Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Maintenance Work

I'm not afraid of an ultrasound. My wife got about nine thousand ultrasounds while she was pregnant with Oliver, and I was there for most of them. That's not the problem.

A few weeks ago, I started having some weird pain in my back. At least, I thought it was my back. I would do something and it would twinge and I would think, well, it's a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve.

Last week, that changed. The pain wouldn't just come when I turned the wrong way. It was constant. And then one day - this was an awful moment - I was sitting at the same chair I'm in right now, in our home office. My wife and son were both there. I think I turned my head. And then, suddenly, the worst pain of my life erupted. Screaming, teeth-gritting pain, the kind where you have trouble breathing and you want to start pounding your fists on something just to make it stop. It was horrible.

I went to see a doctor a few hours, and he suggested that I had kidney stones.

Kidney stones. They just sound quaint, don't they? Like an old man's disease. Like liver spots. I realize, as I write this, that I had a friend in college who had kidney stones. But still, when I think about it, it sounds like a geriatric illness. I know how wrong that sounds, but that's the way my brain works. I can't help it.

And so, I'm having an ultrasound today to look at my kidneys. If the stone is serious and won't pass on its own, that might require laparoscopic surgery. I've never had surgery in my life. I'm only a little apprehensive of that.

Now, by itself, that would be something of note. But I'm also getting a root canal next week. And shortly after that, I'm having my wisdom teeth extracted, including the wisdom tooth that has been causing me great pain for the past several months. the pain in my teeth and jaw was what convinced me to call a dentist in the first place, and that was the first time I'd contacted a dentist in three years.

So, two major health issues in the course of a few weeks. Neither of them is life-threatening. I'm not going to die from a kidney stone or from a sore tooth. But still, all the procedures and appointments and phone calls feel strange, lined up after one another like confused little dominos. It feels like something is happening.

It could be that my body is falling apart, the consequence of getting old. I'm in my early forties, and it's possible that this is just what happens to people of my age.

Better. Stronger. Faster.
Or it could be a tune-up. It could be that I'm taking care of all of these weird aches and pains because my body is finally saying enough. It's time to stop living with annoying little aches and irritations and get myself fully back on course. So I'm getting my teeth fixed. And I'm getting my kidneys examined. And this summer, I'm going to drop the twenty pounds that I lost and then regained over the course of last year. I'm getting this body back in shape. It's time for some maintenance.

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