Posts Tagged ‘kidney stone’

The Surprise Factor

November 22, 2013

Wednesday November 20th, 2013 – St. Charles, IL

I heard one of the best radio broadcasts I’ve ever heard this afternoon as I turned on 540 ESPN in Milwaukee and heard Steve ‘The Homer’ True back on the air. I had wanted to give him a call for a week now, but I also wanted to let him have his privacy as he recovered from his car wreck.

Apparently it wasn’t as bad as originally thought, and that’s the best news I had heard in a long while. It’s not often a friend gets into a car accident so serious that it gets mentioned on the radio on a competing station. That’s what happened, as I’d heard it on the Milwaukee Bucks broadcast the day it happened. Ted Davis the voice of the Bucks is a class act and that was very courteous.

I’m sure we’ll hook up at some point in the near future, and the last thing I want to do is bother the guy when he’s back at work the first day. He was getting all kinds of calls from well wishers, so I just enjoyed his radio show as I usually do. He’s an outstanding broadcaster and always was.

Life is unbelievably delicate, and can be gone or drastically changed in just a few seconds. I’m sure Homer has replayed the point of impact scenario in his head over and over and realizes how frighteningly close he came to taking the terrestrial trip to the other side he wasn’t planning for.

The surprise factor in life is part of what makes it interesting, but also what scares the pants off of us knowing anything – and I do mean anything – could happen at any moment. A car accident is never something anyone plans for, but it changes one’s life forever. Homer knows it full well.

I’ve had a few near misses myself, car accidents and otherwise. My recent kidney stone torture was a prime example. I woke up out of a sound sleep to discover an excruciating pain in my side, so I got out of bed to crawl to the computer to see if I could at least know the cause of my death.

It felt like my innards were going to burst, and shrapnel from my entrails would be scattered all over the walls. I originally thought it might be appendicitis, and I’ve heard horror stories of some people dying if they didn’t get to the hospital in time. It turned out to be ‘only’ the kidney stone.

For something so laughingly tiny, it felt like a bowling ball trying to pass through my guts and I failed to find the funny while it was happening. It’s very funny now, but that’s in hindsight. I’m sure if it comes back I won’t have so much as a shadow of a smirk on my puss. And it just might.

As far as I know, I still haven’t passed it. The people I’ve talked to have told me so many tales that I have no idea what to believe. Some say it may have lodged somewhere and will pop out at random and torture me all over again. Others have said I may have passed it and not even known.

What’s important to me is that I’m not in pain anymore. Whatever happened to that little speck of matter that did so much damage is not my concern – at least for now. I’ve got other things that need attention, as does Homer. Car accidents and kidney stones are obstacles on the road of life.

It does make life interesting, if for no other reason that it adds gratitude to the mix. I’m have no doubt Homer is grateful not only to be alive, but back at work doing what he loves. I’m delighted to be back to making people laugh instead of wondering if I’d live another day. Life is in charge.

Life is full of surprises - expect the unexpected.

Life is full of surprises – expect the unexpected.

Healing With Humor

November 13, 2013

Monday November 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

This has been a rough year health wise for more than a few of my friends. It’s been no polka in the park for me either having to deal with my recent kidney stone, but that’s nothing compared to what some other people I know have had to face. Many are comedians, and it doesn’t seem right.

I would think since comedians provide a service to humankind we’d get some sort of free pass, but we aren’t exempt from the same health horrors everyone else faces. Sometimes it even seems like we get it worse, which I could never understand. There are a lot of people I know suffering.

Jim Wiggins had cancer surgery just a couple of months ago, and he’s having to get used to life with no prostate or bladder. He is now cancer free which is something to celebrate, but that came with one hell of a price. He’s recovering nicely from what I hear, and hopes to work again soon.

Scot Wickmann is another comedian friend who has been dealing with health issues for a long time. He has been on kidney dialysis for quite a while, and recently he had triple bypass surgery. That’s serious enough, but apparently there was an infection and he had to have more surgery.

Bill Gorgo has been getting updates from Scot’s wife Jackie, and she said Scot just had one of two more surgeries he needs and everything went smoothly. He had an abscess on an artery, and that sounds frightening. I don’t have details and the last thing I ever want to do is bother Jackie.

The bottom line is, even if his next surgery goes well he’ll be lucky to be out of the hospital by Christmas. Crikey. I thought the eight or nine days I spent in the hospital for my surgery in 2011 was horrific – and it was. I can’t begin to imagine having to be in a hospital bed for six weeks.

