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Anyone could get Kidney Stones. Be Prepared!

Quite recently, I woke up in the morning with what seemed to be a slight ache in my lower back.

I immediately wondered if it might be a kidney stone, since this had happened to me about 10 years before, when I was only 21.

I waited around for about 15 minutes to see if the pain would settle down. Instead, the aching got slightly worse. That's when I realized that it was happening again - a kidney stone.

Without hesitation, I called my mother from a town about 25 minutes away, and had her rush over to get me to the emergency room.

Kidney stones are awful. To describe what it's like, I would say that it feels as if someone has your testicles in a vice, and the vice is slowly tightening about one turn every 5 minutes. What starts out as a "lower back ache" suddenly feels as if someone is squeezing your kidney and groin area with a pair of pliers.

Within minutes, I was keeled over in pain and sweating profusely. I made it to the street corner when my mother arrived and got me to the emergency room in a town nearby. The pain got so intense that I was shaking and vomiting while in the hospital bed. I kept yelling for them to get the pain meds in me, and they finally hooked me up to the I-V. After 10 minutes, the pain started to ease up and I was feeling much better. After a couple hours, they sent me home with a prescription of vicodin and gave me a strainer to urinate into, so that I would know when the stone had passed.

I had another attack later that afternoon, but the vicodin saved me just in time. It's amazing how vicodin could fully alleviate the excruciating pain of a kidney stone.

Later that night, as I urinated into the strainer, I noticed a tiny 2mm piece of rock (looked like sand) that painlessly came out into the strainer. The stone had passed!

What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a small piece of stone that forms in your kidneys over the years. They're usually about the size of a grain of sand or slightly larger. The main compound that forms a kidney stone is calcium oxalate. Some foods have higher levels of calcium oxalate than others, but you'd be surprised at how many healthy foods are high in calcium oxalate.

Why is it so painful?
Many people think that the pain from the stone comes from having to urinate the stone out of your body, but that's far from the truth. The pain actually takes place while the stone is working its way through your kidney. Your kidney and entire groin area feels like it's going to explode. The pain is crippling and has been described as being much worse than giving labor.

Not everyone has had a kidney stone attack in their life, but it seems possible that anyone could get one.

Being Mr. Healthy and all, most people wouldn't expect me to be getting stones, but some people are just more prone to getting them than others...regardless of diet. As I mentioned before, this did happen to me previously when I was only 21 and healthy. It will probably happen to me again.

I recently got the medical bills for the emergency room visit, and the total was over $7,000. It's pretty crazy, considering that all they did was give me a cat-scan and inject me with some pain meds before sending me home. I didn't even use the ambulance. Lucky for me though, my medical insurance covered a decent portion of the bill.

How can you be prepared?
I think that everyone should be prepared in case they have a kidney stone attack. If you wake up with a dull lower back pain in the morning that seems to be getting worse every few minutes, then it's probably a stone. Within a half hour you'll be calling 911 or having someone drive you to the ER.

A better alternative would be to have a small supply of vicodin in the house in case this emergency arises. If the pain becomes intense and you're sure it's a stone, the vicodin could save you an expensive trip to the emergency room.

For me, 2 pills of vicodin numbed the pain after 20 minutes when the second attack occurred that day.

Remember that if you don't visit the ER, it would be wise to make an emergency doctor appointment right away, to confirm that it's a stone and not something else that is life threatening.

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