One Small Stone

Robbie Burns was the poet who wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go often askew.”  Our schemes for this Sunday included going to morning Mass, work training for my husband, a dance class for me, and lunch and supper somewhere in between.  Those plans ended when I woke up at 5 am with a sore back.

I frequently get a sore back from nursing Lily in bed.  Usually a change of position helps, but in this case, it didn’t.  I wiggled around for a bit, then went to the bathroom for a Tylenol.  I don’t often take pain medication (when I was growing up, we only had aspirin in the house for the dog’s arthritis), but I wanted to sleep.  When the pain continued to get worse and Lily woke up, I went downstairs to ask my husband to rub my back.  Before he could get started, I was writhing on the floor in pain, pressing on my back.

“Is it that bad?” he asked.  “We’re going to the hospital.”

Sunshine had strong opinions about waking up that early in the morning.  I struggled to get dressed through the pain, recalling a similar morning nearly three years ago when I first went into labour.  I’d rather be in labour, I decided; the pain was less and the contractions at least gave you a break between them.  The pain had now moved around to my abdomen and none of the pain-coping mechanisms I used during labour—rocking, rubbing, deep breathing—was helping.

Driving to the Hospital

The city was fairly empty at that hour of the morning.  As we drove, both my arms began tingling.  I whimpered and rocked in the seat and at one red light—where there was no other traffic—told my husband, “Just go!”  He got the message and began driving faster.  At the hospital, he dropped me at the door and went to park.  Twisting in the chair, I managed to dig my health care card out of my nurse with now numb fingers, tell the nurse when the pain had started and when I’d thrown up.

Finally she got me a bed and wheeled me out, but then I lay there for nearly ten minutes, whimpering and wondering what came next.  Then another nurse arrived and wheeled me further into ER and hooked me up to IVs.  As the drugs began flowing into my body, I could feel the pain dissipate.  It went from 10 out of 10 to 6 out of 10—manageable.  I drifted into a doze and when I woke up nearly an hour later, remembered my husband and the girls and sent the nurse out to find them.  I had visions of Lily—my “mommy’s girl”—howling in the waiting room, but she was fine.

Kidney Stone

They went home and the doctors and nurses continued to come and go.  Had I ever had anything like this before?  Spleen problems?  Kidney or gallstones?  Ovarian cysts?  No, no, no—I’m generally healthy.  Finally, as the pain responded to different medications and the doctor ran blood and urine tests, they concluded it was a kidney stone.  A little stone the size of the end of a ballpoint pen.  They discharged me just before noon, drowsy and a bit nauseous but pain-free.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies with Sunshine and talking to a friend on the phone.  My day of pain seemed trivial compared to my friend’s eight-month battle with chronic exhaustion and illness or a fellow blogger’s daily struggle with pain and fatigue.  How easily we take good health for granted.  And how “wonderfully made” are our bodies, that one small stone can wreak so much havoc.  I hope never to deal with that sort of pain again, but also to wake up every morning thanking God for His many blessings.

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  1. Koala Bear Writer January 16, 2011
  2. Tracy Krauss January 10, 2011

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