How to pass a kidney stone during class and miss a Springsteen concert.

kidney picture

My kidney stone waiting for the right moment to strike!

Chuck Norris would have been proud. Last week during my class, I was suddenly jolted by a pain shooting from the left side of my back (‘flank’) carrying right through to my left side of my lower abdomen. My immediate thought was, “What did I eat for lunch?”. None of the students even noticed my discomfort because that day, they were doing an activity in groups, so they weren’t paying much attention to me at the front of the classroom. However, I’m pretty sure that if I was standing at the front of the room talking to them, they probably would have wondered why my upper body suddenly contorted in pain for a few seconds.

Then the pain struck again, this time with me dropping an ‘F-bomb’ under my breath followed by a cold sweat, so I thought I’d better sit down. As time went on, students’ would occasionally come up to the front and ask me a question about their assignment, to which I’m sure I gave the most direct, shortest answers I could muster together. After all, I was repeatedly being ‘run through’ with a hot sword. Near the end of class, I did mention my pain to a couple of students, because in the back of my mind I thought that if I passed out, they could at least tell the paramedics that I told them my back and abdomen hurt. The class ended, everyone left, and I thought to myself how dedicated I was to fight through the pain and see the class through to the bitter end. In hindsight, I would now replace the word ‘dedicated’ with ‘stupid’. And so, my journey of pain began.

With a brief reprieve, I was able to get home. However, that reprieve was short-lived. To make a long post short, I ended up being driven to the hospital emergency later that evening. I came to the realization, after throwing up from the pain, that this could be more than gas pains. Five hours later, writhing in excruciating pain (FIVE hours…yes, I’ve already filed a complaint to the hospital), and a few, “Lord, I’m coming home!” shouts, with some ‘seeing the bright light’ moments, a doctor finally came to see me. Well actually, what he saw first was my ass sticking out of my hospital gown because I was bent over ‘dry heaving’ from the pain (plus I can never tie those damn things up properly). A quick diagnosis was made and he told me that I was “passing a kidney stone“. Excuse me? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink carbonated drinks, I exercise regularly, I eat all the ‘good stuff’…so needless to say I was surprised. An x-ray revealed the fact. So, on the fluid drip I went, and was then given a couple of shots of morphine which made all the pain …magically… go…away.

Feeling nauseous, I left the hospital and finally got home. I made sure I had some ‘Advil’, because I sure wasn’t going to risk experiencing that kind of pain coming back, so I waged a full out ‘Advil assault’; it seemed to work. Besides the splitting headache the next day (metaphor: my head felt like a cinder block on my shoulders), everything seemed non-eventful. I think the stone broke up and I flushed out the stone during that next 48 hours. Speaking of non-eventful, I began to realize that everything in my system had seemed non-eventful for the past few days. Then I read one of the side effects of taking too many Advil, and realized why some things weren’t ‘moving along’; you’re *&%! kidding…”Can cause constipation.” Sigh.

Today, I went back to class and told the students why I couldn’t be at their last class. I then told them that I decided to bring in the stone that I passed. Out of my bag, I nonchalantly pulled out a big rock that I picked out from my garden that morning and dropped it on the desk. You have to have a sense of humour.

So, what are the ‘lessons’ from all this?:

If you suddenly experience a sharp, excruciating pain going from your back (flank) to your lower abdomen, you could be ‘passing a kidney stone’.

Don’t be Chuck Norris, get to a hospital emergency right away.

The missing element, I have concluded, in my diet/routine was not drinking enough water. I thought I was, but now that I am drinking 8-10 glasses a day, I was nowhere near that.

Apparently spinach is a no-no, and can cause kidney stones. ‘Popeye’ always told me that spinach was good for you and would make you strong. Well, ‘Popeye’, you’re a ^%@& idiot!

Limit the amount of nuts in your diet. I thought nuts were good for you? Too much of a good thing I guess.

Kidney stones can happen at the worst possible time. I had 2 tickets (great seats) to see Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band for my birthday; had to sell them. Refer to my other post about the last time I saw Springsteen. If you know him, pass this post on to him or his manager.

The bottom line? Whether you’re teaching, marking, prepping, walking to and from class…my advice is to DRINK WATER!

This post is over; I have to go to the bathroom…again.

Have you ever had a medical mishap while teaching a class?

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