I’m only going to cover two things in todays blog. Dean’s memorial service and my kidney stone attack.
Friday, January 20th was the memorial service for Dean at St. Joe’s. Today is the actual anniversary. (Dean actually disappeared after midnight so the disappearance is tomorrow, but in my had it was Thursday night). Our old college president (e.g. twenty years older than he was – not elderly) tried to gather a group of the 1991 alumni to attend the event, but only three of us were able to make it. I was still thrilled to see the people who were there.
Dan (the president) gave a remembrance of Dean. He did an excellent job. He covered the facts. He covered the feelings we had. He went over what we all did wrong. He also covered how we learned and grew. Like my own remembrance last week it was a bit short on details about Dean himself which is unfortunate. But it was a really good presentation. I also learned (or maybe relearned) some aspects of the weekend and following weeks I had missed or forgotten. Fr. Terry ed us and the current Rangers in prayers. All told I was very happy with the service. I am very glad this is something that Joe’s is still doing every year.
After the service we went to a nearby bar for some fellowship and supper. I met several of the current house committee including Scott – the director of residence, Tyler – the president and Jerod one of the sports reps. Joe’s is going to win its 25th consecutive intramural cup this year. 20 years ago I was there for the “drive for 5”. I’m not sure the house committee had as much fun – we spent some time taking about mid-thirties issues like kids and health issues. 18 year olds are TWENTY years younger than we are now!
It was a good evening. Unfortunate that it was a sad event bringing us together.
But it followed a lousy day. The rest of the blog will contain details of events south of my personal equator that may not be for the squeamish.
Friday morning I woke at 4 in the morning. I was really hot – sweating and feeling a little dehydrated. As I tried to fall back to sleep I also realized that I had a slight pain in my right abdomen. This would turn out to be a new kidney stone. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, but the pain wasn’t bad to I stubbornly stayed in bed until my alarm went off at 5:15 am.
When I got up in addition to my normal glass of water in the morning I added some pain meds. They worked and I felt a bit better. I left for the bus at 6:45 am and decided to have one more pill for the road. It is pretty normal that drinking water increases the pain since more pressure is then applied to the stone. With the pain meds I was expecting to be able to put in a full day at work. Often if you get by the initial pain the stone adjusts and doesn’t cause pain again – often for weeks.
That wasn’t the case this time.
The bus came at 7 am and at 7:50 am we were dropping a client off at the Cross Cancer institute on campus. Instead of getting better the pain had just gotten worse throughout the trip. I have no idea what it would have been like without the two pills I had popped that morning.
I asked the bus driver if he could make a detour and drop me at the U of A hospital instead of at work. Shortly before 8 am i was scootering into emergency.
I waited 2 minutes to get into triage. I went straight from there to registration. I went straight from there into the ward. I was surprised. The ER waiting was not overly crowded, but there were at least four ambulance crews who had just brought in patients, plus two walkins ahead of me.
From there I went into a waiting room on the ward. There I did wait for about 30 minutes before getting a bed. That was a long time. But overall from time to arrive until the time I was in a bed it was well under an hour. I’m pretty happy with that. Considering I had no spurty blood, wasn’t in danger of dying and I suffer pretty much in silence I was likely not at the top of the list, but I was still settled pretty fast.
So this is what happens next. You put on a gown (I left my shoes on), get into bed and get re-triaged by the ward nurse assigned to you. This triage includes a more complete history and some poking and prodding plus blood pressure and temperature and listening to heart and lungs and bowels (my bowels were apparently very quiet). Then you wait for the Doctor. This took a while – maybe another 30 minutes. The Dr. re-confirms some of the details on the forms to his satisfaction and the instructs the nurse on some tests and treatment. In my case this was to start an IV for fluids, administer some anti-inflammatories and pain killers (morphine), giving a blood sample and urnine sample and getting an x-ray.
One morphine shot in my IV drip later and I was feeling much better. The pain went away. By the time I went for my X-ray I was pain free and a little loopy. Then I fell asleep. When I woke up they asked for the urine sample. I gave it with difficulty – not because of pain but there was nothing there to give despite having been given fluids for a couple hours. They also had to retake my blood sample at the same time because the lab had trouble with the first one.
The x-ray showed a stone. It was about 3 mm x 7 mm and low in the ureter. That is still within the size that can be passed normally. The doctors like you to pass them yourself if possible. I agree. As much as I like lithotripsy it isn’t my first choice.
Mom came down to spend time with me, but they didn’t actually allow other people on the ward. Every hour she was given a five minute pass to come see me. I hate bothering her, but a Mother’s love is nearly as good an analgesic as the morphine.
At 2:30 pm I got my release papers. The urine test wasn’t back from the lab yet, but the x-ray had been pretty conclusive. Since I already had pain killers at home I was prescribed an anti-inflamatory (NSAID) and a diuretic. The pain was also back by this point, but on the pain scale I only rated it as a 1 out of 10 (I rated the initial pain as 6 out of 10). My next stop was Dean’s service. Since we were going out to a bar that night I asked if beer would have a bad effect on the pain meds. The Dr. said it would be fine, but not to get drunk. That was a surprise! I was sure I’d get an absolute no!
The pain stayed at a 1 for the service. We spent a good amount of time after the service talking with Fr. Dave. That was pretty awesome. We headed to the bar. I took another pain killer and and an NSAID. I ordered a beer with dinner. Two sips of that beer later and I was feeling better than I had all day. Beer is a cure all!
Now the rest of the weekend was me passing the stone. Here are the side effects of the pain, the medication and likely my own mind playing tricks. The pains meds blocked up my digestive tract. The diuretic eliminated all control of my urinary tract. I ALWAYS felt that I had to go to the washroom. And then in 10 seconds that would change from a slight pressure to “I need to go right now!” The pain stayed all weekend. Normally between a 1 and a 3, but the only other time I took a pain killer was Saturday morning. The rest of the time the pain wasn’t bad enough. I was tired all the time, but I couldn’t sleep any later than 7 am in the morning. I wasn’t hungry at all and when I did eat it didn’t sit well in my stomach. I’d belch for an hour after and each time it felt like more than gas was going to come up (although I didn’t really feel nauseous and never threw up). Finally Saturday night was the worst. I was exhausted and I started to feel a bit feverish. I went to bed and slept great.
Late Sunday afternoon I think I passed the stone. I’m not positive since I was sitting on the can and didn’t see it go, but it felt weird. More notably I started to feel better right away. I was still tired at bed time last night, but that was my last remaining symptom. By this morning I felt great.
That is my story from the weekend. The low points were waiting in the ER waiting room for a bed (but that was short) and Saturday night and the high point was meeting the house committee and some old friends in the bar after the service.
Hopefully this week is less exciting.