“I wouldn’t drink anything called Moland.”


I’m still trying to pass this damn kidney stone.  I’ve not fought one this stubborn since my first, when I was 18 and in the Army.  I had surgery to extract it, then had a stent installed.  I remember my roommate telling me I looked like I was in pain all the time.  That’s when the pain became conscious, and it explained why I was peeing blood.

I didn’t become alarmed until the pain overwhelmed me.  Invincible youth.  I was living in an apartment with my husband, who was away for training.  I low-crawled to the next apartment and beat on the door.  Two sleepy men opened the door, then looked down at me and called an ambulance.

I also recall I took a bath just before that, because I knew I needed medical intervention, and I was all sweaty and gross.  The paramedics kept trying to give me oxygen while I fought them to quit messing with me, I was in pain, dammit.  Finally, they figured out I was a soldier and took me to William Beaumont Army Medical Center, where I had the surgery.

While being assessed in the emergency room, they gave me a morphine drip to help with the pain.  It didn’t work.  It just added hurling to the party.  I remember a nurse putting a tiny kidney-shaped basin under my chin to catch it; only I looked at it, then puked on the floor.  I wanted to ask her if she was kidding first, but couldn’t speak.

I’d never heard of a kidney stone and thought for sure I was dying.  It was the first time I had surgery and turned out to be quite an adventure.  My mom said it was from eating meat, candy and drinking Mt. Dew.  I figured she was right; she was almost always right.  I didn’t realize it would continue plaguing me long after I stopped, though.  Sigh.


I still ate in the mess hall, even after moving off-post.  I wish I still had access to one.  My unit was attached to the International dining hall.  It was awesome.  There were TV’s all over the place, usually on MTV.  The salad bar was divine.  And I got to eat with Japanese Air Force members, and soldiers from the United Arab Emirates.  When we ran PT, the Islamic call to prayer blasted over the quad.  It was my favorite unit.

I observed UAB officers prefer driving Mustang’s in custom painted neon colors, exclusively.  You could tell which units were American by what was in the parking lot.  The GI Cadillac back then was the Nissan Sentra.  There were over twenty in various colors parked outside our barracks alone.  I was friends with a guy who was a prince of some sort.  It was a cultural mishmash of awesome.  I miss it.

I miss living in the desert, too.  Today, I awoke to rain, followed by hail, and then snow.  It’s still snowing.  I’m tired of this damn stone and want to get back to my life.  At least I’ve done a lot of thinking about my novel.  The last time I was in Denver, I saw a homeless man on the street outside my hotel.  (I still say, “hi” to strangers I encounter briefly.  In Sioux Falls, it’s rude to walk past someone without acknowledging them.)   We made eye contact, and I recognized him from somewhere.  Probably the Army.

I could tell he recognized me, as well.  But we just stared as he walked on.  I’ve been thinking about him since.  I can’t remember where we met before, so I’m going to include him in my novel with an imagined life.  I’m trying to reason with my ambition since I read a lot of epic serial stories.  Part of me wants to write one, but Logic thinks it’s adorable.  Logic is mean sometimes.  Heh.  I’m off to practice cussing during another wave of pain.  (I’m an ace swearer when pain is the motivation.)  😂

“Well, it frees me up. No encumbrances.”

woman in pain

Welp.  I didn’t set off to explore America, today.  It’s probably a good thing I doubled over in agonizing pain before I hit the road, though.  It may be another kidney stone, or it may be the same one.  They sometimes to go back into my kidney rather than passing.  I didn’t think I heard it pass, but the pain was gone, so I stopped thinking about it.

It’s been a miserable day, but I wasn’t in constant pain.  It comes and goes in waves.  M. thinks it’s been hurting before today, but I was ignoring it until it got serious.  He’s probably right.  It’s a sensory issue, apparently.  I have a high pain threshold from my neck down.  I can’t ignore head pain or tooth pain, though.

Although, I did pull a tooth earlier.  I broke a tooth recently, and the tooth shard was hurting my gums.  So I used needle nose pliers to pull it out in front of the mirror.  At first, it bled a lot, but it’s stopped since.  It was nothing compared to Tom Hanks bashing out a sore tooth with a skate blade and a rock, in Castaway.

It’s not visible when I smile, but I’ll get it fixed, anyway.   The aching is starting to return, but it’s not bad yet.  M. didn’t suggest I go to the ER this time.  He’s awesome.  He got me a bendy straw and a big insulated cup of watery cranberry juice.  Bendy straws are fabulous.   I’m not up for connecting several so I can sip from another room, though.

