Contrary to popular belief, I get sick.

Sometimes, it’s pretty bad. Regardless, my personal goal is to BE healthy and avoid drugs, surgery, and radiation as much as I can. I follow the 80-20 Rule: eat healthy 80% of the time, but build in 20% for moderate indulgences. Research confirms that extremely rigid diets fail more often than balanced and flexible approaches to eating.

I am, however, rigid on one thing: No high fructose corn syrup, sodas, or artificially flavored drinks. Living this way doesn’t make me immune to anything, but I think I have the strength and stamina to bounce back more quickly than I would if I was eating junk food and treating my body poorly.

Here’s something that happened recently. One Tuesday morning I awoke feeling just fine. About thirty minutes later I had a pain – actually two pains. One was in my back and the other was low and in the front. I stayed home hoping it would get better with rest. It didn’t and I called my wife to come home and take me to the hospital. That pain was so bad that I was actually shaking.

The Emergency Room staff were waiting for me. We called my daughter to tell her I was going to the hospital so she wouldn’t be wondering what happened when I didn’t show up at work. She arrived at the hospital first and told the receptionist that her dad was having chest pains – she didn’t get the whole message from us as we were en route – and that he is sixty five years old. That must have set off bells and whistles, because I was loaded in a wheelchair and taken directly to a room in the emergency department. Heck, they were so eager to start helping that they didn’t even demand my insurance card before opening the door.

Please note that they did get the card soon after they had me in a bed. I was pampered. An IV was started and in flowed a scant few milligrams of morphine. Certainly not enough. That was followed by a couple of doses of another pain reliever. Those ministrations relieved about half the pain and I stopped shaking.

SIDEBAR: I’m happy to have done my part in educating the next generation of paramedics. One of the students was assigned to start my IV. Problems ensued – of course. Instead of taking over and “doing it herself” the nurse/instructor told the young man what to do. He switched arms and did was he was told and succeeded. Of course it wasn’t painless, but it was a good IV.

I was thirsty, but not allowed water until “they could figure out exactly what was wrong”. Off for a CAT scan, which went well after I asked if it would work better if I removed my belt and brass buckle. After returning I was able to give a “sample” and after I was told it WASN’T an aneurysm I was given another IV shot – an anti-inflammatroy this time – and my pain level went down very quickly.

It was decided that I had kidney stones, nothing more, and I was discharged approximately four hours after I arrived – having never received the water I had been requesting. The attending folks commented reperatedly that I “sure didn’t look like I was sixty-five”. Perhaps they were just trying to keep my attention off the pain – and that I was thirsty.

The final messages were to strain my urine, drink more water (my own because the hospital sure didn’t want to share theirs), and make a follow-up appointment with the urologist they recommended. Okay. Seems reasonable. I felt good, went home, napped a little, and didn’t drive – still had those narcotics floating around), then it was back to work on Wednesday.

I called the urologist for the recommended follow-up. The scheduler told me where their office is and to be sure to arrive early to fill out forms – and be sure to bring my insurance information. They called last Friday to remind me of my appointment.

That was nice.

They called again this morning – about an hour before the scheduled appointment. This time they asked for another CAT scan and an X-Ray. I was concerned and told them I wouldn’t accept another X-Ray because they just did them at the hospital and that I didn’t see a need for more. Well, they needed it and couldn’t go forward unless I subjected myself to another round of radiation.

It seems all the work done at the hospital two weeks ago is unavailable to the doctor and he needs it done again. I made a decision right then to cancel the appointment. The caller said, “Okay”, then hung up – apparently unconcerned that I wasn’t coming in.

What did I learn from this adventure?

  • I know first hand what kidney stones feel like. They’re as bad as everyone told me, maybe worse. If they ever happen again I’ll know what to do.
  • I probably passed the offender when I gave a sample. My friend, an anesthesiologist, said that anti-inflammatory drug works very well but certainly not as fast as I reported. An hour or so, yes. A few minutes, not likely.
  • The cause of the pain was probably gone before the drug was administered. Give the hospital folks credit, they did what they thought was the best – and still never allowed me to have a drink.
  • I stayed in the emergency room for just a little over an hour, which probably maximized the amount they could bill.
    It seems health “professionals” are not the least bit concerned about excess radiation. I am, but they aren’t.
  • I don’t look like I’m sixty-five years old. (I just looked in a mirror. I don’t. Fifty-five, maybe.)
  • Medical people are fixated on insurance. Yes, they have a concern about relieving my problem, but the insurance card trumps almost everything.
  • I feel fine today and I’m drinking water. I strained for about a week, then tired of hauling that little funnel all over the place. I never captured anything that I could see. Oh, there was one little brown thing, but I think it was actually lint. It blew away.
  • I am not going to that urologist because I am refusing to get more radiation shot at me.

All of this was anther good learning experience – and reinforces my position that I prefer catastrophic coverage instead of annual exams and repeated follow-up visits.