I realize that I, in a moment of unrestrained ambition, started this new blog with the intention of posting creative projects, photo tips, & some occasional witty repartee about this comical life I live. I, unfortunately, forgot that summer was approaching & it would be approximately three months before I could wipe my ass without a knock on the bathroom door, let alone sit down and CREATE something. In fact, all of my blog followers have forsaken me, but in their defense, how can one follow something that isn’t moving?
My summer had been rolling right along at a rather rapid but enjoyable pace, with a vacation to Florida & lazy days spent lounging by the pool with girlfriends. Then we got back from Florida & my kids decided they didn’t like the pool anymore & things started going downhill. Fast. Rock bottom was reached last Thursday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. CST. The night before I had been unable to sleep for most of the night. No pain of any kind, just restless & constantly going to pee only to find when I get there that, “Silly me, I guess I didn’t need to pee after all.” That was my first red flag.
As Chuck left for work, I had a twinge of pain in my lower left “flank”, the technical word for the part of your back that directly coincides with your left kidney. Second red flag. For some reason, I dismissed it & sent him on his merry way. For about 15 minutes, that is. It was then that I was struck with that indescribable feeling that can BEST be described as someone grabbing your kidney with vise grips and squeezing as HARD as possible all the while enthusiastically dancing the macarena. Yep, time to proudly announce the arrival of kidney stone #7.
I called Chuck & summoned him immediately back to the castle where he found me as close to upside down as I could get, on the couch, writhing in pain. I had already called my mom & summoned her so she could babysit & the boys’ trauma could end right there, without them being dragged to the ER. Wyatt was already sure I was on my way out of this world & I would have been ok with that, at the time. For those of you who have heard that there’s nothing like a kidney stone, let me tell you – THERE’S NOTHING LIKE IT.
Off we go, me reclined in the front seat of the Suburban, feet braced against the windshield, as Chuck drove 10 freaking miles an hour. That was 10, not 100. TEN. I kid you not, my neighbor could have gotten me there faster on his Gator. As we pulled up to a RED light at Mississippi, behind another truck, Chuck said in his calm, lilting voice, “I wonder WHY in the world that guy turned left on a RED light?” to which I replied, “Probably because his wife is passing a f*%$#!g kidney stone in the seat beside him!” and he stepped on it and ran it too. Now, in his defense, I realize that it probably only seemed that he was driving slow, but by the time we reached the fifth RED stoplight at Evergreen Street, Chuck & I were both feeling like this was the first phase of Obama’s healthcare plan and he was determined to show me what I deserved for casting a vote for that Palin bitch. “I’ll show you what being denied healthcare feels like, you Republican nit-wit.” But I digress…we eventually made it.
Made it to the hospital parking lot anyway. The drive-thru emergency entrance & covered canopy IS BEING COMPLETELY REDONE (no doubt using stimulus money) because it apparently isn’t up to par or isn’t working right or the owner of the construction company’s brother is on the hospital board. Dust, Visqueen, jackhammers galore… No chance for “just drive through & kick me out so I can get hooked up to narcotics while you park.” No sirreee. We got the last parking space in outpatient parking and I WALKED TO THE ER about a distance of half a block. Fun. At this point I’m just happy it’s within sight, kinda like an oasis in the desert.
MUCH to my relief, even though the parking lot we used was completely full, the emergency room had one lone woman, in worse shape than me, fighting early labor. We got checked in and hurried through the standard questions like, “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain?” to which you want to say “Let me tie your penis in a sailor’s knot & you tell me…” “Has your address changed?” Not since the third stone, ten years ago! “Here are your rights & responsibilities as a patient…” OK, how ‘bout we make a deal? You give me drugs NOW & I’ll be nice and say great things about you! How will that work? Somewhere about this time, as I am, I kid you not, lying down in a regular chair with my feet straight up in the air, clutching my back, my sweet husband looks down at me and says, “My wrist is killing me. I wonder if they could check for carpal tunnel.” And what COULD have transpired at that moment is the best argument the liberals have against concealed weapons, in a nutshell.
We finished the technicalities & they told us to sit in the waiting room and they would call me back soon. Thank you Lord, for the genius who put COUCHES in the waiting room so people in agony can lie down & writhe instead of chairs with hard metal arms, like I might want to sit patiently and peruse the latest issue of US magazine while a “renal calculi” of 2.5mm is making it’s way down my 2mm ureter. Being the only one in the room, besides Chuck, I chose to lie down and again, raise my legs in the air. I cannot tell you why that helps, but in this case it provided an ounce of relief, which was worth more per ounce, at that moment, than gold. Chuck looked down and informed me that the entire crotch of my pajama pants was a gaping hole so I laid my legs across him & at that very moment, and I PROMISE you I am not making this up for comic effect, Chuck, my dear husband of 15 years, decided to PLUCK A LEG HAIR OUT RIGHT ABOVE MY ANKLE. I was incredulous. I mean, what does one say in that situation? “If I survive this, I swear, I’m tweezing your scrotum!?!” Or rather, what CAN one say, in a public setting without fearing arrest? He PLUCKED a hair out of my leg as I was passing a kidney stone…….it leaves one speechless. And they wonder why we tell “man” jokes?
