Dealing With Kidney Stones and Sinus Infections in Aruba and Bonaire

 

August, Sept 2017

Angie has been self-medicating for a while now, since the original prescriptions (Buscopan and Norfloxacine) did not help for the stones. Of course, to compound the misery, Angie ended up with a massive sinus infection besides never passing the kidney stones.  With a passage crossing in the near future, we ended up going through ALL of the Arubian medical options. Angie didn’t want to be dealing with a kidney stone passing while doing 4 hr shifts in possible rough seas.

Mark made over 15 phone calls in one day trying to find the ultrasound device that could blast the stones (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy).   He found one at the hospital.   To add to his frustration, when he got back to the dinghy dock at Renaissance Marina, the big Party/Dinner Pirate ship was dumping their bilge and deck water wash overboard and into our dink.  It was sunk, almost up to the top of the tubes.  Mark started pumping with the hand pump. One crew member looked overboard, felt bad, and helped Mark bail with our “lookie bucket,” subsequently, managing to break it. No more device to look through the waves to the bottom of the seafloor to see how our anchor is set, or see what kind of coral or reef life is below.  It is going to need some repair work.

The next day, the original Dr would not do a referral, so we ended up taking a taxi to the ER, trying our luck at being able to have it done as a walk-in.   Well, the front desk people didn’t know what we were talking about (again). After finally getting a consultation, we were directed across the compound, to the Urology complex.  They REALLY did not want to talk to us without a referral.  Again, after many phone calls, we were told that the hospital had the device (Surprise.)  However, it would take over a month to go through the paperwork process to be able to have the 5 minute procedure done through their department at the surgery unit.

We have both had stones blasted before, and know the procedure well.  We probably could do it ourselves by this point, as long as they had the machine turned to the proper frequency.  They were making it sound like a complex surgical procedure, when it really is a 5 minute process, in and out. Maybe something was lost in the translations.

The urology front desk lady took pity on us and wrote down another holistic item to try (Changa Piedra) along with the name of a prescription drug to use (Tamsulosine HCl).  However, we would have to come back at 6 pm to have a Dr at the walk-in clinic next door write the script.  We walked to Super Foods, a grocery store that also has a nice deli, to discuss the options over lunch.   We didn’t want to wait around another 4 hours or pay for another round trip taxi ride for more questionable appointments and recommendations.  Most importantly, we did not want to dinghy back the 2 mile ocean route to Uno Mas in the dark, after it was all said and done.  We decided to go back to OJ and call the original Dr.  He was none too pleased with all of the phone calls he was receiving regarding our situation that day. However, Angie begged him to call in the new prescription at a pharmacy within walking distance. Surprisingly, he did!  Of course, when we got there, we had to slip an extra $20 for his “consultation” to the pharmacist, but at least we got the med.  Then, it took us 2 more days of walking around to all of the boticas looking for the natural stuff, Changa Piedra….YEAH…. Not happening, but we were given another alternative (Reinosan). We have no idea what it is. Everything on the label and packaging is in Dutch.

While standing around waiting for the prescription, one lady started telling Angie about a “cleanse” that she did to get rid of her kidney stones.  Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Epson Salts.  So, we had to google that and see what it is all about, incase nothing else works.  It looks to be similar to a liver/gallbladder cleanse Mark did a couple of years ago.  It was a violent shock to his system. One didn’t stray too far from the bathroom while doing it.  We picked up all of the necessary items, but will shelve that remedy until everything else fails.

We also started looking online to see if we could buy our own machine, since this seems to be a recurring issue.  Used, the proper machine is over $12k. New, they are $25k.  So, that is not going to happen.  There is no way we would buy a piece of equipment like that and bring it into the caustic and violent environment of being on a boat.  We bet it probably would not make it through our next passage, no matter how well Mark packed it.  The salt from the sea water and air finds its way into anything we think we have properly sealed or packed. Another alternative is to have Angie fly back to AZ to our ultrasound person.  However, those tickets, short notice,  were pretty steep as well.

So, now the problem is, Angie is on heavy antibiotics, allergy and decongestant meds for the sinus infection.  She opted to get through all of that before adding more stuff to the pill piles in the morning or risk something  reacting with all of the other stuff.   The Kidney Stone Evacuation Project has been placed on hold until the pains become predominant again.

This is what Angie is doing to hold the kidney stone project at bay: Chugging ½ cup lemon juice every morning with a full glass of water and an Emergen-C packet, then a large glass of cranberry juice, then taking mega doses of cranberry pills, along with “Stone Free”, a B-multivitamin, and a fish oil pill plus copious amounts of water throughout the day.  After a week of this, the pain subsided.  All of the acid may have broken it up, smoothed it down, not sure.  However, after a week of the lemon juice in the morning, Angie’s teeth started hurting, so she stopped doing that, hoping she didn’t do serious damage to the enamel, even though she was drinking it with a straw.

Update: This has been going on for about 3 months.  Unfortunately on Sept 21, the kidney pains came back.  Angie has started to 2nd round of meds from the Urology personnel. The sinus infection is still not cleared up (It has been a month). So, it looks like we may be seeing what Bonaire has to offer regarding an ESWL machine and a severe sinus infection.

On an interesting side note, Angie has been taking Heliocare, a natural “sunblock” in pill form made out of ferns to help counteract the added sensitivity to sun while on the antibiotics.  It actually seems to work.  However, it seems that it is being discontinued when we tried to find more to be shipped.  That is a shame.

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