Last updated on September 8th, 2023 at 02:38 pm
One day, when I was close to 23 weeks pregnant with my twin girls, I had this annoying lower back pain. I got home from work thinking a warm shower would do the trick, but nothing seemed to work. I decided to lie down until my husband got home, and when he did, I went to the bathroom, and there was blood in my pee.
We rushed to our small town emergency room, and the doctor couldn’t do anything until he contacted my OB in another town (since twins are high risk, they don’t deal with them here in Marysville, KS, so I had to see an OB in a bigger city). The pain was excruciating at that point, and I started having contractions. My OB told the ER doctor to ship me to the hospital in Lincoln, NE, where he was located.
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The ambulance ride was torture. The paramedic could not give me anything for the pain because no one knew exactly what was going on, and my husband could not ride in the ambulance with me due to insurance issues. It took over an hour to get to the hospital, and I thought I was dying.
Tests, Scans, and More Tests
When I got to the hospital, the doctors thought, at first, that I had kidney stones. They gave me morphine for the pain, but nothing helped. I had to get shots to help the babies’ lungs develop quicker in case of an emergency delivery. After an ultrasound, they could not find stones or anything wrong in the area. They sent me for a CT scan, and again could not find anything.
I had a colonoscopy and all sorts of medical exams in order to find the cause of my pain. My OB told me I might have been experiencing ligament pains since I was so petite (about 105 lbs when I got pregnant), and twin pregnancy definitely stretches you out. I felt like the doctors thought I was crazy or blowing my pain out of proportion. I was in the hospital for a week before they figured out what was going on. The maternal-fetal specialist was the only one who believed me.
Finally an Answer
He could see that I was in pain and did not make me feel like some kind of junkie looking for their next hit like some of the other hospital staff. In fact, they had offered me all kinds of drugs, and I declined them all. He wanted me to have another CT scan, but this time with contrast. So, I had another CT scan.
When the maternal-fetal specialist came back to give me the results, he said, “I have good news and bad news. We found out what’s wrong with you. That’s the good news”. I immediately started crying. I knew I wasn’t crazy! Then, he continued, “The bad news is that one of your kidneys has been ruptured by the babies, and the only way to deal with it is to put in nephrostomy tubes.”
What Are Nephrostomy Tubes?
Basically, because of my ruptured kidney, urine was leaking inside of me. But of course, that wasn’t the only problem. The leaking urine was irritating other organs, which was causing even more pain and discomfort. The nephrologist came to my room and said my case was extremely rare (1 in 12 or something like that–he’d never seen it). He explained the procedure to me; I would have nephrostomy tubes inserted in my lower back into both my kidneys (since the babies were only going to grow more, they thought it was best to put tubes in both kidneys) and the urine would drain into a bag.
Instant Relief But a Challenging Journey Ahead
The procedure was very painful and awful but came with immediate relief. Living with the tubes on my back throughout the rest of my pregnancy was very challenging. I could not get my back wet, so I needed help showering and washing my hair. Every time I had to switch positions in bed (you know, simply rollover), I had to move my tubes and pee bags. I couldn’t wear pants anymore since I had pee bags attached to my legs (this might have been my bright spot). Every week I had to make the hour and half drive to the hospital to get the dressings changed.
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After having the tubes for a month, I had to have another procedure to get them replaced. When pregnant, our bodies have a lot of extra calcium floating around that can (and will) clog the tubes. Had I gone full-term with my girls, I would have had to get the tubes replaced at least a couple more times. I delivered the girls at 32 weeks, premature but healthy, thankfully. The tubes got taken out immediately, and my kidneys healed on their own.
My Scars are Proof that I will do Anything for my Babies
It took me a long time to talk about this without crying. Trauma will do that to a person. Right now, I only have two little scars on my back that look like cigarette burns. It’s easier to talk about now, and I don’t mind sharing my story. For all the low points, there are a few highlights. I know this made me and my marriage stronger (in sickness and in health, doesn’t get any more real than helping your wife drain her pee bags into the toilet). I hated living through it, but I am thankful it allowed me to keep my girls inside for a little longer. Trust yourself. When you know there’s something wrong, do whatever you need to to make other people believe it too. Today, my girls are three years old and perfect.
This story was written by Dè Oehm.