This week, Jill answers a listener question about kidney stone fear and anxiety.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
Stop Kidney Stones Once and For All
- Kidney Stone Prevention Course
- Kidney Stone Diet Meal Plans
- 24 Hour Urine Collection Analysis
- Private Coaching
Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
Love this episode? There’s more!
Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: We are back at it again! We got another color of this shirt. I love it!
Jill Harris: Jeff, we need more colors!
Jeff Sarris: Definitely! It’s funny. No one sees it, but you’re still pulling the tag off the shoulder because it’s brand new.
Jill Harris: Brand new!
Jeff Sarris: We just did these! It’s fun to have all these different options, now, out there and stock up. I definitely need to stock up, myself, so, hopefully, by the next episode, I’ll be wearing something–wearing something as though I’m not wearing a shirt right now. Wearing a Kidney Stone Diet shirt!
Jill Harris: Yeah, we need one special for you. We need one just with that–we need one just with the Kidney Stone logo.
Jeff Sarris: That’s what I’m thinking for me.
Jill Harris: That’s what you would get.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, that’s definitely my vibe. I love the simplicity and I’ve always loved that. It’s just fun and the typography on the “Portion, not perfection.” It’s just–all of it. I really like it.
Now Announcing: The Kidney Stone Diet Snack Book!
Jill Harris: Yeah, Dave is the third partner in Kidney Stone Diet and he just he’s friggin’ amazing, man. So, right now, people, it’s not out yet, but it’s a-comin’! By the time this is aired, I would think it’s gonna be here and it’s a snack book!We have the meal plan for kidney stone formers, a bunch of recipes you get every Sunday in your inbox, all Kidney Stone Diet-compliant, safe, simple, so good. And, now, momma’s been working on a snack book for months. I’m editing it right now and it’s going to be amazing Kidney Stone Diet-safe snacks, and they are delicious, and fun, and simple, and all the things. I’m really proud of it.
Jeff Sarris: Definitely! I loved watching it come together. And it’s funny because these things are always happening, but we don’t always talk about them because they take a while. Like you said, it’s been months. And that’s the beauty with something like the meal plans, too, as well, like sort of alongside it, it’s growing constantly. It’s not just a one-and-done. That is the only downside with the book because it is a little more concrete. It’s in print, of sorts, even though it’s digital and whatnot, but it’s just going to be one more way for people to have the inspiration of different ideas and things that they’re able to do to stay on track.
Jill Harris: Well, everybody’s always like, “Jill, I need a damn snack, girl! What am I supposed to be like a nun the rest of my life?” No, of course not! I expect people to have snacks. And these snacks aren’t–people are like, “Oh, you have a sugar craving? Have an apple.” Who the hell wants a friggin’ apple when you’re craving Ben & Jerry’s?! Nobody’s looking for a damn apple. That ain’t hittin’ it. So, you’re gonna have the apple and then you’re still gonna have the Ben & Jerry’s. That’s how that goes. So, these snacks, there are a couple veggie ones, but a lot of them I’m telling you–things like milkshakes and all kinds of things. I mean, doughnuts, and you’ll see what I mean when you see it, but I mean, some mug cakes, all kinds of things. I love it! I love the snack book!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and just expanding the offering, too, to hopefully help as many people as possible because $19 a month on meal plans, it does add up and we know that, but it’s like we want to help keep you on track. So, hopefully, this is another entry point for someone where it’s like, “Okay, now I can always refer to this book forever.” And just know like, “Oh, I need something now. Let me look here. Let me find inspiration. Let me find a recipe. Let me find whatever.” So, with that, what do you say we dive into this week’s question?
Jill Harris: Oh, okay!
How to Get Over the Fear of Kidney Stone Pain
Listener Voicemail: Hi, my name is Allen. I live in Lewisville, Indiana. My question is, the last time I passed a kidney stone was about 12 or 13 years ago and my body will not let go of those symptoms. I’ve been struggling with it for a while. So my question is, how do we get over the fear of having that sensation or that pain again? I’ve been following a very healthy diet and then I randomly found you guys on an internet search. Any insights would be most helpful. I appreciate what you guys are doing. So that is all. Thank you so much!
