Well I spent a good part of the last night and early this morning with the Abbess visiting my friends in the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Emergency Room. I had been in pretty bad pain most of the day and even went with the Abbess to visit a retired chaplain friend and his wife as he has been a patient at our medic al center for the past week. As we visited I continued to be in pain and when we went home I had the Abbess drop me off at home while she went to Gordon Biersch. Anyone who knows me knows that I have to be feeling really bad not to go out and have a beer with the Abbess and or Stein Club friends on Saturday night. The Abbess was convinced when we left the hospital that I would be back but being that I have a rather high threshold for pain compared to most people as well as a typical career military man view of pain and illness I thought that I would feel better and ride it out. I did not expect a kidney stone and thinking it was something gastric went hope to vegetate and hope that with some chicken soup and some anti-gas meds that it would go away. Wrong answer padre…
As I sat on the couch trying to get comfortable with pain waxing and waning and Molly doing her best to “will” me into feeling better I continued to feel worse. The Abbess came home and pronounced that if I was still feeling this way at midnight we were going to the hospital whether I wanted to or not. At about 11 PM I cried uncle and she drove me to the hospital. Every freaking bump on the road was misery and when we got to the ER I got out of the car and limped into the ER. I could barely walk and was doubled over in pain, which when the triage nurse asked what level on a scale of 1 to 10 I said 5 to 6 because though it hurt it was not the worst pain that I have ever had which can only be reserved for the “undead tooth of terror.” (See Killing off the Undead Tooth of Terror)
One of the good things about playing on the home field is that people recognize you, of course for some this can be good or bad but thankfully for me it was good as I like the folks down in ER and the only thing that could make my affection for them be greater was if we were a trauma center. What can I say? I did my residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital as the Trauma and Surgery Department Chaplain and served as an ER Department Chaplain at another regional trauma center. None the less I know a good number of the staff, especially the ER residents as well as the surgery, internal medicine, psychiatry and other residents who see patients in the ER. Last night was only different in the fact that I was not making rounds or being called to the ER but was a patient, something that I have little patience at being.
After a relatively short but uncomfortable wait in the waiting room I was taken back to a bay with a curtain as a partition given a gown and put on a monitor which as I observed that my vital signs, despite my pain were very good. My conditioning program is paying off. I knew the ER attending, the RN and the Hospital Corpsmen that attended to me and other staff members who know me took time to visit. Dr Ventura told me that he thought that it was likely a kidney stone and both he and the RN asked me about the color of my urine which I compared to a cloudy Keller Beer or Hefe-Weizen. How else can you describe urine when it does not have the clarity or effervescence of a Pilsner? I was sent to get a CT scan which was pretty cool. CT’s have come a long way since my residency, what used to be a 20-30 minute procedure only took about 2-3 minutes and I didn’t even have to take my San Francisco Giants baseball hat off.
So anyway, after being discharged from the ER and saying good bye to all my friends we went up to get the myriad of drugs from our pharmacy including pain meds like Vicodin as well as meds to help the stone pass and other meds. I think the bag of meds weighed a couple of pounds. So since the Abbess was really worn out I drove us home which meant that I did not hit the rough spots in the road beacus I know where they are. After dropping her off and getting a sweet greeting from Molly I went over to our 24 hour super Wal-Mart and picked my way around the stockers to pick up a few things including the Minute Maid Lemonade that the staff told me would help me pass the stone.
Now kidney stones can take anywhere from 3 to 30 days to pass and if they don’t they may have to be removed. Approximately 80 percent of these stones contain calcium, as either calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate or a combination. Another 10 to 15 percent are composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate, s0metimes known as struvite, while only 5 to 10 percent are uric acid stones. Fewer than 1 percent of stones are cystine. Now for people like me this is interesting I don’t know too many people who laying on an ER bed think all the technical details of their illness.
Finally home I got to bed just before 0600 and got up just before noon. Since getting up I have eaten light and drank a lot of fluids, like tons of fluids and since I need to try to capture the stone have a wire mesh coffee filter with a little handle which makes it like a bucket to piss into. This will of course be consigned to oblivion once the stone is passed as there is no way, even with high tech sterilization gear available that anything that has had urine pass through it will ever be used to filter something that will pass through my lips. If you remember the Seinfeld where Jerry’s girlfriend’s toothbrush fell in the toilet you will understand completely.
So now I wait. I have been doing everything that I have been told to do but it seems that the stone has gone into hiding. I haven’t passed it but it is still in me. The choice for it is to come out on its own or be blasted into kidney stone oblivion or should either of those measures fail be surgically removed. I guess with choices like that I would prefer the natural birth even though it stands to be painful. I do hope and pray that that if this is the case that the stone will come out on the 4mm side and not the 7mm side, otherwise I will be like Kramer in the Seinfeld episode where he passes a kidney stone. I just hope when this happens I am nowhere near anyone whose life is depending on something.
So my challenge now is to figure out what to name this. My friend Greg who is a Priest and Navy Chaplain says that I need to capture and keep it in case I am ever considered for canonization as a Saint. However I wonder who the hell would want that kind of relic but realize after visiting various diocesan museums in Europe I know that anything can wind up as a relic. So my question to my readers is what to name this stone. I am leading to Adolf since he was a pain to remove during the Second World War. Friends on Facebook have suggested other names and it will be interesting to see if any consensus builds as to what to name this bad boy. So feel free to comment here or on my Facebook page as what you think this stone should be named. Like the undead tooth of terror I will keep you apprised of this health issue as well as try to keep a humorous perspective on this. Again thanks to all my friends in the ER and blessings to all. Pray for me a sinner.
Post Script: While in the ER it came to me that the doctor who called me to the ER back in December to administer the last rites to a dying retired military doctor was Eric Inge. He was a key part of my Christmas miracle and I will not forget him, see