Sunday, October 6, 2013

Battling Kidney Stones in the Middle of Nowhere

I have not been drinking lots of water when I first arrived here in Xiamen. I don’t know if it was just the excitement of finally getting to study abroad for free or plain stupidity and laziness that got me to that point. I mean, how difficult is it to vanquish a 500-ml bottle of mineral water? It’s not even bitter gourd tea or some yucky infusion that would make you throw up the moment you smell it. It’s water, for crying out loud! But no, this is me. It’s my world. My complicated world. And that bottle of mineral water just lives in it. I would buy one but not be able to gulp every single drop until two or three days later, which means I was getting just around 100+ ml hydration on a daily basis. I had lots of soda, though. I was having two meals daily, and a can of Coke would always be the guest of honor.
A week or two later, I noticed that taking a piss was getting more and more difficult. Aside from the urine drought, I also observed that the color was getting bad, sort of tea-like with obvious traces of blood. Blood! Okay, I admit I panicked for a while, and I thought this would serve as the bitch slap I needed to get my act together. Everything would be alright! Until I woke up one day at 4 AM with the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced.
What the hell? I was groggy and sleepy so I didn't know at once where the pain was coming from. Maybe I was just lucid dreaming? Maybe my roommate hated me that much that he secretly stabbed me with an ice pick while I slept? But there was no blood! Internal hemorrhage? Or perhaps I just needed to take a dump. And so I had a little trip to the bathroom and tried to unload the monster that was causing me so much pain. But nothing came out as I stared at the toilet’s grimy door, wondering what to do next.
One valid option was to jump out the window to end the pain for good. But seriously? We were on the second floor. Doing that would have just caused more intense pain and a slower death. The discomfort was getting worse and I felt like my kidney was going to explode at any moment. Left without any other option, I went back to my room and did what most people would do when they think their life is about to end. Go online. Wait, what?
I was not going to post a selfie, sprawled on the bathroom floor like some loser who just got robbed of a good night sleep. I just needed Google to give me a diagnosis, because Google is better than your doctor nowadays, right? Don’t get me wrong. If this happened in Manila, I would have gone three floors down, hailed a cab, and arrived at Makati Med’s emergency room under five minutes. Then, they would give me some strong painkillers as I lie on a modern hospital bed, knowing that I would have an astronomical bill to pay the next day. But who cares? The pain goes away, and I would be free to live unhealthily again. The perks of living next door to the hospital! Oh shit, I momentarily forgot that I was in some not so popular district of Xiamen. Damn.
Google says that blood in urine is called Hematuria, and that it could be linked to various illnesses related to the kidneys. At that point, I already knew that my kidneys were to blame because the pain was originating from my lower back. The next thing to do was try to find a hospital hidden somewhere. There is one at the end of 761’s route, but that bus only ran until around 10 PM, I guess. It was 4 AM. Fine, taxi it is then! That is the problem, where the hell do I get a taxi here? The campus is one big gated subdivision with only some cars getting in occasionally. Other than that, you only have those bikes and hybrid motorbikes. This is going to be difficult.
I put my pants and my sweater on and went outside the building. I did not bother to wake my roommate up anymore because I thought he would not be of any help. I know that this is rather bitchy of me to say, but I definitely would not wake someone up in the wee hours of the morning if I knew they would not be able to contribute something helpful to the dilemma. Calling anyone in Malaysia or the Philippines was also out of the question because of the same reason. I needed to find someone who could help me find a taxi. After that, I could take over. Or maybe not! Finding a taxi proved to be futile. I found an Indian student instead, who in effect saved the day.
Clutching my lower right back as if nursing some stab wound, I approached that guy seated clueless in front of the building opposite ours. I shared my sob story with him and he was quick to conclude, with his Hindi accent, that I had kidney stones. It turns out that he and his friends are medical students here. Oh joy. Life gives you some prima donna kidneys one night and lead you right to some medical students who could help you with your crisis. Ain’t life grand? Except that those kids could not just get some garden tools and operate on me right then and there, right? Well, he had a friend who owned one of those motorbike hybrids. And so he made some calls.
