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My Body’s Hobby is Producing Painful Particulates

Filed under: General — 19day @ 16:24:58

Pain. Why was I programmed to feel pain? Such has been my life on and off for the past couple of weeks.

It started Sunday, October 28th. It was late, I was spiraling down to sleep, when I felt a slight discomfort in my left side. In an hour, it was quite a pain. An hour later, I was sitting up unable to sleep or find a comfortable position. Normal pain tablets didn’t seem to do anything. The pain seemed very familiar… the localized point of burning sharpness, the inability to alter it at all by pressing into the affected area, and the constant pressure of it. It felt just like a gallstone attack, which I had experienced for years before the gallbladder, unsalvageable, was excised. Except it couldn’t be a gallstone, not having a gallbladder, and the pain being in my left flank. By now I had self diagnosed myself as having a kidney stone. I started to seriously fret.

My plan was to stay up all night (not as if I could sleep) and then when the pain went away in six or so hours, as it did for gallstones, I’d head into the local clinic to see what to do next. But by eight hours later, the pain was only worse, so I called a cab and went to Toronto East hospital. People who don’t know me well might not think that to have been a big step for me, but I’m the type of person who’d likely bleed out in the hopes of it stopping on its own. I have never gone to the hospital under my own power before, so I was pretty nervous. I got there around 8am, sat in a triage waiting area for around an hour before being registered. After a while I got to speak to a doctor who seemed a little skeptical that I had a kidney stone, as she said people who have them are usually in levels of pain that they aren’t able to stay calm, as I appeared to stay. I don’t know, I just didn’t want to outburst in public, at least amongst people I don’t know. Before my battery of tests started I was offered morphine. I stupidly rejected it because I thought I could control the pain. And actually, I think it wasn’t as bad at that point, but it did get much worse when I was on my back, which some of the tests required.

I started with a chest x-ray for some reason, then a CT scan which to wheeled me around in a wheelchair for which I felt weird about since I could walk perfectly fine. Then I had blood taken which is always a challenge as my veins don’t seem to pop. Somewhere in there I also gave urine, which I had rather a lot of since when the pain first started and I self-diagnosed a kidney stone I had drunk copious amounts of water. By the time the tests were done and I was back in a waiting room, it was around 1pm, and I was in agony. I was started to writhe around in my chair trying to find positions that would being relief but found none. I got to the point where I stood up and when to the desk with doctors and nurses milling around waiting for one to take notice of me or to stop talking long enough that I could get a word in. After a couple of minutes of this, the doctor who saw me earlier came by and asked if I was ready for that morphine now, and I very much was.

It took another agonizing half an hour to get the morphine in due to my stupid veins not taking the saline IV at first, and the doctor reviewed the CT scan and said that I indeed had a stone, and her and the nurse half-chastised me for trying to be ‘macho’ and enduring the pain earlier, and that I must have a high tolerance for pain, which I found silly since I don’t even like seeing the needles enter my arm. But it was neither here nor there, the pain had reached a crescendo and wanted whatever drugs I could get.

I had two bags of morphine, which took the edge off but the pain was still very present and debilitating, and was given a prescription for percocet and a referral to a urologist. I got the pills from the local pharmacy, first time filling a prescription in recent memory, and a painful 15 minutes. Took a cab home, took the pills, and finally slept. The pills worked quite well, for the pain anyway, but left me in a state of semi-drunkeness, dizzy, sick, tired, but also sort of wired. I was home from work for nearly the rest of the week. All the while I was hoping to pass the stone.

The idea was, from what the ER doctor told me, that the stone was at the top of it’s journey, just at the connection of the kidney to the line that took urine to the bladder, the ureter. The stone was somewhere around 7mm wide, while the ureter is 3mm, and despite my own research suggested 7mm was quite large, I was told that it wasn’t. She said that while on the pain killers, the stone would be pushed down by the pressure, into the bladder, and I would pee it out and probably not notice or see it, but I should try to catch it by peeing through coffee-filters. Not having filters, I used a bottle to inspect my outgoings. I was also to set up an appointment with the referred urologist in the next day, and if I hadn’t passed it by the time of my appointment, that surgery might be required. I also was about to learn that virtually anything I was told wasn’t strictly true.

I was unable to obtain an appointment with the urologist for days due to no one picking up the phone, and I was home from work at this point during week days, its as if they closed up shop. Days later I finally got an appointment, a week and a half later. I still hadn’t passed the stone, but the pain had let up by the end of the first week and I returned to work. I kept checking for the stone but I couldn’t find it. A pain did return a couple of times, an ache, as if caused by the damage as the stone passed, but still no stone. The last of the real pain by the end of the first week had it still in the side, but much lower as if it had made it’s travels, and I figured it was stuck in the bladder somewhere.

I finally had my urology appointment, where this doctor was of the opinion that my stone was somewhat unlikely to have made the journey. 5mm is apparently the safety point where it can pass on its own, but 7mm, it was probably stuck in the ureter, and found a position where it didn’t cause constant pain, but could still move and cause problems. So booked another appointment back at the hospital in another week and a bit, for an x-ray in the hopes of spotting where the stone has gone. Apparently CT’s involve rather a lot of radiation, which no one told me before my initial one, so he wanted to try an x-ray. So I left the appointment rather depressed that I might have to undergo a surgical intervention to get the damn stone out.

By the end of the week, I had another bout of pain in my side, and over the weekend a bit. At least I had gotten a refill for my pills which kept things under control. By monday the pain had passed, but a new pain had appeared… when I urinated, when finished, there was often a very sharp pain in my urethra, bad enough that it kept me from sleeping. So I returned to my pills so I could at least work. I wasn’t sure if the new pain meant anything, but I went back to capturing urine in a bottle for inspection, which ended up being a good idea. For nearly three weeks after the whole thing started, when I emptied my bladder one morning, for a second I felt something weird, and then a thunk in the bottle. I isolated it, and photographed it. My god damn stone. Looks like a martian moon or something.

That’s no moon…

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