Even though my worldly existence hearkens back to the days when pocket change would fill the gas tank (and they’d often throw in a case of Coke, too), I’m still amazed when a seemingly ordinary day unexpectedly turns into total chaos. It’s not simply a matter of having a bad day, everybody has them, but I stand in awe as to how everything that can go bad DOES go bad, and how it always seems to happen at the same time!
It was a busier than normal day when the wife drove out of town for a meeting while I kept an eye on the kids at home. We went into town to take care of the usual errands, but on the way back I started to feel a sharp, nagging pain in my right side. I had the same pain at work the day before and it went away after a couple of minutes, but this time it just kept getting worse. When we got home I had the kids unload the groceries while I slumped into the easy chair while grabbing my side. Incredibly, the pain got even worse, and so was my concern as to what was causing it. I’d lost a granddad over a hundred years ago to a burst appendix, but no one else on either side of my family had an appendectomy that I could recall. Since it was Saturday, our friends and neighbors were away so panic had also set its claws into my side as to how I was going to get away to an Urgent Care clinic. I put our occasionally responsible teenager in charge of the younger ones and jumped into the car for a mad dash into town, but I didn’t make it a mile down the road before the now searing pain forced a hasty retreat back home. Being far away from professional medical help is one of the few drawbacks to living in the country, but we had a well-conceived plan in effect that would cover any possible emergency occurrence, except this one. I tried driving again after I caught my breath but came up with the same inescapable result. It was time to dial 911, which immediately escalated my pulse rate and stress level to Stage 2.
What a thrill. The kids were busy with their Nintendo’s and were hardly distracted by the paramedics. I inquired how I was supposed to fit on the narrow, metal railroad tie with wheels they brought in with them, and was told the gurney fits all but one size. That size is mine. After being wired for vital signs I was packed away inside a hermetically sealed meat locker called an ambulance. I assume it’s hermetically sealed in order to preserve the contents should they expire on the way to their destination. I can’t help but think ambulances are recycled Good Humor Ice Cream trucks since that’s the sound they make when the back door is closed (you have to be over 50 to know that).
You would, as a side note, feel quite safe in the back of an ambulance if you had to drive through a dense swarm of angry killer bees. I now know what a side of beef feels like on the way to the market. An ambulance’s automotive suspension is an extension of the gurney that’s inside of it. With arms flopping side to side at every turn, I could feel every single rock in the road during the journey into town as if we were rolling on metal wheels.
At least admittance into the hospital went smoothly (entering through the side door has its advantages), and I was pushed into a room where I waited, impatiently, to be seen. Lying down when you’re in that kind of pain doesn’t cut it, so I slid onto the visitor’s chair and clung to the door handle while panting like a dog on a hot summer day. A very welcomed nurse finally came in and took my vital signs and expertly extracted a couple vials of my blood while the ER physician asked a few questions. The blood test revealed no infection and an x-ray confirmed what the doctor had suspected; a kidney stone. “Don’t worry. It’s not serious,” he said, incredulously. “Feels like a boulder, doesn’t it?” he asked. “More like Comet Kohoutek,” I said, gasping. “It’s like a man giving birth,” the nurse chirped in. “Fine,” I said, “then get me a bed in the Paternal Ward, quick!”
As he left the room the doctor said, “We’ll get you something for the pain. In the meantime, welcome to the club!” I just love those lifetime membership fraternities. I was already a member of the Fraternal Order of the Hemorrhoid, so why not join another one? While dwelling on that thought during my medically induced euphoric state of contentment, I decided we should all be proud of the afflictions we’ve survived, and should let the world know of our pride through our signatures! We could sign our names with a degree, such as, Mike Vines, H.ks. (Hemorrhoid/kidney stone), or more formally, Mike Vines, Ph. Pks. (Painful hemorrhoid/Painful kidney stone). Just a thought.
I was released from the hospital with printed instructions on what to expect when the kidney stone passes, and my very own plastic pee filter used to collect the urological invader. The idea is to verify the passing of the stone, then submit it to a lab for analysis in order to determine what kind of foods you should avoid to help prevent another occurrence. The 12 hour ETA of the stone turned into 24 hours and I grew concerned. Did that little sucker get stuck on the way out or what? The meds were helping a lot but I just wanted it to be over with. I was expecting a pain similar to a spiny blow fish edging its way down my urinary tract, but instead the Rock of Gibraltar passed unceremoniously through the pipeline 48 hours later. The result of my labor; a single, approximately 2 millimeter, one gram, multifaceted object of unknown composition. The emotional description wouldn’t make it past the editor’s desk. When I took the stone to my doctor’s office for analysis the lab technician exclaimed, “Oh, passing a kidney stone is like a man giving birth!” The analysis came back a few days later as calcium oxalate, and wouldn’t you know it, chocolate, one of my favorite indulgences, is at the top of the “Don’t Eat” list!
When hearing about my affliction, a construction worker friend commented that he had broken his back twice on the job, but neither time was it as painful as the kidney stone he had passed. Passing a kidney stone is indeed a painful experience, but I doubt it is anywhere near as painful as giving birth. Why? Because I didn't tear off the arms of bystanders, although the pain was constant and lasted for several hours. A close second, however, is the pain I felt when ripping a pound of fur off my Neanderthal chest while removing the adhesive-backed electrode pads that the paramedics had left attached to my torso. But if it’s a birthing analogy they want to make out of all of this, I’m game.
Let’s say the very same stone I submitted for lab analysis found its way to the nearest landfill. Over eons of time the earth eventually broke up into tiny segments that traveled throughout the great expanse of our galaxy. Modesty precludes me from creating an entire universe, so I’ll concentrate on a single planet. By chance, my tiny kidney stone, wandering aimlessly through space, coalesced with other molecules and eventually grew in such great mass and form as to become a planet, and in our very own solar system! Since Uranus is already taken, I’ll name my future prodigy, Urethra, The Yellow Planet. I like that.
They say once you’ve had a kidney stone there’s a very high probability that you’ll have another. I can hardly wait.
Michael Vines is a freelance writer who lives in South-Central Kentucky. His "Slice of Life" essays have been published in statewide newspapers and Amazon Kindle ("Ain't Life Peachy")
Leave a Reply.
HalfHourToKill.Com is a literary website publishing authors of Flash Fiction and Short Stories in the genres of Fantasy, Horror and Noir. Feel free to submit your Fiction, Poetry and Non-Fiction work to us year round.
Site powered by Weebly. Managed by SiteGround