I’ve never considered myself a likely candidate for the painful plight of kidney stones. I don’t drink soda, I do drink gallons of water every day and I maintain a strenuous cardio program.
But the reality of my deception came in the form of a literal rude awakening at about 2 a.m. just over a week ago. I was jolted to consciousness by a sharp cramping pain in my lower left side. I tried to get to my feet, but nausea and dizziness slammed me back to my pillow. Thirty minutes later, after a 911 S.O.S., I was writhing around in an emergency room bed, enduring the worst pain of my life.
A merciful shot of morphine sold my brain on the lie that the pain had diminished, and then a quick body scan revealed that I had indeed acquired not one, but two kidney stones.
These calcified deposits of cruelty are the dark stuff of men’s locker room lore, with some victims comparing the pain to that of female childbirth. But until a guy experiences this medical malady firsthand, his points of reference are tales of sufferings from strangers, which can be somewhat misleading.
The ensuing education that came with my treatment disposed of a number of my own misconceptions. So, along with passing the damn rock of ruin, I hope to pass along some clarity on the subject.
First, I had always been under the impression that the real pain of dispensing a kidney stone was when it shot through the urethra, which is at the core of the penis. This can be the case if the stone is still intact and large enough to cause such woes upon exiting, but for the most part, my ER nurse informed me, I was already experiencing that baby-bearing pain.
That’s because the stone, which had originated in my kidney, was now making its torturous journey to my bladder by way of a narrow tube called the ureter. The bullying boulder seemed to mock me in its patience, milking its trek to the point that the morphine wore off. I thrashed around, changed positions to no avail, and cried out for more of that narcotic nectar of the gods.
Along with another dose, my angelic nurse dispensed yet more kidney stone enlightenment. I asked why this was happening to me when I avoid the bad things and drink water like a camel, to which she responded, “Sometimes it’s just a matter of genetics.”
Fortunately, in the days that followed, the stone disintegrated, and passed through unnoticed. In fact, I really didn’t feel any more pain until today, when a painful reminder arrived in the form of a $350 dollar emergency copay bill.