As for me, I tried to sit down on the curb, stand by the curb, heck I would even have cartwheeled along the curb if only to reduce the pain. But it just would not go away. It reached its climax when I felt like my kidney was really about to explode. I glared at the curb with pure agony and asked myself, is this really how I am going to die? The pain then regressed a little bit and I realized I was just overreacting. I even had the chance to smell the body odor of one Russian student who jogged past me, which meant that I was still in good control of my senses somehow.
That did not mean, though, that the pain was gone. I’ve read somewhere that the pain involved in passing a kidney stone could be compared to that of a woman in labor. Okay, I get it. I truly appreciate my mother having given birth to me, okay, and I know it hurt a lot because she did not go Caesarean. But hey, if I needed a life lesson maybe it would have been nice to receive it when public buses were running and I had a good chance of actually getting to whichever hospital was accessible at the moment? What good is a life lesson if I end up dead anyway, right? Just a thought!
The Hindi guy’s friend then came by on his motorbike, picked me up, and drove me to the hospital clinic on the other side of the campus, where the Chinese students’ dorms are. I love those Hindi guys, except that they actually turn out to be Bangladeshi, so let’s use the right term. Again. I love those Bangladeshi guys. They don’t even know me and they should not even care. What would they get from helping out some dying Filipino guy anyway? In any case, I think this is what I've learned to appreciate in life lately. While the morons that screw you over far outnumber the good ones left, those good ones actually come at opportune times when you are in dire need of saving. If anything, it's enough to restore my faith in humanity, leading me to believe that maybe we are not that doomed as a race as I thought we already were.
There was an ambulance in front of that clinic, but the clinic itself was actually closed, and the sole nurse guarding the ground floor took around three years to open the door. She was asleep alright. It was what, five in the morning? The other Bangladeshi guys came with a battering ram to get rid of the damn door so we could get in. A guy, who turned out to be the doctor, eventually came and had a conference with us through what seemed like a Chinese version of Google translator. He told us what we already know, that I had kidney stones. Hey dude, look, I know. My question is: What are you going to do about it? Could you please just grab a kitchen knife, cut me open, and yank that stone out my kidney as soon as possible? Please?
No, he won’t, because he said that kidney stones pass on their own, and that I was just being an overly dramatic sissy about it. In the end, the sleepy nurse just stabbed my ass with an injection or two, gave me two pills to swallow, and went back to her lair to hibernate. And then I went numb. I was not planning on calling friends, but the Bangladeshi guys had to go too, right? I was so not their responsibility. And so I called a friend, who happened to be on the island, and so he phoned our other friend, who stayed with me the whole night and whose ankle even got burned bad because of the engine of the bike taxi he had to get on just to reach me.
I hate being an inconvenience to people, but then again it is during these times when you get to know who would really go against the odds just to help you out. I could only be so grateful being surrounded by such people. Hopefully, one day, I would be able to give back.
Water became my newest addiction. I would down a 500-ml bottle in 10 seconds, which has been a very big improvement from the 72-hour turnaround time it took me a few weeks back. I was pissing normally again, and the pain was gone just like that. I’m not dead. I survived a kidney stone attack in China! But the story does not end here, unfortunately, because kidney stones are vengeful bitches who love sequels.

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

Mariane Ballesteros said...

Had a similar experience before, ever since that, I started to love drinking water and avoid all those bad shiz (oooh how I miss my softdrinks tho)!
Having these kind of problems are even tougher especially you're not with your family, Ingat and take care of your health!

ihcahieh said...

@Mariane - Yeees! Someone who knows how painful it truly is! Mahirap nga talaga maospital lalo dito sa China. Naka survive naman. Thanks. :D

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