Kidney stone pain can be extreme — so much so that some women insist it is worse than giving birth.

“I would definitely take childbirth over having kidney stones any day, hands down,” said Tonya Struble, of New Berlin. “I dealt with them while pregnant with my youngest daughter, and going through both at the same time is the worst. You just have to deal with the pain for the sake of your child.”

Her first experience with kidney stones came while three months pregnant. She felt really warm and her doctor urged her to go directly to the hospital.

“My husband went to get the car out of the garage and I remember everything went black but I was able to make my way over to my refrigerator and open the freezer door and I just lowered myself to the ground,” she said “I was still unable to see anything but could hear everything and my husband got me out to the car and to the hospital.”

She was diagnosed with kidney stones but told nothing could be done for them until she delivered her daughter.

“The doctor pretty much said, ‘sorry about your luck, but come back and see me in about six months after you have your baby,’” Struble remembered. She returned and received a treatment called lithotripsy, which blasted the kidney stones into pieces small enough to pass.

For 78-year-old Mary Ann Kantz, of Richfield, the initial experience with kidney stones started with flu-like symptoms.

“On Feb. 27, I woke up with a small tummy ache and after breakfast, I started throwing up. I threw up for two whole days and nights — dry heaving when nothing was left to throw up,” she said. 

She finally went to the hospital to find out she had a bad infection but the kidney stones weren’t found until she had a CAT scan and MRI the next morning — five of them between her two kidneys and her bladder. The one in her bladder passed that evening.

The next morning, she went for surgery.

“They got the stone out in my right kidney but the one in the left they couldn’t remove because the kidney had gotten so infected,” she said. “They put in a stent and told me I’d have to come back at a later time once the infection was cleared up.”

Ultimately, Kantz said, she dealt with a lot of pain, especially in her front lower abdomen. Her stent was in about five to six weeks and it took several appointments and procedures between when everything started and early May.

“I got so weak at times, I couldn’t get out of my recliner by myself,” she said. “I was never in the hospital before. I was never on any medications, so this was an experience. I feel Geisinger saved my life.”

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