The Rest of the Story

While I doubt anyone has been on the edge of their seat waiting, I last concluded with a "cliffhanger" and I can't leave the story unfinished.

Where did I leave off?  It was the "biggest white mocha you can make" on Friday night after my big exam, right?

I went to bed that evening looking forward to a weekend free from the burden of an impending exam.  I had nothing hanging over my head unless you count the excitement of our church Harvest Festival and trick-or-treating on Saturday afternoon.

I guess I shouldn't have counted my chickens before they hatched.  (Or something.)

I woke up on Saturday morning with a very real, very uncomfortable pain in my left abdomen.

Allow me to go on a little tangent here.  If you don't know me, you might not know that I have an irrational fear of dentists.  I absolutely hate them.  Second only to dentists, is my passionate avoidance of all medical doctors.  I only go to the doctor after I have suffered for weeks and it becomes obvious that the only way I will be cured of whatever ailment is to get a prescription medication.

So, when I woke up and told Sam I needed to go to the ER, he took me pretty seriously.

We loaded up the kids and took the fam of five to the local ER where my ever-helpful mother-in-law (who was on her way to trick-or-treat with the kids anyway) interceded and picked up the youngins before they even drew my blood.

Evidently, I failed epically at conveying the severity of my pain to the doctor and nurse.  I was discharged with a diagnosis of a "hormonal imbalance" and a script for Motrin, which I'm pretty sure was just to appease the crazy girl with cramps.

I cried in the car on the way home.  Are you surprised?

To my delight, the pain subsided and I was able to go to the Harvest Festival.  I was even able to go trick-or-treating that night.  I am tickled pink orange (?) that I got to participate in one of my favorite holidays with my Power Ranger, Garden Fairy, and Duck clad children despite my apparent "raging menstrual cramps".

And if I hadn't, you'd miss out on these pictures.  Aren't you glad it worked out?  (wink, wink)

Nothing like waiting until the last minute to carve the pumpkin...

A Garden Fairy who was completely horrified by pumpkin guts...

The Best Hand-Me-Down Costume EVER.

My beautiful little sprite...she can call herself "garden fairy" all she wants.

Funnel Cakes at the Harvest Festival

In a nutshell...how pictures usually go at our house.

Then we got one...I love it!

I felt icky and exhausted Saturday night, but The Pain (which shall henceforth be capitalized as a proper noun) didn't return until after we'd gotten through Sunday School and lunch the next day.  Later in the afternoon on Halloween (proper), I laid down in the bed to do some reading for our 5:15 class at church and it hit me.  Like a bus.  I shot up out of bed, but it didn't matter.  There was no position I could get in that eased it.  It felt like I was in labor on the left side of my body.  But instead of getting a break every few minutes even if only for a few seconds, it persisted.  For hours.

Determined that I would not let The Pain get the best of me, and convinced it would be subsiding at any minute, we prepped the kids for church and left for our class.  About twenty minutes into it, I got up and left.  I went to the restroom.  I cried.  (Again, I know.  It's out of control.  I think the original ER diagnosis was probably right on point.)  Then I laid in an adjacent classroom, determined to listen to the discussion if I couldn't participate in it.

I heard footsteps in the hallway.  They were none other than my knight in shining armor's who had gotten up to make sure I was okay.  He looked at me, asked if I was okay, and I lost it.  No.  I wasn't okay.

In a whirlwind of emotion and pain, I had peace...made possible by our loving church family who stepped up to care for our three kids while we rushed off the the ER for the second time in as many days.  It was the longest lasting pain spell I'd experienced in my life.  It was excruciating.  I signed in through tears, attempting to rock and pace through the pain.  The triage nurse recognized me from the morning before and promised to get me in as quickly as possible.  I bawled through registration.  By the time I got into an exam room, the pain had almost completely subsided after nearly three hours.  Naturally.  Luckily, my emotions had not subsided, and by the time the doctor came to see me, I was still a weeping mess.  Through the tears, I explained to her that I am not crazy (which, apparently, was my greatest fear throughout the whole thing).  She patted me on the leg, promised to get to the bottom of it, and apologized for the dismissal by her colleague the day before.

