It may come as a shock to you that I can’t get pregnant. The reason, of course, is that I am too old. But that did not stop a doctor from sending me for a sonogram.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t my first. It was my fifth. Or sixth. I have lost count, mostly under the influence of painkilling drugs, but I do know that I am a human quarry who manufactures these things at an alarming rate. If I could outsource this manufacturing to another person, I would. But I can’t, so I continue to have kidney stones.
The first time I had one, a nurse told me it was the male equivalent of childbirth. I told her that at least I wouldn’t have to put the stone through college.
This time, my urologist, Dr. Albert Kim, who has a practice in the appropriately named New York hamlet of Stony Brook, ordered a sonogram because I’d already had enough X-rays from my previous kidney stones to glow in the dark, which at least would reduce my electric bills.
When I arrived at Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology, I spoke with Amy, one of the nice people who work at the front desk.
“I’ve been here so often that I should have my own parking space,” I told her.
“Even I can’t get one,” Amy said with a smile. Then she handed me paperwork whose sheer volume rivaled that of “War and Peace” and asked me to fill it out.
“I’ve had to do this so many times that my right hand should be X-rayed,” I said.
Amy nodded sympathetically and replied, “You can keep the pen.”
Then I was called in by a nice technologist named Erin, who asked if I had been drinking.
“No,” I replied, “but I could go for a beer.”
“I mean water,” Erin said. “You have to have at least 24 ounces before we can do a sonogram.”
“I had a bottle on the way over,” I told her.
“Good,” said Erin, who asked me to lift my shirt so she could rub some jelly on my belly and watch it on the telly.
“Am I pregnant?” I asked.
“Sorry,” she responded, “but no.”
“Do you see my kidney stone?” I wondered.
“I’m not a doctor,” Erin explained, “so I’m not allowed to say.”
But she did say that a report would be sent to Dr. Kim, with whom I had an appointment the next day. That evening, however, someone from the radiology center called me at home to say I had to come back because part of the sonogram was blurred.
The next morning, I returned for another one. While I was waiting, I had a kidney stone attack. Fortunately, it was no worse than having hot tar injected into my right side. When the pain subsided, I had a second sonogram and then went to see Dr. Kim, who said the stone was probably dropping and that this, too, shall pass.
Sure enough, at home later that afternoon, it did. Dr. Kim ordered an X-ray, which I tried to avoid in the first place.
I had one a couple of days later from another nice technologist named Jenn, who said I could keep the blue paper pants I had to wear for the procedure. She also gave me a copy of the X-ray, which I had to bring to Dr. Kim a few days later.
I also brought him the stone, which looked to be the size of a bocce ball but was actually, according to Dr. Kim, five or six millimeters.
“It’s fairly big,” he said. “Did you have a tough time passing it?”
“It wasn’t pleasant, but it could have been worse,” I replied. “At least I didn’t have a baby.”
— Jerry Zezima
Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows Best, Leave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.