Jill Harris: Allen from Indiana, Allen! So, this really resonates with me and, you know, when people join the Kidney Stone Prevention Course, which is, of course, on sale, people, at the airing of this. It could be off by the time you’re looking at this, check the website at kidneystonediet.com, but right now we have $40 off. And the reason I’m bringing the Course up is exactly what Alan said. The course is a set of videos and then it comes with these group calls, support calls. I can’t tell you how many people in those calls what we’re dealing–we’re not talking about cucumbers and oxalate all the time. What we’re talking about is exactly what Alan said.
It’s been 12 years ago since he’s had a kidney stone and he wasn’t specific. He said his body’s holding on to that. So I’m going to, Allen, I’m going to insert what I interpret from that, but you can certainly call us back and talk more about exactly what you were feeling. But, typically, my kidney stone formers tell me this: “Jill, it’s been years since I’ve had a kidney stone, but, I swear to God, every time I get up, and I feel a little bip or a boop, I’m like, ‘Oh, holy bragoli, here comes one.” And the anxiety that comes with that keeps people from traveling, from taking vacations, from starting maybe a hobby that’s going to keep them out of the house or away for a long time. I’m just telling you, what people tell me.
And the fear and the trauma of going through a kidney stone, that pain that always seems to happen in the middle of the night to wake you up, it’s a pain that takes your breath away. I haven’t had a kidney stone, but from what I hear, takes your breath away worse than childbirth. Vomiting, diarrhea, it’s terrible. It comes on so suddenly and then to not know what to do, you just are freaking out! You’re like, “Oh my god, I never want to go deal with that again!” So, you start Googling things and then you get all this conflictual information. You don’t know what to believe, you don’t know who to believe. One oxalate says something’s high here, the other one says it’s slow.
People come to me they’ve stopped eating and they’ve lost a lot of weight because they have such a fear and anxiety from the trauma of that experience and the lack of correct information. I mean, I don’t know. Because I’ve been so sick in my life and because I’ve heard so many stories for decades, my heart just always explodes when somebody tells me–I, physically, know what he means. I’m always, even though I’m healthy, and all these things and my cancer is in remission, there’s not a day that doesn’t go by where I’m not worried it’s going to come back. So I don’t give a damn if it’s cancer, or a kidney stone, or somebody who suffers from asthma, and they’re like, “Oh, am I going to have an attack today?”
Whenever you have had a health scare, the scare doesn’t go away when your health is better. That stays in your brain and heart forever because it’s scary and through your for loop and fill-in-the-blank for what it caused you. So, here’s how I think about Allen. I think, wow, he’s pretty friggin’ amazing that he’s going to put himself out here on the internet and say, “Listen, I had a kidney stone 12 years ago and I’m still scared about it every time I get a twinge. I’m afraid that I’m gonna go through that, again.”
It takes a lot to come and say that. It’s not easy to say that. I know because it’s not easy for me to say I get scared, or I have anxiety, thinking about if my medical condition is going to come back, but that’s how we feel. That’s how people who have been sick feel. We are always worried about that. So what I’ve learned in my health journey, what I’m going to bestow upon Allen is take that fear and use it as a negative motivator. Something that when you wake up in the day and you have that feeling or if he wakes up and he feels that twinge in his back and he’s worried about what that’s going to be, use it as a reminder to do as good as you can for that day.
Be your very best self. Manage your stress. Try to get enough sleep. Move your body because you can, not because you have to. Because you can. Eat well so you can move your body. Maintain your weight, lose weight if you need it. Gain weight if you need it. Manage your stress, all the things. Wash your hands, stay away from sick people. All the things that are going to keep you out of a hospital or doctor’s office, do your very best. And, typically, if you’re doing your very best on most days, you will never have a kidney stone again. And if you are–again, I’m being presumptuous assuming what you’re saying, so you can correct me in another call if it wasn’t quite that–but if you are feeling things in your back, and you’re not quite sure do I still have some remnants left of a stone? What’s going on?
You should get some imaging done to assure yourself to help with that anxiety. If you do get some imaging done and you are in the clear, you still may have to live with that anxiety. And if you do, use it as I use mine as a negative motivator to keep me compliant for the long haul of trying to maintain my health, too. So that’s all we can do at the end of the day, but if we’re doing what we can do, then if something, God forbid, does happen to us, at least we get some solace knowing we did all we can do because that’s all we can do. So I want you to understand that my heart totally feels what you’re saying more than you can even understand.
