Congratulations! It’s A … (Diary Of A Kidney Stone – Part 1)
The following story while filled with humorous commentary, also makes adult references that may not be suitable for younger readers. Parental discretion is advised. Seriously. Don’t let the kids read this. Perhaps, maybe men shouldn’t read this either.
How many men have been scolded at, “if you only knew what it was like to give birth!”? My guess would be plenty. But how many men, and women could possibly know? Yes, I said “men and women”. Now before you go thinking, “Paul, you obviously failed Health Class in school if you don’t know that men cannot give birth.” To which I would respond, “Of course I know that men cannot give birth to babies.” But both men and women can give birth to something else, in what many women compare the pain level to worse than giving birth.
I have a history of not responding at the drop of a dime when it comes to my not feeling well. But in all honesty, this day did not begin with any kind of symptoms or foreshadowing. I had been at work a little bit more than an hour of the day, and had an urge to go to the bathroom. Odd, as I had gone just prior to leaving for work, but, okay, off I went. I position myself in front of the urinal as always and follow normal standard operating procedures and prepare to release.
At 46 years of age, I still do not trust my initial aim. I will spare the sophmoric humor about hits and misses, landing spots, and eeeww, that mat that surrounds the toilet. In an instant, what is normally instant relief turned into immediate horror. I was urinating bright red blood. It seemed too thick to be just urine. This cannot be happening. I cannot have cancer again. And as I can usually count on in times of crisis, a rationality kicks in. “You dope. It cannot be cancer. It just happened. If it were cancer, you would have had earlier symptoms, not this intant turn of events.”
So I put the old trouser trout back in, zip it up, and then realize my work uniform is white. And as if things were not bad enough, leakage. Not urine, blood. Dammit. I needed to get through this, and there was no way I could cover this up. Erections no one would say anything, nor would attention be paid to a simple wet spot. But this was a huge two inch diameter fabric-bleeding (no pun intended – but that is what happened) red stain. I may as well have had a lit road flare sticking out of my zipper.
I grabbed a clean pair of work pants from my locker, and then headed downstairs to the computer area because it only made sense, that when a man bleeds from his “plumbing”, it is obvious one should consult the internet instead of a medical professional, in other words, get the hell to a doctor. But my decision would obviously pay off. Punch in Google. And there it is, webmd.com symptom checker. Click on the groin, select “blood in urine” and there you go, instant diagnosis. Okay, there is cancer, urinary tract infection, and so on, endocarditis – a heart valve infection. I know from recent follow-up tests that valve issues still exist with my heart that have not been corrected. At this point, I decided it was out of my hands. Convinced I was having another heart episode, I needed to get help.
The quickest solution since I am particularly picky about my health care with my unusual circumstances was to have Wendy drive me instead of waiting for an ambulance. If it was heart-related, time was too important. But not important enough for me us to pass at least three other hospitals to get to the one that I wanted. Upon arrival I was panicked and anxious, and in spite of a full waiting room, I was taken immediately due to the mention of possible cardiac issues.
I was sedated as my vitals were escalating due to my excitedness. I awoke a few hours later to the ER doctor. He did not have a serious look on his face, in fact, there was a slight grin. “Mr. Edelman, I have some good news, and some bad news.” Why must every doctor I deal with put that statement to me? “Results from you CT scan show no Hodgkin’s Disease and no apparent issue with the heart.” Whoa, Hodgkin’s Disease? What? Why the hell were they checking for that? Again with the wild goose chases! “The bad news, you have a fairly decent sized kidney stone lodged in your kidney.” After confirmation that I had no pain, which the doctor stated was unusual to have blood prior to having pain from a stone. The bleeding usually occurs as the stone travels through the urinary tract and the stone’s surface irritates the lining of the tract. But more importantly, as the stone prepares to leave the kidney, blocking urine from exiting, there is great pain associated with that. GREAT PAIN! The doctor told me that with the stone still in the kidney, it could be quite some time before I passed it, if I passed it at all. But he assured me, I would know when it decided to finally move. The size of the stone was about 4mm, a good sized stone. The doctor said between 1-3 they usually let them pass on their own. 4-6 it can go either way, but usually some assistance is needed. And larger, well, I was not worried about the larger (surgical removal) as much as I was worried about pissing a bowling ball out of a straw. It was going to hurt like hell and tear the twig-and-berries apart.
