The rock that stopped my world (for a few hours at least)
Friday was like any other day for me at work. Everyone was glad weekend was approaching and around 4pm I’d started to wind my day and week down. This usually means finishing up any minor projects that might have gotten overlooked during the week. It could include polishing up a larger project or just getting a project to a good stopping point.
Everything was going as planned and as 4:30 rolled around I had started thinking about what the evening would hold for me. I had originally planned to help a friend assemble a bed from Ikea. That was put on hold though. I was also invited to go to a concert / help a friend celebrate a birthday. From here on out I’ll post events in a chronological suspense thriller type fashion.
4:35 – The Burning
I had to pee for lack of a better term and as I attempted to go I noticed a burning sensation with some mild shooting pains. Nothing terribly alarming I thought. Maybe I was just dehydrated? I’m prone to not drinking enough water anyway. So I get a large cup of water and proceed to down it. It wasn’t 5 minutes later the urge to urinate had come back. Again, burning and more shooting pains. I still wasn’t alarmed but I was very annoyed.
4:45 – The Pain
Around this time I felt like I had gas pains creeping in. I felt as if I needed to use the bathroom in more ways than just #1. I took care of that and hoped that it would ease the cramped feeling I’d started to get. Alas it did not.
4:50 – Decision Time
I go back to my desk and see it’s 10 till 5:00. At this point the burning is burning and the pain has really set in on my left side. It’s getting worse by the second and I made an alarming realization; this had to be a kidney stone.
Anyone who’s had one will testify as to just how mind numbingly excruciating they can be. Now I had one when I was 19 and it required a visit to the ER. Since that time I’d actually passed a couple without any pain at all. Suddenly I’m at work and I’m faced with this stark realization of being at least 25 minutes from a hospital. I knew time was not on my side.
I grabbed my keys and left without telling anyone so much as “bye”. I’m now in a slight panic as I headed to my truck. The pain is now really setting in and I’m frantically trying to figure out my best option. Do I go to the nearby med center? Can they even administer something strong enough for THIS kind of pain? Do I attempt to go up the interstate to Henry Medical center? Do I drive to Griffin and go to Spalding Regional Hospital? I didn’t want to lollygag and hang around to make that decision.
4:55 – In Route
I jumped into my truck and left work and took Hwy 155 to Griffin. My thinking was that was the least crowded way to go and that route would take me to the side of town where the hospital was located. I called my wife and explained to her I was in a lot of pain and that “I’m dying” and was headed to the ER. Mind you, I wasn’t dying. I felt like I was and felt like I’d rather be dead.
I think she was upset that I was even attempting to drive and in hindsight it was dumb but also I knew that time was of the very essence and that minutes would make the difference. I had to make this drive to the hospital despite the borderline gut wrenching pain.
Half my trip was spent arguing if the hospital was the way to go or a medical center. I kept saying that hopefully I’d get moved ahead of people with less serious ailments. I was an optimist even in one of my darkest moments, so that counts for something right? Thankfully all the back and forth kept my mind off of the pain just enough to get me to the hospital.
5:15 – Checking In #AtTheHospitalLOL
From here on in, time was blurring together for me so I’ll try to be accurate as possible. I walked into the ER and noticed on a few people which was a relief. I asked the lady if this was the ER and she directed me to fill out a form. I wrote as fast as I could and the reason for the visit was “I think I have a kidney stone!” I handed the form in and pleaded my case that I was in a lot of pain. They said I’d be called shortly. I had to keep it together and it was getting increasingly difficult.
5:25 – Triage
A nurse called me back for vitals and asked calmly what I was in for. In my contorted and twisted body position I calmly replied “Pretty sure I have a kidney stone”. Followed by “so here I am, hurting, just need some help, yep, need to get seen…” I was yammering on about how bad it hurt when she asked about pain on the 1-10 scale. This scale is funny because docs use it a lot. I’ve been asked a few times and the thing is, pain is such an arbitrary thing from person to person. Most of the time I just pick an arbitrary number. This is one of the two times in my life that I can say with absolute assuredness that it was a 10 of the highest magnitude. I was later asked about pain and asked if I could answer “11”.