Again, my problems really aren’t problems compared to what Jim and Scot and so many others are going through, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of them. There are a lot of people in a lot worse shape than me, and I want to help comfort them if I can. It’s all about human kindness.

All that actually matters in life is what we are able to give – especially to those that truly are in need. What could I do myself or help to organize that will make someone’s life even a little more pleasant when there’s a long road of recovery ahead? There has to be some way of reaching out.

I was delighted to be able to organize the big benefit comedy show last October for Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert after he was almost killed by a drunk driver going the opposite way on a freeway on ramp. His injuries were beyond a nightmare, but we were able to assist financially.

Peter Jest of Shank Hall in Milwaukee donated the hall, and the all comedians donated our time to perform. Drew Olson was a fabulous host that night, and Officer Albert’s work partner and my cousin Katie Anderer and her whole family got the word out to make it a success. We received a blanket of media coverage as well, and it ended up being a successful event that helped someone.

That’s what life is about. Period. I know we all need to pay our bills, but after that it’s what we are able to give that has any lasting meaning. Seeing my personal friends having to endure all of the personal hell they’ve been through makes me want to jump up and take action to help them.

But what could that be? I’d like it to be comedy related somehow, but I don’t think doing a live show is the answer. I would gladly volunteer to do it in a second if that would help, but it doesn’t strike me as the solution. I think there needs to be something that is able to reach more shut ins.

Scot Wickmann is going to be laid up in bed for a while. Even if he wanted to see a live show I doubt if he could make it unless they wheeled his bed right into the performance area. I’d be fine with it, but I can’t see it happening. A room full of beds with people from ICU would be silly.

It’s hard enough to be funny in a traditional comedy setting, but this would be off the charts to try and pry laughs out of hospital patients. That’s not what I had in mind. I would like to create a product that could be used to touch people depending on their condition, and that’s a wide scope.

One idea I had would be to interview comedians who have endured health issues, and try to put a comedic perspective on things that as a rule aren’t funny. When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t help but notice there are a lot of potentially funny events that only someone who has experienced them could relate to. I bet it would be of great comfort to have a video for new patients to watch.

There has to be a way to produce a video of comedians telling their hospital stories, and have it run on a constant loop on one of the hospital TV channels. I’d bet there could be several releases over time, as a lot of comedians have stories. I’m sure some celebrities would jump on board too.

David Letterman went through major heart surgery a while back, and I’m sure that gave him an abundance of stories that are a lot funnier now that he’s fully recovered. Sometimes it seems like the situation is overwhelming while in the hospital, and something to offer comfort would help to put a patient’s mind at ease. I remember how I felt when I was laying there and it was a bad trip.

Another idea I’d love to pursue would be establishing a humor library in all hospitals so people could watch and listen to comedy as they recover. It could be standup comedy CDs and DVDs or funny movies or even written publications like Mad magazine or comic books. It could help pass the time for patients, and even the employees could use it. I’m sure a medical staff has stress too.

I realize that these are all pie in the sky dreams, but I want to put it out there in the universe so hopefully someone else will see it and act on it. Even if it’s bouncing an idea back at me, I’ll take whatever I can get and move forward however I can. This is an idea that has no time restrictions.

We always see photo ops where celebrity athletes go in and meet sick kids in the hospital, and I think that’s a great thing don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see more of it, but what better source of cheering people up who need it is there than comedians. This would be a way to really be of use.

I think this would be a great place to develop the King of Uranus character. It’s so goofy that it can’t help to at least get the attention of somebody in a sick bed and take their mind off their pain for the moment. One way or another, I really want to reach out and make a hurting person laugh.

Hearing of Scot’s current situation and Jim’s recent issues has brought this idea to the forefront of my thoughts. It would be a great opportunity to match comedians with recovering patients and I’m going to keep thinking of what I can do to get this ball rolling. Service is what life is about.

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It's always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It’s always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

Afraid To Pee

November 5, 2013

Sunday November 3rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Still no passing of my kidney stone, and it feels like I’m waiting for the royal baby to be born. I totally thought this would be over with by now. At this point I have heard so many horror stories I’m afraid to pee. Everyone I know who has ever had one has told me in detail how it played out.

