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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You've Got to be Kidney-ing Me!

CAUTION: The following post contains a picture that may revolt viewers with weaker gag reflexes. Oops. There it is looming under this caption. Never mind.

Last week I was involuntarily thrust into an absolutely unexpected situation that I do not wish upon anyone, including myself again: I got a kidney stone.

I am 22 years old, 23 in April. I thought this sort of occurence only happened to gentlemen in their late 30's and older! I was completely unprepared for the pain and inconvenience involved with passing a small crystal through my body's internal plumbing. As I mentioned in the previous post, I had been having back pain lately, and perhaps this is the reason why.

Two Sundays back, after seeing the chiropractor twice the previous week and still feeling the occasional ache in the lower back, I received an attack of agony the magnitude of which I had never before experienced. Pain coarsed through my lower back, spasming the muscles there (or so I thought) and causing me so much pain my fingers tingled and I felt nausea well up inside me. Taking 800mg of Ibuprofen did nothing to dull the searing pain, and neither did massaging the muscles with Amish Herbal Ointment, cool gel, or a heated rice pad.

No wonder. The pain was internal.

The emergency health center recognized my symptoms, and after having a CT Scan done, the source of the pain was clear: I had a kidney stone.

The following week was spent trying to pass the stone, staying home from school, drinking at least a swimming pool and a half's worth of water a day, and wearing out the carpet from the computer to the bathroom. It finally passed on Friday, February 3, at 8:57 a.m.

Don't get me wrong, the pain on Sunday was excruciating. I give it a 10 on the scale of pain I myself have ever experienced (No offense, those who have had your femur cracked). But the worst part of all was the anticipation of something I understood little of. The doctors assured me that I would feel pain as the stone passed. I spent much of my time pre-living the pain, wondering if I wouldn't be able to handle it, if it would happen amid cries of pain in a public restroom, how long the pain would last before it was over, and most of all, when it would happen.

I was inexpressibly relieved when the nightmare ended Friday morning, and the pain was all of a second and a half. I was on Hydrocodone pain medication as well, which was not present during the despairing hours on Sunday. The biggest relief came from being able to walk into the bathroom no longer worried about the unknown. If there's anything I am grateful for in this experience, it's the thought of being able to sympathize with my wife, who is due to give birth to our first child in July. I can now imagine the pain she'll experience, but also the worry of the unknown. I now know the frustration of thinking "Was that a sharp pain? Did the stone fall into my bladder? Will the intense pain come the next time I need to pee?" as she will no doubt trudge through the blurry definitions of what a "contraction" is, and when the time she has both looked forward to and dreaded will come.

Passing a kidney stone may have been unexpected, untimely, and overall painful; but now I have gained the ability to sympathize with my wife when she brings a child into the world. And while my pain may be nothing compared to what she experiences, at least she can look at that thing that comes out of her body with wonder and declare "You sweet piece of heaven... your innocent little form erases all the pain you put me through." Next time I get a chance to go back to the Urologist, my little piece of whatever it is is going straight to the lab to be analyzed. And may I never see another one again.

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