I did not wet myself. Instead, I held my breath. There were many metallic-sounding noises in this robot cavern. I still proceeded not to wet myself and was relieved that, in fact, the warm feeling in my groin area was from the viscous liquid I had consumed one hour prior.
“You may now breathe.” The tinny, melodic robot woman voice floated into my eardrums and pulled my desultory thoughts back to the present. “Hold your breath for 10 seconds.” I began a new round of holding my breath. In this metal holding container, I held my breath and pondered my terrible luck. I still had no idea what was the matter with me, and I feared the worst. The possibility of grave illness rockets a person’s thoughts to the galaxy of unreasonableness, a place I had visited before, becoming sick during travels in foreign countries most prominent in my mind.
I recalled times in Ghana and Guatemala when even the slightest symptom produced intense concern. A headache? It must be malaria. A stronger headache? It must be malaria…and brain worms. My concern, as I lay supine in that beeping tin can did not reach such prodigious levels, but I was concerned nonetheless.
A series of breath inhalations, holds, and exhalations followed. Extracted slowly from the expensive metal Cat Scan device at last, I emerged slowly, horizontally from my enclave. The only thing missing was a fog machine producing an ominous backdrop of smoke plumes. I felt like a mummy king excavated from some tomb deep in the catacombs, except I certainly did not possess royal status, and I even more certainly was in a faded, floral-patterned hospital gown.
The operator of the CAT Scan machine helped me back into my wheelchair, and my trusty nurse wheeled me back to the room where K was patiently waiting for me. There was one big difference between K and I, however. She was of sound mind, and I was not. The morphine was still in my body milling about and tinkering with my thought processes, after all.
I immediately began to speak what I thought were lucid expressions of my innermost thoughts, but in reality were garbled attempts at the English language.
“K…..they scanned me, and there was a voice. There was a voice telling me to hold my breath. But, it was, it was Bruce!” K’s cat is named Jelly Bean, but I have always called it Bruce. Don’t ask me to explain the way my mind works. “Bruce was in the machine, and he talked to me! He was in the machine!!!”
“Was he now?” She tilted her head and smiled, attempting to play along.
“Yesssss. He wassss. He told me to hold my breath for 10 seconds. For 15 seconds. It was Bruce! Mewwwwwwwwwwww.”
Laughter from K.
This unintelligible rambling continued for a while longer, and quite frankly, I can’t remember what else was said between us; part of me thinks that this is a good thing.
I was floating on a delightful morphine cloud, puffy with goodness and soothing properties. My life was great. My girlfriend was by my side. What could go wrong?
Then, the nurse and the CAT Scan operator walked into my room, and I suddenly remembered why I was in the hospital, committing a fashion crime in my flowing gown. The machine operator spoke. “Well Jordan, your insides look fine.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief. “But we did find something.” Immediately panic-stricken, I gripped the sides of the bed. “We found a kidney stone. It’s not a very big one, but we saw it in the scan.” Previously exasperated, I relaxed at the sound of the not so frightening news. Still, a kindey stone? 24 years old, and a kidney stone? I knew I had the bowels of an 80 year-old man, but now kidney issues? What would be next? Spider veins and awkward, persistent halitosis?
The nurse then took control of the conversation and started to explain why I might have developed a kidney stone. Too much meat and too much spinach were listed as possible causes. I’m not a dinosaur, and I’m not a rabbit, so I dismissed those theories. Not enough water was another possibility. That had to be it. After college, I began to guzzle coffee like a Hummer imbibing vast quantities of gasoline, and I didn’t typically replenish my body with much-needed fluids, thus drying out my body substantially. That, and the fact that kidney stones run in my family, had to be the cause of my current anguish.
The nurse prescribed some pain medication for the crushing despair I would still have to undergo and Flomax to, very bluntly, make passing the stone easier. If I didn’t feel elderly before, I sure did then. To top it off, I was also given a funnel-like thing to catch the forthcoming tiny terror of a kidney stone.
For the next couple of days, I took the pain medication to assuage the waves of pain, and I took the Flomax to help my kidney stone friend on its journey out of my body. The pain waxed. The pain waned. Urinating sure felt strange with the aid from the Flomax pills, easing the urinating process, but you know what? After three, four, and five days, that stone never came. Maybe its size was so infinitesimal that it exited my body without a trace. Maybe it disintegrated somewhere on the way out of my body. Or maybe, just maybe, that kidney stone, that rotund renegade, is hiding out in my body and waiting for the most inopportune time to strike again.