Saturday, November 05, 2005


5:06 a.m. I'm going to hurry up and write this before I have to take anymore Lortab. I actually tried to write it last night but instead ended up spending three of the best hours of my life staring at a screen that was empty but for the word "The".

Any yet never have I felt so content being unproductive.

For the past few days I have been in labor. I'm about to give birth to a bouncing baby kidney stone, you see. Anybody have some cigars?

I sat in the ER waiting room yesterday afternoon for about an hour before I was finally seen. Actually, I was in my jammies and brought my fuzzy blanket with me so I ended up sprawling across three chairs and napping as best I could between phone calls from my supervisors.

Blah blah blah blah! (That's what the ringer on my phone says. It's very annoying and discourages me from just ignoring incoming calls.)

"Hey, boss. Que paso?" It's Jose. He's covers most of the southwest.

"I paso fine, dude. What's up?"

"Well, I am still waiting to hear back from my investigator that went out on the Jones case. Everyone else is accounted for and I tol' them to get their updates in by 5pm so I can start drinkin' sooner."

I had to have a talk with Jose yesterday about laying off the sauce until he's done reviewing cases for the night. There's nothing more frustrating than sending cases back to somebody who is drunk off his arse. "Jose! I sent this back to you three times! Sign the damn expense sheet!" I can hear him opening a can over the telephone. "Polly, you din't seem so mean back when we were in Boston and we were hangin' with Fish. Fish was a cool boss, man."

I sigh. Yes. Fish was cool and I'm mean. Fish called me a couple of days ago and told me that Jose is desparate for the good ol' days when he wasn't expected to do, well, much of anything more than answer the phone when an investigator called.

"Okay, Jose. Just make sure that girl does a neighborhood canvass if she doesn't ID the Subject. I'll talk to you later."

"Aye, Aye, Cap'n."

I hang up and snuggle back under the covers and pretty quick my phone rings again. It's Max. He's my supervisor for the southeast and has a lovely South Carolina accent. He proceeds to tell me how his investigator (a former cop) was trying to strong-arm a Subject into setting up an interview to sign some papers. Apparently, the Subject answered the phone the first time the investigator called and was "uncooperative..." Whatever that means.

So the guy proceeds to call him four or five more times thoughout the day like we're the freakin' Mafia. And all with Max's blessing. I tell him to back off and close the case immediately. If the guy doesn't want to be interviewed, who cares? It's not like we won't get paid of the effort.

Max is eager, but he is seriously lacking in common sense and calls me almost as much as Mouse did back when I lorded over Ohio.

"Okay, boss. One of my investigators got some video today."

"Hi, boss. Just thought I'd run something past you."

"Well, hey, there, Polly! I just thought I'd let you know that I'm about to use a public toilet and don't plan on washing my hands when I'm finished!"

Anyway, I finally get called from the waiting room and am asked to pee in a cup. I'm given instruction on the proper procedure for urine collection with the minimal amount of unpleasant spillage. Bah! Amateurs. That's like somebody instructing Houdini on how to pick a lock.

Anyway, after that excitement I lay there, pale and shivering in the fetal position on a highly uncomfortable bed for...oh... another hour or so, dozing in and out of sleep.

Finally the doc rolls in all bouncy and happy like a well-fed toddler. He was probably out eating lunch with a drug rep while I was freezing my tooshy off in the sub-arctic conditions of the ER for two hours. I lay shaking uncontrolledly as he cheerfully asks me how I'm doing today. I don't feel like being smart, so I say, "Never better! And you?" (Okay, maybe I am feeling smart.)

He asks me what the problem is and I tell him my right kidney hurts. He is dubious. Apparently, most people who complain of kidney pain don't realize the little buggers are jammed up high just under the ribcage on your back. "Well," he says, "Most of the time when somebody tells me their kidneys hurt it's because they're actually suffering from lower back pain or ovulation.

I narrow my eyes. Bastard. I should barf on him.

He asks me to lay on my stomach. I comply. "Oh...sorry. I mean your back." Too many mai-tais at the luncheon, doc? I wince and flip like a struggling fish onto my back. He lifts my shirt and feels around my abdomen, then asks me to sit up. He uses his middle and forefinger to thump lightly on the lower ribs of my left side. Nothing. Then he does the same on the right side and I recoil from his hand as red-hot pain shoots through my body. "Thaaat hurt like a son of a bitch." I say.

