a gallstone in a scan. Surely, a LARGE Staghorn Kidney Stone that filled my entire left Kidney HAD to be visible.

And yet, in 2018 I was only told about the gallstone. 

Prior to this I had no insurance for diagnostics like this. I was without insurance from 1996 until 2015. Care in Illinois before I left was challenging, but once I got to WA. I found caring and curious practitioners.

In 2020 an endocrinologist requested a look at my adrenals. he called me personally to report that the adrenals were fine. Nothing else was said. Past that, no imaging report was shared with me or found in my chart. Turns out that several items of medical interest were found.

Again nobody told me. My kidney stone was part of what was found. 

In 2022 I requested a look at that gallstone. During the ultra sound the tech said, and the kidney stone? I replied, what kidney stone? She then said. OOOPS. 

My doctor responded immediately.

Thus began my current journey. 

Since November '22 I have seen a 1 Urology PA, 2 traveling surgeons. one surgeon disappeared from the clinic. The other said - we can't help you, and referred me to UW in Seattle. 

That was April

In early June, after many many months, I finally met a "he can do something about it" surgeon at UW's Kidney Stone Center.

The minimally invasive high risk procedure is scheduled for June 29th. 


In the meantime my curiousness and anxiety got the best of me 

I found diagrams of kidneys. ( thank you internet ) 

I drew one, drew it incorrectly, i drew another and liked that one. I then drew one more to show where the stone is. see that shaded part in blue? That is a likeness of the location of my staghorn kidney stone

i found a certain comfort and affirmation in the visual.

Sharing my renderings with my friends they sent me other kidney images all remarking on how the shape is found everywhere and how botanical it all is. I loved their sharing. 

I felt inspired to start collaging in the spirit of things Kidney.

I have loved what has since transpired.

I really can't think about anything else.

I expect there will be more to come.

Below some a work in progress. Kidney 1-4


front and backside. 

Kidney/2 - the center is a piece of fabric

Kidney/3 - i will leave all the threads to dangle in this one.

Kidney/4 - the florals in this are also fabric

On June 29th, during pre-surgery prep a test showed positive for Covid. Surgery was cancelled. I sat in pre-surgery for 5 hours trying to score a transport back home. I was then shifted to isolation for another 4 hours. A 14 hour day all told. I had NO Covid symptoms. I tested negative on a home test that day. Negative again 8 days later. I had prepared deeply for a recovery from a surgery I never had. I felt angry and pretty frustrated. At least during the time that I isolated I had a full fridge and a very clean apartment. 

I later made a collage that illustrated things Covid. 

9 days later my surgery was rescheduled to August 17th.

In the meantime I was invited to show my art at a neighborhood festival known as The Sunnyland Stomp by Anna, a just lovely gal who runs a gourmet grocery. Her uniquely located shop Hela Provisions reminds me of the days I worked for a similar type of market back in the days before marriage and children. 

Gotta love the stomp's poster design!

I am honored to be a part of it. 

Join us July 22 from 3-8

All told there are now 8 collages. 

#7 illustrates the variety and number of people on your surgical team

#8 is about the time suck that things medical are

#2,4,6 include bits of fabric

#3 has dangling black threads

#5 made of stone. get it? 

Hela Provisions was a very well attended Sunnyland Stomp stop! Anna really knows how to set up a gig! I loved all the lovely conversations I got to have about my art and how it related to my upcoming kidney surgery. Thank you for all of your well wishes. 

Collage #10 

The woman in the backround is projecting a positive vibe ( wonky star ) for things botanical/things staghorn kidney stone

Scan of Kidney Stone before and after

The surgeon did his best, but there was a potential that not all the stone would be removed. This was my case. He got 97% of it. A separate  laser surgery procedure will remove the rest. That will happen 8 weeks after the initial surgery.

In recovery, a friend brought me a bit of thai chicken curry. i made a mini out of the take out box image. a mini stitched collage is the size of a playing card.

In the meantime a stent was left in. I did this collage to represent the stent. 

Each person responds different to things stent. I did not respond well. at all. As my collage process sometimes goes. I got a new vogue magazine early on in my recovery. i was drawn to certain images and tore them out of the magazine. I set all that aside for a period of time and when I could make a bit of art - this collage piece found me. when complete. I wept. 

A stent is a 10 inch-ish thin plastic tube. It has coils at each of its end. a ureteral stent goes from inside the kidney, down through the ureter and into the bladder. The purpose of the stent is to keep the ureter dilated for any remnant stone passing. My remaining stones are attached to the kidney, as i understand it. There was no real concern for debris to pass. The stent was needed for the following procedure to guide laser instrumentation. 

My stent traumatized my bladder, and caused constant pain and spasm. Pain standing, pain walking, pain sitting, pain driving. It caused hyper desire to urinate and I experienced a clenching that would result in blood in my urine. All for the time I had the stent in me. I realize that this may be a too personal of a sharing but I want to recall this circumstance later. 

In preparing for my next procedure. I made this collage. This will be a day surgery on October 12th. 

My experience at University of Washington's Kidney Stone Center was mostly superb. There were a few circumstances that were not so great, but most of those times were a combination of being human and being a very busy specialized medical center. I believe in sharing and or giving feedback. I have to also comment that I utilized a medical transport service through my insurance and talk about a game changer not to have to manage the commute to Seattle. 

I put together a quick at a glance album of the Kidney Series on my FB page. 

In January 2024 I completed my last and 14th collage for this Kidney Series.  It is 8x8 and stitched.  The center is a piece of fabric. floral, botanical and kidney like, at least to me.

This series now feels complete to me. 

BIG hug and thank you to Anna at Hela Provisions who is hosting this collection permanently. or at least until it has another opening






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