Male labor (twice)

I’ve been out of the blogging scene this week because I’ve been spending my free time at the ER.

I am completely fine and so is Baby H. Jason, on the other hand, has been through quite a bit, having gone through what is considered to be as painful as childbirth: a kidney stone.

Or should I say, stones–plural. Two nights in a row. Geesh.

The pain came out of nowhere. Jason left our apartment on Tuesday night to go paint at our new house and within a half hour he was calling me while racing himself to the ER with intense abdominal and back pain. Thankfully the ER is only minutes away.

Once I arrived at the ER and checked to make sure his car, I ran in to confirm that he was in one piece (and still breathing). I found him doubled over and yelping in pain, understandably very frustrated that he was still sitting in the waiting room.

Once the physician’s assistant got a look at him she said she thought it was a kidney stone. I breathed a sigh of relief. My dad has gotten quite a few of these over the years and he’s been in Seattle with me for two of them. He’s still alive and healthy, so I know that a human being can live through such pain and come out fine.

Still, they wanted to get a CAT scan just to confirm and to rule out appendicitis. The nurses went off to get Jason the strongest intravenous painkiller imaginable and I sat there with him as he writhed in pain, begging for help.

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about how hard it is for me to step into the shoes of another and feel the pain (or joy or sadness or whatever) that they are going through. It bothers me that I’m such a careless, self-consumed person. I know it hurts other people. I have been asking God “Will I ever be different? Will you help me change? How is it possible?”

When I sat next to Jason in the ER, his body contorted and tears streaming down his face, I knew God was doing something. I hurt to see him hurting and felt helpless to make his pain go away. So I just sat there and cried with him, trying to look into his eyes to let him know I was there, more so than just physically.

And then I thought to myself–so this is what it’s like to care. God, I see what you’re doing–you’re making me see!

That revelation didn’t make Jason’s pain go away and it certainly didn’t relieve the weight of hurt I felt for him. But it was a spiritual miracle nonetheless.

What did make the pain go away for Jason were drugs that were soon brought to him by the nurses. For a man who does NOT like needles, he was very brave when they poked him. Within minutes he was feeling much better.

When the nurses left, Jason turned to me and said, “See, Elisabeth, you do care.”

That made me cry all over again. Jason knows my struggles. Heck, he’s been the recipient of my lack of compassion time and time again. But, at least once, in his moment of pain, he got heartfelt tenderness from me. And he spoke that truth out loud, just to make sure I could see it, too, and be encouraged. It made it more real to me that God was changing my heart.

While we waited for the CAT scan, Jason introduced himself to all the nurses who came into the room, wanting to know their names and making a point of thanking them for their help. He even did a bit of joking around. It melted my heart again to see God’s kindness in Jason reveal itself in a situation where I imagine it would’ve been much easier to be self-consumed.

We soon found out that it was a small kidney stone (1-2 millimeters) that was close enough to his bladder that he would pass it in one to two days. They gave him more pain medicine right before we left and sent us home with his prescriptions. Scott & Courtney were nice enough to come by and pick up our extra car for us on the way.

Jason slept through the night pain-free and passed the stone in the morning. He had some mild body aches after that, but was almost as good as new. And he was very proud of himself every time he looked at the stone he had passed, such a little thing that had caused him so much pain.

I would like to say that was the end of that painful but redeeming story, but it’s not. We did the whole thing all over again at 10pm that night. Back to the ER for more intravenous painkillers.

They didn’t even bother to do a CAT scan this time because they were confident they knew what it was. I guess it’s not too uncommon to have more than one so close together.

We both came home exhausted and crabby, and slept on and off for the next twenty-four hours. Jason hasn’t really had any pain but he still hasn’t passed the second stone. We think it has moved to his bladder, where it is not likely to cause him any pain while it’s hanging out there.

I saw God clearly working in our life and our marriage in the first part of this two-part kidney stone story. But I’m still not sure what He has been doing in the second part, which remains unresolved.

But I do pray for a quick and pain-free passing of the stone and restored health for Jason. What’s more, I am amazed at how God has used these circumstances to grow and encourage both me (in allowing me to show true compassion) and Jason (in being able to receive it in his time of need).

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