Ummm . . . ow

It's been a rather eventful year for me on the medical front. First I got to experience the worst stomach bug I've ever had (along with the rest of my family.) And as you may or may not know, I recently got to experience the physical joy that is a kidney stone. Let me just start by saying - ouch.

I was a bit wound up Sunday night and was already having a hard time settling down to go to sleep. To make matters worse, I started to feel a dull, but fairly intense pain emanating from the lower-right portion of my back around midnight. I thought it was just stress or general soreness, so I put some Icy Hot on it and tried to go to sleep. But the pain would not subside (nor the constant burning desire to use the restroom.) After an hour or so of constantly getting up for seemingly pointless trips to the bathroom I decided not to risk waking Holly anymore and headed down to the living room.

The frequent trips to the bathroom continued and the pain intensified. By 3:00 I had set up shop on the bathroom floor and was beginning to get genuinely concerned that this was something which would at least require a trip to my doctor and possibly even a trip to the hospital (other than a few stitches I've been able to avoid the hospital most of the time.) By 3:45 I couldn't take it anymore, but couldn't move to get help either. Writhing on the bathroom floor in pain I pounded a nearby step stool onto the hardwood floor trying desperately to wake Holly on the floor above (one of the few times our sleeping with a fan on has its drawbacks.) Holly heard my racket and quickly sprang into action calling my mom over to take care of the girls so we could rush to Brookwood (sorry Shelby Baptist, we just know Brookwood a little better.)

The ride to the hospital was agonizing as every minor bump and turn revealed a whole new world of pain. We pulled up to the emergency room and as Holly quickly signed me in the nurse already attending to me in another room knew instantly what my problem was as I described the symptoms to him. "You're having a kidney stone" he said. "My wife's had 3 kids and 2 kidney stones and she says she'll take the childbirth every time." Great. Thanks for the pick me up. Fortunately an IV was soon administered and the pain killers quickly took the edge off of the worst of the pain. I was carted off for a CT scan and the doctor confirmed the nurse's original prognosis. She said it would be small enough to pass without surgery or having to break it up with sound waves. They gave me a prescription for pain killers and sent us home.

Our stop at Walgreens on the way home took a little longer than expected. While Holly was inside waiting for them to fill my prescription I felt the veil from the pain killers administered at the hospital suddenly disappear and the agonizing pain quickly started to build again. I headed inside intent to knock aside any cold-suffering wuss that might be standing between me and sweet relief. Fortunately we were on deck and the pharmacist was finalizing my prescription just as I walked up. I shotgunned the pills there at the counter and we headed home so I could try to get some long overdue sleep.

While I was asleep, another doctor called back to inform Holly that my appendix appeared to be enlarged. He said if I experienced anymore pain it would be a good idea to bring me in rather than chance an appendicitis. As I awoke from my nap I at first thought all was well. But the pain quickly returned and even the addition of more pain pills couldn't fight it off this time. We rushed back to the hospital (another painfully bumpy ride from my perspective even though Holly was driving as smoothly as she could.) After a couple botched attempts an IV was finally administered. An hour later I was carted off for another CT scan - this time focusing more on my appendix. I also had the added joy of having my pain killers wear off again mid-scan during this session. So I had to sit there and try to hold still while intense pain started to shoot through my body again.

After the scan the doctor informed us that my appendix, while enlarged, was not inflamed. "You've just got a big appendix." Yay me. He said the worst of the pain should subside once the stone gets into the bladder and that it was small enough that it should pass relatively easily. He gave me an extension to my previous prescription for pain pills (alliteration alert) and sent us on our way home again. I continued a steady regimen of pain pills for the remainder of the night and was feeling significantly better by 10pm when a double-shot of pain pills quickly put me to sleep.

On Tuesday morning, the stone passed without any fanfare (other than a quick drug-riddled hallelujah from me as I looked down into the filter they gave me to use in the bathroom.) After the cloud from the pain killers began to lift I headed back into work after lunch (although I still felt a bit off from the medication and couldn't concentrate so I ended up leaving a little early.)

A big thanks goes out to my mom and our friend Lisa for coming over to help take care of the kids while I had to be rushed to the hospital. And of course, a HUGE thanks to my wife Holly for helping take care of me throughout the entire ordeal. I've usually been on the other side of the equation when it comes to our adventures in the hospital, so it comforting to have her be there for me.

I was going to post a picture of the stone, but we don't have a good macro lens yet. Plus, after doing a quick search for kidney stones on Flickr I started to feel like a girly man in comparison to some of the stones shown on there. For comparative purposes it was slightly larger than FDR's ear on a dime (about the size of about 80% of the stones from what I've read.)

Still, it was amazing that something so tiny can cause such an intense amount of sustained pain. After doing a little more digging around on the subject today I'm now armed with the unfortunate knowledge that (A) there doesn't appear to be any clear consensus on what causes them and (B) that once you have one you're more likely to have them again. Ugh. I'm definitely going to hold onto those leftover pain killers. At least I'll have a better idea of what it is should it ever happen again. And at least I'll know how to react (i.e., haul ass to the emergency room.)


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