Thursday, November 06, 2014

Kidney Stones

I was four years old when I passed my first kidney stone.  I remember standing over the toilet and while I was urinating this tiny, jagged, metallic, silver piece (what reminded me of a nickel or quarter) came out of me, hitting the edge of the bowl (I distinctly remember the ping).  I wasn’t scared, but I remember feeling weird, what I now would call freakish.  Needless to say, I immediately yelled for my mother.  I recall telling her I was peeing money – that’s all I could equate it too.  That was just the beginning.

As years passed, I would have 18 more stones.  Yikes!  There was no pre/post pain with the first one, and neither my mother, pediatrician nor I thought much of it. (So what? I have kidney stones.)

During my early childhood and teenage years, I would continue to pass stones – still, no pain and no big deal.  It was only when I reached adulthood that things changed.

I was sitting in English 101 at Essex Community College when I started having this excruciating pain in my back.  I had never experienced anything like it before.  I bolted from the classroom, scaring my fellow students in the process.  I managed to make my way to the nearby emergency room.  There I would receive my first pain medication ever, and you can’t imagine – well, maybe you can, just how happy I was because the intensity of my torment was off the charts.  Ultimately, an x-ray would reveal what I never suspected, another kidney stone.

I spent two weeks battling with my body, praying in earnest I would pass the stone because my doctor was sure he would have to perform surgery.  Perhaps it was the prayers or maybe just luck, but that stone came out on its own accord, what I would term as natural progression.

Over time I learned the symptoms of my kidney stones – back/flank pain, discolored urine, sweating, cramps and dehydration.  I also mastered treatments that worked for me during the mild stages – heating pad, Epsom salt baths and Midol (yes, Midol – it’s not just for women), because when I get stones, I go full-throttle!

Something I hate to admit, my kidney stones are an event, dramatic in every sense of the word.  My stones were responsible for a plane forced to make an abrupt landing and a car accident (no, I wasn’t the driver).  I’ve had kidney stone attacks in Mexico, Florida and California.  I’ve had eight surgeries, extreme reactions to drugs and stints, and countless embarrassing moments, to say the least.  I put the cost of this pre-existing condition somewhere in the ballpark of $800,000 (if you have health insurance, you have everything).  Surprisingly, my work never suffered (always the perfect employee).

Kidney stones produce the most horrific pain, and when it gets out of control you’ll be in trouble, mark my words.  I am fortunate because I’ve had the best people nearby during those horrific times.  More often that not, I’ve had the best healthcare workers around me too, but there were a few times when things went awry… Never have a stint removed in a doctor’s office, especially with only 4mg of Valium in your system.  Never remove your own urinary catheter at home (What were you thinking, Dr. K?!).  There is a difference between reflective pain and pain from a botched procedure.  Lastly, when a nephrologist says, “The patients we see with this many stones are usually retarded.” – find another physician… Immediately!

I am sharing this here because of an article I read on NPR (To Prevent Kidney Stones: Go Easy On Soda And Drink Lots Of Water) and because I want others to know there is something to be learned with every situation.  No matter what goes on in our lives, we must take something away from the experience that will grow our hearts and minds.

I am a healthcare professional, working with a variety of different patients over the years, mostly in a research setting.  I have always been sympathetic to their needs.  However, only until I experienced my first extreme kidney stone attack could I really comprehend what many patients go through.  I can now relate to their challenges even better.  (I sometimes notice people’s willingness to be helpful comes with a dose of condescension.  As I always say, know your audience.  No one is the same.  Canned responses don’t help people heal.  It’s important for all of us to know the difference between sympathy and empathy – apply appropriately).

Something else I preach – keep a journal.  Be diligent with your entries.  Keep track of your food intake, medications, mood, treatments, etc.  Be descriptive as possible.  I have learned so much about my body and all because of my journal entries.

I want everyone to know I’ve gone from having a kidney stone attack every two to three years to not having any in the past ten years, and I contribute this to a gluten-free diet, two shots of apple cider vinegar twice daily and drinking plenty of lemon water throughout the day. I’m sure the latter has more to do with my decrease than the gluten-free diet, but you never know.  (Urologists and nephrologists have instructed me to avoid high oxalate foods – spinach, cranberries, garbanzo beans, etc.  Common sense tells me that avoidance leads to stress. Why do that to yourself?!  A better instruction would be – choose balance and moderation.  I eat what I want because I am a mindful eater.)

