The passing stone gathers no relief

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Euphoria usually follows the realization you have something in common with noted historical figures like Louis XIV, Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton.

This time, comparable levels of achievement and vision in those men could be found in me only in being able to see the TV from the emergency room bed after the pain shot took effect.

My link with those guys is that bane of male existence called kidney stones, or, as the medical community says, a renal calculus. The latter, I guess, speaks to the pain level if you’ve ever dealt with these things and the kind of calculus you take in school.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Commonly composed of calcium, uric acid or other compounds, kidney stones hurt most when they’re on the move. In mine and others’ cases, they move through the ureter after being formed in the kidney and create some indescribable pain that feels like your side is about to explode. The stats I’ve seen on who’s most affected put the percentage of those with kidney stones who are men at about 80 percent. Women do get these from time to time, but, by and large, it’s our little taste of “labor,” guys.

I had my first experience with this in 2006 and was told I wasn’t getting quite enough potassium or citric acid (bananas and fruit juice, in layman’s terms) in my diet. Those things are supposed to inhibit the growth of solidified calcium in the kidney. I suspect this is the case again, as, if I may turn pain into pun, I’ve slipped on my banana intake. You’re also supposed to limit soft drinks and vitamin C, which means don’t go overboard on the colas and orange juice.

It took more than a month to “pass” that last stone. It was dark and about the size of a peppercorn, with a barb on it for extra-strength pain. There was a “second wave” of pain and another ER visit before it exited my body. Else, some form of lithotripsy, the procedure employed most often to break up stones that don’t want to come out in a urine stream, would have been needed. That second wave is sure to hit me again if it’s of any size and shape.

For now, I’ll make do with prescriptions and catch-kit. In the spirit of actor Ernie Hudson’s famous line from “Ghostbusters”, I’ll pose this to fellow men who’ve had kidney stones. If anyone asks if you’ve had labor pains, you say, “YES!”