I was done with triage and sent back to my seat to wait. At that time my wife and two sons had showed up. The ER was the last place I wanted my kids to hang out in and honestly I didn’t want my kids seeing me like that. Here’s dad, this guy we look up to, to be strong and courageous and he’s nearly in the fetal position. I gave them a hug and said I was hurting but did my best to put on a happy face. She decided she’d take them to her moms house only a mile or so away. I said goodbye and now I waited
5:30 – The waiting
It was at this point that I was out of thing to keep my mind preoccupied. I could only sit and wait. Sitting was amusingly hard to do. I was nearly sitting on the side of my head, it felt like. Strangely enough standing up seemed to alleviate the pain slightly. My wife had made it back a few minutes later and I was complaining that it seemed like more people were leaving than were going in. I was angry at everything at that point but the pain kept me from lashing out. Nearly half an hour would roll by before I asked the receptionist ( is that right? ) about the wait time. She told me that the person in front of me had waited almost an hour and a half. Wow, I was going to die (ok I wasn’t but seriously I felt like I was!).
I pleaded my case that I didn’t mind waiting but that I would much rather do it in less pain. She told me to ask the nurses if they could help. I was desperate and didn’t care what kind of fool I might have looked like. I knocked on the door to triage and asked if they could help me in any way. They said I was about to be called. At that point I saw the door open and heard my name. Finally, one step closer to relief and an answer. I had only assumed kidney stone and was 97% sure but the other 3% lingered on my mind.
6:00 – The Room
I walked into my room and was left there alone much to my dismay but I was happy to at least have my own room. I attempted to lie down but couldn’t sit still long enough. Also, my wife had stepped out to make a phone call so she hadn’t come back with me. I felt quiet lonely and wanted to see her face as seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours. She finally came back and said she’d called another medical center when she overhead the wait time. I think perhaps they saw the shape I was in and bumped me up and I’m very grateful for that. The condition I was in constituted an actual emergency. While not life threatening, the pain is just about second to none.
6:15 – Shot in the arm
A couple of nurses walked in and started to ask questions. I kept as calm as I could while answering. I was injecting questions about an IV and getting the pain reduced, nonstop. The head nurse said he was on it. He put the IV in and the doc walked in and ordered the medicine; Zofran for nausea and Dilaudid for pain. The nurse stepped out to get the medicine, which they understandably keep locked up. I told him to run, no, fly. They were doing their best.
I had to wait a few more minutes for the nurse to come back and in that time I had started to unravel a bit. I was moaning in pain at this point and honestly I didn’t have a care in the world about how I appeared to anyone. Nausea had settled in an I felt like I was on the verge of passing out. Not a moment later the nurse walks in and goes right to administering the Zofran. Next the pain medication.
6:20 – We have liftoff
As the dilaudid is being injected into my arm I felt this intense rush come over me. It was a sense of flying right out of my bed and this intense “whoooosh” feeling swept over me. It was intense and I even said “whoaaaaaa” to which the nurse said yeah, that’ll pass in minute or so. I was almost instantaneously transported from a world of pain into a world of serenity. While the medicine did not 100% rid the pain, it went from a 10 to around a manageable 3-4. I felt human again.
6:30 – The Hulk That Never Was
Shortly after that a radiologist popped in and said a CT scan had been ordered to look for a stone. Wow, this was fast. The last time I had a stone I had to drink that stuff that cleared your bowels out (ew!) and get injected with dye. That was well after the fact also. This was much easier and faster. I got wheeled around the annals of the hospital and felt quite good I must say. I was my old self, joking and bantering on about nonsense. The scan took 2-3 minutes and I was whisked by to my room to await results. The next hour or so passed fairly uneventfully save for urinating into a bottle which felt like it took an act of congress to approve.
