I've known pain, excruciating pain. I've given birth 5 times - all vaginal. I'm not sure why that is important, but doctors always ask. I have never had an epidural and I'm not a big fan of drugs in general. I think I have a high tolerance for pain, actually, and only have given in to modern medicine when the occasion really called for it - like childbirth. Even last spring when I needed a root canal but it had to wait until after my trip to Disneyland with a bunch of cub scouts, I made due with Advil. Granted that was partly because the Vicodin I had been prescribed made me puke and I really wanted to go on some rides without losing my lunch.
Wednesday morning I stopped by Circle K for a cup of hot chocolate and a breakfast sandwich. The sandwich was a bit soggy and I regretted the decision, though I did enjoy most of my hot chocolate. I got to work about 9 and about 10 started feeling crampy. The kind of cramp that says you need to high-tail it to the bathroom to avoid any embarrassing stenches in the office. Usually the trip to the bathroom spells relief. Not this time. After sitting on the toilet and taking care of business, I found myself in agony trying to stand up. I managed, washed my hands, and had the urge to visit the toilet again. Similar situation, still no relief from the cramps, but the discomfort seemed to be subsiding.
I went back into the office and tried to get some work done. As I talked with co-w0rkers, they noticed that I was grimacing. One mentioned appendicitis and now I am really freaked out. Finally after multiple trips to the bathroom and on-again, off-again pain, I decide to go to the doctor. I assure them that I am capable of driving and head out. I make it as far as the bathroom, where once again I feel the urge to go and find myself crying from the pain going across my belly and up my back.
I go back to the office and one of my co-workers takes me to ER. I am not a fan of ER. I've never been there for myself, but have had enough experience to know that it usually involves a lot of waiting. Plus, there is that side of me who is doubting that I am experiencing anything worse than a bad case of gas and I really don't want to pay $100 copay to be told I'm a wuss who can't handle a little gas. Luckily, the ER is slow and I am taken back almost immediately. The next few hours involves puking, drawing blood, peeing in a cup, and a catscan of my abdomen. Other than the catscan, this resembles my childbirth experiences rather closely. Luckily, the peeing in a cup comes back with the result that I am not pregnant, for which I am grateful. It had been on my mind that there was the slight possibility I was dealing with a tubal pregnancy and could imagine the complications that would involve.
Finally the doctor comes back and tells me that I am not a wuss after all. It is not a bad case of gas and on the positive side, it is also not appendicitis. I have a kidney stone. Now I have heard the stories of people who have had kidney stones. I have also heard this experience described as almost as bad as the pain a woman endures in childbirth. Since I have now had both experiences, I admit, there are some similarities, however, there are also some glaring differences.
First, pain is involved with both child birth and kidney stones. It is acute pain that comes and goes. However, childbirth pain is generally in the form of contractions which do subside and you know that if you can just get through this part, you can then breathe. With kidney stones, the pain is inconstant. It doesn't come in waves and you have no clue when the pain will stop.
Second, childbirth involves another human being and doctors are quite concerned if the process takes overly long as it is not healthy for either mother or child. Kidney stones only involve you and doctors are nowhere near as concerned about getting this thing out of your body quickly. In fact, you shouldn't bother them unless it takes more than 5 days for the stone to pass.
Third, in childbirth, the contractions give you an idea of how fast you are progressing. Plus there is the information from the doctor about how big your cervix has become. You have a pretty good idea of how much longer the process is going to take. Kidney stones do not have any such indicators. The pain can be random in both severity and occurrence. You only know you are in pain and very rarely do you have any clue on how close this thing is to passing.
Fourth, childbirth results in this precious addition to your family and people bring you gifts. A kidney stone is roughly the size of a grain of sand. Other than the thrill of knowing it is now out of your body, there is not much cause for celebration and I've never heard of anyone being thrown a kidney stone shower or receiving presents for enduring this hardship.
So, for the record, although we have taken measures to not have any more children, and thus no more experiences of childbirth, if given the option between that and passing a kidney stone, I'll take childbirth.