Dries Buytaert

Cobblestone, the kidney stone

I feel like I was in a street fight and got punched in the stomach.

It started earlier this week with a stitch in my side when I was doing the dishes. By the time I finished, the stitch had turned into stomach cramps. I brushed it off as my stomach being upset due to jet lag. After all, we had just come back from Europe two days prior.

As the pain increased, I wondered if I had pulled a muscle. Maybe I had been sitting with poor posture in my 8 hours of Zoom meetings that day? I tried to stretch it out so I could carry on with my evening. That didn't work.

An hour after that initial stitch in my side, I couldn't explain the pain away any longer. No matter how I sat or laid down, it felt like someone stabbed me in the back with a knife. The next hour I tried to find a less painful position, without luck. I twisted and turned on the bed while my body shivered uncontrollably.

I was scared. This was a pain I didn't recognize and more intense than any pain I had ever experienced. By 9pm I asked Vanessa to drive me to the Emergency Room. Once at the ER, they had me on morphine within 45 minutes.

Selfie of Dries on the hospital bed
Emergency room selfie.

After 5 and a half hours at the ER, the doctors concluded I had a kidney stone. An X-ray revealed that it was 4mm in size, and I was told it should pass on its own. They sent me home around 3am with some oxycodone (opioids) to help manage the pain throughout the night.

I spent the rest of this week in bed on drugs. Today, a few days later, my kidney feels 'bruised'. The 'sharp pain' is replaced by an 'aching pain' — like I got punched in the stomach rather than stabbed with a knife. While not a great feeling, it's a much better feeling.

Unfortunately, I don't believe the stone has passed. I'm afraid that the pain will come roaring back.

This is my first kidney stone, and hopefully my last. Some close friends recommended I name my stone "Cobblestone", in honor of my Belgian roots. A good laugh helps the healing.

Each year, millions of people suffer from kidney stones and I'm sure mine isn't the worst. I'm not looking for pity. However, I hope my write up will help someone else; either by helping them recognize symptoms, or by providing some comfort while searching the internet from the ER.

— Dries Buytaert

1 min read time