Being in EMS for so long, it's easy to become jaded and even cruel. I haven't meant to be, but it has happened. It is hard sometimes for providers to have true empathy for someone if they have never been similarly afflicted.
It is equally hard, or possibly more so, for a provider to play the role of patient. This I have lived.
My father has a history of kidney stones. He has had somewhere around 10 I think. I have transported patients with kidney stones as well. All of them, even dad, squirm and can't sit still. They talk about the pain being worse than any they have ever felt. How was I to know? Pain tolerance is a variable from person to person.
Several years ago, my back started hurting one day. Kinda on the right side. I had been at the gym the day before, so I assumed I pulled it a little. The pain stayed constant for 3 days. Like a sore muscle, maybe a bit worse. The fourth day, I was on duty at the fire station. I went in to the restroom to pee, and felt something, and heard a "Tink" in the urinal. I looked, and there was my first kidney stone.
I thought of my dad, and the patients I had seen, I thought "Pansies! Their all pansies." I hurt for 3 days and delt with it. I am mas muy macho!
About a year later, I bent over in the yard to pick up something. When I straightened up, my back hurt, like the last time. But it got worse, quick! By the time I got to the house, I was in tears. I told my wife to load the kids and take me to the hospital.
I don't know why she moved so slow. Didn't she understand I needed help now? Move woman now now now! She made excuses for her lethargy "I've got to get the kids dressed" she would say on the run, or "I'm already doing 70mph."
70? is that all this things got? All the while I pounded the dash, squirmed in the seat, cried, yelled and wondered why she would only do 90. If she loved me she would have done 100.
We arrived at the hospital, she pulled into the ambulance dock by the ER. An old friend and partner was on duty that night on the ambulance. As I got out of the car and looked at him he said "Oh shit!" and ran to open the doors for me.
I walked into the ER, OK, I waddled through tears into the ER. I saw the ER nurse, Paul. Paul had been a couple of years ahead of me in school. He knew me, and my father had been his principal. I had brought many a patient into the ER while he was a nurse there. I saw the respiratory tech, Lori. Many a code had we worked together in the ER. I saw the lab tech, my cousin Christy.
I knew them all, and they knew me. I was in pain like I had never known. I needed help. They looked at me and I said "Kidney stone". They put me into a room. Then I saw the ER Doc. I had never met him, but knew of him. His name was Asshole. Doctor Asshole to you.
I heard Paul tell Dr A. that I had a kidney stone. Asshole replied "He doesn't have anything until I say he does. Where are his admit papers?" Paul looked at me, and I said "My wife is checking me in." Dr. A said he'll have to wait. That raised some eyebrows. Because it was a slow night, Paul went down to the admit desk to speed the paperwork along. I love him.
Christy came over to try to comfort me. I begged for anything. "He won't let us do anything until he has paperwork and gives orders." Please, pleeeeease nitrous, anything. She couldn't.
Five of the longest minutes of my life later, Paul brings the paperwork in along with my wife. Asshole walks into the room with a notepad and says "I need some information before we can figure out what to do for you. How old are you?"
I was through waiting. I knew what was wrong. I knew what he needed to know. I knew what he wanted to know. So I told him:
I'm a 28 year old male normally healthy no meds no allergies smoke a pack a day I have pain in my right flank for 30 minutes now I've had one kidney stone before my father has a history of kidney stones I was standing when this started no exertion sudden onset nothing makes it better nothing makes it worse, it's a 10 on a scale of 1-10, can I please have something for this fucking pain now!
It was spoken faster than he could write. He just looked up at everyone staring at him and said "IV, and toradol for pain."
By the time Paul had gotten me to sit still enough to get an IV, and just as he was about to put the Toradol in the tubing I said "Wait!"
"What?" he said
"It's better." I said.
"But I haven't given you anything."
"I don't care, it's gone now." I said.
Sure enough, I passed it within 3o minutes of getting to the hospital.
To this day, If you tell me you have kidney stones, I will give you anything I can to try to help. Even the inmates in the jail get my sympathy for that one.
And I can honeslty say I know what a 10 on the pain scale is.