Book of Pain Author’s Note

one of my kidney stones after it came out 2/20

On a night in November 2017 my piss suddenly and mysteriously came out the exact same shade as Coca-Cola. It was the beginning of a roughly 28 month ordeal with what eventually turned out to be kidney stones, a common but staggeringly painful condition, which seems like it should’ve been easy to identify and fix.

As my pain progressed from a slight discomfort in my abdomen to uncontrollable vomiting episodes in which my whole lower right quarter felt like it was on fire, sending me straight to the ER, the doctors I was entrusting to figure this out just seemed more stumped. Even tho the CT scans showed I had a large 9 mm stone resting in my kidney, they just didn’t think I was supposta feel it unless it was ripping its way thru my ureter.

So it took months and months of having to make appointments and do tests to rule other things out. Not a bladder problem, not a hernia, not a back issue, not a gastrointestinal thing. And in the meantime I could barely even stand painlessly for 15 minutes anymore and spent most of my time laying flat on my back, as I just hadta keep waiting and paying them more copays.

Eventually I just hadta say ‘ya know what, take this damn stone outta me even if that’s not what it is!’ And finally we agreed to do a shockwave procedure to remove it in January 2020.

It was the first time I had to go under since getting wisdom teeth removed, and when I woke up they told me they got them, but that night I had the worst pain of my life and was right back in the ER with even their heavy-duty drugs barely helping. Apparently the stones had only broken in smaller pieces which were clogging up my ureter all at once.

Then I hadta check into a hospital over night for the first time in my life. Even then some doctor tried to tell me the stones hadn’t been causing my pain for the last two years. I was there for three days, but they were able to at least put in a stent temporarily to help pass the stones.

In March 2020, just as the world’s health was falling into chaos, I had a final procedure to resolve my own. Another painful stent was removed a week later, and after that my body at least finally felt back to normal.

The experience forced me to learn something about the oddities and inefficiencies of our healthcare system, but also something about the nature of pain and the inevitable failing of our bodies. It was the main theme of my writing for basically that whole time.

  • Have you ever had kidney stones, and/or are an adult who still plays with kid toys?
  • Have you ever had questionably effective acupuncture, and/or celebrate the summer solstice?
  • Have you ever had to work even tho you’re in pain, and/or like the sound of the word “Brad?”
  • Have you ever had a medical thing they couldn’t figure out, and/or feel nostalgic for the Counting Crows?
  • Have you ever hadta have an invasive medical procedure, and/or are obsessed with World War II?
  • Do you like it when people ask you about your pain, and/or do you rate the heartbreak levels of your past relationships? 
  • Have you ever worried a medical procedure might go wrong, and/or get frustrated photographing certain species of birds?
  • Do you ever wish you could overhear what doctors say behind the scenes, and/or are curious about liposuction gone wrong? 
  • Have you ever been loopy after receiving anesthetics, and/or like the way people’s eyes look when they’re wearing a mask? 

Then you might Me&You with this book!

– Jonathan

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