I finally got back to a bed in the actual ER & it's bed #6, which I know well, because last time I was in that room, I had to be rushed to surgery to have a stone removed with what they call “the basket”. Hoping that’s not an omen, I settle in & I am (remarkably) attended to in a wonderfully-efficient fashion. First the nurse came in, a protocol I was very familiar with, to feel me out and see if I’m just there smuggling in a vial of chicken blood to contaminate my urine & try to score a “fix”. When you’ve had seven stones and been to that very ER for the last four, two of which required surgery, it’s pretty easy to prove yourself credible. The doctor comes in, followed, soon after, by a little lady whose name I forgot, but who reminded me of Butterfly McQueen. She tried to whisk me off to the CT scan but the nurses stopped her & asked me if I would like to have drugs now or when I returned from the CT room. I told them that I had WANTED them at the intersection of Cantrell and Mississippi so I would rather have them NOW, if that wasn’t too much trouble. At this point, I’m thinking that nothing can be worse than the stone, so who cares about an IV insertion? As they started to do my IV, I suddenly realized why there were TWO nurses. Because the one inserting the needle in my arm was A STUDENT! I thought I was in for a nightmare when the older nurse said, “No! Not there! Down a little!” But to the student’s credit, she hit the spot & I was soon medicated to my satisfaction. I was then taken for the CT scan, where I learned that I not only had a 2.5 mm one stuck in my ureter but two others, 6mm and 3mm, just waiting, like Seabiscuit, to come out of the gate. I was then rolled back to the ER by a jolly little man that reminded me of Sherman Hemsley, though at this point, I suppose it could have been the narcotics at work.
While I was in the CT room, a morbidly obese man who was alternately puking and panicking was moved into the “room” next to me. I say this in quotes because when the wall separating you is nothing but a sheet, “room” seems like a misnomer. (At least I wasn’t on a gurney in the hospital corridor next to a man handcuffed to an ambulance stretcher like I was with stone #6. Don’t think I haven’t lived, folks.) The puking man’s devoted but pure-dee country wife was trying to talk him through his circumstances, but I truly felt like Billy Bob Thornton might pop his head in the curtain & ask if I would like to be an extra in Slingblade 2. There were not enough drugs to deal with the pain of listening to that couple & I began to pray the doctors would just let me go home & tough it out there.
Eventually, they told me the 2.5mm stone should pass on it’s own and the other two could attempt to pass anytime OR could stay inside me for 30 years or more. (Imagine how big that 6mm one will be in like, oh say, 2025?) And, by the way, the doctor said, “that 6mm one is REALLY GOING TO HURT if it attempts to pass.” Thanks for preparing me, because I’m kinda enjoying the 2.5mm one & the 3mm one should be a PIECE OF CAKE! Then he gave me the standard instructions: call your urologist & go home and ingest a few 5-gallon buckets of fluid & oh, here’s a little megaphone-shaped thing for you to pee in & look for the stone. At that moment, the older nurse came in with a wheelchair. You should know this: I don’t do wheelchairs. I do Demerol when I have a stone, but not wheelchairs. She INSISTED on the wheelchair (policy, I know) & I thought, “Well, it’s only out to the curb where Chuck will pick me up.” But I forgot the construction. So I was wheeled, much to my chagrin, ALL THE WAY down the walkway, across the road and across the parking lot to my car. I survived. Both the wheelchair ride & the stone. And Chuck plucking the hair out of my leg. Hopefully that wheelchair ride won’t be published in US magazine.
There’s a little more to the story but I will skip that part and tell you, in short, that the 2.5mm one passed. I will also answer the questions that are bound to be asked because I get them every time. No, they don’t know what causes mine. No, they can’t give you something to dissolve them. Seems like there should be a formula as simple as “stain-dissolving Oxi-clean” that you could just swallow & be done with it, but it apparently is not that simple. It is true that some people just seem to form them much more easily than others and are certainly more prone to them. I’m also apparently blessed with “small ureters” & a stone that might pass painlessly in some, does not in me. Can’t they just “zap ‘em”? Well, the zapper is officially called EWSL (extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy) & the stones have to be big enough that they can’t be passed on their own. It is not painless. All EWSL does is break them up so they’re able to pass with all the pain and agony that I just went through. So only special cases can be “zapped”. The 6mm stone that has yet to get stuck may be a candidate when the time arises. I’ll be sure to let you know! Stay tuned for the adventures of stone #8.