Kidney Stone Christmas Party
Friday was not quite two hours old when I awoke with a sharp pain in my stomach and back. I thought it was the paté ate with dinner. No such luck. I realized when I went to the bathroom — and couldn't go — and then felt the pain localize into one, particular spot in my back that was most surely a kidney stone.
If you haven't had a kidney stone before, you are truly blessed. They say it's the most intense pain a man will ever go through (they say for women that it's childbirth, but some women say the kidney stones they have had have been more painful). Kidney stones are a curse. An affliction. The surest, most excellent evidence that human beings were by no means intelligently designed by anyone with any sort of intelligence. We evolved to what we are today and the job is far from done. We homo sapiens are in transition, as we have always been. We are desperately, tragically far from perfect. Though I feel like the stones are a curse, I wouldn't wish one on my worst enemy (though I would enjoy some small bit of schadenfreuda if every creationist pimping the fantasy of Intelligent Design were suddenly afflicted).
So here I am, it's 1:45 on Thursday night / Friday morning. I am awake and terrified. I don't want to go through the rigmarole of the emergency room to get morphine and a sedative. But I know I can't sleep. I pace my bedroom for almost two hours before I give up, take four Advil, and lay down. I'm out like a light.
The next day I somehow manage to get to work more or less on time. I'm on another half-dozen Advil so the pain isn't debilitating. And to be honest, the only reason I am at work is because the Christmas party for the company is that night. I can't call in sick and then go to the Christmas party — I did that last year and got teased about it for months. So I bit the bullet and came in to work.
I made an interesting observation: When using painkillers to block sanity-robbing pain, the combination of numbness and discomfort is similar to the feeling I generally get walking in to work on any given day already.
About half way through our 10:30 meeting, the kidney stone completed it's journey through the ureter. I know this because the pain went from a level 9 to a level 3 (on that ten-point scale the doctor uses, where 10 is the most you can possibly feel and 1 is generally OK). That was a god damn relief, let me tell you.
A friend at work asked what it felt like. I told her it felt like someone had taken a flathead screwdriver, heated it up in a kiln until it was red hot, stabbed me in the back all the way to the hilt, and then left it there.
I left work in the afternoon to go talk to my doctor. He was nice enough. Sympathetic. A fellow sufferer of the kidney stone curse. Told me I was very lucky I pass them so quickly – most people suffer for several days, sometimes up to a week or two before they pass them. (ugh, now THAT's a freakin' curse). Gave me a 'scrip to a nice morphine-like pill I can take if I ever get another one. I have no love for opioids, so the pills will probably expire before I take one, but that's the point – I have it if I need it.
Got home, took a long shower and got ready for the company Christmas party, a delightful affair at the Equinox at the San Francisco Hyatt.
Alex and I looked great. We were almost too gay in our matching suits, red ties, and pocket squares. I won one of the raffle prizes, an interactive, intelligent R2D2. The food was good and it was nice to see everyone from work in a non-work environment.
I may bag on work from time to time, but in all honesty, the people I work with now are the best people I've ever worked with in my life. It's been nearly five years I've been with this company, a lifetime in the tech industry, and I've enjoyed most of it.
By the end of the night, I had had so much fun I forgot about the kidney stone.