I’ve avoided coming to the computer because I don’t know the end of the story. It feels like ten minutes ago I stepped out of a speeding, shaky car of which I had no control, and now my feet are on the earth again, as if I’m walking away from an experience that just minutes ago consumed my grip and took prayers out of my mouth, but I’m steady now. I’m kind of just relieved to be out of it, a little stunned from the experience, one part effected and another part ready to move past it.
Over a week ago, a pain in my side I thought I got from working out too hard turned into a monster. It wrenched my gut, caved in my back, had me throwing up in the ER, ripped the soft June rug from under me, and stuck an IV with morphine in my arm. Out of nowhere, it turns out I had a kidney stone that went rogue and another hiding in the shadow, just waiting.
It took close to a week before I could get the rebel stone shattered, and that waiting time is the sandwich of this story: a slowly trickling outpour of club members, or really family veterans, came through to commiserate and share either their rogue-stone stories or magical remedies with me.
After the ER, my dad took me to the doctor and entertained Layla for hours; my mom, who pulled a muscle just the day before, limped around my kitchen to feed and care for the always-snacking kids for the weekend while I stared out, high on medicine and disgusted with food and myself; and Kal stayed with me as much as possible, like the days where he was near me more often for long stretches of time, taking care of the stuff I normally do.
Before surgery I truly wondered at how people with long-term illness function in daily life–how can you remember dates, raise kids, pay bills, or function when you’re just trying to breath without throwing up? You need help and the hope that you can come out better enough to thank the people who stepped in to run your world or give you steam while you suffered.
While in the thick it, I tried to think about how I’d write about the experience. Philosophy had little room in my pain fog though. I was so scared at what my body felt so violently that I could only grasp at moments. I lay in the bed trying not to excite any senses. I’d hear thumps of my kids’ feet running patternless across the hardwood. I’d grip the handlebar in the car and crack the window open to get through the ride. I’d talk slowly and try not to let the sound waves exhaust me. I’d apologize for all the trouble I’m causing.
I remember what I used to think about kidney stones–you hear they are worse than childbirth and know some vagueness about how stuff goes down when they occur. But this stone situation has made me feel bad for any time I haven’t been a better friend to someone in pain or someone unsure about their health. I’m in the club now. It’s made me wrestle again with that thin line that freaks out this capricorn all the time–how do you live without the trust that the life you try with all your might to build won’t be blindsided by some unforeseeable pain or change? It’s a reminder of all the stuff out of our hands. One day you’re forgetting what day of the week it is because you are nestled in the glow of June, and the next day you are counting the hours to see which pills to take.
Today, I felt relatively normal. We drove home from gently celebrating the 4th with friends, and I leaned closer to who I felt like before the last two weeks. My body and I are going to have to trust each other again. I have this new thing to deal with, a new thing to check off on medical history forms. But pain is a necessary evil to rattle us. I’m listening to music again, and tonight Amber Run sings, “It’s all a fickle game. Oh life’s a fickle game we play.”
I won’t wrap this up with a metaphor or advocate with any certainty because I’m not there yet. If anything, I’m closer to the reality than the reflection. The only certainty I have tonight is that while the last of the fireworks beat on outside our house, I consider today’s health and the possibilities it has offered–however ephemeral–and the kindness I’ve been shown as a personal celebration.