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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Stones on Tour by John von Daler

                I woke up in pain: stabs in the right side of my lower stomach. Changing position did not help. Something was happening inside the old carcass.

                I tried lying on my stomach, attempted to massage the spot, and even tried to think about something else. But it just went on hurting, very badly at that. My wife was worried, but she had to go to work at her school. We talked about what it could be. I thought maybe appendicitis; she thought stress from the move we just had made to a larger apartment. Maybe you should call your doctor when his office opens, she says. He'll know what to do.
                But I thought, how will I ever get over to his office? I can't stand up with this pain.
                Then suddenly it disappeared. Oh well, I guess we'll never know what it was, we said, and my wife went off to work.
                Ten minutes later it started again. I called the doctor. He said come in at ten. I hung up, thinking, how am I going to get there while I'm doubled over in pain.
                I crawled into bed again to wait. My daughter called and decided to come by. She took one look at me and called an ambulance.
                Now we are getting to the nitty-gritty, the point in the story where the listener, who up until now has been watching the movements of a magpie outside the storyteller's house while thinking, Ho-Hum. Better pick up my dry-cleaning on the way home. Wonder if I should start putting some anti-freeze in the car pretty soon, etc. well, the listener starts listening. The nitty-gritty is this:
                I'm doubled over in pain. We call the ambulance. I shuffle into our elevator all scrunched up and go down to the lobby of our building to wait on the bottom step for the ambulance. I'm aching and pretty scared as well.
                Then, just as I hear the ambulance approaching, all the pain disappears. I don't notice it at first. Like some cartoon character who doesn't realize he just walked out into the abyss, I hover in the great, comforting certainty of some life-threatening illness, when good health suddenly returns in all its embarrassing normalcy, putting me in rather good spirits  - and plummeting me into the pit meant for misusers of public funds, hypochondriacs, and imposters. How awkward it was suddenly to straighten up and stride to the waiting ambulance.
                The guys were nice enough to drive me to the hospital for tests. All that day beautiful young lady doctors examined parts of my body that I had been fortunate enough never to see. We went through a gamut of possible diseases from colon cancer to hysteria.
                Finally in the late afternoon a lovely, blond Swedish lady in a white uniform looked me in the eye and gave me the news: #kidney stone. It probably "passed through" sometime during the day. Thus I had suddenly been relieved of the pain.
                What did it cost? In money? Remember, we are in Denmark. Nada. But I did suffer from acute embarrassment, one that I have attempted to alleviate through this narrative, since I really am the only one who can tell the tale.

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