I was secretly hoping for a gamma radiation accident so I could go all Hulk up in there. Well, ok, I know that’s not possible but still, the idea was entertaining!
7:45 – The Return
After giving a urine sample, much to my dismay, the pain seemed to creep back up and steadily intensified. Seriously? I was doped up and the pain was already coming back? I hit the call button and they asked if I needed anything. I said the pain had returned and they said they’d be in shortly. I was now moaning again and was quite upset. How could I go from feeling good and loopy back into this pain? I think what happened was after I urinated, the stone began to move again since my bladder was empty. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.
Oh yeah, I should also mention that the doc had popped in and confirmed the stone at nearly 6mm. That’s a HUGE stone, well, huge for me.
8:15 – The Calm After The Storm
For whatever reason, around this time, the pain suddenly dropped off. I didn’t know why but didn’t care. I went from 9-10 to a sudden 0 on the pain scale. I wasn’t sure if the medicine had a second wind or if the stone actually made it to the bladder. I was just glad the pain was gone, for now that is. The nurse came back in and said she had pain meds to give. I wasn’t in pain anymore but in my mind it could return at any time. She gave me another dose of the dilaudid and once again, I was off to the Moon. Now I was nearly 100% carefree and painfree.
8:45 – Kthxbai!
The doctor came in and said they were releasing me and gave me all the info I needed for a follow up with a urologist. I said that’s great and all but lets talk about this pain. I said these exact words to her, “Give me the strongest medicine for pain that you’re legally allowed to give.” She laughed and said not to worry, it was strong. Ok, good. See, I don’t want to end up back in the ER at 10pm or 3AM.
9:00 – Home Sweet Home
I was finally home and was able to see my two boys and they were so glad I wasn’t dead. Ha! Hey, me too for that matter. Thus ended my drama but the drama for my wife getting my medicine had only begun. Over the next three hours she would have gone to three pharmacies only to find that no one in Griffin had Percocet-10. She had to go to McDonough (20 miles away) and only then did she find out the prescription was NOT signed. Damn! Percocet is highly controlled and you must have a hard copy signed by the doctor to get it. It’s strong stuff for sure. She had to come BACK to Griffin then go BACK to McDonough but alas was able to finally get it filled. Thank you my love! The story isn’t quite done though.
12:20 – Who’s Our Special Guest Tonight?
I was waiting up for Jen to get home with the medicine and figured I’d be better off sleeping. I wasn’t hurting so I better make the most of it. One last task for the night was to pee again. I felt a sudden strong urge to do so. I had been given a strainer to catch a stone but left it in the car. Oops! An empty coke bottle would do and believe me it wouldn’t be the first (nor probably last) time I’d peed in a bottle. So I walk in, assume the position and went to take care of business. I can only describe the sensation I felt by referring you to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. You know, where Indy is running for his life from the giant boulder. Yes, that boulder was rolling down on the inside of me. That little bastard rolled right out and into the bottle. *plunk*
Wait, what? Did I just pass this stone? That fast? I held up the bottle in disbelief. Sure as hell, there it was; the rock that stopped everything for a few hours. This thing had me on my head in pain. I wanted to murder it and burn it. All I could do was stare in amazement and this sudden relief swept over me. That was it. It was done. I’d thrown the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. It was only moments later that Jen walked in, with my medicine. She asked if I was in pain, to which I didn’t reply but only showed her the stone. We were both amazed.
She said “Well, take one of the pain pills anyway because I went through hell to get them.” No argument here my dear. Though I was still more than medicated enough from the hospital. I would sleep very nicely on this night now that I had that little devil out of me.
Thus ended the weirdest Friday I’ve ever had. I’m glad I didn’t go to put together a bed and so very glad I chose not to go out that night. Although I was stricken with it well before any of that would have happened. I was just glad the evening unfolded the way it did because it could have been worse for sure.