A few weeks ago I announced to the internet that my insides were being shredded into confetti by a psychotic mineral deposit that had lodged itself in my urinary tract, and I felt like I was on a slow conveyor belt towards my imminent death. I ended my somber news brief with a plea for prayers on my behalf.
The internet, in turn, responded with many consoling messages of comfort and encouragement from loved ones around the world. I read all of these thoughtful communications, and found them touching. And so, after my ordeal had finally concluded itself, I made a point to show my gratitude to my many faithful friends and supporters by leaving them almost completely in the dark as to what had transpired and what my current health was like.
So, to those who have been nervously biting their fingernails, wondering whether or not I had pulled through my darkest hour and again joined the ranks of the pain-free and marginally productive, the answer is, yes. Yes, I finally did end up passing my kidney stone.
I ended up having to fly down to Cairns, Australia, to do it though. This wasn’t my first choice, due to the cost of travel, but it ended up being the right way to go. Actually, the way it worked out was kind of cool. I was able to hitch a ride with one of NTM’s Kodiaks (an awesome little bush plane) that was scheduled to head down to Cairns to pick up parts for our helicopter, and one of our clinic’s nurses agreed to accompany me. This was great, because it turned out that I needed a fair bit of pain medicine during the flight. On a related note, it is my personal opinion that morphine is the best discovery modern medicine has ever made.
So, to recap, after leaving the jungle via helicopter, I was eventually escorted by my own medical professional as I took an international flight on a private fixed-wing aircraft to one of Australia’s premiere travel destinations to meet with a urologist. Oh yeah, and since I was traveling with the pilot, I got VIP status through customs and immigration. If only I’d had security personnel with me, you’d have thought I was a traveling celebrity!*
The urologist that I met with scheduled a CT scan for me (this is like an X-ray machine, but is shaped like a big donut). Apparently, a preliminary aspect of the scanning procedure is having a viscous dye injected painfully into one’s bloodstream. I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t have a solid grasp as to exactly how the procedure actually works, but what I DO know is that the dye that they pump into you is dense enough that it can knock a stubborn kidney stone loose from one’s ureter.
I’ve never felt such a sudden change of perspective as I did that afternoon, when I finally expelled that little petrified hedgehog from my body! After two weeks of darkness, pain, and gloom, I was instantly transported to a land filled with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. I felt like a 50 lb. burden had been lifted off my shoulders!**
Once the doctor confirmed for me that the thing that I had fished out of the toilet was, indeed, my kidney stone, and he had assured me that there were no other stones hanging around inside me that I needed to worry about, I flew back to PNG.*** A few days later, our family flew back into the bush. It was a whirlwind of a trip.
The doc says that, since I don’t seem to be genetically predisposed to kidney stones, I should be able to avoid any future occurrences by making sure to stay well hydrated (3-5 liters of water a day, in the tropics). It’s been a bit of a lifestyle change to accommodate this much regular water intake (and, consequently, water “output”), but the emotional scars from this last experience are still fresh enough to keep me well motivated.
So, there you have it, the epilogue to the most painful experience of my life. Now, all is well, and we are once again sweating ourselves silly in our little swampy corner of the jungle, working to learn the Iski language.
Thank you very much for all of you who thought to pray for me and my family as we worked to get this whole thing sorted out. We really appreciate you helping us shoulder the load!
* Ironically though, before I left for the trip, I had to scrounge around through second-hand clothes at our mission center to replace my normal ratty garb with an outfit that was clean enough to travel in without attracting stares. Funny ol’ world, isn’t it?
** Though, in actuality, it was more like a .1 gram of a burden.
*** Just a boring ol’ commercial flight this time. I’ll tell ya’, it’s hard to go back once you’ve tasted the high life. 😉