Monday, June 15, 2009
Ah yes. So Friday night, I was introduced to the power and the glory of the Kidney Stone - aka The Worst Pain Known To Man That Won't Actually Kill You. Here is as much of the story as I have the energy to tell.
When i first thought I was having a kidney stone around 8pm, I called my boss who has very frequent kidney stones, so he'd know if that's what my symptoms were. He didn't think that it was kidney stones because I would definitely be having pain in my side. But there was no pain. At the beginning. Wait for it... Wait for it...
When the pain in my side started it was not very intense, and I thought maybe I had a "mild case" of kidney stone, where the blood mixed in the urine was actually the most disturbing symptom. You would be surprised how quickly the pain grew so that in less then a minute it went from mild, to intense to violently-excruciating. If I had not forced 4 ibuprofen down my throat, as I'd been instructed to do over the phone by Luis, i would never have been given the 10 minute window of relief I got to pack a small bag, call my Dad to let him know i was heading to the hospital , and go downstairs for my cab.
My cab driver didn't know what the hell was wrong with me. I think he thought i was sick in a contagious way. Telling him I was in pain from a kidney stone meant nothing to him. I had to throw up out of the window of the cab once when the pain got too great. But i totally missed the side of the cab! Good on me. At one point he told me we'd be there in 20 minutes, and at that point I was certain I would not be conscious when we arrived. Some Lamaze-style breathing and crazy-taxi driving got me there before i passed out or threw up again. Victory, indeed.
As I made it through the emergency room door, (maybe 20 feet from the curbside where the taxi dropped me) I collapsed from the pain. The security guy at the door said to me emotionlessly "Sir you cannot sit down here, there are seats just around the corner." "I'm not sitting down! I can't STAND!" I shouted at him as nicely as possible. "Okay, then fill out this form." he offered. "I CANNOT FILL OUT FORMS LIKE THIS!" I yelled. What would I have needed to look like to generate some concern from this man? Finally, he asked me to spell my name so he could write it down and I managed that. He then again directed me to go sit in the waiting room. I was unable to sit because of the lower back pain, so i kinda hunched down over two chairs. There was no one else waiting to be seen in the waiting room.
So this other nurse calls me in to get my info, and he too asks me to take a seat. I tell him as well that I cannot sit. He's all sit, stand, I don't care. He takes my info, spells my first name "Owem" and checks my vitals. He brings me back to this bed in the emergency room where i try to lie on my left side and pretend that my right side isn't throbbing with so much pain I can hardly breathe.
For a while I'm mostly ignored and it's at this point i realize why it's so important to have someone with you in the emergency room. Patients need an advocate. In order to get some attention I violently threw up all over the floor. It's not that anyone in the emergency room was negligent. They were just busy, and it wasn't until I made a mess that they realized I'd need attention. They are so desensitized to people calling for help. I mean, even I got sick of the guy calling out for food who was in the bed next to me. Sick people need someone else there to ask when the pain meds are coming and when you're scheduled for the cat scan and such. The first hour I was there by myself. My dad was on his way from Long Island, but I was super-fortunate that Lin was in the general vicinity and when he heard from his Dad that I was in the hospital, he came over to stay with me, which was AMAZINGLY nice and I was already gonna love him forever but now it'll be like forever and a day. Poor guy was there in his nice suit as I was sprawled out on this gurney in my hospital gown vomiting from pain in this bin that he had to handle. Gross. That's a true friend for you. As I was getting wheeled up to my CAT-scan, Lin showed me the cover of this week's Time Magazine that he happened to have which is the picture at the top of this post. Even in my state of extreme distress I could appreciate the irony.
My dad arrived at CAT-scan time and afterwards the three of us watched some Everybody Loves Raymond reruns in some random hospital hallway while they waited to bring me back down to the emergency room. When we got back to the ER it was packed. There were people in gurneys all over the place. My "luxury box" in bed 12 was taken and I was placed in the "shoebox slot" of unlucky 13. This is where I stayed, begging for more morphine for the next several hours. I'm not sure when Luis came in and he and Lin left because the blessed morphine let me sleep (while not actually easing the pain). I kept asking for more pain meds and the nurses said they would bring them, but they did not. This went on for a few hours. Torture!
So eventually this doctor came by in nerd-chic glasses and (he was very nice and) he was all "are you experiencing pain?" and I was all "YES!" and he was all "oh, we'll get you some pain meds." and I was all "They keep saying they'll bring them AND THEY DON'T!" which didn't endear me to any nurses. But i got my extra shot of morphine and I FINALLY for the first time since the pain started could lie down on my right side without feeling as if my whole body was gonna rip in half. The doctor explained that I had a relatively small stone and that the pain comes from the stone trying to push its way from the kidney to the bladder. Once it's in the bladder it tends to chill the eff out before it passes through the urine. So with a couple of prescriptions in hand and orders to drink more water than I've ever drunk in my whole life, I got to go home. And sit here and try to pass this thing for the past several days. I feel almost 100% normal now so I'm guessing it happened? Who the hell knows. Maybe this story is not as concluded as I'd like it to be. I kept expecting this small crystal thing to pop out the tip of my penis when I peed, but I never noticed it, so I'll guess I'll just be happy I'm not hurting anymore even without pain meds.
So the moral of this story is: never ever get kidney stones. They hurt. A lot. And if you DO get kidney stones, make sure you have a couple awesome resourceful people to come to your aid. Also, know what hospital you might want to go to in case you are ever in a medical emergency. Also it's good to have health insurance. And you can't always tell when the side effects of Vicodin are gonna sneak up on you. The End.