Get into the “Way Back Machine” to the year 1990. America has just finished helping Iraq defend itself against the evil Iranian ayatollahs. Computers are a bargain at $2,500.
I went out on Saturday, a night of drinking, clubbing, more drinking, and going home alone. In my drunken stupor, I noticed my urine color was a little…off. Nothing too troublesome, at least when your BAC is 15+.
The next day I wake up, and my back hurts. Once again, given my nighttime activities, nothing too surprising. I figured if I just slept it off, had some coffee and a hot shower, it would all work out.
I knew I should get to the hospital, but I couldn’t get hold of anyone – my roommates were all gone, I called a few friends who weren’t around (in fact I left a grunting message on one machine that was replayed for the next two years), and even my neighbors in the apartment building weren’t there. Screw it – I can drive to the hospital myself. I don’t need any help.
I get to Somerville Hospital, where I get to wait in the emergency room with ODs, gunshot victims, and people with random gaping wounds. Needless to say, since I wasn’t bleeding, I was a low priority. I ended up waiting for several hours in incredible pain – I was laying on the middle of the floor in the emergency room, writhing like a fish who’s been pulled on deck.
Finally two little old ladies took pity on me and harassed the admitting nurse until they took me in. The nurse even said, “We just pulled you back here because those two old ladies wouldn’t shut up”.
To kill the pain they gave me a shot of morphine. Ahhh, sweet drugs. Of course, it didn’t take right away, but at least I knew salvation was in the future.
“OK Mr Patrick, now we need you to pee in this cup.” Those dreaded words. Peeing on command is tough enough, but I had nothing to drink all day, and was in back-doubling pain. I could barely concentrate on breathing, let alone draining the bladder.
“Well, Mr Patrick, we need you to pee in this cup – here have a cup of water to help you out.” Here goes….water down….and the pain…throw it back up. Crap. I can’t even drink water to help make water. Come on, people.
“Hmmm, Mr. Patrick, if you don’t pee, we’ll have to get a catheter.” – Horrors! Anything but the catheter! If I wasn’t running around in a johnny, I would have left and taken my chances on the outside.
Luckily, the morphine was kicking in, and it loosened the muscles enough that I could given them their precious liquid gold. It confirmed what they thought – I had a kidney stone. Being young and dumb, I didn’t really know what that meant. “Well, imagine a rock working its way down your pipes…you’ll have to pee it out.” Crap. I didn’t like how this was going to turn out.
They were ready to discharge me, and so they told me I needed to pee into a special cup with a filter for the next several days – the filter would capture any part of the stone (Why? So they could put it in some kind of kidney stone mosaic they were making?). No problem, I said – morphine is a wonderful thing.
They wouldn’t let me drive home hopped up on drugs, so I walked back to my apartment. I then regaled my neighbors with the story, impressing the ladies with my tales of pain and crying like a baby when they threatened the catheter (well, I didn’t really cry, but I wanted to).
I went back to my apartment, ready to finish up the evening with a much needed draining of the dragon. Damn. I forgot the contraption that I had to have to capture my stone. That’s OK, I watch MacGyver. You can make anything out of anything. I figured a plastic cup and a coffee filter could do the trick just as well. All I had to do was make a hole in the bottom of the cup so that the pee would drain.
OK, here’s the filter, here’s the cup…here’s the exacto blade to cut it. One slice here..one slice there-auuuuuugh! I cut my hand! Thanks to sweet morphine, I didn’t panic – even with blood spurting all over the kitchen. I quickly wrapped it in towels (multiple since it was bleeding pretty badly).
I was amused by the show of blood enough that I wrote “PIG” on the wall in blood. Looking back, that was a little disturbing, but I guess I found the humor in the situation.
So here I am, hand wrapped in a bloody towel. I know one thing – I am NOT going back to that hospital. I’ve already spent most of the day there, I’m not going to spend most of the night! So instead, I wrap my hand in as much gauze and bandage as I can find. I have it elevated (so the bleeding slows), and sleep with my arm suspended above my head.
The next day, I went back to the hospital for an appointment – I guess they wanted to see if I had passed the stone. The attending was shocked. “Why the Hell didn’t you come in last night? You sliced your hand open!” “Umm, I had just left the hospital. I thought I would look pretty stupid if I came back an hour later.”
He told me I was lucky – it looked like the cut was clean (I guess I hadn’t been using the exacto on any unsanitary items), and I had not cut any tendons, so I was going to be able to use my hand. Of course, he said, it was too late to sew it up for a scarless recovery. He put a new (and less amateur looking) bandage, gave me a shot (to protect against infection), and sent me on my way.
This scar reminds me of my 20s, when beer was cheap, and apparently, my life was too.