Not Again! – Kidney Stone #3

Updated on 2023-08-30

Disclaimer: The following is not medical advice and is provided for informational purposes only.

I began having periodic episodes of dark urine in March 2022. My urine was the color of swamp water on the first occurence in March 2022. A visit to a satellite emergency room for a local hospital the day following the first occurence resulted in the diagnosis of hematuria. However, that diagnosis was based on my description of my symptoms as my urine had cleared up by the time I gave a urine sample at the emergency room. I continued to have episodes of dark urine though.

On January 10, 2023, I sat down on the couch in the living room to watch YouTube videos for an hour or so before bathing and getting ready for bed. I am normally a bit uncomfortable while seated on the couch in the living room, possibly due to disc bulges in the thoracic area of my spine. At one point, the pain in what I thought was my thoracic area became quite intense. The pain continued when I got up for awhile to go do something, which was unusual. Normally, my thoracic pain subsides immediately upon standing.

The pain eventually subsided. However, while seated in the master bathroom after bathing, the pain came back and this time it was most notable in the lower left side of my back, also called the flank. Then it dawned on me…I was quite possibly experiencing my third kidney stone in less than 4 years.

My fear was confirmed two days later when I was awakened by pain in my left kidney area while lying on my left side in bed. I was dumbfounded. Why was I experiencing another kidney stone in less than 4 years?

After experiencing my second kidney stone, I went to see a nephrologist. The nephrologist was quite surprised that I endured the pain without taking any medication. He told me that there was medication available that could help break up kidney stones to help them pass easier and more quickly.

I didn’t want to take pharmaceutical medication, so I decided to research natural kidney stone remedies and I came across a product called Stone Breaker made by Herb Pharm.

I discovered that Stone Breaker was available at iHerb, but I didn’t want to wait 2 or more days for it to be shipped. A bit of Internet searching resulted in my finding out that the product was also offered locally at The Vitamin Shoppe. I went to The Vitamin Shoppe store located near me the following day and I purchased one bottle. They were running a clearance sale on the product because the corporate office decided to no longer carry it, although the clerk told me that locally it was a popular product. However, I only wanted to purchase one bottle in case I experienced adverse side effects.

When I got home, I took my first dose. Stone Breaker is quite foul tasting; kind of like drinking weed juice. I took the product three times a day until I passed the kidney stone, using almost 2 bottles.

Next, I began going over the information again provided in the Kidney Stone Guide Book, authored by Dr. Frederic L. Coe at the University of Chicago, that I came across after experiencing my second kidney stone. After going over the information, I decided to go on a low oxalate diet and to drink more water. I learned about the low oxalate diet after experiencing my second kidney stone, but I wasn’t completely sold on the idea that dietary oxalate content could cause kidney stones. I’m still not sold on the theory, but I don’t want to experience another kidney stone, so I decided to give the diet a try and see what happens.

Why am I still not sold on the idea that dietary oxalate content is the cause of kidney stones? Well, I grew up on mashed potatoes and gravy and fried meat (chicken and pork chops) breaded with flour. I also ate my fair share of milk chocolate. I usually ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch in elementary school before school lunches were introduced.

When I worked at McDonald’s during my first three years of college, I ate sandwiches and french fries on almost a daily basis. At college I developed a liking for corn grits and I ate them fairly often as a cereal for breakfast. I frequently stopped at a local pizzeria for pizza after college classes before boarding a bus for home.

While in the military, I would sometimes order a whole Domino’s medium pizza and eat the whole thing in one sitting. Also while in the military, I would get two slices of sweet potato pie or dutch apple pie (broken up in a bowl with milk poured over it) when they were available in the chow hall.

If dietary oxalate is the cause of kidney stones, why did I not develop any when I was younger?

I had a list of foods and their oxalate content, but I wanted something I could reference on my smartphone since I’m not always on my computer, nor did I want to have to access my computer every time I wanted to lookup the oxalate content of a food item. I decided to see what the Google Play Store had in the way of an Android app and I came across the Oxalate Counts app created by Denise Anderson.

