I was about two hours into a promising workday when it hit me. If I hadn’t felt it before, I would have said I must have just twisted my back, but this was the same feeling I had four years ago, when the same irritating problem put me in the hospital for two days.
Women how have had children will tell you that the pain is worse than childbirth. I have no frame of reference. There is no position of comfort, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. The pain isn’t severe yet, so I continue to work through it, although at times, I have difficulty concentrating.
How could something as small as a grain of sand cause so much pain? I don’t know, how can something so small as a tiny electron smashing into a molecule of Plutonium cause a nuclear blast?
In a foolish attempt to objectify pain, such geniuses as Wong, Baker, and MacGill, whoever they are, have probably done theses on the scale of one to ten. Back when I worked as a nurse, I hated this scale, because basically, it’s useless and stupid. All you need is a single patient who is equally useless and stupid, and the scale falls apart.
“Can you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten?”
“Twelve,” the patient calmly replies.
“You flunked math in school, didn’t you?”
“I don’t know what you mean. Oh, by the way, I’m allergic to anything except for narcotics.”
Sometimes the scale would produce something I would call the “Static 10.” That conversation would go something like this:
“Ten,” the patient would reply, again calmly.
“Is it as bad as it was earlier before you had the pain medication?”
“Oh, no, it’s not nearly as bad as that.”
“So if it was a ten then, and it’s much better now, what is the number?”
“Oh, it’s still a ten. Can I get some more of that stuff?”
Enough of these conversations, and a guy gets a little paranoid when a nurse asks him to rate the pain, but since I had found my way into the Embassy’s health unit after a failed attempt to go home sick for the afternoon, I had to answer the question, I just didn’t feel like the answer was all that simple.
“Seven. A seven…is when you can’t finish a sentence…without a pause. An eight, you can’t start a sentence. A nine, you can’t…speak in words, only noises, unless it’s random utterances of colorful vocabulary. I’m saving the number ten for later, in case something…really bad happens.”
My honesty definitely didn’t pay off. In spite of the fact that I have had five of these things previously, the doc wanted to be sure, so I had to stick around long enough to donate a urine sample, which took almost another hour. It was a good deal, though, I traded my urine for a bottle of Percocets and a prescription for Flomax. I guess the stuff is liquid gold after all. I resisted the urge to pop a couple of pills right in front of the nurse. I walked home instead, since I only live five minutes away. I’m sure I looked amusing walking down the street all hunched over and PO’ed.
As I stood in my kitchen, I looked longingly at the half-empty bottle of plum brandy on the shelf, as I washed down two of the Percs with ice water.
For the next hour, I writhed. The most unusual thing about kidney stone pain is the randomness of it. Within a minute, it can go from a 7 to a 9, then drop to a 2, which on my scale means I can do light entertainment reading, but nothing academic. I really should try to get some grant money for this, because I think I’m on to something.
I think I slept for a little while, but I’m not really sure. I thought perhaps I did, since I dreamed of Leann Rimes with giant 80s hair and missing teeth, chasing me with a bowl of applesauce, yelling, “Eat this!” My inner monologue was alternating between Morgan Freeman and Charlie Sheen. Charlie at one point called me an idiot, and told me that only he could be that stoned and live. Morgan has all sorts of philosophical stuff to say, if you just listen. I wish I had written more of it down, because I feel somehow that it will be important later on.
I crawled out of bed sometime in the early evening, and the pain is now gone, although I’m a bit sore from all the struggling with it. Someone has filled my house with fog. I walk down to the kitchen to refill my water, and some “My Little Pony” dolls scare the crap out of me. Fortunately, they didn’t talk, but they didn’t have to – their little demonic eyebrows said it all – the only thing stopping them from attacking me with the kitchen knives was their lack of opposable thumbs. They seemed to know this, one of them sat back on his little haunches and his glare followed me back across the room. Shut up, it really did. I’m scared to go back down there.
I’m going back to bed again, to try to sleep it off until the Oxy-hangover starts. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to listen to some Beck. I have heard that when a person is this baked, the lyrics are hidden verses of the Tao Te Ching.