And I’m so grateful that you had enough wherewithal to come on here and share that not just with Jeff and me, but for everybody who’s watching this show because when I tell you, Allen, that so many people, so many kidney stones sufferers suffer with anxiety, they do. So I actually have an article on my website about fear and kidney stones because it’s something that is brought up in my practice every day, every day, because that’s how bad a kidney stone is. I have devoted my career to this one section of medicine because there’s just not enough good information here. I feel like kidney stone formers are the underdog and so I always take to underdogs in life. So, you know, I’ll always be a kidney stone nurse. That’s what I love and that’s where I want to be because that’s where I’m needed the most for me, anyway.
So, Allen, I can’t thank you enough for calling and being brave enough to say, “Hey, look, old lady, it scares the shit out of me to be having these pains.” So, number one, if that is what you’re saying, I would like you to call your doctor and say, “Look, I’d like some imaging to rule out anything.” And make sure you’re okay. If it’s just pure anxiety from having that experience, use that to motivate yourself to stay compliant as it sounds like you’re already doing. And if you are and you’ve done a urine collection, and every thing says you have a very low stone risk continue on that path.
I will remind you, Allen, too, you should get a urine collection because that would help ease your anxiety, too, if you never got one before. Although it may be hard to order one, if you don’t have any need for right now. Meaning I don’t know what they would put as a diagnosis code. A doctor would need to say something in order to order the test, but you know what I’m saying. If you need one of those, get one, too, because that would help your anxiety. It would also double check to make sure the Diet is working for you and you don’t need meds or anything extra along with Diet. The Diet always has to be in place, but some of you will also need meds to help you along, too.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and I think that’s so important. I’m glad he brought it up because there are so many people who are feeling the same thing and, I mean, if you’re in the same boat, leave a comment below. Just share with one another how you’re feeling, where you’re at right now, whether you’re experiencing kidney stones currently, or if you’re in a similar place as Allen and you’ve had them in the past, and it’s just that they are so they’re so impactful on our lives, that it’s not something you easily just just put out of mind.
Jill Harris: No, and it’s always for long-term stone formers because they haven’t gotten the help they needed yet. You know, they’re familiar with the signs, they’re kind of like, “Been there, done that.” But, for other people, who, you know, it just came out of the blue, so many stone formers it just came out of the blue. They didn’t know nothing about kidney stones and all of a sudden they have this pain that they’re making. They just can’t even stand up. I mean, that’s just traumatizing is what it is and that’s why people feel that way about kidney stones. They never want to experience that again. Kidney stones are known as the worst pain ever, right? The worst pain ever.
So, yes, typically, that motivates people to get something done. The people that have not had that intense pain–and there are many that don’t. You don’t hear about them because they have nothing to complain about, so you’re not hearing from those people, but I know there’s lots of people that don’t have pain when they have kidney stones. They tend to seek help later, until the time comes where they are in intense pain. They’re like, “Whoa, I never had pain and then I had this. Let’s talk about diet, Jill!” Then, they’re motivated! Pain is a powerful motivator. Pain is a powerful motivator. Illness is a powerful motivator. So, you know, that’s why Allen feels lucky. So, obviously, he had a traumatic experience with it and so he’s worried about it. He needs to do whatever he can to manage that, for sure, because that’s not a good feeling to walk around with.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and then, again, we have the Facebook group. The Kidney Stone Prevention Group on Facebook. There are a lot of people there sharing their stories, sharing their experiences, so maybe that could could help as well to a degree. Nothing’s fixed, but hopefully it helps to a degree. So, thank you so much, Allen, for your question. I think that was a wonderful one. Just really something to address that wouldn’t always come up just, naturally, because it’s not a standard question, necessarily.
Jill Harris: And I don’t want people to feel alone, because that’s so common, but, like I said, a lot of people don’t have the wherewithal to bring that up. “Ah, I don’t want to tell them I’m anxious or I’m nervous.” We need to talk about that. Life ain’t always cheery, folks! We’ve got to talk about the hard things, too. And that is another thing this podcast is about. Life is not about just having a great day because lots of days ain’t. So we need to be supportive of each other when times aren’t that great, when we are suffering from anxiety and stress. Obviously, if you’re really dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety, you should contact–you should have a therapist in your tool belt as well. It’s very helpful to get that support.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, definitely. So, thank you again for your question. If you’re out there with a question that you would like answered on a future episode, the number is 773-789-8763 and we will feature your voice in the future. I think with that, that’s a good place to wrap. So thank you again, everyone, for listening. Thank you, Allen, for the question, and we will see you next time!
Jill Harris: Thank you, Allen!