Diamonds in yellow water

There’s a coolness to the air around here these past few days. A sure sign that summer is drawing to an end and fall is creeping in under the door sill. I noticed the house numbers have provided a nice corner haven for the spiders. I need to get my broom after that sometime soon. But I never really consider summer to have taken place until Labor Day Weekend. That’s when the Zacharias family joins with dear college friends — the Wright family — for our annual Beach weekend at the Oregon coast.

On Monday of this week it looked as though I might not be able to make the five-hour drive. Some of you may remember that in mid-July I ended up in the emergency room. I had to drive myself there alone — just like I did the July before when Poe tried to bite my nose off. Needless to say, I’m growing less fond of the month of July now, although summer has long been my favorite time of year.

I was at the hospital for less than 15 minutes when they took me into a room. The tears streaming from my eyeballs might have convinced them that I was hurting something fierce.

Have you had a kidney stone before? the seasoned ER doctor asked.

Kidney Stones look a lot like cockleburrs

I shook my head side to side. I thought only men got kidney stones. I had no idea up until that point what was ripping me apart from the inside out.

They shot me full of some pain killer, which was like drinking 10 tequilas in one minute. Thankfully, I landed on the ER bed and not the floor. But seeing how it was the very same weekend as the year before when Poe bit me, Tim was, alas, at the 3-on-3 tournament downtown again. It took awhile before I could reach him.

They gave me pain pills and sent me home. Told me to drink plenty of fluids and pray the stone would pass on its own, though they warned “as large as it is that’s not likely to happen.” Call the urologist and set up an appointment.

I have one scheduled for Oct.4th.  You know that health care crises everyone is always yammering about? The crises includes not having the right kind of doctors in your vicinity to treat your kind of problem. But the pain pills worked and by mid-week I was feeling much better, though I won’t say hunky-dorey.

But on Thursday of last week I woke up to a bladder infection. I’ve only had that issue one other time but if you’ve had one you recognize the symptoms of all that follow. I called the doctor  three times before I got a call back. By then it was late afternoon and I was in such misery I decided I was just going to drive myself to the lab to get the test necessary to get the drugs necessary. As I walked into the lab, the doctor’s office called. “Doctor has ordered your labs,” the receptionist said.

I didn’t bother telling her where I was at. She gave me an appointment for first thing Friday morning, where another doctor, not my doctor, told me, Oh, look you have a bladder infection. Here’s some drugs for that. And you need to see a urologist. Not sure if that stone has passed or not.

It had not.

I know this because on Sunday morning it took me two hours to get dressed. We were in Spokane to see the son who was down from Alaska — as yes, he spoke to me for the first time in a gazillion months and it was sweet, albeit not under the best of circumstances since I was doubled over in the backseat of the car or on the living room floor most of the day. The pain pills were not touching this pain. Why is it a given that excruciating pain only occurs on the weekend? Does your body know you’ll have to go to the ER and it is paying you back for all the times you punished it?

We had a 3 hour drive back from Spokane Sunday night. I spent the bulk of it in the backseat, biting down on the pain. The doctor who wasn’t my doctor was able to get me scheduled for a urologist first thing Monday afternoon. I just had to hold out until then. You know the pain is bad when you bolt from a midnight sleep, completely awake and thinking for all this trouble, surely you should be able to bring a babe home from the hospital or something.

The urologist scheduled me for surgery first thing Wednesday morning.

All this while Tim began another school year. (Can I brag for a moment? He gave a lecture yesterday on natural law and his high school class was so taken with it they gave him an ovation. Can you imagine what that feels like after 27 years of teaching? To have your students so impassioned by a lecture that they applaud you? Anyone who bemoans the public school as a place void of God has never witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit, I guess. Only wish he had taped that lecture so I could share in that moment with him.)

I took myself to surgery. A friend was going to come pick me up. They did all the regular pre-op things. Gave me a robe of tissue paper. Put my flip-flops in a bag. Took my temp. Checked my blood pressure.

Like most people I don’t like surgery. There’s the pain. The recovery. The expense. I knew because I’d asked that if all went well this surgery was going to cost around $10,000. Just because somewhere in my system a goat-head stone was carving a razor path through me.

You must have a high tolerance for pain, the urologist said on Monday. Most people would have been here the next week after that first episode begging me to take the stone out. You’ve gone five weeks with this stone.

What can I say? I’m remedial about reading, writing, ‘rithmatic and stones, it seems.

Sister Tater was praying. My children were praying. Tim was praying. We were all praying for the stone to pass on its own before Wednesday’s surgery. The doctor said it could happen, but I never found any diamonds in the yellow water. So Sister Tater and my daughter and Tim prayed with me as I headed off to the hospital.

The nurse was a gem. A real chatty-Cathy. Her husband is a principal so we had lots in common. I was third or so on the list of surgeries that morning. I asked if perhaps we could get an x-ray prior to surgery, just to see where the stone was at. The doctor agreed and they wheeled me twice to x-ray. He couldn’t find the stone on the first x-ray.

They couldn’t find it on the second x-ray, either. So they took the IV out and gave me my flip-flops back. Told me to drink plenty of lemon-water from here on out. And so I will be sure to take my lemons with me to the beach this weekend.

And I can’t help but think about how we spend a lot of time praying and pleading with for God to do the thing he’s already done.

Why is it we get so filled with anxiety over things have have already come to pass?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4: 6

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  • So, so sorry that you have been in so much pain. Not fun. Here is to a pain free and healthy Fall.

  • Horrid story but with a wonderful ending! Reading it made me re-live my own two episodes with kidney stones.

  • Glad you didn’t have to have surgery and glad you got to see and talk with the boy 🙂

  • Gloria

    Praying for you Karen. I am so sorry you had to go through all of this but really happy you didn’t have to have surgery. Have a terrific weekend!

  • John Haselton

    I’m praying for you Karen. Two years ago I had surgery for stones and I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone. Be well and keep drinking that water. Have a Wonderful Labor Day.

  • Your fortitude does not surprise me in the least. Evidently you won’t suffer fools or charlatans OR kidney stones.

    Hope you’re all better now! And have a fantastic holiday…


  • So, did you get to keep the tissue paper gown as a souvenir?

    Have a splendid time at the beach.


  • As the pair reliever commercial used to say, “It’s beautiful when the pain stops.” I wonder how many blog readers have any experience with cockleburs? Wish I had a dollar for every one I chopped with a hoe in our soybean fields and at the ends of cornfields when I was a kid. And, Lordy, if you had a long-haried dog who got near one, you’d be all day cutting those ‘burs out of their coat.

  • Update us next week or next next week what happened to the stone? Is it really gone? I will start drinking lemon juice or lemon water, whatever with lemon until the send of September…….

  • Please update us next week or next next week what happened to the stone? Is it really gone? I will start drinking lemon juice or lemon water, whatever with lemon.. until the end of September…….