I’m going to start with gratitude. For the emergency room doctors, nurses, and technicians who took care of me; for the ambulance drivers who took me to them and made empathetic small talk on the way; for my dad who answered my early anxious phone call and encouraged me to seek care right away in case it was a ruptured appendix; for the fact that it was not a ruptured appendix—only a 4mm kidney stone.
“Only” a kidney stone?! Ha! Because holy mother of god—THE PAIN.
I woke up about 4:45am with some minor abdominal discomfort. Could have been anything—needing a snack, a bowel movement, a better way of lying in bed. Within minutes it had shifted rapidly, becoming excruciating and impossible to ignore. My body started to shake, I went ghostly pale, the tension in my body clipped my breath.
I knew enough about appendicitis that I figured this might be it, and if so, it would be a big deal. So while I still had my wits about me I brushed my teeth and changed out of my pyjama’s—if I was going to suffer in public I would at least be decent.
Then I called Dad who confirmed my worry about possible appendicitis and pressed the urgency of the matter. I was in no state to drive and Justin wasn’t answering phone or texts, so I called 911 and waited for the ambulance to arrive (while frantically firing off as many work emails as I could to cover the deadlines and meetings I would miss).
The next few hours were horrendous. The pain just kept mounting, and with it my parallel attempts to just keep breathing and not let myself believe that this would be a permanent state (and on this front I have to say the Buddhist principle of impermanence was an anchor).
Eventually the nurse managed to get some pain medication into me to reduce the throb, and the resident confirmed that it was a kidney stone. The psychological relief that came from knowing the diagnosis was as great as the physical relief of the painkiller (at least that’s how I remember it, I’m pretty sure that’s only because the painkillers had already kicked in and I had the luxury of being philosophical).
Things got better from there. They kept me for another hour to fill me up with an IV pouch of water to help flush the stone out, and then sent me on my way with a packet of prescriptions, an admonition to keep guzzling water, and a little pee strainer to see if I can catch it when it comes out.
Now I’m lying low and doing my best to follow doctors orders. The hardest part is figuring out how to eat as well as drink, especially since I have a hard time distinguishing between hunger pangs and kidney stone pain. I thought a bowl of ramen might be good, but by the time I got to the noodles my stomach was so full of broth and water that I could barely keep it down. (And by “barely” I mean that I did not keep it down. An unfortunate episode in the Walgreens parking lot brings my lifetime tally of public vomiting to four.)
Anyway, back to gratitude. It could have been much worse. All things considered, I’m okay. And please let this stone pass soon!!