Everyone needs to have a kidney stone once in his or her lifetime. Preferably, the sooner the better.
You see, experiencing the sensation of having a semi tractor-trailer with snow chains and a load of rolled steel park on your lower back tends to put life into perspective.
For instance, if you’re riding in a tour bus and the rest room door suddenly swings open and you can’t reach the handle without creating an additional sight on the tour, you can say, “Hey, sure beats a kidney stone.” (All of these examples are, of course, hypothetical and have never happened to me personally.) Or your daughter calls you at 1 a.m. in the middle of winter and says, “Uh, Dad, did you know that a ’95 Neon can straddle a traffic island?” you can say, “Hey, sure beats a kidney stone.”
This perspective also works for times you attempt to repair the toilet yourself and manage to not only cripple the commode, but break off the main water shut-off valve. (I did mention that these are strictly hypothetical examples, didn’t I?) It helps when your mother-in-law backs into your brand-new car. The time your five-year-old son drives spikes into your coffee table. When you lose a great job as an editor at a publishing house due to corporate down-sizing. While you’re recovering from double-hernia surgery and something on TV prompts a belly laugh. When you’re spending half your vacation time sitting in a traffic jam in downtown Chicago with a stick shift, no air-conditioning, and two kids in the back seat waging a fight to the death. You can always say, “Hey, sure beats a kidney stone.”
It also works for intestinal flu, crashed computers, lactose intolerance, sadistic dental hygienists, arthritis, overdrawn checking accounts, terminal toasters and transmissions, impacted wisdom teeth extractions, prostate exams, IRS audits, and flat tires in the rain fifty miles from any form of civilization. Now there are some things that are worse than a kidney stone such as death, divorce, and “Saved By the Bell” reruns, but most domestic disasters and occupational pratfalls pale in comparison to a kidney stone. And that puts everything in perfect perspective.
It’s been six years since my painful epiphany, which brings me to another kidney stone insight: “All things must pass.”
Copyright © 1997 James N. Watkins
Painting, The Scream, by Edvard Much
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