The Twin Miseries of Dehydration
- Josh Tuck
- Josh Tuck
For most of my life, I’ve not been good about drinking water. I prided myself on not being one of those people who always had a water bottle in tow. To me, all the recommendations I heard to “drink eight glasses of water a day” seemed silly. For starters, I don’t get that thirsty, and secondly, who has that much time to be constantly taking bathroom breaks? In spite of my blasé attitude toward hydration, my mom never stopped reminding me to, “Drink water.” I kept ignoring her sage advice until this January when I learned her reminder ended not with a period, but with a comma; as in, “Drink water, or suffer the consequences.”
Oow! My Plums!
The pain started when I sat down in my car. I was headed to my parent’s house to help them with some chores and, as my backside landed in the seat, the tightly fitting nature of my jeans made it feel like I had mashed my wedding vegetables. It was enough of a bruising that I felt slightly ill, but I assumed it would go away. However, after a day spent lifting heavy boxes and running the leaf blower, my bathing suit area was still pretty tender.
Later that evening, the dull aching in my groin increased to sharp, tiny waves of pain which had migrated to the small of my back and abdomen. I figured it was just gas and blamed it on the taco salad we had eaten the previous night. Danielle and I had a good laugh as I contorted my body into all manor of yoga-like poses to relieve the pressure, but to no avail. This was starting to get kind of serious.
Almost without warning, those same tiny waves became breakers and I could hardly stand up straight. Danielle Googled “appendicitis symptoms” as my color drained and my hands went numb. Chilled and clammy with sweat, I staggered toward the kitchen sink in case I threw up. It felt like tiny shards of broken glass were slowly slicing through my intestines.
Danielle had had enough, and I couldn’t take it any more, so she loaded me into the car and we were off to the emergency room. I was so close to passing out from what felt like a bicycle spoke being repeatedly stabbed into my guts, that I can’t remember how I made it to the admission desk. I do remember waiting an eternity behind a guy who was explaining, in meticulous detail, that he needed three stitches removed from his thumb. I wanted to yell, “Dude! get a damn bottle of rubbing alcohol, some scissors, and do it yourself! I’m dyeing here!”
After some pain medication and an examination from the doctor, we got the news we had hoped for; it was “just” a kidney stone. The rest of the night went by in a drug-induced haze and I eventually passed the little son-of-a-bitch before going to bed that night. The doctor said (surprise, surprise) it was probably from not drinking enough water.
A few weeks later, we received the bill for my field trip to the ER. The final tally for me not drinking a few glasses of water that week was in the neighborhood of $4700. Insurance covered the vast majority of that, but I still felt like I had squandered a huge sum of money on bad decisions. While the pain of the kidney stone is long gone, the pain of knowing we could have put that money toward a trip, or any number of other fun or practical things still hurts.
Water, Water Everywhere
The memory of that kidney stone is enough to get me down to the kitchen several times a day to fill my glass. I have renounced my old ways of thinking, and now that I am properly hydrating, I’ve noticed I feel like I have more energy and a clearer head. As someone who eats for a living, I was also encouraged to learn that drinking plenty of water helps to stave off hunger and aid in digestion.
Hopefully, my little story will inspire you to enjoy several tall, cool glasses of water each day. You will be more alert at work, less susceptible to disease, and you may even notice a decrease in joint and back pain. Kidney stones are no joke and I am happy to take a dozen bathroom breaks through the day if it means never having to go through that pain and expense again.