Thursday, December 18, 2014

"The Tale of the Tape"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
At the risk of being challenged to a fight by Sylvester Stallone, who could beat me with one hand tied behind his back (though I might have a chance if he were blindfolded, too), I am going to call my ongoing kidney stone saga “Rocky.”

The boxing analogy is apt because the latest installment, “Rocky IV,” had the following tale of the tape: If there is one thing worse than having a kidney stone, it’s having your arm hair ripped out by the roots when an otherwise gentle nurse pulls the tape off your IV.

As a person who has had four kidney stones, I can say with experience, not to mention drugs, that you never really get used to them, although in my case they are to be expected because the rocks in my head apparently are falling into my kidneys, which have become the organic equivalent of quarries.

Maybe I’ll open a business. My clients could be sculptors, masons and people who make headstones. Mine could say: “Here lies Jerry Zezima, who’s now between a rock and a hot place.”

On second thought, maybe not.

But it’s the tape that sticks in my memory.

“Men hate it,” said a very nice nurse named Janet, who took good care of me in the emergency room at John T. Mather Memorial (that word makes me nervous) Hospital in Port Jefferson, N.Y.

My wife, Sue, who has always taken good care of me, drove me there recently when I had a kidney stone attack at 4 o’clock on a Saturday morning.

Janet dutifully hooked me up to an IV and started a drip that mercifully eliminated my pain, as well as a good deal of my cognitive functions.

When it was time to be unhooked, I looked up at Janet and said, “This is the worst part.”

“I know,” she replied sympathetically. “Some guys actually scream when I pull the tape off. And don’t get me started on needles. I’ve seen big, burly men who are covered in tattoos, but when I get ready to put a needle in their arm, they moan and cry. One guy fainted. I always say, ‘How did you get all these tattoos? From someone who used a needle.’ Let me tell you something: Men are babies. If they had to give birth, the human race would die out.”

“The first time I had a kidney stone,” I recalled, “a nurse told me it was the male equivalent of childbirth. I said that at least I wouldn’t have to put the stone through college.”

Janet nodded knowingly. Then she took hold of the tape and said, “Ready?”

I winced and replied, “Let ’er rip!” I instantly regretted the comment, but by then it was too late. I shrieked and said, “The drugs aren’t working anymore.”

I also had tape on my other arm, from which Janet had drawn blood.

“Good thing I’m not an octopus,” I noted.

Janet nodded again and repeated the tape removal.

“Sorry,” she said. “But it’s all over now.”

Unfortunately, the kidney stone wasn’t, so I made an appointment with my urologist, Dr. Albert Kim, who has an office in how appropriate is this? Stony Brook.

“This, too, shall pass,” Dr. Kim predicted.

Sure enough, it did. I was extremely grateful because my three previous kidney stones either had to be blasted with shock waves or removed via a surgical procedure that’s the medical equivalent of Roto Rooter.

On a follow-up visit, the good doctor gave me a list of foods and beverages that I should or shouldn’t eat and drink. Among the bad things are peanut butter, which I love, and beer, which I love even more. Also on the bad list are — you can’t make this up — kidney beans.

Dr. Kim informed me that I have another stone in my right kidney, but that it’s small and should pass, too.

When I told him the tale of the tape, he said, “Shave your arms. You don’t want to get into another hairy situation.”

Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima

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