I’m hearing horrific accounts of unbearable pain, free flowing blood and passing out, and quite frankly it’s scaring me half to death. I know that little bastard is in there somewhere as I can feel it, but for some reason it’s just refusing to leave. The doctor said it could be up to a week of this.

But what if it doesn’t pass in a week? I can’t afford another surgery, but I also can’t keep living in the pain I’m in. My drugs are running out, and none of the prescriptions have refills. I need the whole thing to be history, but that’s never how life works. I have no say in the matter. It’s nature.

I hadn’t taken any painkillers in a long time, and I’d forgotten how they clamp down on the old bowel plumbing. When I woke up today, I felt a pain on my other side and for a second I thought I had another kidney stone. It turns out I was having a sewage backup, and I needed some relief.

I must have sat on the crapper a good 45 minutes, and it felt like I was trying to pass a football – but not like Aaron Rodgers. Stuff like this is really funny when it’s happening to someone else, but try as I might I wasn’t able to muster one chuckle. I’m sure it will be hilarious when it’s over, but for now it’s a nightmare. I don’t know what hurt more, my kidney or my colon. Who cares?

I tried to read, listen to music, watch TV or anything else that might get my mind off the severe pain I’m having, but nothing worked for very long. I tried to make it through the day without any more drugs, just because I don’t want my bowels to go on strike anymore. One crisis is enough.

I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not very tough in situations like this. Some people are troopers and nothing bothers them. They don’t feel pain, or if they do they’re able to absorb it without any whining. I’m not going to lie, this is rocking my world and I’d do anything if it would go away.

Whoever said “When you have your health, you have everything” really knew what they were talking about. It’s so easy to take it for granted, when in fact all it takes is the tiniest little glitch – like a kidney stone – to throw the entire system off balance and out of whack. I see how it works.

What I don’t see is why everyone seems to want to offer their two cents as to what I need to do to get through this. “Just hang in there” doesn’t really do anything other than give some words to say when there’s nothing useful to say. What am I supposed to do, surrender? Who do I do it to?

The other thing I’m hearing constantly is “I bet you’ll have some new material from this!” I’ve got more than enough material, thank you. If health issues constituted comedy material, all of the new comedians would show up from burn units and trauma centers. There’s more to it than that.

If pain alone was what made up a successful comedy career, I’d be bigger than Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman combined. I’ve taken my lumps with the best of them, but nobody cares about that. Audiences are in their own pain. That’s the reason comedians exist. We heal it.

I've been hearing so many horror stories about passing kidney stones I'm afraid to pee.

I’ve been hearing so many horror stories about passing kidney stones I’m afraid to pee.

A No Treat Halloween

November 2, 2013

Thursday October 31st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s Halloween, and the trick is on me this year. This kidney stone thing is a living hell, and I’m helpless as to do anything about it. I am completely at the mercy of my urethra, and it is refusing to cut me any slack. I’ve been in pain all day, and I have no idea when relief is coming – if at all.

Everyone tells me it will eventually, and I’m sure they’re correct. But until it happens I am in a world of hurt I can’t ever remember feeling. This is a torture of the highest degree, and I wonder what people did in the old days? At least I have some medication to help make it a tiny bit better.

I can’t imagine being out on the prairie harvesting crops in this kind of pain. I’d suck the barrel of a musket a lot sooner than later if that were the case. No wonder those people were all dead by the time they were my age. But even with the modern conveniences of today, this is still a bitch.

To make it worse, I’ve been hearing from people all day with their homemade folk remedies to help pass the stone. I’ve heard everything from drink cranberry juice to lemonade to a mixture of both. It’s like hiccup remedies, everyone seems to have some kind of family tradition to pass on.

Several women I’ve talked to who have experienced both childbirth and kidney stones have all said that it’s at least a tie in the pain department. Not ONE has declared childbirth to be the clear cut winner yet, and that scares me even more. I can’t imagine what passing this thing will entail.

By all accounts, it will be a tiny little nugget half the size of a grain of rice. Depending on who I talk to, it will happen with little fanfare or it will feel like I’m trying to pee a bowling ball. I am very partial to my lower extremities and I’ve already experienced enough pain there for about six lifetimes. My groin area has been a magnet for mayhem since childhood. I can use a rest already.

It was bad enough when I had my surgery in 2011. That still gives me nightmares, as not many who walk this planet ever acquire gangrene on their genitals. That puts me in a club I don’t want to be in – kind of like Amway minus the soap. That surgery was enough hurt to last past eternity.

