A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


They say that passing a kidney stone is as close as a man can get to experiencing the pain women must endure in giving birth.

Well, I donít know nothing Ďbout Ďbirthiní no babies, but during the last week I learned everything I care to know about kidney stone passing. Intimately. And if what they say is true (please see above), I can assure you with absolute certainty that if child-bearing had been my responsibility, Anita and I would have one child.


End of discussion.

No equivocation.

It pains me to say this because I dearly love all five of my children. I canít imagine life without any one of them, and Iím grateful beyond words for the blessing of knowing and loving each of them Ė not to mention their respective spouses and children. But if getting them here had required . . . you know . . . excruciating pain and extreme discomfort and all sorts of undignified stuff Ė you know, like the stuff women go through during child birth Ė well, so long, itís been good to know ya.

And donít let the screen door smack you on the way out.

Of course, I wasnít thinking in terms of child birth when the first intense pain hit Wednesday morning. I was thinking more in terms of a heart attack. Never mind that the pain was emanating from . . . well . . . places other than my heart. The point is I was doubled over in pain. I was sweating like a linebacker during two-a-days. And wave after wave of nausea had my stomach doing more flip-flops than a California gubernatorial candidate.

My boss could tell that something was wrong. Heís very intuitive that way. Whenever someone emerges from one of the office rest rooms looking like one of those "Pirates of the Carribean" pirates in the moonlight, he sends them home Ė whether they need it or not.

Only I didnít go home. I went straight to the hospital. This was a wise decision on my part. Unfortunately, I ran completely out of wisdom right after making that decision. Noticing that I was now walking . . . no, make that staggering . . . in the Inverted Seven position favored by seriously ill people everywhere and endorsed by the Mad Scientistís Lab Assistant Union of Transylvania (MSLAUT), several of my colleagues volunteered to drive me to the hospital.

"No," I grunted bravely (read "stupidly"), "I can make it."

How I actually made it to the hospital emergency room without hurting myself or anyone else is one of the mysteries of the universe, right after UFOs, crop circles and Michael Jackson. I did frighten at least one person: the woman who was standing at the emergency room registration desk trying to work through some insurance issues with the nurse there. After I staggered through the emergency room and lunged for the desk, hanging onto it for dear life as I panted and groaned and perspired, she smiled politely and backed away. I think she had seen this scene in "Alien" and didnít want to be too close when the little creature exploded out of my stomach.

Thankfully, there was no little creature Ė just a few little fragments of calcium. And they didnít explode out of my stomach Ė they came out in a more natural way, three days later. Those days were long and painful, but at least I learned a few things. I learned that I need to drink more water and less Diet Dr Pepper. I learned to savor and appreciate how good it feels to feel good.

And I learned that Iím not tough enough to be a mother. At least, not more than once.

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through