Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Scintilla Project - Day 1

Several weeks ago some of the folks who were involved in Reverb11 contacted those of us who participated to tell us of a new writing exercise, The Scintilla Project. 

Since I know I respond well to writing prompts, I signed up. If you're interested, so can you. And if you want to read more, there are lists of participants and links to their blogs on their website for these next two weeks. Tony is also participating; you can read his work here.

Today is the first day, and we were given two possible prompts: 1. Who are you? 2. Life is a series of firsts. Talk about one of your most important firsts. What did you learn? Was it something you incorporated into your life as a result?

Since I'm still figuring out who I am, and that can vary from hour to hour, I'll pass on the first prompt. However,  I definitely experienced a huge 'first' last week. Let me tell you about that today.

Monday started well, with errands and a salad lunch out with my honey. But by dinnertime, I was gasping and rocking back and forth with incredible pain, clad in a hospital gown on an exam table in our local hospital's busy emergency room.

I had been packing for a little Oregon coast getaway we'd planned for weeks, our first 'retirement' trip to one of our favorite places, Bandon. We'd planned to get supper at our favorite local spot.

The pain hit me about 4:45 pm at hip level, right side and to the  back, and suddenly -- fine one moment, gasping at the next. And then it grabbed hold of my right side from just below my breast to groin, hinging like a powerful vise grip around to the front. Within 20 minutes we were heading to the ER, me with a bit of ginger in my hand to try to keep me from throwing up on the way.

The ER had whole families sitting inside and outside, not quite a party atmosphere, but there was fast food and sodas in evidence, which didn't help my growing nausea. It felt like an hour, but I think I was called into the intake room within 20 minutes or so.

Apparently I had a kidney stone.

Time just stopped for me then: all I knew was pain and horrible nausea although they tried to squelch it with anti-nausea drugs and two doses of morphine, and nurses and techs taking vitals, blood, wheeling me to the CT scan, and my poor husband patting me, crooning "I'm so sorry, honey. I'm so sorry."

I know I rocked back and forth most of the time, sitting up more because I couldn't lay down. I know I tried desperately to breathe into the pain, which came in waves from bad to horrible, but never easing more than a split second, even with the drugs, and just ended up gasping with the impact. I know I answered questions but I'm not sure how much sense they made.

I know I understated the pain. You rate pain on a scale of one to ten. I said 'eight.' In truth, it was an eleven, looking back now. I couldn't stay still. My mouth was so dry (probably from the nausea drugs) that I could barely form words, but they didn't want to give me even ice chips until much later.

I remember hearing the people in the next bay, us separated by a thin curtain, discussing food in some detail. I remember wanting to yell at them to shut the F**K up about the food, but I couldn't stop gagging and gasping long enough.

The CT scan showed that my right kidney had a soft blood clot in it, obscuring any possible stone. The docs consulted with an on-call urologist in Redding; a decision was made to admit me for pain and nausea control, but that I didn't need to go to the larger hospital unless there was evidence of poor renal function. (When they finally got some fluids in me, that part worked fine, albeit bloody -- yeah, I know: TMI!)

Once they finally shot me up with dilaudid in another effort to corral the pain and I was waiting to be admitted, I finally unwound a little and was able to lean back against the pillows, at least enough to realize that it was very late and my husband had not had a bite to eat since lunch -- not a good thing for a diabetic. I talked him into leaving for home and food, but not until he had a room number for me, bless him.

When I finally got to my room (11:30 pm) and the nurse was helping me get settled, I finally tossed up the last shreds of whatever was in my stomach, sucked on some ice chips, and was finally able to sleep, at least until the next round of pain and nausea meds.

I heard the same thing from many of the nurses and doctors: kidney stone pain is worse than childbirth pain. At least at the end of childbirth you have a baby. As it turned out, I didn't even get a stone -- just some unanalyzable bits that 'might' have been a stone.

It was my first. I pray it will be my only.

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