So, I was sent home. If I was every freaked out about anything ever, it was now. Knowing that I was going to urinate something approximately the size of a frozen pea, did not give me anything to look forward to. I was told it could be days, weeks, maybe even months. The next day, as everyone at work found out that I had returned to work, found out what I was dealing with, all of a sudden felt the need to offer their experiences with their family members who all underwent stone passings. All mentioned the same level of pain, best description was a six foot bohoemath of a man curled up in a fetal position underneath his desk at work (thanks Ben – really needed to hear that).
An hour later, I had the urge to go to the bathroom. I was warned there could be more blood, which I was not worried about at this point. But when would the pain hit? And how bad would it be? And just like that, like an approaching summer thunderstorm, darkening skies, calm air, and a loud clap of thunder, pain began and quickly escalated, from 0 to 3 right away. This was it, the stone was finally coming, already. So I stood at the urinal, but nothing except more blood came out, and the pain increase to 4, then 5. I have to get out of here NOW! With no subtlety, I called my supervisor and told her to tell Wendy I was on my way, back to the ER, the stone was coming. Pain level now at 6. I got about half way to the parking garage when Wendy caught up with me. How was I going to drive? I could barely stand up anymore. Two minutes later we were at the car and I was at DEFCON 8! Cancer, splenectomy, heart surgery, broken bones, all combined never equaled the pain I was now feeling. Ten minutes later, my pain level hit 10. I could find no position in the car to get comfortable and began kicking at the interior of the car eventually lifting my legs to the windshield continuing to kick. I heard Wendy yell to get my shoes off, and then I blacked out. I started coming to as she came to a stop in the parking space.
I got out of the car on my own, having no idea where I was, but I knew I was in unbearable pain. Hunched over, I walked towards the entrance of the ER in just my socks. I was greeted by a wheel chair about half way into the hospital. I do not remember much more for the next several hours, except the pain. I do know that the level of pain got me into the ER a lot quicker just so that they could knock me out and shut me up. Ah, sweet Fentanyl. When I came to, about five hours later, the pain was relieved and there was a doctor at the foot of my bed. And he was not just a doctor. I did not care what kind of doctor he was, because the pain was over. I obviously gave birth to the plannet Earth out of my ding-a-ling. Cue the sound of a train wreck… the stone never passed.
The doctor at the foot of my bed was a urologist. Since I obviously could not pass the stone, and it had begun its descent, the next step needed to be taken. I needed help to do it. Letting nature take its course, was not happening. The opposite side was surgical removal. Again, was not an option to me at this point. The final consideration was a procedure called a “lithotripsy”. Shortest explaination, they would use shockwaves to obliterate the stone, making it easy to pass. They would need to insert a stint (cue up another crashing sound). Insert how, where, WHAT?!?! This would allow the urine to pass preventing any massive pain like I had just experienced until the actual procedure. I do not think either gender needs to be reminded what two purposes the wonder worm serves, but re-entrance was not it. With the pain subsided, I “wisely” told Mr. Urologist, Dr. Everythinggonnabealright, you know the one, up in Beverly Hills… never mind. I told him I felt better for now, and would just prefer to go home and ride it out. It should not be much longer and I can deal with it. Wendy, who was sitting next to me during this delusional episode had expressed her concerns much differently, but I was insistant, I was going home. Let Little Willy Willie go home. The doctor shrugged at the clearly erroneous decision I made and told me that I would need to sign some paperwork for my release. Twenty minutes later, the Fentanyl wore off, the pain returned quicker than when I passed out. It was now 3pm on a Friday afternoon. “DOC!!!” The doctor came rushing in. “I’ve changed my mind. CAN YOU PLEASE STILL DO THE STINT INSERTION??!!??