You ever hear people talk about the worst pain imaginable? Of our regular biological processes, that is. Yup, last night. While I was down in Portland for a conference, staying with my friend Julie from my commune, woke up just before 2 in the morning, to intense hot lower back pain. But this wasn't in the normal place, muscular, on the side. This was just overlaying the backbone. As with the stroke, I had my suspicions. I tried to bend over, and the pain just increased. I got up and headed to the bathroom, and found myself lying on the floor, as the pain increased. And then again. And again. It would come in waves, and I could barely stand at times; at other times not at all. I felt nautious, and began groaning. But I'm proud to say I remained very manly and didn't wake up my host until a full hour of pain had passed.
I called out to Julie, and when she came down I suggested to her my prognosis: kidney stones. Her experience with her sister confirmed this, as did the progressive locus of the pain from the mid lower back to the bladder. Not having insurance or money, I resisted the idea of going to the ER for another half-hour, until the pain became too unbearable. I stumbled into Julie's car, and just before we left opened the door and did what nausea ultimatly requires. It woudn't be the last time that night.
When we got to the hospital they were very kind, but asked me questions in triplicate, with three different people: What is your name? How old are you? Where do you live? etc. I was thinking in the meantime, "Just give me some bloody medication. I'll coherently answer all these questions later!" When I couldn't sit on the chair any longer and collapsed on the floor, the nurse gruffly told me the floor was dirty and I could get up myself without her help. They repeatedly asked me how bad the pain was, and depending on the moment, I'd groan out somewhere between 7 and 10 (in a scale of 1 to 10). Finally 20 minutes later they brought me into a separate room, as I stumbled in, clutching my belly.
About five minutes after that they took my blood pressure, again, and five minutes later, the doctor came in. Upon hearing my symptoms he comfirmed my diagnosis had a high probability of accuracy, but he wanted to run a catscan on my bowels as well. If the stone was too big, more than 5 mm, it could need to be operated on, or I could lose all kidney function. And then about five minutes later, ah, the sweet drip of an IV full of morphine. It actually didn't make me feel out of it or light-headed, as I've heard morphine does. It just took the pain away.
They wheeled me into the catscan room, and the good news is that the stone was there, but only 3 mm in diameter, easily passable. Then more morphine, but as soon as the IV was removed, the pain began again. Enter the oral vicadine. The doctor thought that the stone would pass within 24 hours. If so, I've missed it. But there still is ocassional pain, so I think I'm still working on it, as I am working on the vicadine.
Leaving the hospital at 6 in the morning, again, thanks to a very loving Julie, I slept in and missed the first half of Day 2 of the conference. And then, another long journey on Amtrak, an hour late from Portland, accompanying the worry that my vicadine would run out before the pain.
Why did it happen? Doctor said we don't really know. But caffeine can increase dehydration, and dehydrating can increase the possibility of kidney stones, as calcium builds up as a precipitate without the water. Therefore, the lack of fluids in my system due to Ramadan would also be a contributing factor. As such, like the guy who gave up fasting for Lent, I'm suspending that for the first time in order to recuperate.
Downside- likely a rather large doctor bill. Please pray for me that God provides. Upside- I think it was instrumental in helping me make some major decisions, which I'll share about tomorrow. But even more so, they say that women who have both given birth and had kidney stones say that the pain of kidney stones is worse. So I'm happy to be able to empathize a bit more with the pain that women experience. Although my labor was decidedly easier than the norm- I gave up and went for the epideral after only 2 hours.