Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Twenty Years Ago…

Kidney Stone(photo credit -

I don’t remember the exact date, but it’s around this time of the year. Twenty years ago, I had one of the scariest experiences in my life. It was my first year of college, and that was scary enough. I’d never spent more than a night away from my parents, and even when I did spend the night at a friend’s house, I’d call to come home early (I was such a wimp). So, being away from home was a big deal.

About two or three weeks into the first quarter, I was on the phone with a friend who lived in the Atlanta area (about 90 miles from where I was). We were talking, and everything was fine. All of a sudden, I felt a dull ache in my lower back on the left side. I thought I was sitting oddly, so I shifted around a bit. Didn’t help, so I decided to stand up. Still didn’t help, and it in fact was getting worse.

I told my friend I had to go. Which was true, I was going to meet a friend from my English class for dinner in a bit. So I hung up, and I tried laying on my bed. The pain in my back just kept getting worse and worse. I tried laying on the floor, and still it got worse. I was starting to get scared at this point. Not sure what to do, I went and knocked on my suite-mate’s door (my roommate was out). No answer. I tried my friends down the hall, no answer. Luckily, the dorm’s resident assistance came out and saw me. I told her what was going on. As I was talking, I just couldn’t stand any longer. I slunk down along the wall, and actually laid down in the hallway.

She called 911 and an ambulance came. Freaked me out. I’d never been in an ambulance, let alone being laid out on a stretcher. The EMTs wheeled me out on the stretcher and put me in back of the ambulance. Everything after that point was a blur. I don’t remember much. I know I was sitting in a wheel chair talking to someone about medical insurance. I remember almost puking when I was being wheeled on a gurney (NEVER look at the ceiling if you’re being wheeled on a gurney). I remember having an unpleasant “womanly” exam (first ever, so was freaked out by that).

They came to the conclusion that it was either an ovarian cyst that had burst or a kidney stone. There was a test that they did to confirm it, and I remember signing a form that said one of the risks of the tests was death. I don’t remember the test other than having to be on an x-ray table in several awkward positions.

Turns out it was a kidney stone. I was in the hospital for 12 hours, 8 of which I was in excruciating pain. They didn’t want to give me anything for the pain until they knew what was wrong with me. It wasn’t pleasant I’ll tell you that.

The doctor said the cause of my stone was dehydration. I wasn’t getting enough water. I was drinking plenty, I was just drinking the wrong things, When I got thirsty, I grabbed a root beer or orange juice. I rarely drank straight water. Since that day twenty years ago, I usually drink water with every meal. If I’m out of town, I’ll have an alcoholic drink, but I also have water. I don’t think I’ve ordered a soda during a meal since that day. If I have, it’s only been a few times. Water for me all the way.

Too much soda, or even too much juice (orange and apple in particular) can lead to kidney stones. I make sure I only have one serving of juice when I do drink it.  Haven’t had any more kidney stones since, and I hope I never do again. I’ve heard several people who have had kidney stones say that the pain from a kidney stone is worse than the pain of childbirth. Ugh.

For several years after this incident, if I got a twinge in my lower back, my first reaction was always “Am I having another one?”. So far so good. As long as I keep chugging water, I doubt I’ll have any more of those nasty buggers.

So please, drink your water every day. Be careful with how much juice you drink. And please cut back on the soda. OK. I’m off to drink a gallon of water.


  1. I've had only one also;due to dehydration. Worse pain I've ever experienced.

  2. Yes, I remember this well, mom. You were one of the "several people" I was referring to, I just didn't put your name in the post. :) I didn't realize yours was due to dehydration also.