Deciding to go on a low oxalate diet really knocked me out of my meal planning routine. To stay within my food budget, I began eating a lot more beans and baked potatoes, both of which have high oxalate counts. Therefore, I had to give up practically all beans and baked potatoes. I did discover that I could use black-eyed peas and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) in the recipes I have that call for beans; e.g. baked beans, chili, etc.

I also ate a large bowl of tortilla chips and about a half jar of salsa on Sundays. I had to stop doing that as well because tortilla chips have a high oxalate count if you eat enough of them. I ate brown rice with baked beans once a week, so I had to give up brown rice because it too is somewhat high in oxalate.

I have three recipes that call for the use of sweet potatoes, which are high in oxalate, so I will no longer be able to prepare those recipes. I ended up flushing quite a bit of prepared food, that I had stored in the freezer in our basement, down the toilet.

I had been eating 2-3 10-oz bags of dark chocolate chips on a monthly basis and I had to give that up because dark chocolate is very high in oxalate; 134mg in 1.75-oz containing 70-85% cacao content. Therefore, I was consuming 1,530mg – 2,297mg of oxalates on a monthly basis just from consuming dark chocolate chips.

I was taking 1.5g of curcumin, the main effective compound of turmeric, 5 days a week but turmeric is very high in oxalate so I’ve opted to take olive leaf extract for similar health benefits.

In my quest to learn more about kidney stones, I also decided to purchase the Kidney Stone 911 book. In that book, I learned about drinking lemon juice to help breakup existing kidney stones, as well as prevent the formation of new stones. I also came across the same information about lemon juice during Internet research to find additional information about kidney stones.

I didn’t want to drink lemon juice on a daily basis due to concerns about tooth enamel erosion and stomach irritation. I wondered if dried lemon was available in capsule form and I found a freeze-dried whole lemon product in capsule form on iHerb. The product is made by a company named Seagate. I began taking 2 capsules (900mg) of freeze-dried whole lemon on a daily basis.

I recommend taking the freeze-dried whole lemon with a meal. At first, I took the lemon only with water and the lemon began causing stomach irritation. Taking the freeze-dried lemon with meals has not caused any issues with my stomach.

Note: Freeze-dried whole lemon contains lemon peel, which is high in oxalates. Additionally, after publishing this post, I watched a video by Dr. Eric Berg about lemon juice consumption being implicated with osteoarthritis. I decided to do a bit of Internet research on my own and there are other possible side effects of long term lemon consumption. I recommend doing your own research about the side effects of long term lemon consumption before deciding to consume lemon on a regular basis. Following are a couple of posts to begin your research:

I’ve decided to stop regular consumption of freeze-dried whole lemon due to concerns about it causing or exacerbating arthritis. I don’t want any more health issues.

The symptoms of every kidney stone I’ve had have each been different, although all of them were painful. The pain I experienced with my third kidney stone was different than the pain I experienced with my first two stones. I experienced pressure-type pain with my third kidney stone. I sometimes wondered if the pressure-type pain was due to the stone causing a blockage. There were a few times when I wanted to urinate, but I was unable to pass any urine.

I finally passed the stone on February 08, 2023, sometime after 1800 hrs. I usually urinate in a detergent container to conserve water and I heard the stone hit the inside of the container when I urinated. I strained the urine when I emptied the container before going to bed and I was able to retrieve the stone from the strainer.

I passed the stone in just over a month, the fastest I’ve ever passed a kidney stone. I attribute the quick passage to drinking more water and using Stone Breaker and freeze-dried lemon. The kidney stone was a bit brittle, so I’m thinking the Stone Breaker and/or the freeze-dried lemon helped to dissolve some of it.

I currently continue to experience pain in my left kidney area after being in bed for 9-10 hours. Internet research indicates that this can be normal after passing a kidney stone, although I didn’t experience the same issue after passing my first two kidney stones.

Hopefully, the lifestyle changes I’ve made after experiencing my third kidney stone will prevent any further stone formation.

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