I love the University of Chicago Hospital (UCH). If you ever have a medical problem, go to UCH, they will help you. I had a prostatectomy done by the da Vinci surgical system three years ago. Dr. Zorn, my surgeon, never touched me during the surgery; the prostatectomy was all done via robotics. My surgeon sat behind a computer to do the operation.

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to check up on my recovery and discuss some questions that I had about my PSA number. Dr. Eggener went over all my prostate questions, and asked whether there were any other questions or concerns.

I told him that my local family doctor told me that I probably had a kidney stone. I was suffering from some pain, but it wasn’t in my kidneys. I wanted his diagnosis and treatment plan. Dr. Eggener said to go down the hall to an examining room, and he’d look into it.

My face must have looked shocked in response to his comment...looking into it. He assured me that I shouldn’t worry. He would be merely sending a TV-like camera up into my bladder and see whether a kidney stone was causing my problem. Well, I’ve seen TV cameras before…and I wondered about the procedure.

Trusting the UCH with my life, I did what he told me. Hopefully, you, the reader, won’t have to have a TV camera look inside you due to a possible kidney stone problem. So, in case you don’t, think about me as Michelangelo’s David with a kidney stone.

From the Galleria dell'Accademia.


From Kidney and Urology Foundation of America.

There I was on a table that a woman would use to deliver a baby. Every time that I moved, I would feel pain. Attempting to bring a bit of humor into this painful situation, I said to the nurse that I was hoping that I wasn’t pregnant. She was quick to assure me that they would soon find out whether or not I was going to have a baby. Then having assured me, she went back to the process of numbing me for the insertion of the camera into my urethra and then up into my bladder.

There I was all prepped for the doctor. I was lying there on a delivery table and my legs were even in the table’s stirrups. Dr. Eggener and another doctor came in, and they started the procedure. As a lay there, I looked around and wondered about all the devices in the room…and how many of them would be used in me.

I noticed that when I first laid down to my right side, there was a large computer monitor, but it obviously wasn’t going to be used since it was turned off. Having cased out the rest of the room, I started to count ceiling tiles while half-listening the doctors and nurse talk among themselves.

Suddenly, Dr. Eggener said to the other doctor to move the camera to the left. I immediately looked at them, but when I looked in their direction, I noticed that the large monitor was on. I was looking at my bladder, which looked like it was about 12-inches in diameter. The inside of the bladder was the color of my palm, and you could see very small blood vessels all around the inner wall of the bladder.

I was attempting to process several things simultaneously and not doing very well in that mental processing. My bladder seemed quite large, and there was no stone to be seen. If it wasn’t a kidney stone, what was it that caused me pain? I was starting to get concerned about some severe medical problem about which I was totally ignorant. In what was in real time a matter of less than a minute but that seemed like an hour to me, I lay there with mounting fears for my medical problems.

Suddenly, Dr. Eggener said with a self-assured since, "There it is." And there it was. It was a huge stone, which looked on the monitor to be at least 2x4-inches floating inside my bladder like a small asteroid floating in some orbit in interstellar space. It was a pockmarked stone with the color of a tarnished piece of gold nugget. If you had seen it on TV on a science program and some astronomer said it was the asteroid, 2060 Chiron, you would have accepted that person’s statement.

This is a painting of an asteroid by Dusan Petrovic.

They were happy, but I was concerned. I asked, "Okay, what are you going to do?" Dr. Eggener said that he would try grabbing it and pulling it out. I thought that it seemed on the monitor quite large even taking into account magnification on the monitor. I thought that pulling it out would be quite interesting feat. Also, I wondered how he’d see without a TV camera assisting him inside my bladder. There I was still pondering. Suddenly, I saw a set of alligator grippers appear on the screen. I had a TV camera and a set of alligator gripper inside my bladder. A delivery of a baby was looking like a more acceptable option had that option been open to me. After two attempts, he said that that it was too large to take out today. I had to return a week later and had a general anesthetic. I told you it was a huge stone…well, at least a very large one.

A week later, I am back at UCH. I was lying on a gurney in the pre-op area of the hospital. Two anesthesiologists, two doctors, and a pre-op nurse, all came by to introduce themselves to me. Dr. Gerber would do the actual procedure. I guess that they need that much help to extricate this kidney stone from my bladder. After all the introductions, a male nurse, who was the size of Chicago Bears defensive linebacker, took me to the operating room and chat-time was over. The nurse got me to the OR faster than I could have run there on a regular day. I felt like I was an important patient going to a lifesaving surgery.

He wheels me into the OR, and what do I see? The two anesthesiologists, the two doctors, and several others with medical masks on were waking for my arrival. I am moved from the gurney to operating table. Again, I am attempting to case the room and process why all those people are necessary. Suddenly, someone is putting electrodes onto my chest to monitor my heart. I must have looked extremely pale that a warranted a heart monitored. An anesthesiologist puts a breathing mask over my nose and mouth, and I was out. Dr. Gerber does the same thing that Dr. Eggener had done a week before except he put a laser into my bladder and destroys my floating asteroid-sized kidney stone.

The next thing that I noticed was that I was talking to a nurse in a recovery room. I had been in the OR for only 30-minutes. She told me that the surgery went well and that the catheter was removed. She warned me that over the next day that it would be painful to urinate. That was true the first time, but I was back to normal without any pain since that day. Again, thanks to the University of Chicago Hospital. This was a true but funny story about my kidney stone.