Once upon a time in a land far, far away…..
After taking some time to mourn the loss of my job in May 2011, I decided it was time to take care of my health while I searched for my next great endeavor. So I began running — and by running I mean slow jog/fast walk. Around this time, I also fell head-over-heels in love with hot yoga. If you’ve never done hot yoga, I would highly recommend it. I mean, who wouldn’t love doing yoga in a 90 degree sauna-like room. I was practicing hot yoga almost daily. I was running 4-5 days a week. I was pushing hard and I felt great! I had a few freelance projects and was even dating! All was good in Pamland.
Fast forward to July 4th weekend:
- Friday – July 1, 2011 – Project meeting, dinner with my mom.
- Saturday – July 2, 2011 – Yoga and running in the morning followed by a date.
- Sunday – July 3, 2011 – Rest day.
- Monday – July 4, 2011 – Family event, then weight training and running.
- Tuesday – July 5, 2011 – Yoga in the morning, trail run, then met Mom for a walk.
During this 5-day period, two things were happening – First, I was FRUSTRATED! I was running and working out and nothing was happening! I was pushing so hard! (I’m an instant gratification kind of girl.) Second, I was battling a stomach bug. I have always had tummy troubles (a.k.a. IBS – but I’ll spare you). So while I’m going about my holiday weekend, I’m constantly aware of my tummy and the location of the nearest restroom.
I crawled into bed on Tuesday night tired, frustrated and unable to hold food down. I figured a doctor’s appointment was in my near future. Sometime during the night, I shot up from my bed with intense lower back pain (primarily on the left side) and the urgency to find my bathroom. I spent the next 4-5 hours between my bed and bathroom. While in bed, I could not get comfortable – laying on my back or side was out of the question. I finally ended up in a child’s pose, on my bed, sobbing. I was Googling my symptoms and freaking myself out. Eventually, I fell asleep, waking a short time later to my alarm as I had a client meeting.
The pain was still intense but I was going to push through. Shower – check. Breakfast – no way in hell! Two bites of my typical protein bar breakfast and I was sick again. I cancelled my meeting and drove myself to the MedCheck.
I filled out all the forms, paid my copay and waited, in the most uncomfortable chair ever, unable to put any pressure on the left side and pretty sure I could pass out at any time. Finally, I went back to the exam room. A nice nurse took my vitals as I was sitting on the lovely paper covered exam table. After about 5 minutes, I looked at her and politely asked if I could please lay down and then did before she could give me permission. I think this scared the poor woman because she immediately left the room and the doctor was in within minutes.
The doctor never touched me, he looked at me, looked at my chart, asked a few questions then recommended I go to the emergency room. He felt that all my symptoms were a sign of kidney stones. I asked if there was something else it could be and he replied “kidney stones.” (Friends reference was in my head ALL DAY LONG and yes, the doctor was Indian.)
So they called the ER (luckily across the street), made me sign paperwork that I declined transportation (I refused to pay for an ambulance ride for a quarter mile) and I was on my way. Up until this point, I had not contacted anyone to discuss my pain – however, on my way to the ER, I called my mom and asked her to meet me.
Up until this point, I had been in the hospital one time – for stitches. Nothing like this. If I wasn’t in so much pain, I would have probably freaked out. So I’m quickly escorted to a ER exam room, nurses are hooking me up to machines, IV of fluids (after many, many tries because I was so dehydrated) with a nice morphine chaser, blood draws, shot of anti-nausea medicine and the telling of my story….again. The ER doctor also believed it was kidney stones and thanks to the morphine I was now saying kidney stones like the doctor on Friends. FYI – I’m hilarious on morphine.
So now I’m on my way to a CT scan. A new first for me, besides dental x-rays, I had never had a reason for an x-ray, scan, etc. It was quick and relatively painless (thanks to the morphine). So then I wait, with my mom, in the ER, telling jokes because I am hilarious on morphine.
After about 20 minutes, the ER doctor comes in and says “Well, I’m no radiologist but it looks like you’re missing a kidney.” I shot my mother a look that translated into – Did you know? Why didn’t you tell me? To which she responded, “I checked for 10 fingers and 10 toes. I didn’t know to check for two kidneys.” I looked back at the doctor and promptly said, “Are you f**king kidding me?”
In hindsight, this was the most hysterical 60 seconds of my life. A relatively healthy 33 year old woman goes into the ER for possible kidney stones and leaves with just one kidney. Technically, I entered with one kidney, but it sounds more dramatic. And my mom didn’t yell at me for dropping an f-bomb. Lots of firsts happening this day.
About 30 minutes later, the radiologist confirmed my lonely left kidney. And that I did not have kidney stones. And that I was severely dehydrated. I finished the rest of my IV fluids, was given another pain shot, told to drink lots of liquid and take Imodium. After 24 hours I was as good as new. I did take a long exercise sabbatical due to the fear of dehydration.
In retelling my story, I received lots questions and fun comments:
- “Why didn’t the OBGYN catch it on the ultrasound?” (No ultrasound in 1978 unless there was an issue.)
- “Why didn’t your doctor notice this at any other point during the past 33 years?” (No need to check, no issues.)
- “That must be one hell of a kidney, I was with you in college!”
- “I’ll take you off the list to ask for a kidney.”
- “Awwww, you just have one lonely bean.”
And from this last example, Just the Left Bean was born.
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