Within minutes, I had an IV, a dose of Demerol, and orders for a CT scan.

And I was feeling good.

They wheeled me over to CT, where I got to ohh and ahh over the marvel that is modern medical technology which impressed me even in my sedated (and apparently slightly giggly) state.

The results came back.  And when the doctor came in, her first words were, "You're not crazy."  And would you know it, I got teary again.

She told me I had a 5mm kidney stone in my left ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder).  The pain was from it trying to work its way down the tube and out of my body.  She suspected I would pass it on my own, but instructed me that if I hadn't to call a urologist after 48 hours.  With an apology for the missed diagnosis the day before, a script for more pain medicine, a strainer to urinate through in an attempt to "catch" the stone on its way out (so it could be analyzed), and the verbal confirmation that I wasn't crazy (phew!), I left the hospital.

The next 48 hours passed with several bouts of pain, but nothing to show for it.  The pain medicine worked wonders, and I can honestly see how people can become addicted to it.  To go from the level of pain I was at to complete comfort (and mellow-ness) in a matter of minutes was absolutely miraculous.

At Sam's urging, I called the urologist on Tuesday morning and got an appointment for Thursday afternoon.  I even managed to go vote under the influence of Percocet with a helpful chauffeur (can't miss it, it's #4 on the list!).  On Wednesday morning, after a particularly painful evening, Sam encouraged me once again to call the urologist and see if they could see me sooner.  They worked me in at 3:30 that afternoon.

Long story short:  Despite being given the good news by the ER doc that the stuck stone had no baby brothers and sisters in my kidneys, the urologist showed me nearly a dozen others lying in wait in my kidneys. (Those don't cause any pain until they try to leave.)  He showed me my left kidney and how it was nearly double the size of my right one from blocked urine flow.  He told me that the 5mm stone was likely to not pass on its own and they would go in and zap it with a laser, Star Wars style.  (Actually, he didn't say the Star Wars thing.  But that's how I imagined it.)  With an unspoken sense of urgency, he worked me in to have the procedure the following morning at 8am.  I would be home, cured, by lunchtime.  Three and a half hours before my first scheduled appointment would have been.

The rest is history.  It was textbook execution.  I have nothing but glowing recommendations for the nurses, staff, and the doctor (who even called me personally to check on me the next day).  I woke up from the procedure, still groggy, but feeling like a new woman.

This weekend - I enjoyed my freedom.  From tests.  From pain.  It was perfection.  And totally worth waiting for...

...because throughout the process, I was so blessed.  So very blessed.  From the friends at church who stepped up in my time of need, to the phone calls from friends of the family offering babysitting services, to moments of self-growth and becoming more assertive, to a husband who literally dropped everything to care for his ailing wife.

Apparently, sometimes it takes bad things (however minor they end up being) for us to realize how completely awesome we have it.

I'll save my thankful list for another day...or you can see snippets of it on my 1000 Thank Yous blog.

I just hope, in the spirit of Thanksgiving this month (and always), we will all take the time stop and count our blessings.  Big and small.  Obvious and not so.  Because, man, we are so blessed.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder


Sharon Kirby said...

Dear, dear Jennie - WHAT AN ORDEAL!! It must have been terrible. The only saving grace is that nothing happened BEFORE you took your test! That was a small mercy from God...

You still tell a great story...

The kids were properly adorable for Halloween...really. The "pumpkin guts" picture was priceless!

And I am joining you in rejoicing over the blessings we have. God is just so good!


(p.s. Had Demerol for the first time after I had my 2 C-sections...that stuff is GOOOOOOOD...just sayin')

Debbie said...

I know you're very proud of me that I never once tried to console you through this ordeal with a "this too shall pass" comment. You would have reached through the computer to slug me.

Just teasing, and I'm so proud to have been a part of the prayer adventure surrounding this. We're all just happy to have found out the cause and solution.

Francisco Bacon said...

That photos of the kid in the little chickie costume is priceless!

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