My own episode of ER

Recently, I experienced my first significant medical ailment. On November 6th, late in the afternoon, I started experiencing discomfort in my lower back. I didn’t think much of it as I have had back pain several times in the past. This was a little different however. In the past, pain had been more or less central on my lower back. This time, it was definitely on the right side only and it seemed deeper inside my body than I was used to. The discomfort began to get worse and after a short time, I decided I needed to leave work early.

On the way home, the discomfort/pain rapidly got worse. By the time I arrived at my home, it was hurting quite a bit. I took an Advil and tried to lie down to relax. Normally, with back pain, I can find a position to sit or recline in that will not cause pain. This was not the case here. No matter how I moved around, the pain remained and continued to worsen. After a short time, I took a second Advil and tried to go to sleep. This proved difficult and I managed only to doze for about 20 minutes. I took a third Advil, and I immediately threw up due to the pain I was experiencing. I decided I had to go to the hospital. I got ready and drove myself over to Doctor’s Hospital ER.

After a moderately lengthy check-in, I was taken back to a hallway bed. By this point, I was sort of thinking it was a kidney problem, and the only kidney problem I really know about is kidney stones. It wasn’t long before a doctor came around to see me. He did a brief examination and decided on a course of action. He said that he’d have the nurse administer three injections, an anti-nausea medication, a narcotic pain-killer, and a second pain medication that is used for kidney stones. After a bit, the nurse came and gave me the shots. My nausea went away immediately, and the pain disappeared after only a few more minutes. Maybe an hour later a technician came to collect me and take me to get a CT scan. It was about 1:00 AM when I’d finished up with that and the doctor came back to talk about what the x-ray showed. I did indeed have a kidney stone. It was small and low in my kidney so the doctor thought it would pass during the following 12 to 24 hours. He prescribed pain medication and Flomax to dilate my vessels.

I had to hang out in the hospital until 2:30 AM because I wasn’t allowed to drive for four hours after having received my injection of pain medication. So I slept for a bit and at the appointed hour, I was allowed to leave. I stopped at Walgreen’s on the way home to pick up my prescriptions and when I finally got home at 3:30 in the morning, I went to bed. I had already called in to work letting them know I wouldn’t be there on Friday so I slept as long as my dog let me. By combining the pain medication I’d been prescribed (acetaminophen) with ibuprofen and naproxen, I made it through the weekend ok. I did try to come to work on Monday, but after a couple of hours, I had to return home.

My stone finally passed on Tuesday, the 11th; Veteran’s Day. I had thought that the painful part would be the actual expelling from the body. That didn’t hurt at all. The painful part was the stone making its way from the kidney to the bladder.

Epilogue to the story. After a couple of weeks, I received an itemized bill for the trip to the ER. The total cost for all serviced was $17,260.46. I’d already paid $100 and I still owe $280 but insurance covered the rest. So all in all, this is the first time I’ve ever been glad to have insurance, because this is the first time I’ve ever needed it.

I didn’t mind my time in the hospital. In fact, I kind of liked it. That’s surprising to me. Everyone always says they hate hospitals. Not me. Sign me up.

Spending and planning

Hmm, well, it’s already been an expensive month. I paid an expensive traffic ticket and bought a new guitar. I needed the new guitar because, although my old one still worked fine, the crack that it had developed could get worse at any time. The last thing I wanted was to open my case one day and find out that the guitar was unplayable. So I bought a new one. I chose a rather inexpensive one, but the guitar and case cost over $400. I’m glad to have the new guitar but I am sad that I will have no money.

I should be used to having no money. I definitely spend more than I should. My next purchase will be at the end of the month, or first week of January. I plan to buy an iPhone. I think it’s going to cost about $300 and I have that in my budget for January’s paycheck. Technically, I do not need a new phone. But my current phone is a couple years old and I’ve been wanting an iPhone for a while now. So this month and January will be pretty lean months. I fully expect to run out of money at least once and maybe twice. Such is my life. But I am very much looking forward to having the new phone. All the cool stuff I’ll be able to do with it.

I have been recommended to Fr. Ramon to be on the New Church Dedication Core Team. Specifically to help with the planning of music. He hasn’t approached me yet, but I certainly hope he will. I am of two minds about how to go about doing the music for the dedication. One approach would be to bring in all the ‘ringers’ we need to do a service worthy of the building. This idea has the advantage of being inclusive of all the neighboring parish musicians and is more likely to produce a full, quality sound. The other approach would be to do only what we ourselves are capable of. This would be more authentic and pastorally appropriate. I think what I’d really like to do is put together a group from the parish musicians we have, and invite those from other parishes and folks that have been involved with music ministry at St. Stanislaus in the past to participate. I think it will be tricky to balance the desire for grandeur on the one hand, and the idealized version of what the parish already does on the other hand. But I am ahead of myself. I haven’t been asked (and may not be) and all of the decision making may be out of our hands anyway. It is going to be a diocesan Mass, after all.