Monday, 7 May 2012

Kidney Stone Practice

This post should no doubt go with the label 'a little too much information' turn away now if your squeamish.

So Kidney stones and I'm blaming the Spinach.

Some background

I had Kidney stones for the first time eight years ago.

Kidney stones pain is quite something, some woman have claimed it to be worse than childhood (but then we all know that male doctors give new mothers something to completely forgot the experience of childbirth they'll go through it all again. It is,, I'm told, something that's been going on for tens of thousands of years, a conspiracy among doctors).

Anyway it's nasty. Eight years ago I assumed it was something I'd eaten (not wrong) that didn't agree with me (again, not wrong) and thought it was a stomach ache that would pass. I walked around the garden a hundred times, sat in a hot bath, rolled around on the floor, sat in a cold bath, moaned and groaned quite a lot but still refused to call the doctors (English, don't like to be a bother). It was a couple days and several attacks later that , following sustained threats from M.  I called the NHS direct medical helpline.

Next day the pain hit on the bus to London, awful because you have to try and be dignified and can't curl up on the seat or preferably under it in, fatal position (all I could think of at the time) but have to cowboy it out. I went straight to the hospital and it was eight hours of agony and tests before they gave me some morphine or something through the drip, ahhh bliss.

A couple of weeks of peeing through a tea strainer (told you, too much information) that I had to carry around everywhere in my pocket and the little bugger was out.

Turns out it was of the common Calcium oxalate variety and had most likely been a result of the rhubarb (high oxalate  content or something) from the garden that we'd been eating for the last couple of weeks.

That was eight years ago and since then I took up Yoga, lost a huge amount of weight , went Veggie, pretty much gave up drinking or a least cut down drastically and thought I'd never be troubled with them again.

About a month ago I discovered green smoothies, spinach were my favourite and I had one everyday, other leafy greens too but mostly spinach.

Here's a list of foods to be careful with if you have a history of Kidney stones

Foods and Drinks Containing Oxalate
People prone to forming calcium oxalate stones may be asked by their doctor to limit or avoid certain foods if their urine contains an excess of oxalate.

High-oxalate foods-higher to lower
swiss chard
wheat germ
soybean crackers
black Indian tea
sweet potatoes

Foods that have medium amounts of oxalate may be eaten in limited amounts.

Medium-oxalate foods-higher to lower
green pepper
red raspberries
fruit cake

Spinach right up there with my old nemesis Rhubarb, you do the math.

So it looks like the spinach in my green smoothies was the course of my second and current attack of kidney stones.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the noble green smoothie, I should have been more aware of the things I was supposed to avoid, spinach in particular, don't even remember it being on the list they gave me all those years ago.

Kidney stones tend to visit middle aged men, rotate your greens in the smoothies, I am in no way saying that green smoothies WILL give you kidney stones but If you've had stones before, do your research.

M., whose been doing a lot of research into this while I've been writhing about on the floor and sucking my thumb in fetalasana, has been pointing out that it's not that spinach and the foods mentioned in the list above are bad for you or even that you should necessarily avoid them or green smoothies. It seems its the relationship between Calcium and Oxalate, if you take in enough calcium then the two seem to balance or cancel each other before they reach the kidney's. However if you don't take enough calcium then the two end up meeting in the kidneys and stones can form. But it's complicated. You might take in a lot of calcium but if you eat a lot of salt, sweat a lot, drink quite a bit of alcohol, not enough water then this can affect the calcium level and put the calcium and oxalate levels out of sync which again can lead to stones in those susceptible to them. The point is, if you've ever had kidney stones then there's a good chance you can have them again and so need to research this stuff .....but while your sitting there with google drink a couple of litres of water.

So anyway, this time I knew the drill, at first I thought the pain I was feeling was a stomach upset, M. had left town for the weekend and I'd pulled a calf muscle running for work so couldn't get to the shops, ended up eating fish finger sandwiches for three days, all there was to eat in the freezer, thought perhaps they'd disagreed with me.

An hour later I pretty much knew it was kidney stones but with no car had to cowboy it out until the morning when I could take the bus to A& E (our ER).

Lots of tests, CAT scans, Kidney stones confirmed (top of the kidney supposedly), painkillers oven sent on my way.

Three days later the pain hits again and as the Verve sing ( and this song was going around and around in my head

"the drugs don't work"

Four hours later i try something else

two hours later still hunting around for anything resembling a painkiller

"the drugs don't work".