The only good thing with that one is that I have a great story to tell. I’ve told it on stage in the past, and it’s gotten the shocked reaction I was hoping for. People’s ears perked up and I had the undivided attention of the audience to hear what happened. Nobody is wowed by a kidney stone.

I’m not wowed by it myself, but it sure has gotten my undivided attention. I’m not able to sit or lie down for any length of time without flaming agony, and when I try to walk it makes it hurt all the more. It’s constant, unrelenting pain – much like enduring a ‘Lord of the Rings’ triple feature.

If I could gouge out the offending kidney and donate it to someone ‘as is’, I surely would. The doctor could scoop out the stone before installing it in the new owner, and everyone would be in a dandy mood. I’d pee out of the other side stone free, and someone in need would receive a gift.

Even though I’m in intense pain, I know I’m still very lucky. There are people who need to go to dialysis several times a week for example. Marty Beimer is a radio friend who had some nasty back surgery and is still hurting from it years later. That all trumps me, but this is still not a treat.

It's Halloween and I have a kidney stone. I sure hope it's 'fun size'.

It’s Halloween and I have a kidney stone. I sure hope it’s ‘fun size’.

Sly And The Kidney Stone

November 1, 2013

Wednesday October 30th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

One thing I haven’t been a stranger to throughout my life is physical pain. Most of us deal with it at least a little, but there are those unlucky few that screw up the curve. I’ve always hovered at that elite upper echelon, even though it’s the last place anyone wants to be. I’ve had my scrapes.

When I was about ten, I stupidly rode a kid’s mini bike in an alley that summer wearing only a pair of shorts and flip flops. I spun out on cement, and scraped myself bloody from head to feet. I ended up being a walking scab, and it was extremely painful and inconvenient. But that’s not all.

In high school I broke both my nose playing basketball and my arm playing baseball in a single year. They were only a few months apart, and that was pretty painful. I’ve also had far more than my share of dental torture over the years. Root canals, braces, and big needles are familiar to me.

A week after my 30th birthday, I flipped my Mustang convertible upside down and ended up in intensive care with a twice cracked sternum, a broken jaw and lots of bloody scrapes. That was a horrific ordeal as well. I was in constant agony, and I basically had to learn how to walk again.

Then in 2011, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and had to have some gangrene sliced from my testicles of all places. That was nothing short of intense not to mention frightening, as I had a couple of day window where I wasn’t sure if I was going to lose all my plumbing or not. That’s a situation every man fears, and I wasn’t guaranteed I wouldn’t be singing soprano in a boys choir.

All of those things on their own were quite unpleasant, but tonight I experienced what I think is THE most physical pain I’ve ever felt at one time in one place. I was awakened from a sleep by a pain in my lower left abdomen. It wasn’t very strong at first, but it was enough to wake me up.

I wasn’t able to go back to sleep, and the pain got progressively worse. I couldn’t move, and it felt like I was going to die right there. I crawled to my computer and Googled ‘appendicitis’ as I wasn’t sure if the appendix is on the right or left side. It turns out it’s the right, so I was stumped as to what it was. Are there any important organs on the left side, or is it a stash of useless parts?

There came a point where I knew I needed to get myself to a hospital, and I got in my car to go back to Condell Hospital in Libertyville, IL where I had my surgery in 2011. They’re a top notch facility, and everyone there has always been on the ball from my experience. I set out to get there but the pain was so intense I thought I was going to pass out behind the wheel. I was quivering.

I hadn’t been to the hospital in a while, and I got lost on my way. I stopped to ask directions at a gas station, and I could see by the look in the eye of the attendant he knew I was in major pain. I made it to the hospital about 4am, and fortunately there was nobody else waiting to get treated ahead of me. I had to fill out the admission paperwork, and I could barely keep the pen steady.

It took the nurse about thirty seconds to figure out it was a kidney stone. They ran blood work and did a CAT scan, and eventually gave me some pain medication that was sent from heaven to relieve me of this Earthly horror. I’ve been through the wars a few times, but I can’t recall ANY pain I’ve ever had being worse than this. I sure didn’t expect to have to deal with this right now.

I'm no stranger to physical pain, but my first kidney stone is THE most excruciating feeling I've ever had. It's brutal.

I’m no stranger to physical pain, but my first kidney stone is THE most excruciating feeling I’ve ever had. It’s brutal.