I had cancer in 2002 and know what chronic pain can be like. It’s insidious in the way that it builds a sluice to slowly drain your will to live. You live with it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but you don’t measure time in anything close to weeks. While awake (which is as little as possible because sleep, like death, is the only thing that brings relief) time is measured in seconds until enough seconds equal a minute and then enough minutes equal an hour, etc., etc., etc. Happy thought, eh? Well any of you women who have given birth know a different kind of pain. I think the best medical term to describe it is acute.
I’ve been absent for a few days from my blog because last Thursday night I had my first kidney stone in forty-seven years of life. It, as do all things, passed. But until it did, I lay on the Emergency Room bed, curled in a poor attempt at a fetal position, on my back, eyes closed, my only goal (other than a stranger suddenly dropping by with a loaded gun OR for them to finish with the questions and begin the glorious painkiller drip) was not to cry actual tears in front of this gaggle of complete strangers whose faces I’d yet to see (eyes closed).
Sunday night, I started feeling the precursor sensations, which I will spare you. Let’s just say they are not painful, per se, but they are extraordinarily uncomfortable. The onset symptoms, I mean. Just imagine having the urge to go to the bathroom, getting up and walking into the bathroom, only to discover less and less output until—at output zero—the crazy illusion of a full bladder (which in and of itself is pretty painful without relief) is accompanied by the kidney stone pain mentioned above. So to the Emergency Room I went. Huh-uh—we’re staying way ahead of this one.
By the time Mr. Pain arrives, Dr. Dilaudid is already going to be waiting for his ass. And trust me, no one with the surname “Pain” that I’ve yet met is a match for the evil genius, Dr. Dilaudid. I hung out, sometimes hourly you see, with the diabolical doctor during my daily radiation/chemo extravaganza; per mg, he’s ten times more potent than morphine and has a street name of Drugstore Heroin.
Yet the good Doctor D wasn’t to appear for another couple of hours. They farted away enough of the spare time I had judiciously brought with me and I was reduced to a quivering mess begging for pain meds like a dope fiend once again (only this time the pain wasn’t quite as horrific so I had my eyes open and could see each of the individuals fumbling the ball).
It all worked out. After a second CAT scan in just about as many days, they discovered my first stone had a twin brother who was hiding out (ala the woman who successfully delivers her child and then an hour later goes into labor again and they find another Junior inside).
And for you women who might be scoffing at my comparison of a kidney stone passing to a birth canal delivery, my first doctor (Thursday) was a wonderful woman named Dr. Antuna, MD (pronounced An-tuna, but which in my opiate-induced happiness sounded a little different and, not having actually seen any of my saviors, I said “your nickname is Aunt TUNA?”
As I mentioned, she was a wonderful woman and I tracked her down later to apologize for acting like such a polar bear’s ass and she gave me a hug before sending me on my way.
But I digress, as usual. Back in the ER, she had informed me that my total loss of pain was not due to the very excellent drugs, not even the (evil but necessary) Dr. D, which she would have had to administer in such a large dose as to stop my breathing to completely assuage the pain. She also told me this in response to me asking “don’t they say this is the only pain a man can suffer that gets him close to what a woman experiences in delivery?”, leaning over as if sharing a secret between just the two of us:
“Passing a kidney stone is more painful than delivering a baby.”
I still hand it to the ladies, however, because they get the lovely precursor of many hours of labor before experiencing such pain (not to mention what must by then look like the ape-ish face of their “beloved” bending over them telling them everything is going to be all right).
Speaking of “ape-ish”, and all apologies to women everywhere, but when searching for a good female ER doctor shot, the one of Maura Tierney really summed up best what I was looking for (and even vaguely resembled Dr. Antuna perhaps twenty years earlier)—but I made the mistake of going to IMDB.com to see what Sherry Stringfield was up to and, well, the fairer sex is called that for a reason, and because I could (which is not always a good reason to do things, I know), I included her “head shot” here. Come on, forgive me. I really thought she was the better actor, made a great doctor on ER (which, in its first 4-5 seasons was the best show on television, by far), and when I watched the show I was not even all that attracted to her. Truth told, I saw that picture, and even though I already had the last one of Tierney, I dug deep and decided I really had to end this particular blog on a high note.
Good Lord, I started the blog off with a story of cancer and then included an image of a snail crawling across a razor.
I think even the women readers probably feel visually cleansed at this point.
The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.
Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.)
Snail Image credit: linleo / 123RF Stock Photo
Evil Doctor Image credit: Tommy Wright / Deviant Art