News and Tribune

October 6, 2012

DODD: A test of manhood


“This too shall pass — just like a kidney stone!” — Hunter Madsen

Today's column comes with a disclaimer. If you are a man reading it you might be too squeamish to get to the end. For any woman who has never had kidney stones, please don’t laugh out too loudly in his presence.

My buddy Jim and I had a conversation about medical issues. He says minor surgery is when it is performed on somebody else and major surgery is when it is performed on you. I simply refer to the phrase “minor surgery” as an oxymoron; like, say, and light anesthesia.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who have had a kidney stone-related stent and those who haven’t had one yet. When I told people I had a stent the conversation was generally something like, “You mean in your heart?” I would respond, “No.” They then would often make one of those uncomfortable looking faces and that annoying, “Ewww.”

Of course when I talked about a stent with almost anybody under the age of 30 there was just a puzzled and annoying look like I used to give my grandpa whenever he discussed his medical history. Oh, if they only knew how quickly the time passes [no pun intended].

For me this was a two week ordeal with two out-patient surgeries and two stents; one that was connected between my kidney and bladder and the end that ran throughout my urethra. Kids, if you don’t understand what a urethra is, look it up or tweet one of your older relatives. I bet you will make an annoying and disgusted face and go, “Ewww.”

And yes, that’s just as painful and uncomfortable of a set up as man has ever devised. The contraption expands the urethra to allow for the passage of kidney stones. Some things apparently were never meant to be expanded.

This whole thing is an invasion of for what most men is a sacred region. We treasure it as one of our most important possessions; kind of like a very private part. Yes, I am still not sure if it was the physical pain or the psychological terror that was worse.

Now after the second surgery the first stent was removed while under anesthesia. What was left behind was another stent. When I say left behind I really mean temporarily. That had to come out the next day. When I say come out, I mean by my own hand.

Some things are a real test of manhood. In the past, I have many times failed a manhood test.

The whole thing was complicated as I wrote last week by a simultaneously diagnosed condition involving an infection and inflammation of my intestines. It was a two for. The Cat scan kind of gave me a buy one get one free deal.

Pain free urination should have been guaranteed in the Constitution.

The end of the ordeal mostly came for me at 6 a.m. on Thursday as I was preparing to return to work. Anxiety-filled I sat alone in a bathroom before daybreak knowing what I had to do. I pulled the string and removed the stent. And yes, no matter what you imagine, it was really that bad a moment in my life.

The next day I proudly showed anyone who had never seen a stent what I removed by my own hand. Let’s be honest, my best old baseball days have come and gone and I am losing hope for a Pulitzer. All I have left to show off are my medical scars and memorabilia when I survive these health conditions.

I am now planning to coin a new medical term and form a new support group. It is already large and growing every day. I will refer to it as the PTSRD [that stands for post traumatic stent removal disorder]. I am absolutely terrified that I will have another bout. We will meet appropriately in one of the area's largest restrooms with lots of urinals and swap largest stone fables.

As I see it now the largest difference between my old baseball team buddies and my new PTSRD group will simply be Tom Hank’s memorable line from "A League of Their Own" — “There's no crying in baseball!”

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at