Just got back from the ER a little while ago. I was at work this morning around 10 am and started to feel a dull pain in my abdomen on the left side. It wouldn’t go away, and seeing as I was at work, I thought maybe I pulled a muscle. I continued working, but it wasn’t getting any better. I went to lunch about an hour later than scheduled, and really didn’t want anything to eat. Seeing as I hadn’t had breakfast (normal for me) and it had been about 15 hours since I had had anything of sustenance, that didn’t jibe well with what’s usual. I bought a peanut butter cookie and some ice tea, but didn’t finish either. I was chatting with my friend from VA and increasingly feeling like I wanted to go home.
Something was clearly wrong.
I went to find the Assistant Store Manager and told her what was going on. She agreed that it would be ok for me to go home, and I did. Packed up my stuff, drove back to the house and told my wife what was happening. She asked if I needed to go to either the ER or Urgent Care and I said no, the pain was about a 4 to 5, and I really needed to sit down and loosen my belt. So I changed into my sweatpants, reclined on the love seat and was soon joined by Bella, the pretty good cat. My wife came downstairs a little while later, suggested I try a heating pad (at the time both of use were thinking maybe it was a pulled muscle), and the heat would help. Turns out after about 20-25 minutes it wasn’t feeling any better.
About 3 pm I asked her if she thought a trip to the ER would be a good idea. The pain hadn’t abated at all, as a matter of fact it had ramped up to about a 6 an hour earlier, than tamped back down to a 4-5 a little while later. Naturally to make matters worse it had started to snow in earnest, so that made the trip to the ER all that more interesting.
I have to give the ER credit, they got me in almost immediately. After getting checked in however, it was a bit more of ‘hurry up and wait‘ even though it wasn’t all that crowded on a Sunday afternoon. We’re pretty far upstate, and in its heyday this used to be a bustling hospital. Now that it was bought out by a large conglomerate one county down, it has become more of a ‘patch station’, in that the don’t even do surgery here anymore. If there’s anything major happening, they recommend you go to one of the more technologically advanced entities 20-50 miles away. I gave my symptoms to the ER nurse, she consulted with the resident PA who did a cursory examination, and asked if I wanted something for the pain. I wasn’t sure, saying I didn’t want pain meds to mess up any labs, and he said it wasn’t going to, but he saw I was in some discomfort. They set me up with an IV, gave me some saline (they wanted a urine sample) and a shot of Toradol. Long story short, it helped.
The PA wanted a CT scan as well so I walked to the X-ray suite with ‘Sam’, the tech that was in the middle of a 36 hour shift. Ai yi yi. He was a character, we hit it off immediately and he even told me that when there’s a lull in the ER the nurses take each others’ BPs and bet on whose is higher. Weird. Once back to the ER, I was feeling the need to give up the urine sample, so I made a detour to the bathroom. While I had been away, the nurse that put in my IV had visited and my wife had told her that I was getting the CT scan and hadn’t gotten her the sample (even though it was entirely possible our paths were crossing at that moment). When I got back soon after, sealed cup in hand, she informed me of the conversation. So again we waited. And waited.
Finally, I used the nurse call button to summon ‘my’ nurse. Regrettably, I got another one, who (while understanding why I used it) proceeded to make a show of shutting off the call button “so we don’t have any more accidents”. Ok, I was just trying to speed up the process of figuring out what’s going on here. Sorry for interrupting your shift. She disappeared with the sample cup and it was back to waiting. Finally ‘Gretchen’ (IV nurse) returned, wanting to know if I was ready to give up the urine. I informed her that I already had. She was a little surprised, but proceeded to rehook up the IV, to keep me hydrated. Soon after the PA returned, and had my results.
Though not 100% positive, he surmised that I had passed a small kidney stone fragment. It might have nicked something in the urinary tract as there was a hint of blood in the sample, pretty infinitesimal he said. The CT scan showed that I have two rather large kidney stones (9 & 10mm) but in his opinion they’re not moving. I did have a kidney stone episode 25+ years ago, and definitely don’t want to go through THAT again.
When I did, they gave me Demerol and it didn’t even begin to touch the pain. They had to admit me and give me morphine before I was able to breathe easily. Then proceeded to give me nothing but saline IVs for 2 days before a nurse clued me in that I would be better off with a pitcher of water and a glass. Though neither of those cost money against your insurance (vultures).
I also got a note not to work tomorrow. I hemmed and hawed about using it, but in the end my wife (and someone else’s logic) won out and I’m not working tomorrow. I have a slew of instructions to follow, so along with some future consultation with my GP, I’m going to have to work on my diet. Which to put it mildly is abysmal. So right there is probably a good indication where the stones came from. I’ve already started to drink more water. Even though I’m not a big fan of the taste. I guess I’ll get used to it. Better safe than in a fetal position in pain. I’ve been there before, it wasn’t pretty.