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 . 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.