I couldn’t tell you if it was thirty-two degrees outside or sixty, whether it was raining or not, or if the sun had bothered to come up at all. I didn’t care.
All I wanted was for the pain to stop.
No position was comfortable for more than a few minutes, although I swear I tried them all. The bed, the floor, the chair – each locale was as joy-free as the last. Covers on, covers off. It didn’t seem to matter as I felt both hot and cold at the same time.
A scheduled test was abruptly cancelled because of an “abnormality” found in my blood work.
“Keep your same appointment at my office,” was what I was told, even though that appointment was more than two weeks away. It’s hard to know what to draw from that. Something’s wrong, but it can wait? Is it because the thing that is wrong is no big deal, or is it because there’s nothing that can be done about that thing? These aren’t the types of thoughts that should be on your mind when you’re already feeling helpless and ill.
It started on the evening of the 17TH. While on my way to the company holiday party, I felt a sharp pain in my lower back. I’ve strained muscles before, so I knew that wasn’t it. It was a different kind of pain that moved from my lower back to my right side beneath my belt and back. I pulled off the road to stretch, but that did nothing.
There’s no accounting for how the mind works. I had missed the last two parties and was going to this one solo. I didn’t want to miss it again, so I got back in my car and continued my two-hour drive.
“It’ll be fine,” I thought.
Trying to chit chat during the cocktail hour proved pointless. I could barely stand. Ten minutes later, I let someone know that I was leaving. All I wanted to do was make it back home.
Forty minutes later, I admitted to myself that I could not keep driving when I spotted a police car on the side of the road. He was writing someone a ticket, so I pulled in behind him and honked my horn. It was dark, so I wasn’t surprised to see the officer approach my car with caution. I didn’t think to turn on my dome light. That might have helped.
I explained my situation while staring into his flashlight. I could barely see his face, but I sensed the tension ease when he understood that I was in distress.
“Just relax, sir. The ambulance is on the way.”
My wife and oldest daughter found their way to the distant hospital with ease. I’m glad that I bought my daughter that GPS a couple of years ago.
“Kidney stones,” was the diagnosis I received after the CAT scan.
I was discharged that evening and referred to a urologist who explained the treatment that was to occur after some additional testing – first a blood test, then an IVP (intravenous pyelogram) test with a radiologist – the latter was the one that was cancelled because of the abnormality. That’s when my mind began to wander.
The drugs prescribed by the emergency room doctor, and later by the urologist, helped manage the pain, but there was one side effect that I could not ignore. I couldn’t go. A call to the doctor yielded only advice to try over-the-counter remedies, which weren’t working. I stopped taking my prescriptions. By the tenth day, I would have given anything just to go. Talk about being focused on one thing!
The fifth remedy I tried finally worked.
The original pain from the kidney stones has subsided. Aspirin alone has been sufficient in moderating the discomfort. But I’m tired all of the time. And there’s still the matter of the blood test result. It makes you think.
Thinking is bad.
On Friday, I’ll know more, but until then, I will go about my business, as if all is well.
Maybe this story will be a reminder to you as it has been for me: Take nothing for granted. Tomorrow is promised to no one and uncertainty is the only thing that we can count on.
Happy New Year, my friends…
… live, love, do.