I was making good progress until I hit Eighth Avenue downtown, where the police had stopped traffic in both directions to allow some sort of track and field event to pass by. Barely able to talk, I pulled around the line of cars and basically begged the police officer to let me through. After making several suggestions that I try to back up and find another route he eventually called his supervisor over, and they let me pass.
I arrived at the ER, parked, staggered through the door, and threw myself on the mercy of the woman at the desk. They immediately took me into the triage area, where I received the first "official" guess at what was probably going on. "Do you want to throw yourself on the waiting room floor," the nurse asked.
"Huh?" I grimaced dimly through the pain.
"I'm just asking because most guys who come in with kidney stones want to throw themselves down on the waiting room floor." She also told me to stop drinking from the water bottle I'd brought, because "you're going to start throwing up soon." This was bad, because my mouth felt as if it was stuffed with cotton. I continued to surreptitiously take tiny sips.
She sent me over to the office where they verify insurance info, where I merely gasped that they should already have my info in the computer. They then sent me back out into the waiting room, where the pain continued to intensify. Apparently two ambulances arrived around that time, and I got bumped down the list. So continued to writhe in pain, no doubt scaring some folks. An eternity later (well, probably only 20 minutes, but it seemed longer) someone finally arrived and took me back to an exam room, where at least I could lie down.
A while later a nurse arrived in the room. At this point, everything was more-or-less a blur, but he soon became my favorite person in the world after he started an IV full of very potent pain and anti-nausea medication. The drugs were a godsend -- the pain was still there, but it had gone from the "wild badgers are clawing through my guts" variety to the "scraped my knee on the playground" variety. A big improvement. The drugs, however, made me pretty loopy and I began to nod off in a warm, fuzzy stupor. Somewhere in there I remember being wheeled off to the x-ray area, where I laid on a freezing-cold table and had my abdomen irradiated. After that, they wheeled me up to the second floor for a CAT scan, which also involved a cold table. Then it was back to the exam room, where they hooked me back up to the monitors, reconnected an IV of some sort, and left me to float along in a happy drug-induced haze. Eventually a doctor showed up and told me that it definitely appeared to be a kidney stone, but since they were unable to find the stone on the x-rays they were pretty sure it was going to emerge on its own. So they gave me a perscription for Percocet (crazy strong anti pain medicine) and anti-nausea supositories (ugh), and instructed me to go home and drink tons of water.
Well, actually, it wasn't that simple. Apparently they've had problems with people on the happy drugs checking themselves out and then trying to drive home. So they refused to even let me out of the bed until someone arrived to pick me up. I duitifully called a friend, who showed up to bail me out. We then took a detour to the pharmacy and picked up the pain pills and a pile of bottled water, and she dropped me back at my house. I drank and dozed for a while after that. At about 1:00 I woke up thinking that I was actually feeling pretty good. That is until I tried to urinate. Suddenly the pain was back with a vengeance. I took a percocet, drained another bottle of water, and retreated whimperingly to my bed. Luckily the drugs kicked in, and I was able to doze off again.
The original plan was for my friend to drive me back over to pick up my car around two. But when she heard I was back on the drugs, she wisely suggested that we put off that expedition. So I stayed at home and continued snarfing bottles of water, until a bit later the culprit finally emerged.
From the amount of pain, I was expecting this thing to look like, I don't know, a lima bean. Or at least a pea. But the actual stone (or at least the one I recovered) was about the size of a small pebble. Doesn't seem possible that such a tiny thing could wreak so much havoc!
Since the emergence of the stone, the pain has basically disappeared. I'm still drinking water like a madman -- and I have a newfound resolution to drink massive quantities of water on a daily basis. But it looks like the worst of the ordeal is over now.
Not the way I'd recommend spending a holiday weekend.