From Sound Asleep to the ER

I woke up at four in the morning with a pain in my side. “Maybe it’s a muscle cramp,” I thought. I rolled over and tried to get comfortable.

Ten minutes later I couldn’t lay still. 

I got up and put on some water to make a hot water bottle for the “muscle cramp.” What I thought was the burner under the kettle turned out to be the burner under the frying pan.

A few minutes later the fire alarm was going off.

“Is this really happening?” I asked myself

At this point I was lying on the floor in what I would call “I want my mama” kind of pain, but I managed to get up and douse the smoke, get the fire alarm turned off and return to my groaning “I want my mama” floor position.

I started thinking appendicitis – I managed to pull a book off the shelf from my outdoor education days: “Medicine for Mountaineering” it was called. Flipping through the book I found the section on appendicitis but the pain was too high for that. I looked through some more.

Kidney stone: described as back and side pain, comes on strong and intense. “Oh, I think that describes me to a T.”

I called my mom (it’s 5:30am now – 4:30 her time), she answered – thank GOD. She said “get to the hospital NOW to get some morphine – you need morphine.” (She’s had six kidney stones)

I say thank GOD because the tough little me was trying to be tough, “I can take this, I can manage this pain, I can do this, I don’t need help.” Geez, what a joke!

I called my neighbor at 5:45am, “Can you take me to the hospital – NOW?”

He said, “Be right over.” 

So off we went, bowl in my lap for vomiting, swerving around the corners. We made it in less than 10 min., but I wanted to be laser transported and put out of my misery. Drugs – it’s all I could think of.

The ER. What a strange place.

Pain – it was my only reality. More vomiting. A nurse. Morphine. But it didn’t do anything. 

More pain, can’t get comfortable. I get an IV to replace the water I’m vomiting. More morphine. Still no relief. 

By 8am, I yell a faint cry for help from my room, “Help, is anyone out there. Can I get some help with the pain?” 

No one answers. 20 min. later (I think), I get a third dose of morphine. Again, no change in the pain meter and it’s the most intense pain since it started. 

“MERCY!!!!!!!!!!! I’M CRYING MERCY HERE. Geez – get me out of this PAIN – someone!

The cat scan nurse comes in. I vomit again, she waits patiently. I ask her to lift my legs onto the bed after I’m done – it’s too painful to lift them myself. Once I’m in the cat scan machine, the pain disappears. I immediately begin to fall asleep.

That was the point the kidney stone passed through the ureter and into the bladder. The pain was done. HOLY S__T.

My friend Elaine comes in after my cry for comfort on the phone earlier. “THANK GOD” once again to see someone I know. She takes my hand. We laugh. She laughs seeing me drugged on morphine because she hasn’t seen me on drugs before (I admit I’m not one to party much). 

She says, “Let’s name it. You just gave birth to a kidney stone. What do you want to call it?” I said, “PAIN BABY,” with a slurred smile. We laughed again. 

Passing a kidney stone is not nearly as rewarding as I’d imagine having a baby would be, but equally (if not more) painful. And it’s a lot smaller too – about the size of a grain of rice. Geez – amazing that something so small could cause so much pain!


This is the size of an average kidney stone!

I laid in a stupor of morphine in the ER until I was cleared to go at 2pm. I came home, slept, and slept some more.

With life being one big petrie dish for learning, here’s what I gained from my “pain baby”:

  • Your body is an amazing tool to be humbled by and either fight life with or accept it. Your body is in charge, not your desires. One day you’re healthy, the next day you’re not – and back again. Open to this reality. And that life is one big VERB of constant change and humility.
  • Be careful what you ask for: I had said out loud the day before how I wanted to go on a week long meditation retreat to ground myself after the holiday rollercoaster. I surly got it, only it was a morphine retreat!
  • Don’t underestimate how many people love you in the world. I was floored and amazingly moved by the number of people who reached out to me to offer thoughts, prayers, food, snow shoveling, or anything else I might need. Truly incredible. Thank you so much. You all ROCK.

I’m happily recovered now (with a little lingering soreness), and back to my healthy self. I love my body. I love what it can do. I love that it can move a tiny pebble through an even tinier space, and be o.k.

I can’t say I love the pain…yet.

Categories: Health & Happiness

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

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