Friday, March 20, 2015

Genetics Suck

For her birthday on Tuesday, I gave Gilda two days to remember and a three millimeter stone. No, I didn’t mean a three carat ring. I meant a three millimeter stone, as in kidney stone.

It all started innocently enough as we prepared for our flight home from a grand week in London. Flying to London I watched two films, Foxcatcher and Whiplash. I had hoped to watch St. Vincent and Fury on the return trip. But it was not to be. 

At the airport for the first time during our trip I ate a traditional English breakfast—two fried eggs, bacon, baked beans, sausage and grilled mushroom. I didn’t eat the cooked tomato. (Are you sick yet?) 

I started to feel queasy when we reached the departure gate. I couldn’t decide which orifice should take precedence to alleviate my discomfort. But nothing was forthcoming. 

I boarded the American Airlines Boeing 777-300 and took the middle spot in a three-seat row near the back of the aircraft. Until right before we left the gate it appeared I’d be able to slide over to the aisle seat, but a fellow traveler arrived to dash those hopes. Meanwhile, I had been grimacing discomfort since we boarded. I wanted to hit the bathroom but had to wait until we reached an acceptable altitude to get up. 

The lower right side of my back hurt no matter how I sat. My front right abdomen hurt. No matter how I tried to go I couldn’t. 

The flight crew witnessed my agony, was supportive but couldn’t do anything other than offer me their seats in the last row and a makeshift hot water bottle. At one point the head steward asked if I wanted to see if a doctor was aboard. I said Gilda is a nurse practitioner so they brought her a stethoscope and blood pressure monitor to check me out. I think they wanted to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack. I noticed on the flight map we were near Labrador so I surmise they were checking if an emergency landing was necessary. The flight was eight hours of unrelenting pain. 

After we landed and was able to stand a while I felt slightly better. But the ride home brought the pain back. Tuesday night I slept okay. When I woke up at 5:45 am I was able to drive Gilda to work in Manhattan. I ate a full can of lentil vegetable soup, then went to deliver food to the elderly in Yonkers as I do most Wednesdays. Afterwards I went to Costco where a true sign of my deteriorating condition revealed itself. The pain returned so severely I couldn’t conclude my shopping expedition.

After napping for an hour I felt good enough to drive back to Manhattan to pick Gilda up. Big mistake. An hour into the two-hour round trip the pain returned with a vengeance. Once home I slept again for 90 minutes before eating a light dinner. I felt good enough to watch some TV before turning the lights off at 11:15 just as the pain returned.

I tried to drink some vitamin water but wretched it up. I walked around. The pain persisted. Finally, around 12:30 I woke Gilda to say we needed to go to the emergency room. I had checked the Internet; my symptoms suggested an intestinal blockage. It was a painful 10 minute ride but like the toothache that doesn’t hurt once you show up at the dentist the pain magically disappeared once inside the hospital and did not return for 24 hours.

We were at the ER for more than six hours. Gilda had slept less than two hours in 24 hours. 

A CT Scan showed I have a kidney stone 2-3 millimeters in size. So I have to drink a lot to pee it out. When my brother had a kidney stone 45 years ago they said he could drink beer. Medical science has either progressed or regressed as they told me to drink lots of water!!!

Bernie also told me he’s had three or four kidney stones, that our father had one and his brother, Uncle Willy, had multiple kidney stones. I'm not looking forward to a recurrence. Genetics suck. 

Both our parents had gall bladder issues. Indeed, our father was discharged from the army during World War II because of it. Bernie and I haven’t suffered through that affliction but our sister Lee has. I’ll say it a different way—genetics can be a real pain.

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