Well, I’ve had an interesting couple of days. The weekend was a normal one, nice and low-key. I went to bed Sunday evening and all was well.
Rocky woke us up at the very rude hour of 5:00am on Monday morning. Craig let him outside and I got up and used the bathroom. Craig stayed up and decided to go into work early, because he was only going to get in a couple of hours of work before taking his mom to her last scheduled chemotherapy session. (She goes back to the oncologist in a couple of weeks after getting more tests done, and we’ll see if the four rounds of chemo have helped.) I went back to bed, heard him leave at 6:30am, and then I got up.
And then it hit me. I had a TERRIBLE pain in my lower back. I wondered to myself if I could have pulled something getting out of bed? That seemed ridiculous, but then again, I had a muscle tear last September from simply bending over to dry my wet hair with a towel. But wow, this was incredible pain. I figured it would pass or lessen up, so I took some Motrin and tried to get comfortable. But I just couldn’t find a position that was okay. I tried standing, walking, sitting, lying on my back, lying on the floor, lying on my stomach, curling into the fetal position. Nothing worked. The pain progressed from being terrible to excruciating. It was constant and like nothing I had felt before.
And then the nausea started. I was sweating like crazy. And then the vomiting began. I honestly thought the nausea was from the intensity of the pain, and thought I must be having serious spasms in my back. I decided I’d call my doctor’s office and try to get in, but they don’t open until 9:00. At 8:00, after 90 minutes of pacing and screaming and cursing, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it until 9:00. I managed to get a hold of Craig via Gmail Chat (he is very hard to get a hold of during the day because he works out of several different offices and is not allowed to take his cell phone into the secure facilities) and told him I was going to drive myself to the ER. He called me immediately and told me to stay put and he was coming to get me. But, he works a solid 30 miles away, and again, I knew I couldn’t wait.
So, I drove myself to the ER. This probably wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve ever made, given the amount of pain I was in, but thankfully the ER is only 1.5 miles away. (This is why, if you ever visit our house, you will notice lots of ambulances driving by.) I think I must have looked like death warmed over to the parking garage attendant, and I struggled to give my information to the woman at the triage desk. I had to repeat my SSN three times because apparently I wasn’t giving her enough numbers. Thankfully there was only one patient ahead of me, so I must have timed it right. I paced the waiting room for a few minutes and then felt sick to my stomach again, so I went to the restroom. When I came out the triage lady gave me a bit of attitude because apparently they had called my name and I hadn’t come up to the desk. I said, “Sorry, I was vomiting,” and that shut her up. (If I hadn’t been in such pain, I might have slapped her, but I digress.) Apparently the combination of watching me pace the waiting room and knowing I was sick to my stomach gave the triage nurse a clear sign of what was going on: I was dealing with a kidney stone.
Now, I knew absolutely nothing about kidney stones before this, other than hearing that they are painful. I now know that there are a handful of classic signs, and two of the most obvious are: 1) Sudden, severe pain in the lower flanks, often described as “the worst pain I’ve ever had,” (and people tend to pace as a coping mechanism for the pain) and 2) nausea and vomiting. Yep, that was me.
So, with a suspected diagnosis, my new best friend Aldo the nurse hooked me up to some fluids, nausea medication, and morphine. The first round of meds didn’t do anything and I had at least another 90 minutes of intense pain and vomiting. When asked what my pain level was, on a scale of 1 to 10, I said 10 because I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I couldn’t sit or lie on the bed, I had to pace around my little area. Craig arrived as Aldo was hooking me up, and I was so glad he was there. (At one point I apparently told him not to come, because he was at work and he had his mom’s chemo appointment. He told me that he wasn’t going to let his wife go to the ER by herself. Good husband.) He later described me as writhing in pain and said it was really something to witness. Two more doses of morphine later, after blood work, urinalysis, and a CT scan, the diagnosis was confirmed. My right kidney was inflamed and there was blood and elevated red blood cell counts in my urine. I got good news that it had apparently passed out of my kidney and it did not appear to be stuck in the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder), that there was no sign of infection, and that there weren’t any other stones in the kidneys.
We got home around noon and I was feeling pretty groovy due to my friend Mr. Morphine. I had a very peppy and cheerful phone call with my mom and then took a three-hour nap. The doctor had told me I’d have a couple of days where I’d be “sore” or “uncomfortable,” so I honestly thought that the pain was mostly over.
But then the morphine wore off. Craig had left by now to go to his mom’s chemo (what a day he had, huh?) and I woke up from my nap, and the pain came back. ALL of it. I had prescription painkillers, so I took one, along with anti-nausea medicine I was instructed to take. And it didn’t work. Then I got into the vomiting again. At this point I called my pharmacist to ask if I should take more of the meds, since I had vomited five minutes after taking them. He said yes. Thankfully about 30 minutes later the new meds kicked in and I was able to chill out a bit. This was good because I was very close to going back to the ER.
Monday night and Tuesday went about the same, but the intensity of the pain gradually dulled. By last night I was well enough that we went to get my car out of the hospital garage. I’m home again today and painkiller-free, thankfully. I really don’t like taking hard-core narcotics any more than necessary. (Especially after sharing my little ER room with a definite drug-seeker, who was ticked off when all they would give her was a single dose of Motrin for her ailment – while I was happily getting a third dose of morphine.) My head is clearing up and right now Motrin is taking care of my kidney pain, which is now at a 2 or 3 on the pain scale. My biggest complaint now is basically that I feel pretty weak after two days of essentially not eating and of being pretty out of it.
In sum, this was an interesting, excruciating experience. I hope to not ever go through it again and I am thankful that this was the full extent of it. If the stones get stuck it can be much worse, and I was lucky that by the time I got the tests done, the stone had already passed. I go to see a urologist (something I never thought I’d be doing, and let me tell you, there are interesting recorded messages on the phone when the urologist’s office puts you on hold) on Tuesday to do some follow-up and to see if we can determine why this happened. The ER doctor said dehydration and genetics are the primary causes. While I thought I was drinking a good amount of water each day, I am definitely upping my water intake from here on out. I also have a lovely urine strainer to pee into to try to catch the stone (which can be analyzed), but haven’t caught it yet.
We had a scheduled call with our placement agency case worker yesterday, but we postponed that to next week. I didn’t think I needed her hearing me talk while taking prescription painkillers.
And if by the sheer length of this post you can’t tell, I’m really feeling much better today. If I ever post only one or two sentences, you’ll know something is really wrong!