Thursday, March 24, 2011

This week I have been mostly reminiscing: about kidney stones

Some people say it is impossible for a man to experience childbirth.
I would like to tell you a story which exposes this as a lie.

It was Feb 19th 2010 (my birthday) when I awoke at 5am in buttock clenching pain.
The pain was in the lower left side of my back and was excruciating.
It was beyond any pain that I'd previously experienced, even the anguish caused by the one and only time I had the misfortune of watching Greys Anatomy, which I thought at the time would be insurmountable.

My first thought was my kidneys had failed due to the delights of excessive binge drinking but I needed a professional opinion.
I called a taxi company; they didn't know what the problem was but they did offer to take me to West Hampstead hospital in return for some legal tender.
I grudgingly excepted and was on the verge of passing out due to the all consuming agony when I was whisked into a cubicle at the hospital and informed it was more than likely I was suffering from kidney stones.

A maniacally grinning nurse offered me a surgical glove, a sachet of lubricant and a bullet shaped suppository.

I normally have an aversion to inserting objects into my colon but on this occasion the promised pain relief was all I could think of as I lubed, gloved up and awkwardly dispatched the little blighter up where the sun don't shine.

In fairness I would have inserted anything up there if the nurse had told me it'd relieve the pain I was in. If she'd handed over a watermelon and wished me good luck I wouldn't have batted an eyelid.

So this did the trick, I was blissfully pain free 15 minutes later and the scan confirmed I had a 5mm kidney stone that was currently working its way to my bladder.
I'd pass it in a couple of days apparently. Drama over.....or was it? No.

I experienced discomfort and occasional bouts of pain for the next 9 months. It was a busy time. I was moving countries and becoming a father so I put going to the doctors on the back burner until I could stand it no longer.

Another scan revealed the stone had set up shop at the entrance to my bladder and had grown in size. I'm sure you can see the parallels of a pregnancy here and by all accounts this bad boy was due (was it a boy? I never asked for the sex of the stone at the time).

There was concern from the Urologist:

'We need to get the stone out Mr Jones. It doesn't appear to want to come naturally. We must insert a probing device into your Ureter and attempt to dislodge it.

'Is it going to require keyhole surgery?'

'No, we'll have to go in through your John Thomas.'

'My What?'

'Your Johnson Mr Jones'

'Whats a Johnson?'

It turns out the probe was to be inserted up my penis, and right in time for Christmas too (thanks Santa).

But luckily on the 23rd December I experienced the miracle of birth.

It was morning, I was urinating surprisingly abundantly into the upstairs lavatory when I suddenly felt a sharp pain.

There he was. Stoney. In all his glory, lying there on the cusp of the u-bend, staring up at me.

Although I had a 4 month old daughter at the time it wasn't until I'd looked down at Stoney, the fruit of my loins, that I knew what it was like to be a father.

Without further ado I retrieved him from the bowl and stored him safely in a re-sealable sandwich bag. And to this day, that small piece of crystallised calcium is the apple of my eye.

I wait with baited breath for his first smile, his first steps, our first kick about in the park. I might be waiting a while it has to be said, but the next time a woman blithers on at me about how men have it easy, I'll tell the story of Stoney the kidney stone and the pain and anguish I experienced in my pregnancy. It may be hard going but once the little guy is born you'll realise its all worth it.

Have you suffered from Kidney stones or any urological based complaint? Why not tell me, I'll be your friend for life.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This week I have been mostly reading: The Pigeon by Patrick Suskind

I stumbled across ‘Pigeon’ by German author Patrick Suskind by accident, and due to my unreasonable fear and hatred of those rats of the skies I was attracted to it.
I assumed that reading about a fellow mans struggles with the disease ridden airborne vermin would prove comforting and enlightening. Little did I realise the existential crisis that would face the protagonist Jonathan Noel after his encounter with this pigeon.
Joseph is an unassuming security guard of 50 who leads a sedate life based on a daily routine which is planned down to the most miniscule detail so as to avoid any excitement or attention.
This routine is disrupted one morning by a pigeon appearing on Joseph’s doorstep.
Joseph’s failure to deal with this unexpected intrusion sends him careening off into a day of minor mishaps which in his distressed state are magnified into epic crises that have the mild mannered man contemplating the mass murder of foppish waiters, suicide and the end of the world.
This book is a modest companion to similar existential novels such as ‘Notes from Underground’ by Dostoevsky and ‘Hunger’ by Knut Hamsun, but the detailed description of the frenzied inner workings of Josephs mind can be both hilarious and slightly distressing.
It may seem ridiculous that something as unobtrusive as a pigeon could cause such a tumultuous upheaval but give it some thought, I know I have had similar episodes of existential angst brought on by the most inane event.
One of the worst of recent times was when I had the glorious prize of a sausage sandwich in my lunchbox to look forward to during an otherwise moribund day at work.
Bearing in mind this was the sole shining light in the pitch darkness of the office dungeon, you can imagine the despair when I opened my bag to discover the lunchbox was missing.
This cataclysmic event caused me to seriously question my reason for living as I contemplated my remaining years on earth laid out before me in the form of a barren sausageless land of desperation and suffering.
Jettisoned into the streets of North Sydney to find sustenance I careened from one side of the street to the other consumed with self loathing; what kind of hopeless oaf labours over a sandwich only to forget it, am I destined to live a life of hopeless mediocrity, relegated to the status of an unsightly smear on a particularly nondescript page of history?
Everything was falling apart, and the smallest task required a Herculean effort.
I was struck dumb with horror at the dizzying array of choices and social interactions required to order a Subway sandwich, filled with hate for every single greasy blob of humanity queuing up to buy one of the life sapping consumables Hungry Jacks had to offer.
I had to resign myself to weeping bitterly into a poorly constructed Chicken Teriyaki Sushi roll which at least caused the urge to retreat into the foetal position to subside.
So you see the most pedestrian day can contain the most epic rollercoaster ride of exultation and despair.
The person sat next to you on the train right now could be suffering an existential crisis at this moment  because they’ve left their copy of ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’ at home, why suffer alone, lets beat this together, if someone had come up to me and said:
‘Don’t worry mate, at least you’ve got a sausage sandwich waiting for you at home’
My faith in existence would have been least temporarily.
So if you’re the kind of person who is sent into paroxysms of horror by audibly farting in public the Pigeon is for you. It gave me some piece of mind to know that someone else out there, even if they were a fictional character, suffers in the same ridiculous way as they struggle through their daily routine.