Wow! What a couple of weeks these last have been.

I have had three kidney stones pass in less than two weeks time. The last one, this past Friday, left me in the hospital for better than half a day. Ouch!!

But everything is okay. The stones are passed…for now. (I keep waiting for the next one!) Now all I have to do is wade through a weeklong morphine hangover. I hate that stuff and what it does to my stamina.

Poor, Tom. Poor, poor Tom.


No pity party for me. I am on top of the world! When that last stone dropped into the strainer, you couldn’t have made me happier. I wasn’t concerned with the pain, I was only concerned with mastering it, with living beyond it, with not letting it destroy me. God be praised, one five millimeter stone can cause a mountain of pain!

I will attest to this; there is nothing in this world like a kidney stone that focuses my attention on God. The one on Friday (I had just passed another the day before) woke me up at three AM. For one hour and forty-five minutes, I guzzled water, and bore the pain as best I could, vomiting every three minutes or so, bent over, gasping in pain, trying to pass the stone at home. But as five AM approached, I knew I was in trouble. I had consumed almost sixty ounces of water, and was now hurling that water back up almost as soon as I swallowed it. The water wasn’t forcing the issue, and I needed help, fast.

I had been talking with God the entire time, trying to figure out if this stone, which “seemed” to be worse than the others, would pass at home, or if I needed to get going. The pain was so intense that there were moments I almost cried, but each time that moment came, I found myself talking with God, and the tears were held back. Still, I couldn’t pass it, I needed help, and God was content that this pain would not destroy me. I felt at peace, strangely, but I knew if I didn’t get the help of medical people, my body was in trouble.

My daughter cannot drive, but I had to let her know where I was going, so I walked into her bedroom at four-forty-five AM, woke her, and let her know what was going on. Then, I drove myself the eight miles or so to the hospital. That is the one part of this ordeal that I always dread. Twice before this, I have driven myself to the hospital with kidney stones; it is one of the moments I mourn not having someone with me to care for me, to drive me, to make sure I get there safely. It is a lonely time, dark, and my heart wails within me, knowing I have to be good at this, I have to perform, I have to drive well, or I may kill myself or someone else in an accident. Jesus is there, but I can’t see Him, I can only feel Him. While the darkness still surrounds my heart, somehow, I see through the pain, and make it to the hospital alive. I always make it, thank God.

Once I arrived at the hospital, the nurse tried to put me in a wheel chair, and I argued momentarily, telling him it felt better to stand. “That’s not hospital protocol”. I submitted like the good little lemming I am.

It took the nurse about half an hour to get around and through all the other hospital protocols, to the point where she could finally administer some drugs. She gave me one for the “nausea”, and another (not morphine) for the kidney stone pain. Neither did what it was intended to do. I hurled regularly, and doubled over in pain as she asked the doctor whether she should proceed straight to morphine. The answer was yes; PHYSICAL relief was minutes away.

Actually, it took over twenty milligrams of morphine (For morphine, that’s a lot!) to touch the pain. Yet I was never in danger.

I wasn’t in danger mentally or spiritually. Literally, kidney stones can kill if left untreated long enough, and they can cause all other manner of internal problems, the least of which is pneumonia. But I was never in danger, the REAL me was just fine.

My body is still sore from this experience, and I have a morphine stamina hangover that I hope will only last a week. The stone finally passed, and I went home. I was never in danger, and I knew it all along.

But there is a part of this whole experience, one which I have now faced five times, which I hate. It is the morphine, or any other drug given to me to relieve the physical pain.

You see, even though I was doubled over in agony, as if I was being kneed in the groin repeatedly for hours on end, I was with God. The deeper the pain, the more aware of God I was.

But the moment the pain medication arrived, the moment my body felt some relief, I started to lose my awareness of God. This happens every time, and I hate it. I know (my mind does) that God is still there, but that doesn’t change the fact that my senses can no longer pick Him up. In pain, I can almost touch Him, He is that real. On drugs, I can hardly think of Him, He seems so distant. I was never in any danger, and I clung to this as strongly as I could. As my body relaxed, the stone passed, but my grip on God was gone, and all I wanted was to exercise the effects of the drugs away, and meet with God again, in a way I couldn’t under the influence of these drugs.

There are many people who take drugs for many reasons. Drugs usually affect the mind, they do not kill the pain, or at least, they do not kill what is causing the pain. Pain killers are an oxymoron, all the pain killers really do is kill the nerves sensing the pain. To treat the actual symptom, you need to get much more physical than changing the mind’s idea about how much something hurts.