Something else worth noting, one of my urologists said don’t drink too much water when you’re experiencing a stone because it increases the pain.  It’s not going to make the stone pass any quicker.  He also said to drink beer in moderation because it helps slightly numb the area (ureter).  He’s right on both counts.  These were very helpful tips.

Lastly, I most certainly am a believer of mind over matter, and that stress can exacerbate any situation.  A healthy mind and body go hand in hand.
It’s important we not lose sight of longevity. The average life span is 75 years! Be kind to your body now, because as you gain age it’s definitely going to get harder.

I communicate differently with everyone, and I am never ashamed to tell those who care to listen about my journey, because it was a mandate to preserve my future. I discovered things about myself I never knew before, thus my ugly moments were not in vain.

Most people know how to eat well. Regrettably, too many make the wrong choices, and I do believe much of that has to do with stress, sadness and depression. Never make the latter your excuse for not getting help.

You are what you eat. As I always say, effort is everything. You only have the one body, so treat it well or suffer the consequences. It’s never too late to make better choices. In some cases, you may not be able to turn back the hands of time, but you can certainly control disease through mindfulness (proper nutrition, simple exercise – a daily walk is so beneficial, meditation, etc.).  Large or small, thick or thin – we are all beautiful. Take care of your body. Control it before it controls you.

The message I want you to get from this post, be proactive in your health.  Be a proactive patient.  Live balance and moderation.  – paerki

What would life be like without memories? It’s fair to say, there would be no life at all. Memory is our communication, reason, coherence, our action and more importantly, our feeling. Memories create our path in life, developing our psychology and leading us emotionally.

One of the best ways to create and store memories is with video. These simple effortless little snippets of time create diaries and become perpetual time capsules, which justify our walk on earth, telling all with great enthusiasm… I was here! I mattered! I lived! Please, don’t forget me.

Share your views, thoughts and opinions in the written word. Snap photographs so that your eyes can travel back in time, remembering the happy and sad moments that made you the person you were, are and became in life. But, whenever possible, capture video to enhance the memories you leave behind, so that others may pass the essence of your life on to future generations.


Preserve Your Happiness (Aug 13, 2013): This is for you, because you need to hear these words again. Live life happy. Find your joy. Now more than ever, it’s time for people to reconnect with their inner self. Find your happy place, rejuvenating the total you – mind, body, soul and spirit. It’s a mandate... Continue Reading

Baltimore City (Maryland)

World AIDS Day (Dec 1, 2013): Many scientific advances have been made in HIV/AIDS treatment. There are laws to protect people living with HIV/AIDS, and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, there are still individuals who do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and... Continue Reading

Evergreen Museum & Library

Thank You For So Much Beauty (Mar 15, 2010): Do you realize how much beauty you bring to the world? Do you know how awesome you are? Really?! Do you?! I am in awe of your work. I love your use of rich and vibrant colors, some even electric. The faces are what really capture my attention; they are delicate... Continue Reading

Baltimore Book Festival

A Culture Of Hate (Jan 9, 2011): Weekends fly by so quickly, or so it appears. However, this particular weekend seemed unusually long, and I think it had something to do with the gruesome events that took place on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. I am shocked by the horror that unfolded, a young man throwing his entire... Continue Reading

Station North Arts District

A 'Seagull' Of Memories (Mar 7, 2010): When I see gulls (known to many as seagulls), I think of the shoreline. I have wonderful childhood memories of playing in the sand in Ocean City; building sand castles, and coming back later in the day to watch the waves crash into my creativity, only to go back the next day to... Continue Reading

H.P. Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens

God Worthy (Jan 15, 2013): This is your religion. Believe what I say. Ask no questions. So many were raised this way. Our heads were filled with a mishmash of information, controlling minds and for what? I would have appreciated learning more about all faiths, instead of being told – this is bad, and this bad, etc., but... Continue Reading
I love photographs! They have this amazing ability to tell stories of fun places, special moments, memorable events, and exciting places. They give us reason to pause and remember friends, family, coworkers and so many others. One photograph can conjure up a flood of memories taking us on a journey. They help us remember the past, enjoy the present and ponder the future.

On a cold and rainy day I love sitting in my living room with a roaring fire, a glass of wine, classical music playing in the background and my many photographs scattered about me. I love sifting through what I call my special collection, which refers to my favorites. They remind me of the saddest and happiest moments of my life. They remind me of challenges and overcoming.

My large collection of images are a testament to a life lived. Life happens all around us so it’s important to collect special memories, and what better way than with a photograph.