M. is glad I didn’t go, and not even trying to pretend otherwise.  He asked me to wait until he can go with me.  I agreed, but mostly because it was much easier to nod than discuss it.   I watched the making of videos for Synthesis by Evanescence earlier.  I’m so glad Amy Lee exists.  It’s fascinating to watch it all come together so beautifully.  (It’s on YouTube.)

Amelia Bedelia has been super loving today.  I think she senses I’m sick.  She’s adorable and probably glad I put the carrier away.  M. said he’ll have time in early April to go with me.  It’ll still be fun with him along.  He has a lovely singing voice and knows all the Fleetwood Mac songs.  By the time we get back, he’ll know all of Stevie Nicks’ songs, too.  The pain is rising again, so I’m off.

If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.

I didn’t get much done today.  Just my chores, and I cleaned my vacuum.  My kidney stone is on the move, so for most of today, I’ve been pacing in a futile attempt to make the pain go away.  It’s getting ready to hurt again, I can just feel it.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be passing it soon.  I really want to go for a run, but I’m afraid the pain will flare up again, and I’ll be miles from home.  It’s 38° F right now, which is perfect for a long run.  I had forgotten how much kidney stones hurt.  I’m voiceless right now.  I haven’t been able to speak since freaking out over my lease renewal coming up unexpectedly.

My body rarely manages to keep pace with my mind, which is très annoying.  Now that I’ve calmed down and talked plans with my therapist, it should be back.  I hate this.  If I stress about not being able to talk, it only makes it take longer for my voice to come back.  Every single time, I have a tiny bit of fear that this time it’s never coming back.  It’s not even a rational fear.  I hate irrational fear.  I like things to make sense.  When they don’t, I figure my way of coping doesn’t have to make sense, either.  I have my vinyl bodyguards to protect me from irrational fears.  They do nothing but entertain my need to fight irrationality with irrationality.  I keep them lined up on a picture ledge above a window in front of my Mac desktop.

Muttpop, Michael Lau, and I forgot the artist for the one on the far left.  My Michael Lau figure (4th from left) is kinda rare.  No irrational fear is getting past these vinyl bodyguards, dammit.  They’ll intimidate it to death.  If that’s not irrational, I don’t know what is.  I’m off to writhe and curse until this damn kidney stone passes.

Little Stuart Rifkin likes to go shopping with his mother.

kidney stone pain location

I’m pretty sure I have another kidney stone.  This is one pain level that gets my full attention when it flares.  I’ve invented some pretty good swears while writhing in pain when the stone moves.  It feels a little bit like sudden onset pseudo-Tourette’s Syndrome, that miraculously passes the moment the pain subsides.   I’ve been getting them since I was 18.  Usually a few times a year at the least.  This will be my second for 2016.  If I disappear for a few days, don’t worry.  I’ll be back with newer, more sweary word combinations  for our mutual amusement.

My pain level has decreased for now.  Sometimes, I like to swing by WebMD, and research my symptoms.  I can *always* find a scary, often fatal ailment that has similar symptoms.  Then I can say, “Well, at least it’s not some rare, incurable genetic disorder.”  A good dose of perspective never hurts.  I’ll admit, the first time I got one, I had never heard of such thing.  I spent about three hours trying everything to lessen the pain.  I tried various positions, drinking some water, an antacid, etc.  Nothing I tried helped.  I ended up low-crawling to the adjacent apartment, and banging on the door.  Two guys who were obviously sleeping when I knocked were kind enough to call an ambulance.

I was pretty certain I was dying, because I had never experienced such pain before.  It was my first ambulance ride, first time having oxygen, and eventually my first surgery.  I have spotty memories of the ER that night.  I remember a nurse scolding me for cussing.  I remember telling her to fuck off, (I thought I was dying, so I felt entitled to abandon any semblance of proper behavior).  I’m not sure who was more shocked by it, the nurse or I.  She held an emesis basin in front of my face when I announced I was about to hurl.  I looked at it, then proceeded to hurl to the side of it, because my feeble, pain-panicked mind felt it was in the way.  I’m pretty sure that nurse hated my ass.  Eventually, they removed it surgically, as I was unable to pass it naturally.  I remember running PT the next day, and the stent they inserted made every other step feel like I was about to wet myself.  Good times.

Fortunately, I can pass them on my own now.  I don’t go to the ER, since they just give me pain meds, a pee strainer, and a huge jug of water to drink until passage.  I’m (not really) sorry, but unless my kidney stone is made up of a precious, rare material, or can somehow bring about world peace, I’m not straining anything.  The pain meds make me vomit.  When I’m in a lot of pain, the last thing I want to do is add projectile vomiting for distance to the mix.  So I stay home and work it out with water, cranberry juice, and lots of swearing.  But no hurling, dammit.  Because that’s where I draw the line.