They say that passing a kidney stone is the male pain equivalent of a woman giving birth. While some may suspect that I indeed have a uterus, I can honestly say that I have never experienced uterine contractions nor birthing a child through my vagina… er, A vagina. But now I can say I’ve passed a stone. The entire ordeal lasted a week, ending with a bang at the urologist’s clinic. Allow me to share my story.
I first felt the pain while bending over sanding a picnic table in my backyard. Initially, I thought I may have strained a muscle because it occurred just as I bent over to reach a far corner, and I felt a sudden pain in left mid back region. At about that same time, my wife and the kids came home from shopping and I went inside to greet them. They quickly dispersed when I entered, and I sat down trying to find a comfortable position. At this point, the pain was beginning to increase pretty rapidly, and I couldn’t find a position or pressure to the area that alleviated it in the slightest. I knew it wasn’t muscular pain then, and I began to worry. Within a span of about ten minutes, I was down on the floor with my eyes closed tight and my jaw clenched, trying not to sound too wimpy while I called for my wife. She and I knew it was probably my kidney from the symptoms I was having, and she called the ambulance.
Now, I have heard other people tell stories about their kidney stones and offered cursory sympathetic remarks, not ever really giving it much thought. That is because, unless you go though it, you really don’t know what they’re talking about, and therefore can’t empathize appropriately. So I have tried to think of a way to best describe this pain in a way that everyone can relate to. And I think I have it. Okay… you know how when you’re role-playing with your spouse in the bedroom, and she wants to play the part of the plumber and you’re playing the part of the clogged pipe, and she decides that she needs to unclog you with a steel-bristled snake pipe cleaner, and she jams it into your weiner hole, and it hurts quite a lot, but you’re trying not to break character, so you just grin it and bear it, and then she tries to show off her skills so she puts some hard English on her steel-bristled snake and angles it up through your bladder and into your ureter and drives it all the way up to your friggin’ kidney?…. You know what I’m talking about? Well, it’s a lot like that. Except the pain is unrelenting and you don’t have a safe word to stop the pain. Trust me, I tried screaming Dorito a thousand times and the pain never stopped. And I’m sure the paramedics weren’t sure what to think of the strange man writhing on the floor screaming “Dorito, Dorito, oh god, Dorito!!!”
Hmm… I’m not sure why my wife likes that particular role so much.
So then the ambulance came and they filled me with pain drugs and I went to the hospital and laid around in half a stupor for hours. I ended up staying the night and the pain was gone in the morning. They X-rayed me and said I could go home. About 2-3 hours after I got home, it all happened again. Seriously. I had assumed that the stone had passed to the bladder, and that’s why they let me leave, but it hadn’t and I was in agony again. And I had to have my wife call the ambulance again. I was trying to be tough, but it was the vomiting that prompted her to call. I forgot to mention that there was a lot of vomiting over those two days, due to extreme pain. Anyways, I remember my wife and I had a pretty comical conversation as we were waiting for the ambulance to come get me again. While doubled over, I walked over to the book shelf and grabbed the book I’ve been working on and went over near the front door. My wife asked me what I was doing. I explained that I found myself incredibly bored the previous day in the hospital waiting hours at a time for a doctor to poke in intermittently and ask me how I was feeling, so I wanted to take a book this time. She told me to give her the book because I would look ridiculous taking a book on the ambulance. I argued about my impending boredom. She asked me how bad my pain was. I said it was about a 5 out of 10. She said “About a 5 out of 10?!” I explained that the extreme pain came in waves and that currently it was a “AAAAHHH!!!”…. the pain got bad again. So my wife took my book away, worried that I would lessen my pain credibility by casually taking reading material into the ambulance with me. Whatever.
So that night they surgically removed the stone. Well.. they called it a “procedure”, so I guess it wasn’t technically surgery. All the same, they took me into the operating room and brought the mask down over my face. A scary thing, that. Even totally doped up on drugs, I remember the anxiety of that mask coming down and the lights going dim.
Recovery wasn’t too bad. I was groggy from all the stuff and peeing was no fun, but I was glad to know that it was out. They had to shove a stent in me to help drain stuff, and it would have to be removed in a week. I watched a lot of TV (since I didn’t have a book to read!) and found some movies to watch. I will now give my super-quick review of the two and a half movies I saw while recovering in the hospital under the influence of strong pain medications: True Grit (the new one)– this movie might have been great if I was watching it under different circumstances; but I found it pretty emasculating watching a movie about a 14-year old girl braving the wild west to avenge her father’s death and losing her arm in the process, while I was lying in a hospital bed because a pebble was in me. TRON
Legacy– I also found this movie hard to fully enjoy because I was drowsy and I kept thinking that there was a bunch of hidden meaning everywhere but I wasn’t clear enough to figure it out and then I wound up just asking myself why I was watching nothing but Jeff Bridges movies. Green Hornet– Let’s just say I was glad I got discharged before I had time to finish this one.