Edith Ann

Mind Body Green (Feb 6, 2014): To the haters, I feel so sad for you – mournful for your lack of empathy and understanding. No one is shoving anything down your throat. This is reality. What's wrong with this photo? This is life! For every photo shown of gay people kissing, there are millions and millions... Continue Reading

Peabody Institute

What Makes A Good Year (Dec 18, 2013): It’s that time of year when I take long walks alone to contemplate the past year. I guess you could say it’s my time to atone. What a year it has been! As I write this I’m wondering what makes a good year? I’ve never asked myself that question before... Continue Reading

Sherwood Gardens

Mural - Mural On The Wall (Mar 14, 2011): All are beautiful in my eyes, as they are striking masterpieces that enhance many communities, especially those challenged by poverty and abandonment. They fill in the gaps for neighborhoods lacking funding and manpower, providing just a bit of hope when... Continue Reading

Browns Orchards

The Human Condition (Jul 17, 2012): Words that are sufficiently crafted can leave a lasting impact on the world. It is good to keep in mind those words that will better help tell our story, ones that will represent us well for years to come. We must be clear in our purpose, concise in our action... Continue Reading

Patterson Park

Selfie (Jan 19, 2014): I was asked the following question by one of my Facebook friends… "I have to ask you this Paul, do you have a personal photographer who is with you constantly?" This question is worthy of a blog post, so here it goes. Enjoy! Good question, and one I am asked often enough and don't mind answering... Continue Reading

Charles Village Festival

Yielding To Signs (Mar 28, 2011): Sunday was the perfect day to be outdoors. The sky was a bright baby blue and absolutely stunning to look at, especially when it became the backdrop for seagulls and blackbirds, effortlessly soaring and plummeting in between wind gusts. It was magical, a hypnotic visual sensation... Continue Reading
There are many people in the world affected by disease. I never thought I would be one of the many. However, at any given time life can change. Mine did! There were many twists and turns, but I made it through and you can too. I am a Celiac on the move living life one meal at a time. Learn more about my life as a Celiac. Celiac Disease is a lifelong, digestive disorder affecting children and adults. In short, I have an allergy to gluten, and the treatment is a lifelong scrupulous avoidance of it.

No matter what, know this: You are never alone. There are people out there who’ve struggled, endured, made it through and are sharing their message of survival. No, they might not be at your side, but their spirit is out there in words, attempting to help others on their journey. Let’s all unite by sharing our individual stories, remedies for healthy living, food and recipes to keep us strong, and let’s find the laughter too because it can be some of the best medicine. Always remember, there is power in numbers. Check me out: A Celiac On The Move

Stony Run Trail

Thank You (Nov 3, 2013): It’s hard to believe another Thanksgiving is just around the corner. In the background while standing waiting for a bus (as well as on the bus), and at the grocery store, I hear peoples’ musings about how they will spend their holiday. While many are frantically digesting... Continue Reading


You Are Beautiful! (Jul 17, 2013): I wish you could look into the mirror and see beyond your face, way past the surface to see more. More than what the world sees, more than what your friends see, more than I or even you can see. Forget what everything around you tells you to be. Be who... Continue Reading

Alpaca / Lama Farm

St. Michael's Catholic Church (Oct 17, 2011): The weekend has now faded into the past. However, this was one of its highlights. Art is to be found everywhere. When I look at these photos I think about all those involved with the creation of this magnificent structure – from the community (immigrate families)... Continue Reading

BMA (Sculpture Garden)

Bittersweet (Sept 7, 2013): I’ve been estranged from my parents for close to 20 years, but yesterday I learned my father passed away. I sincerely hope he found joy in his advanced years – more importantly, peace. For those who mourn his passing, focus on the memories and the joy he brought to... Continue Reading

Jones Falls Trail

City Of The Silent (Mar 18, 2010): Underground in permanent stasis they speak no more. Many have departed this life, leaving behind a legacy for all to enjoy, cherish, honor and, with a little luck and ingenuity, replicate. For me, this quiet region of slumber still has a pulse, and you can feel it when you walk these... Continue Reading

Country Drive

A Happy Life Begins At Home (Apr 19, 2010): My home is very important to me. My life between these four walls of privacy I value like no other. It’s immeasurable, and absolutely priceless. It’s an oasis with a cocoon-like feeling, shielding me from the outside manipulative forces of violence and pollution. It allows... Continue Reading
"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008 - Enhanced and Redesigned by PAERKI

Back to TOP