Friday, January 28, 2011

No, No. Take Your Time. I'll Just Lie Here And Suffer.

It started at noon on Saturday.  Just a minor little niggling something in the abdomen, right lower quadrant. 

By 2:30 p.m., the niggling had progressed to actual discomfort.  Reminded me of the punchline to a joke ol' Festus told in a Gunsmoke episode: "Gas is what she had.  What she had was gas."  (You have to add the whiny drawl to make it humorous.)

At 4:30 p.m. I called 911 for an ambulance.  Not only could I not drive, I could barely stand.  My skin had taken on a strange hue, somewhere between green and yellow.  And I was alternating between being soaked in sweat and shivering with chills.  Despite all this, when the EMTs arrived and took my vitals, blood pressure and temperature were both normal.  So, it was looking more like kidney stones than appendicitis.

That should have been good news.  And mentally, it was.  But physically....

Physically, it was made all the worse because I knew (having previous experience with ambulance rides and post-falling on ice pain) that somewhere on that vehicle was a magic elixir that would not only eliminate the pain within minutes, but make me feel really, really, REALLY good in the process.  But the EMTs could not administer that wonder drug, because the doctors at the hospital had to see exactly what KIND of pain I was in to arrive at a diagnosis.

Oh, joy.

The ride to the hospital was a blur of motor and two-way radio noises, back-up alarm beeping, and voices: one male, one female, with the female driving.  For some reason, keeping my eyes closed seemed to keep the worst of the pain at bay.  Wonder if anyone has done a study on that?

At the hospital, I stumbled from the stretcher onto the ER bed, thanked the EMTs, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

During my wait, I learned all about the problems that brought the woman to my right into the ER.  Also was privy to some interdepartmental pissiness regarding the refusal of one department to send personnel to the ER to insert IV lines.  Too bad the woman needed that line to administer medicine; the IV was just being put in by the time I left, three hours later.

Then there was the woman on my left.  She treated us all to a real ER moment, complete with crash cart.  Her little intra-hospital drama had to do with whether she would get a room in the ICU or be shuffled off to the step-down unit.  Fortunately for her, the doctor in charge fought and got her an ICU room.

With all this drama going on, my little problem with pain seemed insignificant.  So, I writhed my way through the first hour, until the doctor showed up and ordered x-rays.  After x-rays, I contorted my way through another hour, when the doctor showed up and informed me that I had "a" kidney stone.  With a diagnosis arrived at, I had to wait a mere 30  minutes for the wonderful, pain-killing elixir to be administered.  By the time I had a CT scan taken 20 minutes later, the pain was almost gone.  And within half an hour, I was on the way home.

After this experience, I have decided that having a kidney stone is like having a cold: inconsequential, until you are the one suffering through it.

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