Monday, March 23, 2009

I Was Strong As I Could Be, Nothin' Ever Got To Me

My wife blogged our trip to California pretty well, so instead of going into all of that, I will just regale you with the tale of my little kidney stone and its travels through my body on the night we returned to Utah.

First of all, I am slightly annoyed because I endure impressive amounts of pain on a regular basis but never obtain convincing visual proof of the events. I almost cut my thumb off at work with a sawzall but instead just smashed it really bad (but just the fingernail turned black) and now I have a 3mm kidney stone in a cup but when you take a picture of these things they don't compare with Sculpin's ice-skating mishap photos.

So anyway, we drove all day across Nevada. When we got to Wendover my back was starting to bother me but I figured: I drove this far and I can drive the rest of the way. We got home about 10 pm and the kids had school and I had work in the morning, so we just got everyone in bed. It seemed like business as usual.

Somewhere between 2 and 2:30 am I rolled over in bed and my back was killing me. I kept rolling around, trying to find a comfortable position but that position did not exist. When I couldn't get back to sleep, I quickly became frustrated. I already knew that within the next few hours I was supposed to dig a trench by hand for work. I couldn't beleive that sitting in a car could damage by back like that and the pain was bad enough that I was worried that I would need back surgery to fix the problem. Back surgery would keep me from doing both of my jobs for quite some time. I was upset. I also felt like I was going to puke.

My wife kept trying to tell me to go to the doctor, but I don't like doctors. I just asked her for a heat-pad. She has one that she heats up in the microwave. She got it for me and I laid on it and was able to fall asleep for an indefinite amount of time. But when I woke up, the pain in my back was still waiting for me. I went into the bathroom and looked at my back in the mirror. The heating pad had been hot enough that my skin was burned red and I had a blister forming.

I got back into bed and flopped around until it was time for me to wake for work (5:30). I asked my wife to call my boss and tell him that she was taking me to the emergency room.

I find it funny that nurses always seem upset that I haven't had any significant health problems in the past 18 years. They act like I'm lying or they just look at me like I'm a freak. But when I told the nurse my syptoms she guessed it was a kidney stone right away. She said people come through the doors with a sudden onset of extreme back-pain, then pass the stone and walk out like nothing had happened.

Compared to the back surgery I was imagining while flopping around in bed I became optimistic. I said, "That sounds good to me. Let's do that."

The nurse laughed at me and declared, "You are the happiest kidney-stone patient I have ever seen."

She checked my pee to see if it had blood in it (it did) and then she gave me a shot of morphine. She said, "Some people say morphine makes their chest feel restricted and makes it hard for them to breathe so be ready."

I said, "Yeah... it does kind of feel like someone is choking you. It's strange that some people take this stuff for fun."

The nurse said, "You can always tell the people who do from the ones that don't."

If you haven't been to the emergency room before, I will tell you that they have this scale from 1 to 10 with a happy face assigned to the number 1 and a sad, crying face assigned to number 10 and then various faces to the numbers inbetween.

She asked me what level of pain I was experiencing when I arrived at the hospital. I told her I was probably a number 6, which is the circle face is frowning a little and looks like he's just starting to sweat.

The nurse said, "Hmmm. Most of the people who come in with a kidney stone say number 10. There's a chance that you already passed the stone before you came to the hospital... or else you're really tough."

I said, "I hope I already passed it. But I like to think I'm pretty tough, too." It turns out that I am tough. They did a cat-scan and said the stone hadn't reached my bladder yet but that it was small enough that I could go home to pass it.

While we were waiting for those results, my wife and kids came into my room to see me. I felt bad that my kids had to wait there for four hours. We looked at the pain chart and decided that each of us was a number four: Where the happy face just has a straight line for a mouth. I personally think that the scale should be extended to 15 where 15 is a happy face with his mouth wide open in a scream and blood is coming out of the ears and an eyeball is hanging from its socket. But that would probably just cater more to the crybabies.

My wife said that lots of people were coming into the emergency room screaming and wailing, pitching unconvincing fits like little kids. My advice to people is to expect to wait around awhile even after you get to the hospital. Crying isn't going to make you better any faster.

My wife told my kids, "Thank your father for making your vacation one day longer." and then we left. We picked up some prescriptions and went home. They told me it was likely that I wouldn't return to work that week, and if the stone didn't pass after a couple of days then to come in to see a urologist and he would help me get it out.

I started imagining my week. I still had annoying back pain and I was groggy from the pills but I was still thinking I could write on my blog, write some short stories maybe go see The Watchmen during the day while my wife was at work and the kids were in school.

But then I peed the stone out a few hours later and I went back to work the next day. And I think every kidney stone quarterback thinks the same thing when they see it come out: That little thing caused all this trouble?

They say I can take the stone in and have it analyzed. I haven't done it because I know those people want money every time you talk to them, but I'm guessing my stone is made 50% of Dr. Pepper, 10% Pepsi, and 40% snakes, snails, puppydog tails and other miscellaneous matter.

When we got to the hospital my wife said, "Well, now you'll get to see what a woman goes through when she gives birth." But when I passed the stone later that evening she said, "Hey! I'm glad you're better but I don't think you got to experience childbirth."

I said, "Yeah. That wasn't too bad. I don't know what you girls are always crying about."

It's hard to feel special for passing a kidney stone, because after you've done it you find out that everyone and their dog has had kidney stones and they all want to tell you their stories.

Tune in tomorrow for the story of the popcorn kernel that refused to be flossed away!


Anonymous said...

It may not match the awesome-ness of my head injuries, but I still think you should post a picture. I always picture the little buggers looking like the spiky end of a mace.


Holly said...

I look forward to your popcorn kernel story, I'm interested in how it compares to my popcorn kernel story.

The Chase Files said...

What about the popcorn kernel that was stuck in Olivia's nose?

PsychDoctor said...

Ouch...luckily I have never had a kidney stone...knock on wood.

I did however have a popcorn kernel that refused to come out of my gums for 3 days...

Native Minnow said...

At least you got to keep yours. All I have is the memory of a bloody urinal when I think about mine. Oh yeah, and mine was a lot smaller. So I didn't get to experience all that back pain. Just wiener pain from the tiny lacerations it made all the way down my urethra.

Epitome of Sweetness said...

I hate those 1-10 scales, too.
When I point to a 4, I think they should be giving me morphine, because 10 is the highest pain imaginable. So I'm imagining my arm getting chopped off...that would be a 10. So maybe you're right about the 15 scale...