Reflections on Life
HEY, THE STONES ARE
BACK IN TOWN
Terry Martin Ph.D
Why is That?
May 18, 2018 If you have Ticketmaster on the phone, hang up. This isn’t about a rock group coming to town although it does involve screaming, writhing and acting like a maniac.
The headline should read: WHAT LOOKS LIKE GRAVEL, FEELS LIKE BOULDERS AND HURTS LIKE HELL? The answer: kidney stones.
If you’ve had them you know what I mean.
Kidney stone attacks come on as abruptly as a pie in the face … but lower. I was walking to my car on a lovely summer day when I felt like I’d been stabbed in the abdomen. My first thought was appendicitis; the pain was on the right side. I called our family doctor and explained what happened. He said, “Appendicitis comes on slowly, you have a kidney stone. Go to the emergency room.”
That was 40 years ago. There was one stone, it was small and I was able to pass it at the hospital. Since then I‘ve manufactured enough gravel to pave a driveway. Mine always come in bunches so passing them is out of the question the screaming would go on for hours. I opt for immediate relief.
Kidney stones are jagged little rascals––often calcium-based. They are painful when they move or block a passage. If a stone sits quietly in a kidney it poses little, if any problem, but once it enters the ureter on its way to the bladder, brace yourself.
An outpatient surgical process called lithotripsy that uses ultrasound shock waves blasts kidney stones into small particles. One surgeon gave a few to me in a pill bottle as a parting gift in post-op.
There are other procedures to remove stones using instruments and telescopes. Sometimes stents are used to dilate the ureter to help urine pass. The stent is removed during an office visit by the surgeon without sedation. So there is no earthly reason to discuss the process here.
Women say the pain is worse than giving birth. Men are positiveit’s more painful. May you never know the difference.
May 11, 2018 Some of my older friends (those between social security and death) frequently obsess about the finality of life. Such was the case during a social lunch with Gloria (not her real name).
Gloria and I were chitchatting, catching up about this and that and solving the world’s problems. The conversation was as far from discussing death arrangements as one can get when Gloria came out of left field with, “ What do you think about ‘green’ funerals?”
I pinched my nose to block a swig of iced tea that was on its way out.
“I’ve never heard the term,” I said wiping my face. “What’s a ‘green’ funeral?”
“You may not realize this,” she said, “but ordinary American burials involve chemicals like embalming fluids that end up in the ground. Green or natural funerals are environmentally friendly.”
I get queasy about morbid discussions, especially while dining and it made the sauce on my pizza taste like it came from a lab. I quickly changed the subject. “You’ve given me a homework assignment,” I said, “I’ll read up on green funerals. By the way, how is your salad?”
“Quite green,” she replied and we had a good laugh.
A good bit of my psychology career was spent in palliative care, yet the green burial subject never came up. Gloria gave me new information to consider.
I learned that green burials conserve natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, preserve and restore habitats. Each year traditional burials include 20 million feet of wood, 4 million gallons of embalming fluids, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze and 64,500 tons of steel.
Good grief. Who would have imagined that?
The Green Burial Council, a nonprofit, encourages environmentally sustainable death care and 54 percent of Americans have expressed interest in exploring green funeral options and their lower costs.
There are other ways to preserve a body such as dry ice or a nontoxic agent, but the most environmentally conscious move is to pass on embalming altogether.
I believe in donating one’s body to science and medical research. Give hope to future generations. There is a no cost program for final arrangements. For more information visit www.sciencecare.com
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