The Kidney Stones of Thanksgiving

I spent the Saturday afternoon after Thanksgiving  Day in the waiting room of an urgent care center. The last place I wanted to be during my four-day weekend from working at a nearby hospital. My friend, however, had a confirmed 4mm kidney stone in his bladder. I’ve been calling it “Little Shatner” after William Shatner sold his kidney stone on eBay. Passing a kidney stone is the closest thing that a man will ever get to childbirth. I know because I delivered my own kidney stone on Thanksgiving Day 1995, which forever changed my life as a Christian.

After being kicked out of San Jose State University in Spring 1995 for failing calculus, I took a literature class each semester in the 1995-96 school year at San Jose City College to figure out what to do with my life. I felt a sharp jabbing pain in what I later learned to be my right kidney and started having trouble urinating in mid-November. I went to the nurse’s office on campus to have the doctor looked at me. She suspected that I had urinary track infection, prescribed some antibiotics, and sent me over to Valley Medical Hospital to be poke and prodded by an emergency room doctor to see if I had an erupted appendix.

I went up to Sacramento to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. The antibiotics didn’t seem to work. After we had Thanksgiving dinner and I laid down for a nap, I felt the urgent need to urinate and made a mad dash to the bathroom. As I leaned over the toilet, the pain from waiting to go became agony.

Ever see a snake swallowing a whole egg that moves through its tubular body? I stared in horror as an egg-shaped bulge slowly moved through and distorted the shape of my penis. When the kidney stone finally exited, a river of blood, pus and urine poured out as my bladder emptied for the next ten minutes.  My mother knocked at the door, asking if I was okay. I was shaken but never felt so relieved in my life. My father said I had passed a kidney stone.

The school doctor later conceded that I might have passed  a kidney stone.

I commiserated with my roommate, Bruce, who had also passed a kidney stone a few weeks earlier. We first met eight years earlier at a church workshop on a Saturday morning a week after I was baptized into Christ. Until I moved in his household, we had little contact during those years. He confided to me that he was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease and wanted me to take care of him until the day he died. Without passing that kidney stone, I doubted I would have said yes. I became one of five brothers who took care of him until he died five years later, watching him become angry with God for losing his ability to live an independent life and peacefully accepting that his life was in God’s hands in the end.

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