I am left wondering tonight about so many people who take drugs regularly, for anxiety disorders, and such. I have spoken with many people who take such drugs as Paxil and Xanax, and, while to the person, they are thankful for the effects of the drugs, almost to the person, they say they feel “somewhat removed” from reality given a strong enough dose.

I was removed from reality for a brief period on Friday, and I hated it. The pain medication did what it was supposed to, it helped my body to relax, so I could pass the kidney stone. But the reality of the moment was pain, and God was in the pain. When that reality was removed, God seemed very distant. I am sure He was right there, but my perception of Him was distance I wonder…how many other things cause us to feel distance from God. Food? Drink? Sex? Does anything that brings pleasure to the body help us feel God’s closeness? Maybe it does, maybe within its proper place. But we don’t really use things in this world properly all that often. I wonder how often we feel distance from God.

I hated it. On the flip side, even though my body hates pain, I actually liked feeling so close to God within it. I am the real me. My body is not.


Anonymous said...

Thank You. That was a very good story. I am currently suffering from a painful Kidney Stone. I am praying and I hope to pass the stone soon.

Anonymous said...

Great story, misery loves company.

Here is a good one.

11:30 p.m., spent all day packing condo/loft, ready for closing at 11:30 a.m. next day. Spent all day packing and moving stuff in storage. Wifey and son helping. Took a few bathroom breaks, noticed only rabbit pellets were coming out, thought to myself "Dang, I think I am dehydrated, I need to take care of that". Anyways, continued packing, starting to drink water (NOTE: once you recognize you are dehydrated, all bets are off, suffer consequences).

Late night pizza, Wifey and son go to sleep. BIG day tomorrow, still 6+ hours of packing to fit into 4 hours, plenty of time before closing.

Midnight - wake up with severe pain in stomach region - I must have food poisioning, can't wake up Wifey and kid, I will suffer through this. 3:00 a.m., still in pain, been in pain for 3+ hours, sweating perfusely from the pain, dripping sweat from the pain, had to change shirt 3 times, forced myself for 1st time to throw up, no use, still painful.

Start talking to god "God, I promise to be a better person if you could remove this pain. I promise to start going to church. God, why are you punishing me so?".

3:30 a.m., wake up Wifey and son, drive to Emergency room (Wifey tells me to breath like I am giving birth, slowly inhale, slowly exhale, hey, it is better than nothing).

1st Nurse - name please? "I need MEDs!". "I am sorry, name please?". "I NEED MEDs". 10 minutes later wheeled into another room. I procede to get on my hands and knees, hunched over in extreme pain, talking to god, while my naked ass is sticking out of my robe, for the entire nurse ward to see"

2nd Nurse - "Hi, now you know how us woman feel". "I need more pain meds, the pain is not going away".
"Your heartrate has dropped, from 86 to 36, you should feel better". "Hey nurse, I am a triathlete/swimmer, my resting heartrate is 34, you should think twice before closing the 3's when someone hands you the vitals on someone.".

30 minutes later - halway conversation "Wow, what is up with that 31 HR?". disgruntled Nurse "Oh, that is Mr. Marathon Man down the hallway, some sort of ""Athlete"".

4:00 a.m. - wifey and kids go home.

4:30 a.m. - CAT scan shows 2-3 mm. stone (never had one before).

5:00 a.m. - wheeled to temp. holding quarters - liquid Morphine is administered round the clock for 2+ days, IV, only way to live somewhat without pain - pain NEVER really goes away, sharpness dulls a little".

6:30 a.m. - "Wake up, Wake up, Sir, Wake up"... "Whaaa, What, what is wrong?". "Your HR is at 28, are you still alive?". "Yes, I am Mr. Marathon Man, with a resting HR of 28!!!!!!!!!!!!!".

2 days later - going home today. IV pulled, substitute liquid morphine with this methanone stuff, fight with nurses, not enough pain meds, brother picks me up, takes 2 more days for stone to break-up and pass.

6 days after initial onslaught of pain - 600 mgs. of motrin are doing ok - still back soreness, read on internet - takes couple of weeks to go away - listen to Wifey about how hard it was to do the closing by herself, booo, hooo.

Anonymous said...

If you have kidney stones, it is because you are LACTOSE intolerant. How many dr's test for that?! Normal healthy people don't get them. If you cannot digest calcium from your dairy products because of the lactose intolerance your body will take the calcium from your bones thus the kidney stones! You can go on Dr Reckeweg drops for kidney stones that dissolves them in days,and a desensitising drops programme so you will not be lactose intolerant again. You need to find a GOOD health care person, someone who actually finds root causes ;)

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