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A Nomad’s Notes: My family’s ongoing saga with kidney stones

A few days ago my dad called to check on me and see how I’m doing and then unceremoniously drops in the sentence, “Yeah, I’m just worried about your sister.”

I’m confused: Is she out doing drugs? Is she in trouble with the law? Is he worried on an existential front? What’s going on here?

“She had a kidney stone this morning.”

Ah.

I nodded enthusiastically, because let me tell you an obvious fact: kidney stones suck. I’ve never had such pain in my entire life.

January is a bad month in terms of pain for me because it was when I had my first-ever kidney stone and my most recent one. My first stone dropped Jan. 20, 2008 — exactly 11 years and one day before my sister had her first-ever kidney stone on Jan. 21.

That Sunday in 2008 was supposed to be a fun one: my mom, stepsister and sister and I were all heading 45 minutes north from my hometown to Lexington, Ky., to go hang out at the mall.  My mom was getting ready and the three of us were hanging downstairs on the couch watching TV when I felt a weird pain in my lower back.

The pain gradually worsened to the point where I accepted that instead of heading to Lexington we would be heading to the local hospital. Mom drove me to the ER and I stumbled in and filled out the paperwork as best as I could before going to sit down. Luckily, the stone passed while I was at the hospital.

My second stone happened two years later in May 2010 when my friend and I were eating at a local restaurant in my college town before going to see a Bruce Willis movie, since he’s my friend’s favorite leading man. We were laughing at our table when bam, my left side roared with pain. That’s the only way I can describe it: a red, hot roar in my side.

We made it to the hospital across the street. This hospital assumed the best way to administer pain medicine was by giving me a shot in the butt, which ended up doing nothing. The pain didn’t subside.

I spent that night and the next morning in pain so bad I had to lie on the floor of my dorm room.

When I told my mom how bad it was, she drove more than two hours to my college town to pick me up and take me back to our hometown hospital. She’ll never get the credit she truly deserves in life but I want to praise her anytime I can.

I got to my hometown hospital in one piece and the pain medicine I needed, this time in pill form. That stone didn’t pass for a few days and lasted about a week.

I’ve had a handful of them since, the most recent one on Jan. 31. That one was noticeable but barely, which thankfully is how most of them are — you can tell it’s a stone, but on a scale of 1 to 10 it’s usually just a 1.

I’ve heard multiple theories on why kidney stones occur, like diet. One theory back home in Kentucky was that limestone in the water there might cause a buildup in your body, leading to stone formation. I believe there’s some truth to that because I haven’t had stones as frequently since moving here to the coast nearly three years ago.

My sister had a recent doctor appointment a few days after she had her kidney stone, and she was told lemon juice in water is a way to help try and prevent formation of a stone. She was also told to stop taking her calcium supplement because often calcium buildup is what causes a stone in the first place. I read about a Chinese man who had more than 400 stones removed because he ate a soy-based diet and avoided drinking water.

I told my sister and I’ll tell you: The best way to help prevent stone buildup is to drink plenty of water every day. I always have a bottle of water with me, and I think it’s a practice everyone should try.

So please, if anyone out there has had kidney stones or know someone who has, help me describe what they feel like and please feel free to share any remedies you’ve discovered to help curb the pain or curb the chances of getting another stone ever again. Because they’re a hell I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but since they’re still a thing, we might as well commiserate with one another on making it through the fire together.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.