I am sweating and shaking like I've got a nerve disorder. The doctor looks impressed. "Wow. That test hardly ever comes up positive." Lucky me.

Just then a nurse walks in with a piece of paper. He takes it.

"Well, you sure have an infection, alright." He explains to me how I'm likely passing a kidney stone that hasn't yet travelled down into the ureter. Then he spends twenty minutes giving me an anatomy lesson which I don't have the strength to thwart by telling him I am already quite familiar with human innards.

He proceeds to cheerfully tells me how he had an accident while parachuting out of an airplane which resulted in a broken pelvis and several other broken things. "But that was nothing compared to the three kidney stones I passed last year. I just hope I die before I have to endure that again."

My eyes are as big as saucers. I am given a prescription for a months supply of Lortab, a killer antibiotic that promises to kill all flora and fauna present in my body...good or bad, and some anti-nausea medication. Apparently, they would like me to spend a few days waiting to pass the little guy before doing something drastic like admitting me and shooting my kidney with ultrasound to break up the stone.

I'm all for that. Just give me the drugs and I'll be on my way.

I go to the pharmacy and am just paying the cashier when a call comes in from the MEO. It's Nancy. "Polly! You answered!" I smile. Nancy sounds frazzled.

"Can you go out on a traffic in the county? I got slammed today...five cases and I can't be in two places at once."

Oh, fudge. I look at my bottle of drugs longingly.

"Sure. I don't have a pen to write down any info right now. Let me call you back in a few minutes. Will you be at the office when I get back? I might need help moving the body." I might need help moving myself...

Nancy promises she'll still be there. I tell her I need to go home and get my equipment (and change out of my bunny slippers).

A half hour later I call dispatch and ask for the officer in charge at the scene. "You mean a phone number?" Duh. Apparently, the ME hardly ever calls for a preliminary update here. After several minutes she gives me Lt. Hardy's number. I call him and identify myself. I ask a few questions. Apparently, this was a van vs a motorcycle. The motorcycle lost.

Lt. Hardy says that there was slight electrical activity when the EMTs arrived so they moved him out of the road and into the wagon. Huh. That means that I have no scene to investigate. "By the time I get out there the sun will be down and I won't be able to take any photographs," I say. "Can you send copies of what you have and your report to the MEO in the morning?" He is very cooperative and I hang up.

But then as I reach the outskirts of town, he calls back. "Hey. Rescue 24 wants to know if there's someplace you'd like them to transport. They've been here since 1430...that's three hours and we'd all like to go home."

I make a unilateral decision. "Hell yes! Ask them to bring him into the MEO. I'll meet you there." I thank him profusely and tell him I'm passing a kidney stone. He winces and tells me how his brother had one of those. "I never saw him cry before that and I haven't seen him cry since. Good luck with that." I can hear the respect in his voice.

I feel almost proud to join this small, rebelious band of kidney stone survivors. It's like going through a right of passage. A vision quest. Hell week with the Marines.

I get back to the office and Nancy lets me in.

"What the hell's wrong with you?" Nancy asks as I hobble into the office. I tell her and she relays to me the story of her mother's kindey stone...that made childbirth look like a walk in the park. Then, she starts telling me about the double homicide this morning that was staged to look like a housefire. "Yeah. The screwdriver in the guy's neck and the gunshot wound to the woman's head sort of tipped me off," she says.

Several minutes later, the body arrives accompanied by a police cruiser. The officer walks in as Nancy and the EMTs struggle with the body. She is a young lady and is pretty green, but i give her points for remaining professional through what must have been one of her first death scenes. She holds it together through my questioning. Only when I lightly touch her arm and ask her how she's doing does she almost lose it. She tells me how the man still had a pulse when she arrived on scene and that she'd hoped he'd make it. Her eyes get glassy and I quickly get back to business because I know how sucky it is to almost break down in the company of your peers.

Dr. Frank is still there finishing laying out the clothes that need to dry from the fire. "You should have told Nancy to go eff herself (only she didn't say "eff") when she asked you to come in." I smile. "Yeah. Probably." I am leaning on the cabinet and am currently having a hard time concentrating on anything but the pills that are stashed in my truck.

Later, after I've taken some pictures, documented injuries, and moved the body into the cooler, I am sitting with Nancy in the office, chatting. Suddenly I hear a scratching sound in the bushes outside the window. Nancy and I look at each other. There's a knock. What the hell? Nancy stands up and goes to the window where a perfectly arranged woman with blond hair, a suit, and a microphone in hand motions for Nancy to go to the entrance. Nancy chuckles and shakes her head, "No". We hear the woman yell from outside, "This is Tamara from channel 5 news. Are the results of the homicide autopsies in yet?"

