We turned in early that night but I woke at 2:30am with mild pain in my side. A trip to the bathroom revealed even more blood in my urine. I had the shakes and couldn't sleep and eventually the vomiting started. I figured I definitely had the flu and sent my wife to go sleep with my daughter so she would avoid catching it. At around 6:30 am, after not sleeping a wink and the pain in my side going from mild to bothersome I sent my wife off to race without me figuring I couldn't even manage to watch from the sidelines.
Moments after she left the pain grew sharp and excruciating. It dawned on me that I had no fever and as the pain completely unravelled me I realized something was much more wrong than a flu. I knew I needed a hospital. Once there they were great and did all they could to flatter me by saying that they don't normally get such fit people in the ER. They also knew right away what was wrong. Kidney stones.
"You're a runner?" (yes) "Well we'll do a series of tests but we suspect a kidney stone." Off for a pee sample, CT scan and (thankfully) some great drugs they determined I had 3 stones, one too large to pass. On the pain scale a kidney stone is intense. The only thing I can compare it to is 35km into a marathon and this is much worse. I spent 8 hours doubled over with a flexed abdomen that felt a lot like someone put a butcher knife in there and forgot to take it out.
If you'd asked me before this happened I would have said that only old people with poor diets get a kidney stone. As it turns out too much animal protein, vitamin D and calcium supplements all do lead to kidney stones but the number one cause is inadequate hydration especially in athletes. By testing my urine they seemed to know which type of stone I had
and the doctor was able to tell me he suspected I'm not drinking enough.
As a person rather obsessed with nutrition and health I like to think I'm invulnerable. Of course I'm not but I should also admit that the one thing I know I don't do well is drink enough water. Frankly I often forget and go about the course of my day without hydrating. The whole point of this post isn't to talk so much about my experience as to point out that fluid intake might be something we should all concentrate on a bit more. After experiencing kidney stone pain (described as the most severe pain in medicine) I have no interest in revisiting it. Just knowing I have those stones to pass somehow makes me nervous.
For now I'm instructed to not run, follow up with my GP and hopefully the smallest of the stones will pass. Hydrating thoroughly after a run and throughout the day would go a long way toward reducing the risk of stones. Of course on a long run you don't want to over drink as the risk of hyponatremia is a much more immediate concern. We live and learn as athletes and this is a great example of me learning the hard way. I'm sure you'll see me much for frequently with a water bottle in hand.