Saving $900 by standing upside down 10 minutes per day - Passing kidney stones that hadn't moved for 19 monhts


Disclaimer: The method I describe here worked for me, but it does not mean it works for everyone.  Probably the geometry of kidneys differs from person to person, and an exercise that works for one person may not work for someone else.  If you want to try, be sure to talk to your physician and confirm you are healthy enough to stand upside down for prolonged period of time.  I won't be responsible for any kind of damage from practicing the method described in here.  In fact, I feel blood pressure increasing in my head when I do this exercise.  Unless you confirm with your doctor that you are healthy enough to do so, it may cause permanent damage to your organs, or may even cause death.  Also, if you do this, do it in an open space.  Falling on a debris may lead to an injury or you may crush something valuable.

I had been grounded for about a week due to kidney stones.  In fact, I had one stone from my right and left kidney each and was taken to ER three times.  The first time was when I was in California to visit Chino air show.  I experienced an excruciating pain in my right abdomen.  But, the doctor could not find a stone anywhere.  The doctor only suspected a kidney stone, but since no stone was found, the cause of the pain was unknown.

About a year later, I had a similar pain from my left abdomen, and I passed a pretty big stone.  But, my primary care physician said that the stone was out and it's done.  So, I thought it's done.  He didn't send me to a urologist, and he didn't order or recommend any further tests.  But, I started kidney-stone prevention diet then.  I loved spinach, but I've been avoiding since then.  I used to drink black coffee, but now I add milk.

A stone was out, and I started a prevention diet, so I was supposed to be stone free.  But, another pain struck me in my right abdomen in December of the next year.  My guess is it was from the same stone that hauled me to ER in California.  The doctor who saw me in ER took a CT scan, and confirmed a stone in my right kidney.

Since a stone was confirmed, I was sent to a urologist.  (I wish my previous PCP had done that in the first occasion.)  Expert advice was logically made sense.  I added one glass of orange juice and one piece of cheese per day to my diet.

And, for the first time in my life, I laid on a surgery table.  I had a procedure called ESWL, pronounced like eshwall, in which a kidney stone is fractured into smaller pieces by applying ultrasound shockwave.  According to the pre-op explanation, I was supposed to receive a partial anesthesia, so I was sort of looking forward to seeing how the procedure is done, but it was pretty much a full-body anesthesia.  I fell asleep and woke up when everything was over.  The procedure was successful.  My urologist told that although two tiny pieces remained, the two pieces were insignificant, and were nothing to be worried about.

I took X-Ray a few weeks ago and met with my urologist last week for annual check-up.  Since I was explained that tiny kidney stones tend to come out naturally, I was expecting my kidney should be completely stone-free by this time.

In contrary, the X-ray indicated the two pieces still staying, although the size didn't change.  If the doctor didn't tell me the exact size, I would have just thought the remaining stones were still insignificant, but the doctor told that two stones were about 4mm.

The good news was that the stones were not growing.  My diet was working.  But, 4mm doesn't sound tiny enough for me.  I asked AOPA pilot information service, and confirmed that I am not allowed to fly if I have a kidney stone greater than 2mm.  So, I was automatically grounded.

I made an appointment for my second ESWL for the next week.

The doctor also said that the two stones didn't come out maybe because the stones were staying in the lower part of my kidney.  It was a very important information to me.  Calcium-oxalate stones are heavier than the water.  It sinks.  If the stone sinks below urethra, it has little chance of coming up and passing into urethra.

I started my desperate attempt to pass the remaining stones.  I was standing upside down for 10 minutes per day followed by 100-times jumps.  I didn't have to stretch my arms and keep the head off the floor.  I kept my head, shoulder, and elbow on the floor, held my back by hand, and stretched my legs straight up just like a kind of yoga pose.  But, I made sure my kidneys were upside down.

American urologists apparently believe that no exercise can shake and pass a kidney stone.  But, since I am able to read Japanese, I also looked at some Japanese doctors' web sites.  Interestingly, Japanese urologists suggest to jump rope to shake and pass stones.  I don't have a jump rope, but I can just jump.  However, if my stones were in the lower part of the kidney, jumping isn't good enough from physics point of view. 

I need to move my stones up first.  To do it, I need to apply negative G force to my kidney.  In jump rope, the body experiences a greater than 1.0 positive G when the legs kick the ground.  However, in the air, the body is just free-falling, and is subject to zero G.  Therefore, the stones doesn't move upward much.

It would be fun if I can fly upside down for a few minutes per day.  But, I was grounded, and am not certified for aerobatics anyway.  Instead, I stood upside down.  Since the body is subject to positive 1G when I am upright, I can apply negative 1G to my body by standing upside down.

Still, the chance of passing the stones looked slim.  My urologist told me that exercise wouldn't help.  I was just desperately hoping this upside-down exercise passes my stones.

To my happy surprise, the first stone came out on the second day.  I was able to retrieve.  Its diameter was 2mm.  Wasn't it 4mm?  Maybe one of the two shadows on the X-ray were of two stones located close to each other.  If so, I might have 3 stones.

I kept this exercise and on the third day, I had some pain in my right abdomen, which was nothing compared to the one I had when I was taken to ER.  I even had a feeling that the stone was coming out later at night, but the stone didn't come out.

But, on the fifth day morning, I passed the second stone.  The stone fell into the drain too quickly and I could not measure the size.  But, it was larger than the first stone.  Two out.  But, I kept the same exercise.

In the afternoon, almost immediately after I did the upside-down exercise, I felt a sharp pain in my right abdomen.  It was much sharper than the previous pain.  It was not incapacitating pain at all though.  The pain lasted about 1.5 hours.  Almost immediately after the pain was gone, I passed the third stone.  The size of the stone was 4mm.

I told my urologist that I passed three stones, then he gave me a prescription for X-ray.  I visited the hospital for pre-operative exam on Tuesday and took an X-ray at the same time.  If the X-ray indicates that the stones are gone, I don't have to go through my second ESWL, which would cost about $900, and I can fly again since my 3rd-class medical is still valid.

The next day, one day before my ESWL was scheduled, my urologist called and told that I am stone free!  I was able to save $900 just by standing upside down for 10 minutes per day.

I was able to pass three kidney stones that were staying over 19 months by exercise.  I think it is possible to physically shake and pass kidney stones.  I think the combination of jumping and standing upside down are effective, at least for me.  I will continue this exercise as a part of my daily routine.  In case I get a new kidney stone, all I need to do is pass it before it grows greater than 2mm.

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