Nancy has no patience for the media. "No. Go away!" She turns back to me. "I've been answering calls from those vultures all day."

Okay. I should go, bloglit.

I am way overdue for my happy pills.

I'll let you know if it's a boy or a girl.


kitty said...

Boy, I sure hope you're feeling better when you read this!

It appears as though everyone has a kidney stone story. Here's mine:

My father-in-law, who was seriously injured in WWII and later whose arm was caught in a machine at work and both times refused morphine, actually asked for morphine when he passed his stone. Said it was the worst pain ever.

Here's hoping I never get a kidney stone!

insomniac said...

a rite of passage

a very, very, narrow passage...

Kafaleni said...

Why is it (no disrespect intended to the lovely Kitty, but still...), that regardless of what medical condition you happen to have, there's someone who knows someone (or has been that someone themselves) who has encountered that particular condition, and has been through hell and back with it.
Just once I'd like to hear someone say "Gangrenous limbs? Feh! It was nothing really.. like a little itch, then they amputated my leg at the hip and the itch was gone. I sailed right through it and didn't feel a thing!"

Meanwhile, you'll be surprised how teeny tiny kidney stones are for the amount of work you do to get them out. Just a sideline thought, has anyone ever considered radiation treatment to break up a baby before birth.. you could then reassemble them when they're on the outside. Sounds much simpler.

Eleanor said...

I worked at a temp job once at some horrible place and the woman at the front desk passed a kidney stone and brought it in wrapped in a hanky so everyone could see it!!!! She wore way too much eye makeup too!

Slyeyes said...


Fish is an investigator?

He's been holding out on us.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Polly, you go right back to that hospital and demand the ultrasound!!! Why torture yourself when they have a perfectly good method of breaking up the stones now.

OK, I do have a story too. My friend George (he was at Bouchercon in Chicago) passed kidney stones some years ago. When the doctor asked him if he could give him anything, George said, "Yes. Heroin."

The doctor thought he was kidding.

And a note to all: if you don't want to go through this drink a lot of water, every day.

Good luck with it, Polly. And I can't believe you actually went to a crime scene with it!

Polly P.I. said...

This is because I'm an indiot, Jeff.

Sly, yeah...Two fishes. Now we just need two loaves. (Ba-dum-dum) Thanks, I'm here all week.

Eleanor, LOL! Damn her and her kidney stone. And her make up!

Polly P.I. said...

I'm even an idiot. I'm not sure what an indiot is. I'm so stoned.

Get it????


Leetie said...

Can we help name it after you birth it?
Mr. Slate

Feel better, Polly!

Slyeyes said...

Polly, "they" say that the closest men will come to experiencing the pain of childbirth is passing a kidney stone. You'll be able to report to us if that's true.

When my ex was birthing his stone; which was several months after our oldest daughter was born, he told me that if it is a similar pain, there was no way in hell he would ever forget the pain and no way he would voluntarily go through that again. And then he continued with his Lamaze breathing.

And I'm amazed you were able to work with that going on. You are incredible.

Anonymous said...

how could u go to work with THAT??
drink loads of water.

i seriously hope u get thru this with as much medication as possible. all these stories sound horrific
Luv, Bangi

Tamara said...

My poor baby... but I still want those autopsy results!

Higgy said...

*runs away from blog screaming in terror*

That's it - I'm off to drink a gallon of water....

Olga said...

I didn't have a kidney stone story until now.
Thanks Polly! :-)

Seriously, I hope you're feeling better soon, my friend.

Brian B said...

Well as long as everyone is sharing (I know it's LTTG, but I've been in D.C. all week), my uncle frequently gets kidney stones. To the point that when he told the first urologist about the fact that he frequently passed 2 to 3 large stones per month and many sand sized grains with every urination, the repsonse was, and I quote, 'I have a hard time believing that.'

The largest he has passed so far is 8 mm.

And yes, he keeps them all and we have looked at them under a microscope.

Sarcasmo said...

*drinks a gallon of water*

*runs back and forth to the bathroom all day*

My cubicle neighbors frowned at the ice cream bucket idea.

Mike Weasel said...

I guess the microscope is for identifying whether it's a boy or girl. When's the stone shower?