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Stoned again

Ever have a stone in your shoe that hurts bad enough to stop and take your shoe off, and when you finally see the stone, it’s not any bigger than a freckle?

OK. Think of the pain in your foot — and then think about what it would be like to try to run a similarly sized stone through your urinary tract.

Welcome to the land of kidney stones. I visited there for about seven hours earlier today, and it wasn’t pretty.

I have friends with kidney stones that put them in the hospital, so I really have no cause for complaint. Well, yes I do: Pissing a pebble isn’t pleasant.

My lower back has been bothering me for about six weeks now, and while part of the pain is muscular-skeletal, I’m sure the rest of it had to with the rock that was residing inside me. But, as opposed to the dull, constant ache of actually lugging the stone around, the sensation of delivery itself has a sudden onset, and the pain — the best adjective I’ve seen to describe it is “exquisite” — is unmistakable. There is nothing else like it.

The first time I had kidney stones, I didn’t know what was going on. I felt nauseated, as if I were going to explode, the only question being the explosion’s venue. My wife drove me to the hospital while I flailed in the passenger seat, struggling to find a position that didn’t hurt. No such position existed. I limped into the hospital doubled over with pain. A few shots of pain meds and a fluoroscope later, the diagnosis arrived, along with: “There’s nothing else we can do for you. Just go home and wait for it to pass. Drink lots of liquids.”

My preference would have been to stay there and take a needle of fresh meds every hour or so, but no such luck. Fortunately, the miniature cinder popped out before I ground my teeth to the gums in distress

Since then, I’ve tossed stones periodically, and thank God the hurting wasn’t nearly as severe. Some people say for a man, passing a kidney stone is the equivalent of childbirth, but a woman I talked to once had done both and preferred childbirth.

But it’s like childbirth inasmuch as the stone advances because of contractions that, this morning, gave me an idea of what it must be like to be a hooked fish — a fish that had, in fact, swallowed the hook and was being tugged relentlessly ashore. I felt as if a pin had been stuck into — ah, never mind.

No stonings are the same, and today’s twist was that the contractions actually stopped after a half-hour or so. This morning, the little “clink” of the toilet porcelain announced that I was no longer stoned.

The only problem is that I know there’s another one in there, starting to grow like a pearl with an attitude. The only question is, When will I stand and deliver?

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
minnesattva
Jun. 10th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Eesh. I escorted someone to get, I dunno, beamed with lasers (no, it's not lasers, it's sound waves or ultrasound or something like that, isn't it?) to break up his kidney stones. He's been through it all before and was very calm about it, whereas I was hearing the nurse talk about pain-relief via suppository and wincing myself.

The stone-in-your-shoe opening was very good, it really puts the whole thing in perspective.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 10th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comments, especially on the opening.

The ultrasound technique is called lithotripsy, and a friend of mine who undergoes it says they can't leave it on for more than 20 seconds because of the risk of organ damage. Here's hoping your friend has seen the last of it.
minnesattva
Jun. 11th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
I hope a stone in my shoe is as close as I'm ever going to get to a kidney stone, so that gave me something I could relate to.

It's amazing that we can grow things in our bodies that can only be alleviated by coming within a hair's-breadth of organ damage. Biology is crazy.
tanadariel
Jun. 10th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
Ouch. My sympathy goes out to you. My dad has had several battles with kidney stones over the years, and he's been hospitalized for weeks just because of the pain and discomfort. But, I have to say, referring to the stone as a "pearl with an attitude" makes it seem a bit brighter.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 10th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
My sympathies to your dad; it sounds like a real affliction for him.

If you ever see two guys talking about kidney stones, notice how they wince and involuntarily start crossing their legs.
charon117
Jun. 10th, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
I've never been so entertained by someone discussing kidney stones.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 10th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
This was one of those "I've gotta write about this" experiences as it was happening. I figured somebody may as well get a laugh out of it.

nodressrehersal
Jun. 11th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
Oh, so not laughing... crossing legs in sympathy. Well done, and minnesattva is right about the opening.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 11th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
Thanks. The writing part was enjoyable, anyway.
vivitalia
Jun. 11th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
I writhed in sympathetic agony throughout, even as I giggled. I don't think I know anyone else who could make kidney stones a simultaneously entertaining and grimace-inducing subject.
patrick_vecchio
Jun. 11th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
Thanks, Lizz. Those are exactly the reactions I was hoping for.
cwmackowski
Jun. 16th, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
So I assume you now take issue with Dylan: Everybody does NOT have to get stoned?
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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