Romancing the stone


Warning, the following is written for those who might one day be afflicted with what afflicted me and for friends who have been down this road and who, when hearing of my plight, wrote to assure me that I was not alone in my suffering. It might not be appropriate for sensitive readers.
It all began when my Jacksonville urologist, who I respectfully refer to as “Happy Hands,” sought out the source of some problems I was having “down there” and discovered a kidney stone.
I suspected that he would have liked to put me in the hospital and blast that sucker, but the winter storm was approaching so I opted instead to return to the coast and my loving wife, where I would follow my Father’s well-proven strategy: drink a 6-pack of beer, and let-her-rip.
I remember this working for him and recall the couplet he recited as he successfully emerged from the bathroom:         “A tisket, a tasket,
I pissed it, I passed it.”
It was not the wisest decision and making it confirmed that whoever decides to do his own diagnosis and prescribe his own cure is a fool.
Not long after I got to Seagrove I began passing blood.
Off to the ER I went.
Since the urologist that was usually on call was not available the doctor in charge strongly suggested that I be transported to another hospital where I could be treated.
Once again I decided to follow my own instincts, and once again I was a fool.
The next day I was back in the ER, then in an ambulance, then into another hospital ER where they began trying to find out what was happening “down there.”
An ultrasound revealed that the stone was gone (and I did not even get to try the beer-cure) but one lovely nurse informed me that I had a blood clot the size of a fist in my bladder.  I immediately looked at her fist and concluded that this time I was staying in the hospital.
I cannot say with any certainty what happened over the next 48 hours.  Pain (of which there was plenty) and drugs (of which there were never enough) have left my memory impaired.  My wife, who was with me through the ordeal, can give you a clearer account.  However, I do recall one nurse saying I broke the bleeding record for her time on the job.  I also recall having been given three units of blood to replace what seemed to be coming out in colors and consistency that varied from cranberry juice to V-8.
During this time I made two trips to the OR, where they put me under and finally discovered the elusive source of the bleeding. Cauterized and cathetered, I was sent to recovery where I had a reaction to the anesthesia and went “bat crazy” (there is another word in there but this is a family newspaper).  Thinking that when they said I was in “post-op” they were telling me I was in the local Post Office, I demanded my own toilet and the comforting care of my wife. In my memory it took a host of strong women in scrubs to subdue me – my wife says it was only two – but finally I was calmed.
When I came round and was told of what I had done, I spent the remainder of the day apologizing to whoever I might have abused.
It was, let me say, a harrowing experience.
It was, by all accounts, a close call.
It was also a testament to the skill and diversity of the medical profession.
My nurses, male and female (one of them a JSU graduate), were competent and caring. My urologist, a woman, was fully in control of the situation. The memory of her looking into the eyepiece of the camera that had been inserted “you know where,”  will remain with me forever.  The kidney specialist (a man) watched my vital signs and assured me that he was handling the filters while the others took care of the plumbing. The doctor in charge, who emigrated here from Pakistan, was all the more evidence of the contribution immigrants have made to our country.
Now I am home, recovering.  With luck, in a couple of weeks I will be my old self again.   My wife was hoping for more, but she is stuck with “for better or for worse.”
Shortly after I was discharged, a friend wrote to suggest that God was sending me a message.  Maybe so, but if He was, I wish He had taken the “burning bush” route instead.
Nevertheless, if the Lord God of Hosts wants ways to smite his enemies, I can suggest some dandies, with stones and scopes at the top of the list.
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.
Keep  ‘em coming.
You never know what will happen next.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at


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