Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Passing of the ( Kidney ) Stone

I turn 29 in April, it's quite the milestone... the last year before the big 3-0. There are certain indicators of age that come along to show the world your wisdom from time to time. I have a few gray hairs mixed in with the odd pigment-less ones I've had for a while now. I'm not as fast as I used to be, and I've got a bit of a belly on me. But the one thing that took me by complete surprise was the piercing pain in my kidney on Wednesday morning. I tried to work through it, but like the persistent muscle cramp you just can't get rid of, it lingered.

Soon I found myself curled in a ball on the floor, thinking that I would just wait a few minutes and let the pain subside. A few minutes later I was on the downstairs couch, then the bed, then the bathroom. When my wife got home from shopping I asked her to get me a glass of water and an ALEVE for the pain. She was kind enough to oblige but within two minutes of downing both I was puking meals I swore I ate last week onto the bathroom floor.

Well my wife, being the superhero she is, was instantly by my side and damming up the barf before it could make its way to the carpet. With the slimy gunk dripping from my mouth and my arms shaking as they held me up just inches from the pool of yuck, I looked up into her eyes and she asked me the question I was happy to hear and afraid to ask myself. "Do you want me to take you to the hospital?"

Prior to the vomit, I still held the wavering inclination that it was some weird muscle cramp in or around my kidney. I'm no medical expert, so I couldn't definitively say that it was my kidney. Now that I am quite familiar with the pain, I can tell you exactly where that little bean shaped scoundrel is. (Of course, you have two, but if you know where one is the other wouldn't be too hard to find.)

So, yeah, to the hospital we went. Each bump and jitter thrust a new wave of pain into my back. My brow was sweaty and cold, my skin was pale. I was praying for a kidney stone and hoping it wasn't something more serious. Some long hours and four holes in my arm later I got the news I'd been praying for. All my pain, all my nausea and trauma, was the product of a 4mm kidney stone.

I could feel my eyebrows crease in involuntary response and I observed, "That's a whole lot of pain for something so small." They picked it up on the scan and I headed home to let nature take its course.

Even after the stone took its leave of my facilities, my kidney pinged with the phantom pain as it let me know just how traumatic the experience had been. I could honestly compare the pain to that of being hit with a hammer in the back, not the first explosion but the lingering ache that stays with you...

This whole process had me out of the game until just yesterday. I might one day say that I am glad for the experience, but I attest to you here and now that I will never wish to relive those awful moments. (Nor the horrible exploratory surgery the nurse performed with the IV needle. I mentioned 4 holes in my arm, but I didn't mention the very colorful bruise I have as a souvenir...)


Jim Murdoch said...

I had a kidney stone when I was sixteen and Christ the pain that tiny thing caused me. I finally passed it but, and here's the funny thing, it got caught under my foreskin and when I found this lump I thought I had V.D. as it was called them. I never really considered where I might have contracted it since I wasn't sexually active at the time but it is funny looking back. I hung onto that stone for years. It was like a little lump of Demerara sugar. And a diameter of 4mm sounds about right.

Unknown said...

Aye! At 16!? That must have been quite alarming for you. I mean, by this point in my life I knew the pain could probably be a kidney stone. I mean, I didn't know that it could be so bad as to make me vomit, but at least I knew something. If this had happened at 16, I would have just plain freaked out!

So in that matter, I think your response is quite all right. I can only imagine what I would have come up with in that situation.