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The Day I Was Diagnosed as Being Totally Tubular – or How I Learned to Love RTA

Have I mentioned how much I dislike the urology practice to which I go?  No?  Probably because if I get on a roll about it, I won’t stop.  Let’s just say that today did  nothing to redeem this practice in terms of how much faith I have in them.


So today was my post-surgical follow up visit after stones were removed from my kidneys.  The stones were analyzed, and they were deemed to be mostly calcium phosphate stones.  After further review of my medical records, the doctor diagnosed me with a disease called Renal Tubular Acidosis.  It sounds way more fun than I think it’s actually going to be.  When I hear “tubular”, I think waves and sand and sun kissed surfers with white blonde hair and a six pack (abdominal and liquid).  Apparently, this is not the case.

I have more tests to go through over the next few weeks, but I think the most important test that lies ahead of me is the test of my courage at finding another urology practice.  I hate starting over with new doctors, and there is a big part of me that thinks if I stay on top of my care with this office, I can negate any potential damage the incompetence of the staff will cause (like today, when I walked in, and they wanted to know about taking my stent out.  Ummm, you mean the one I took out myself after 48 hours, as instructed?).


While untreated, this disease can lead to total kidney failure, I had a really awesome sign that made me feel so much better about the way things will go.  My dad, who died from renal failure as a complication of his diabetes, loved Tiny Tim from the Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol”.  I grew up loving the story, and even now, I will watch every version I can find over the Christmas holidays.  Driving home from the urologist, worried about this new diagnosis, I started furiously Googling to see what information I could find that the doctor didn’t give me (which, by the way, was none).  I found this:

One researcher has theorized that Charles Dickens may have been describing a child with RTA in the character of Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim’s small stature, malformed limbs, and periods of weakness are all possible consequences of the chemical imbalance caused by RTA.1 In the story, Tiny Tim recovers when he receives medical treatment, which would likely have included sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate, alkaline agents to neutralize acidic blood. The good news is that medical treatment can indeed reverse the effects of RTA.

Pretty sure it was a sign from my dad.

And on that note –