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Opinion: Stoned Again

Moorestown Patch columnist Marsia Mason shares the story of the unusual (and uncomfortable) start to her vacation.

At my age, "to do" lists are essential. Actually, I find it helpful to make "to buy" lists, "to go" lists, and especially, "to find" lists when I can't find the lists I've been working on. So, in preparation for our week at the SHEW-ur, I had several lists going, none of which were kept in the same place. One was in my handbag, one in my car, and another list was hidden amongst the newspapers in the recycle bin. It was a note reminding me to recycle before we went away.

I had gathered all the usual suspects on my list of items to take on vacation: sunscreen, beach umbrella, towels, Frisbee, two old dogs, crossword puzzles, pencils, bikes, etc. But here's the surprise item that showed up on my "to take" list at around 5:31 p.m. on Thursday, first night of vacay: kidney stones.

I had just been to the gym and was sitting at the computer, trying to get comfortable. I have lower back issues, which I try to address with lots of stretching and lots of cushions, but nothing I shoved between my back and the chair was alleviating the discomfort. Taylor was on a business call and I didn't want to interrupt him with my silly backache, so I crept into our room, followed by my two furry shadows, and lay down on the bed. The pain intensified, followed by a wave of nausea that carried me into the bathroom where I tore off all my clothes and became one with the commode. Not an attractive sight, this, but the dogs didn't mind.

It had been 30 years since my last kidney stone, but I knew right away what it was. The tearing off the clothes thing is what tipped me off. I remembered having a similar reaction during that original incident, but that time I had been at work. It is always better to have a kidney stone attack in the comfort and privacy of your own home.  

I could hear Taylor was still on his phone call, his big voice booming down the hallway. Curled up on the cold floor of the tiny bathroom, I told myself I could wait until he was done, but as the minutes ticked by like hours, I was getting desperate. When it sounded as if he was winding down the call, I crawled to the door of our bedroom and called out to him. Now, it's not every day one's naked wife crawls to the door, so I guess he might have thought I was acting out some Playboy fantasy, but my face was not the face of seduction, it was the red face of "Get me to the ER, stat!"

The dogs had followed me to the door, their little dog brains telling them I was inching closer to food (the kitchen) and there might be a Milk-Bone in the offing. Taylor asked me if I could walk. I cannot print what I said, but here's what I didn't say: "Yes, darling, I can walk. Can I rustle up some dinner for you while I'm walking?" It was obvious I would need some clothing for my trip to the ER, so he attempted to dress me while the dogs impeded his every move.  

After dressing me, including outfitting me with socks (Really? socks? Why not a woolen scarf and mukluks?), he gave me a blow-by-blow of his next actions: "I'm going to get the phone and call 911. You stay there." Where did he think I was going? ? Carnegie Hall? I writhed on the floor, now clothed in an odd assortment of whatever had been laying about, including mismatched socks. I was sweating profusely. One dog licked my arm while the other one went to sleep. As I curled up on the floor, Taylor calling 911, I now felt foolish for having kidney stones. I should have just sucked up the pain, gotten to my feet, and toughed out the long walk to the car.  

Our little cul-de-sac is filled with retirees for whom an ambulance in our 'hood is quite the event. So when not only the ambulance arrived, but a police car too, I had quite an audience. A lemonade stand would have made a lot of money at that point and, as I was wheeled out, I rued the missed monetary opportunity. Considering how much the ambulance ride was going to cost us, we could have used the $1.78!

The stern policeman scared me straight. I felt like a wimp. A complaining, cosseted wimp. My ambulance attendees couldn't have been kinder or more efficient. They bundled me into the truck and as we made our way to the closest ER, Kennedy Hospital, the pain subsided enough for me to answer questions. "Is your pulse always this low?" Yes. "Is your blood pressure always so low?" Yes. "What day is this?" Kidney Stone Day, apparently.  

Kennedy Hospital does not have a good reputation, I'm sorry to say. I was very leery of what kind of care I would receive there. But LeeAnne Parry, the ambulance driver and bearer of much comfort and good humor, assured me I would be in good hands. She was right. From the moment I arrived, the staff was friendly and efficient. Dr. McDreamy greeted me right away, his blue eyes twinkling. He and another resident took care of me after Brian cleaned up room 5 for me.

Finally, after an IV and pain meds, the doctor came in to tell me the good news and the bad news. Bad news was the fact that I had not one but three kidney stones. Good news? They don't keep you in the hospital for small kidney stones! They send you off with multiple prescriptions and the recommendation that you drink lots and lots of water. And pee. These were both things I felt I could do. So after much ado, at 11:30 p.m., we shuffled on home.

Our beach week has continued to be, well, rather unusual. My older son, driving down on Friday, was doing 55 mph on the causeway when the car in front of him swerved to avoid a cooler. Son hits cooler, ancient black Camry (we call it Darth Vader) sustains structural damage, but is drivable if one doesn't drive over 30 mph. Husband who never, ever gets sick, now has a honking bad cold and is sequestered in the "master" bedroom trying to sleep it off. Younger son and two college friends arrived last night in the middle of our various crises, bringing some much-needed good cheer. I am hopeful I will avoid hubby's cold, the sun will reappear, and the stones will pass gracefully from my kidneys. In the meantime, kudos to the volunteers who took care of me and transported me to the ER.

To the stern policeman who wrote up our incident? I'm sorry, sir. I promise in the future, I will NEVER allow those stones to form in my kidneys again. 

Karma August 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Ahhhhh............... so this is what happens when one throws stones!!!
nancy newcomer August 13, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Sorry to hear about this miserable start to your vacation. Hope you're all feeling better ASAP!
Moxy McAllister August 13, 2012 at 03:45 PM
What a daring response, Karma. Your clever puns, and sarcastic wit will keep this town laughing for years to come!
Karma August 13, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Confucius say, laughter helps cleanse the body of impurities!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Cc7ZloMmZg
Mary Burns August 14, 2012 at 03:01 AM
That was hysterical! The little events and your thoughts coupled with a sense of humor is priceless. Girl after my own heart.
Nola Lola August 15, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Oh, I see the voodoo doll worked.

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