Nor by the way does sitting in baddha padmasana (nice pressure on the kidney from the arm) or pranayama though the latter helped and probably got me through the night.

Turns out the first doctor had his scan upside down or something and the stone was near the exit of the kidney, different ball game. This time I came away from the hospital with a big green bag of drugs, three kinds of pain killers.

A side affect however is constipation ( I know too much information, warned you) and we hate to do our practice ....unburdened. Even bought a couple of tins of prunes yesterday, what the hell do you do with prunes, disgusting things

Yesterday evening I couldn't bear it anymore and needed a full on Ashtanga practice, no deep profound  long stay, deep bandha'd long exhalated and breath retented (is that even a word) Krishnamacharya practice but a demon banishing, Pattabhi Jois knows best, sweaty, driving practice.

.....thing is, have you ever practiced on pain killers? Three kinds?

No pain gets through, no aches, or twinges was like ...what it must be to practice when your twenty-one or something.

OK, apologies, sure you have your aches when your twenty-one also but I promise you if your still practicing at forty-eight you'll know what I mean, lot of creaking a cacophony of twinges.

Lat night it was beautiful, apart from the nausea in standing postures and the constipation in the binds and weakness in jump throughs half way through but no aches, no pains.

This is a problem of course because there ar no warning signals and you have to be mindful, resist going too deep in the forward bends and backbends, remember where the aches and pains usually arise, my right knee for instance in half and full lotus, resist the urge for lots of hands free padmasana's in the joyfulness of practice.

So there you have it, a Kidney stones practice, seems it could take a couple of weeks for the little darlings to work their way out ( trying to get hold of this curious tea, Chanca Piedra, that  Madhu recommended, supposed to help encourage them along) but I can look forward to practicing like a twenty year old for a while 'though with the fear of that first drug free practice out there on the horizon.

By M. 5minutes ago (post practice)



  1. I have an own story wiht kidney stone. My first year doind yoga (sivananda) more than three hours each day... I suffered a kidney atack very painful. When I returned from the hospital I was more than one week with intense pain, almost impossible to walk, no yoga at all, just resting on the bed. Finally I decided to practice: no pain at all practice, so I did very very slow movements, just as I could breath slow and deep, in five minutes I started to sweet and get more space for the body movement specially for ardh matsyendrasana. Was a long practice but few asanas but very long stay on them with deep breathing and retention. When I realized I didnt feel pain. Was gone, was like if I never had a kidney atack. When I finish my practice, very happy of course, I went to the bathroom to pis. The doctors teld me about take the pis to see if the stone come out, but I stopped because always the same... drinking much water but not stones at all. So after the practice I did pis on the bathroom, and what a surprise the colour of the pis was almost black, so as fast as I realized I did pis on the can and I found a little stone.
    I hope you can find a way to manage the illness and the pain.

  2. You too, hope you go careful with the green smoothies. nice to hear yoga helps, it feels intuitively that it should encourage the stones to move on. Nice practice today, last night was a bit of a rush, decided to practice in the evening. This morning I could take my time, slow the breathing down, longer stays, will see what happens. Thanks for commenting on this and sharing your own experience.

  3. Sorry to hear you're going through this... horrible, but thanks for sharing your experience! Hope the little bugger is on its way out!!

  4. Thanks Susan, more of an inconvenience now the pain is being managed but with the bonus of ache free practices for a while, going to feel it though first practice off the meds a couple of weeks from now : )

  5. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  6. have you looked into using acqueous Bentonite to flush your system? It's a non-chemical way of flushing. Research it if not and ask your doctor about it. this is the brand i use (see name below), tho i have never had kidney stones or any major ailments, so can't report on that side of things. sorry for your pains...

    Look up: "Sonne's # 7"

    Various Google searches you might wish to explore: Bentonite + Kidney Stones; Montmorillonite + kidney stones; Pescalite + kidney stones

  7. Sheesh. That's rough, Grimm. Sorry to hear about your ordeal. Be careful with those painkillers. Godspeed to the stone!

  8. Oh no, Grim! So sorry you're suffering! Be well soon...

  9. Thanks everyone, I'm good, meds doing their job but it's getting old. Makes you think what it must have been like and still be like to suffer from these with no recourse to decent meds, unless your lucky enough to have a local, traditional treatment for getting rid of them. Reminded of that line referencing the jungle physician in the Ashtanga opening chant.

    Will check out the links and suggestions anon (I have some Chanca Piedr herbal tea on the way).



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta