A couple of years ago I developed a stomach ache that didn't go away. It was like I was having cramps throughout the day. It gradually got worse, so I went to see a gastroenterologist who diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome and put me on acid-blocking medication. It didn't help, and I ended up going to the emergency room twice because my stomach hurt so badly. Finally the gastroenterologist ordered a CT scan, which showed a mass in my ureteropelvic junction that was blocking my urine flow. So he sent me to a urologist.
After doing a renal scan, the urologist told me, "You're going to need to have a biopsy." The biopsy revealed that the growth wasn't cancer, which was a huge relief. Instead, it was from a condition called retroperitoneal fibrosis. "It's so rare, it has just one paragraph in the medical books," my doctor said.
He prescribed prednisone pills to shrink the mass, and they worked well enough to partially unblock my urinary tract and stop the pain. The urologist also put a stent in my urinary tract to be on the safe side. I had regular CT scans to check on my progress. They showed that some of the mass was still there, so the doctor had to keep replacing the stent every three months. After a year and a half of this, he said, "You can either go on getting new stents for the rest of your life, or you can have surgery." When I replied that I'd consider surgery, he referred me to Dr. Michael Stifelman.
After Dr. Stifelman did a renal scan of his own, he recommended an operation called a ureterolysis with an omental wrap. He told me he'd done this type of procedure a number of times, and that he'd always been successful. He explained the procedure in detail, and even showed me a video of him performing the procedure. It was clear he really knew his stuff, and that made me feel confident. I also brought my fiancée and my parents to meet him, and they were impressed as well.
I had the procedure done in the first week of January, 2010, on a Friday morning. When I woke up, I felt fine, and wasn't in much pain at all. By Saturday morning I was up and walking, and I checked out of the hospital that afternoon. Three weeks into my recovery, I'd pretty much resumed all my normal activities.
A month after the operation I went back to see Dr. Stifelman, who did another renal scan to check everything out. He was pleased with the result, and took out my stent for the last time. Since then, I've been up and about, feeling great and completely symptom-free. Dr. Stifelman did a very good job, and I want to thank him for helping me get over my condition. It's all worked out really well.