I have always tried to be a polite person. Not just by following the rules of etiquette; there are times when, in fact, it is actually less polite to stick to the rules. (Don't question me, it just is.) For me, being polite means that I know how to stand up for myself without being obnoxious, that I try to have empathy for other people and not take my frustrations with a systemic problem out on an individual, and that I choose my battles carefully; if it isn't my "hill to die on," so to speak, I let things go.
Today I experienced something that, for the first time, made me wish that I was a rude person. Today I experienced a kidney stone. (In fact, I am still experiencing it, as my pain medication is wearing off as I write this post, so I'd better hurry before I reach out through the internets and tear all of your faces off.)
When I woke up this morning, I had my usual vague lower back pain that always goes away after I move around a bit. This morning, the pain didn't go away, it localized to the bottom left quadrant of my back and settled in.
"That's odd," I said. "This back pain is kind of weird this morning."
"You're spending too much time on the computer," Sven grumbled. "It's bad for your back." (For the record, this is also why I have to wear glasses, have painful menstrual periods, suffer from itchy toes in the winter, and have experienced bouts of puff-knuckle, at least according to Sven.)
"Maybe you're right," I said automatically, and got dressed for work. That nagging pain would not go away! By the time I got to work, I knew things weren't right. I was dizzy and sweaty and felt like I was about to vomit. I called Sven ("No, I'll be fine, you stay at work,") left work and went to the emergency room, where being polite gets you nowhere.
"Excuse me," I said, gasping in pain, "I'm in a great deal of pain and need to see someone."
"Fill out the top form and have a seat," the nurse said mechanically. It was at this point that my logical, polite mind said Don't get mad at her, she's following procedure, and yelling at people never solved anything. There was another, louder part of my mind, however, that was screaming Tell that stupid so-and-so that you're not filling out a damn thing until you get some Demerol! Fortunately, I listened to my polite self and filled out the form and hunched my way over to the chairs. It took seventeen hours in my time (but only about fifteen minutes in real time, I suppose) to get back to a room.
"Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" a perky intern asked. Again, polite Deb is thinking Bless her heart, she's just taking my history, no need to get upset, while the raving lunatic unleashed by unspeakable pain is screaming Tell her to shove that clipboard somewhere dark and get me some morphine! NOW! I again managed to leash the beast and answered her questions as best I could, though I will tell you now I have no recollection of what she asked me. I was in so much pain at that point that my hearing was affected. I wanted to call Sven and tell him to come and hold my hand, but I was in too much pain to even ask for my phone. Then the lady from the business office came in to ask me about how I was going to pay. I don't even remember what happened next.
Fortunately, drawing on nearly seventeen years' worth of couples' telepathy, Sven walked in at that point and I could just start crying while he answered the questions.
Pain medication was introduced then, and I felt much better. Just about normal, in fact. One CAT scan later, it was confirmed that a tiny, 3mm ball of yuck had lodged in my left kidney and I have to evict him. Hopefully said eviction will be accomplished today by means of my enormous Bass Pro Shop mug and amazing willpower, but I could be here for a while. Sven is out now getting my prescriptions filled.
And he'd better get back soon, because Angry Deb is lurking. Watch out.
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