Kidney stones – you either love them or hate them.
Just kidding. Who in their right mind, unless they are of a self-sadistic nature, would love kidney stones? It’s not simply a painful experience, it’s flat-out torture. In fact, I remember a quote from a tough Marine that was used in an old American Medical Association home guide article on kidney stones: “I’m one of those guys that has tattoos in the most sensitive places and I used to get my teeth drilled without Novocaine. But when I had my kidney stone, I was crying“.
A mother of two quoted in an in-flight magazine article about kidney stones said that passing them is more painful than giving birth.
Who am I to argue? I had my first kidney stone attack at the age of 30 in 1999, and had my second major attack only last night.
It’s not just the excruciating pain of a kidney stone attack – akin to someone taking a power drill to your lower back and someone else pulling and tugging on your urethra – but it’s the length of it as well. Attacks are very rarely short. The two attacks that I’ve had lasted five hours. I’m ready to cry uncle after only ten minutes of this pain, yet the mind-numbingly scary part is there’s nothing you can do. You have to ride the gut-ripping experience out for hours on end.
Then come the chills, and then once you have completely emptied your bladder and bowels, comes the vomiting. This is the real fun part. Often, during a kidney stone attack, the body is so stressed that it empties itself of everything – even half-digested painkiller pills! – in an attempt to deal with the stone. Digestion almost completely shuts down as a result and anything that was sitting around either before or after said digestion gets eliminated one way or the other. Vomiting doesn’t always occur with kidney stone attacks, but for major episodes it does.
And unless you can find a position that both your back and groin find acceptable, sleep may come but it’ll be sporadic and essentially worthless. Forget painkillers – you’ll likely, as aforementioned, to just throw them up. And when relief finally comes and the pain subsides, you’ll feel ecstatic. It’s remarkable how drug-like the cessation of severe pain can be. But you will feel as though you’ve been beaten up. And, in a very real way, you have been. Kidney stones kick ass, and not in a good way.
The basics (according to this site: Kidney stones are comprised mostly of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. They form when crystals of these mineral salts get trapped in the kidney, forming a stone. This is the most common form of stone, though another type, the struvite stone, forms as a result of infection of the urinary tract.
Kidney stones can be hereditary, with the condition known as hypercalciuria most responsible for hereditary-based stone formation. Whites are more likely to be afflicted by kidney stones than blacks, and men have a greater chance of suffering them than women. (Liberals: Think about this the next time you wish ill on white males.)
Coffee, tea, leafy vegetables, wheat bran, red wine and chocolate may be trigger foods. Isn’t that great? Most of the foods that you either should eat, need to consume in order to be able to start the day, or might plain enjoy at snacktime are on the “watch” list!
The good news about kidney stones is that, in addition to feeling higher than heroin once the pain stops, only rarely do they require surgery. Most stones will pass on their own or they can be easily removed or encouraged to break up (using shock waves).
I think kidney stones are nature’s way of letting one know to not sweat the small stuff. Regardless of kidney stones are, how they form or what’s responsible for their formation, once you have experienced one, you will know that you can handle just about anything life throws your way.