The week following was pretty uncomfortable. There was a constant urge to urinate, and when I did, it hurt and was bloody. I had a constant aching pain where the stent was in my left ureter. But the worst thing during those few days after leaving the hospital was the constipation from all the pain drugs. It was awful. It got so bad after a few days, I considered asking my wife to role-play the part of a construction worker so she could jam a jackhammer up my ass and break that brick up… for some reason, I have a feeling she would have liked that role too. I remember sitting on the toilet for thirty minutes at a time, with my legs falling asleep and me drifting into delirium. You know that scene in the movie 127 Hours where the dude has been stuck for a long time and he’s thirsty and delirious and he starts fantasizing about a torrential downpour that hydrates and frees him?.. Well, I was having dreams of torrential flows… Did I just compare my constipation to being stuck in a rock and having to amputate your own arm to survive?.. Yes. Yes I did. I was taking stool softeners and laxatives and developing new toileting techniques..
anything to help loosen it up! FYI, it does help a little to lean laterally and pull your cheek to the side and then rock over to the other side and do the same. Fired a few bullets that way. You’re welcome. Anyway, when all the laxatives and stuff finally took affect, I swear I heard angels sing on that toilet. Fantastic relief.
The stent removal was a whole ordeal on its own. I made the mistake of googling “ureter stent removal” the day before I was to go in and came across a bunch of horror stories, and a picture of the stent that was in me. It’s a fairly long plastic tube with sizable coils on each end. I remember looking at the picture of the coils and then looking down and imagining the size of my penis hole and trying to do the math on how that was gonna come out. I scheduled my appointment for lunch time during a work day. You know.. a routine removal of a long coiled tube from out of my wiener while downing a sandwich, and then
back to work! After producing a urine sample, I was led to a room where a lady prepped me for the “procedure”. I found it really funny, as she directed me to sit on the patient chair, pull down my pants and underwear to my knees, and drape myself with this flimsy paper drape. Then she moved the drape and put a paper drape over me that had a circular cutout where my penis is. I oddly remember wondering what the purpose of the drape was at that point. It’s not like I’m overly modest about my thighs. My privates are hanging through a hole, lady, your drape is a waste of paper! So then she has me lay back and she blasts some numbing gel into my urethra. That was uncomfortable, but just a primer. After a few minutes of her prepping, and me looking up to the ceiling trying to not notice that I’m being fondled by some strange lady, she says that I’m ready and goes to call the doctor. I glance down at my prepped region and notice that, for some reason, my penis is clamped down to my abdomen with some metal straps. I remember looking at my little Brad, with him staring back at me with its creepy little one eyebrow furrowed in consternation, silently wimpering, “Why?”… I silently replied, “I don’t know. I guess my diet is unsatisfactory.” He answered back, “After all the abuse you’ve put me through over the years… do you even realize that we don’t have actual sex?! Your wife just finds new ways to abuse us and you think it’s okay because she calls it ‘sex games’…” I lamely attempt to mollify, “I trimmed you up for the occasion. You look so pretty.” Angrily, with a tear in its eye, “I’m not talking to you!”… and I let him be with his pain.
The doctor came in and we exchanged stupid jokes while my penis lay clamped in a paper hole on my lap. I spent most of my time staring up at the ceiling, but occasionally chanced a look at what he was doing to prepare. I saw him grabbing a long metal wire and I knew I was in deep shit. As he approached me and instructed me to “take deep slow breaths”, I desperately fought the urge to start blurting “Dorito, Dorito!!” as he went about his cruel work. It was quite uncomfortable. And the two coils I pointed out earlier? Holy damn. I was pretty sure my penis was tearing off when those parts came out. And then when they were done, they pleasantly told me I could get dressed and they left. I was laying there with my pants down to my knees with my own urine all over me (apparently a natural reaction to something being pulled from the depths of your kidneys), and my poor, beat up penis sobbing in a fetal position. I went back to work after that, but had to leave early when I started experiencing some pretty bad delayed pain that, thankfully went away later and hasn’t returned.
It’s been a few days since the stent was removed, and the only residual effects from the whole deal is that I feel an increase in urinary urgency. The doc said everything should normalize in a month, but I don’t think it will take that long. My penis still isn’t talking to me, but time will mend our relationship, I’m sure. I recently was telling my folks about the entire experience and my mom confessed that she has had a kidney stone before. I asked, “Really? What did you do?” She said, “I crawled up in a tub, gritted my teeth, and got through the night.” Finally being able to empathize with this story, I said, “Ugh, that’s awful. What happened after that?” My mom then leaned in slowly, looked intensely into my eyes, and said, “I got up the next morning and went about my day.”…. My mom has a way of turning my penis into a vagina with mere words.
So that was my kidney stone experience. I am sorry for any of you who have gone through this or may yet go through this. I, for one, plan to drink lots more water. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my wife is calling me in to the bedroom. She’s wearing overalls and she’s holding a hoe, so I think I know what she has in mind. Sigh.. come on, little buddy. It’s time to be the garden again.
By the way, Mother, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I don’t actually engage in weird sex games with my wife in which I allow her to take various tools from various trades and stick them into my various orifices. I have way too much respect for tools to do that. Love you, Mom!