|Cystoscope: a lot scarier when you know where they stick it.|
Without insurance you have to weigh your options carefully. If you have money you have more options, but mostly those extra options involve spending the money. Without money, job or prospects your options mostly revolve around managing the pain while you wait for nature to take its course.
I've passed so many kidney stones in my life that my ureters are almost entirely scar tissue by now. Unfortunately it is scar tissue with nerve endings, so it is still possible for me to experience considerable pain in the process of passing a stone. Having lots of practice does not make this any easier.
I've been thinking since my latest rocky episode began about putting up a post describing the pain. People are curious, and curious people have a right to know. This presented a problem for me because I couldn't think of a way to describe the pain of passage without using copious amounts of profanity. I certainly use a lot of profanity when I'm passing a stone, so it only seems appropriate to use profanity when describing the experience.
The problem is that I don't normally incorporate much profanity in this blog. It's not that I don't approve of profanity. I do. I read a lot of mommy bloggers who revel in the profane. There is something appealing to me about a young mother discussing her day-to-day interactions with her children, her spouse, and the rest of the world, while peppering her speech with vulgar, profane, and scatological phrasing like a drunken sailor. It's not a turn-on in the perverse sense, but it does tickle my funny bone.
My problem is that my nieces and nephews read my blog. (Hi, kids.) My nieces and nephews are a sanctified lot. They are home-schooled, parochialized, and sheltered. They are also brilliant, accomplished and beautiful, and I'm not just saying that because they are listening in.
In my sixty plus years on the planet I have never met children as polite, engaging, personable and interesting as the six being raised up by my brother and his wife. Think what you will about the supposed limitations of a conservative Christian family-value orthodoxy, I'm a believer. I will not, cannot, argue with success. This being the case, I am loathe to display my baser proclivities here. I don't want them to think less of me because I am unable to maintain a civilized level of decorum, even when discussing the acute %&!@##* pain associated with kidney stones. I need a better way.
I already knew of a better way it turns out. Back in the early Eighties, when I first started having kidney stones I found a 'Far Side' cartoon by inestimable comic artist, Gary Larson. It featured a man standing in an exam room with his urologist. Behind the man was a rhinoceros with its horn firmly embedded in the man's back. The caption reads, “Wait a minute here, Mr. Crumbly. ...Maybe it isn't kidney stones after all.”
I was blown away by the hilarity of the scene, and also by the accuracy of the depiction of the pain that I was then experiencing. I cut the comic out of the newspaper and sent it to my own urologist. He'd never had a kidney stone of his own, so he was less moved by the cartoon than I. There is no doubt in my mind that Gary Larson had suffered a stone though, and I don't feel the need to confirm this. It's perfectly obvious to me.
Remembering this, I thought all I needed to do was post a copy of the cartoon along with a little back-story and I would be through with this post. Not so easy though, as when I sought permission to use the cartoon here I was denied. It turns out that Larsen never permits his work to be published in electronic form. No exceptions. Ever. You can find it online if you put your mind to it. It's not like it's never done. It's just not permitted.
So I'm forced to resort to my own creativity, such as it is, to adequately describe my pain without profanity. I've decided that being impaled by a full-grown rhino is for sissies. My pain—this time anyway—is much worse than that. My pain is like having the pointy end of a pickaxe stuck in you back...and not just any pickaxe either. Certainly not a brand new pickaxe from a high-end adventure outfitter. Oh no. I'm talking about a rusty, decrepit pickaxe found lying at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft, rusted and buried in a slurry of despair and self-loathing. A pickaxe with abandonment issues and retribution on its mind.
The pickaxe is wielded by an angry old miner even worse for wear than the pick itself. He's angry at me. He thinks I jumped his claim and spent the money wooing his girlfriend. He is not just out of sorts. He is aflame with retribution as well. And he is not content to just drive the pickaxe into my back either. He is twisting the handle to crack me open like an ore stone. I am the mother lode of righteousness satisfied. He's cussing up a storm while he twists the handle. Too bad I can't respond in kind.