Re: What are your Kidney Stone ER Visits Like?
I've probably been to the ER about 15 times since 1982 when I got my first kidney stone. It seems to work pretty much the same way everytime I go these days but I go to the same hospital each time. Maybe it varies some according to the hospital.
This first time I ever got a stone I didn't know what it was. I just thought I was dying of something and I didn't know the human body could experience that much pain. I went to the ER and they would not give me anything for pain because they said they did not know what it was and until they knew they couldn't give me anything. I didn't really understand that especially when I felt like I was going to faint from the pain. Finally after doing the xrays and confirming it was a kidney stone they gave me the pain medicine but that took hours and it was pure agony. Back then the pain med they gave was Demerol with Phenergan for nausea. After that first time when i'd go to the ER for another stone I would tell them immediately when I go there that I was having a stone and they would immediately give me the pain med rather than have me wait hours like they did the first time. Also.. back then they automatically admitted me to the hospital when they confirmed I had a stone. They would admit you and give you pain medicine every 3 -4 hours.
Today, things have changed a bit. First of all they no longer admit you for a stone. It's pretty much treated as a minor thing honestly. I go to the ER tell them i'm having a kidney stone. They have you put on one of those wonderful hospital gown and immediately get you the pain medicine which today seems to be Dilaudid instead of Demerol and also something for nauseau. I've asked why they give dilaudid instead of demerol now and they say dilaudid is stronger and demerol caused strokes in some people. Anyway, after getting you the pain med they take you for a CT scan and then bring you back to your ER room. At this point it's usually a matter of waiting a long long time and the doctor finally comes in and tells you about your stone.. the size where it's at etc and then they inform you that they are going to give you some pain medicine and send you home and for you to contact your urologist tommorrow. So what seemed to be an automatic admission to the hospital in the 80's is not anymore and this is due to the high cost of being in the hospital and the insurance companies not wanting you to be in the hospital for this.
So as far as how it goes, at least for me is 1) Go to ER and when they call you back and you inform them that you have a stone and then they start an IV and get you the pain medicine as the first thing. Then they take you for a CT scan and bring you back. Finally the doctor comes in to tell you what the CT scan showed and then they give you a presciption for pain meds and possibly something like Flomax, an antibiotic and nausea medicine and then they send you home. Unfortunately, usually when i'm in such pain the pain medicine they prescribe does not stop my pain. I have had to go back a second time because I was in so much misery. The medicine they give you thru the IV tends to be stronger or work better, at least for me.
Several things I have found thru the years, when they give you your first dose of pain medicine thru the IV in the ER they will usually start with a lower dosage probably of Dilaudid. If after getting this I still have pain 1/2 hour later I tell them and then usually the nurse talks to the doctor and they give you another dose of pain medicine. They aren't going to give you full strength the first time because you may not need it but if you are still hurting after the first dose you need to tell them. Also there have been several times that my pain was so severe that even the max dosage didn't stop the pain and then they were going to send me home anyway. I couldn't imagine being at home in that kind of pain and I ask them if they can admit me to the hospital. Usually the ER doc will call your doc and see if he can get permission to admit you. If you are in severe pain and the pain medicine just isn't stopping it you are best off in the hospital where you can get the pain medicine thru the iv which for me is more effective. They may act like they don't want to admit you but I have insisted on several occasions and have been admitted.
Kidney stones are the worst pain imaginable and nobody can really understand that pain unless they have had one.