Thursday night, I'm sitting at dinner with Amy and Bill and I start feeling this cramp in my back - like I pulled a muscle. Within minutes, I'm doubled over and I can't breathe. I can barely see. With that in mind, we excuse ourselves from dinner and I have Amy take me to the hospital.
As I'm turning blue from the pain and lack of oxygen, I struggle to give the half-listening triage nurses my insurance info. The pain won't let up. It's not throbbing - it's just there, constant and militant in its desire to kill me. I felt like something had wrapped around my kidney and was squeezing it.
That's when I realized what was going on. I made a quick, breathless phone call to Jeff Waltrowski, who had endured a similar ordeal earlier in the year. Jeff confirmed my suspicion: kidney stones.
Oh... yay. A brand new horror to confront as I take a brand new shuffle towards the mortal coil. That's right: I'd hit thirty a couple of years back. The warranty has expired on my body.
About a half-hour later, I lay twisted and gasping on a table back in the ER. I still haven't seen anyone. Suddenly, I'm no longer in pain. It didn't taper off - it just stopped. As quickly as it came.
I gave the knuckle-dragging orderlies another ten minutes. Still no visit, but still no return of the pain. So I got dressed and prepared to check myself out.
That's when the orderlies suddenly realized I was still here. As I prepared to leave. Images of lawsuits dancing in their heads, one hulking brute of a life-giver hastened to find a doctor who would at least talk to me before I exited.
The good doctor, a former extra from Gandhi, drew me a nifty little picture of my kidneys and my urinal tract and gave me a quick session on what a kidney stone actually was, in case I failed to dope it out from its far-from-self-explanatory name. What I had probably endured was something the size of a grain of sand (though as tense as I've been lately, I wouldn't have been surprised if it turned out to be a particle of a diamond) that had passed through the stem. He had the mouth-breather fetch me a urine strainer to catch it. Not being interested in examining this said-grain any further, I immediately forgot the plastic funnel-shaped screen.
Oddly enough, the only thought going through my mind at the time, beyond "Christ, make it stop!", was "can I spend the entire weekend like this?" I had this thought because it was the eve of Cinema Wasteland, and I wasn't about to miss it. I love Wasteland. It's practically the only show I enjoy doing. And kidney stone, unbearable pain, or no, I was going. Which would have made me just oodles of fun to be around, I can assure you.
But as of today, four days later, I am still pain-free. I should probably return to my physician for an ultrasound to make sure there's nothing else rattling around back there. And I'm sure I'll do this sometime after my visit to an oral surgeon, who will determine whether or not I should have my impacted wisdom teeth removed.
And after that, the kidneys and the teeth, I think I'll go in for some elective open-heart surgery. You know, to round off the year.