Exciting Day in Leamington, Ontario… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Exciting Day in Leamington, Ontario...

Late on Friday afternoon I got on the ground to photograph some Canada Goose goslings asleep on a dock.   As I raised up I felt a sharp spasm in my lower back on the left side.  This has happened before so I did not think much of  it.   It did not hurt me at all when I got up or any more that evening.  

At 2:30 am on Saturday I awoke with a somewhat vicious pain in my lower back, left side.  I assumed that it was a muscle spasm, similar to those that I used to have nearly two decades ago.  My back has been great ever since I had major spinal surgery in 1991; thank you Dr. Francis Gamache Jr.  I tried some moist heat and stretching but it did not help at all.  I could not get comfortable in any position.  Within an hour I began to experience a bloating pain in my lower left abdomen.   I tried calling my health advisor in San Diego at 2:30am his time but his cell was off.  I called my chiropractor in Lake Wales, waking him at 5am.  He explained that a bad muscle spasm could affect surrounding organs and that made sense to me, but within the hour, I knew that something was not right with my body so I drove myself to the emergency room at the local hospital and forked over $500 Canadian for my visit. 

Twelve hours and five minutes later I was released after finally learning that my pain had been caused by a kidney stone travelling from my kidney to my bladder.    I passed the stone without any pain last night without even knowing it.   I am pretty much of  a pain wuss but I will admit that this episode was quite painful.  From speaking to other folks it seems that my pain, however, was on the mild side.  My medical care was good but very slow.   I sat in pain for five hours before I saw a doctor despite complaining of increasing pain, and it was another hour until they got the IV going.  The non-narcotic pain meds hit the spot.   An X-ray that showed nothing and a CAT scan that showed the small stone in the bladder took hours and hours and hours. 

During my stay I did get to speak extensively with Dr. Cliff Oliver in San Diego and he instantly diagnosed my problem as a kidney stone  and provided comfort and advice throughout the episode.  I took today (Sunday) off resting and doing more than 100 posts on BirdPhotographers.Net.   I am feeling great and ready to get back in action at Pelee tomorrow.  I hope that there are some birds….

13 comments to Exciting Day in Leamington, Ontario…

  • I know some who have had kidney stones and they are VERY painful. Now you know. Alan

  • That’s why it is better for beginners to learn from those who have walked the path already, not those who have only theoretically walked the path whose knowledge consists of what “should” be.

  • Thanks all for the good wishes. I rested one day and was fine, and for sure, I was on the lucky side pain-wise.

    John, I do have additional stones. I have the one I passed. Will have it analyzed; once that is done, there are options (alternative medicine) for dissolving most types.

    Gary, Your feeling that my comments were negative were much more about you than about what I wrote. I just reread my post and did not see a single negative comment….

    There is a good chance that my health coverage will reimburse my costs. Lastly, there were zero big emergenices while I was there. If they had been doing something other than standing around doing nothing than I could have gotten some pain meds in ten minutes. Heck, the triage nurse diagonsed a kidney stone in 30 seconds….

  • Gary, get a grip. At the risk of causing this post to spiral out of control, I don’t think the post is about Canadian health care but a negative image of pain and illness while in unfamiliar surrounds.

    I’ve met Artie on several occasions and while he can, at times, be called grumpy, he’s never negative. [Hi Artie! ;-)]


  • I know your pain. Lucky it passed. I had one in 2005. It got stuck in the common duct and cause pancreatitis. I was in the hospital for 10 days. For the first 2 days all they could do is see if the inflammation went down. It did; but if not a chance of death. After a week of no liquids or food except IV, I was just happy for a sip of water.

    Glad you are on the track back.

  • avatar John Chardine

    Had one a few years ago too Artie. I know what you are on about! No warning either, just like you. I remember terrible pain in spasms every 5 min or so but unlike you there was no delay between onset and buildup. You should get checked out to see if there are any more lurking. Probably not but good to know. They use ultrasound.

    Drink lots of water and take it easy!

    Best wishes,

  • Artie,
    Happy to hear your doing better and that it wasn’t something more serious.

  • avatar Gary

    As an international traveller (primarily to the USA) I think you were very fortunate. For $500. you received and IV, pain meds, an x-ray and a CAT scan along with a diagnosis. All this in the very small town of Leamington. You obviously didn’t have travel insurance to cover all the costs so you got away with a $500. fee.

    Had I gone to a hospital in the USA with the same situation and no traveller’s medical insurance the costs would have been in the thousands. Fellow Canadians are regularly dinged for outrageous costs at USA facilities. A visit to a hospital where they kept me for 4 days and nights, gave me a stress test and wanted to perform a procedure to implant a stint (which they never did) cost $24,500. Had they performed the stint implant they wanted another $35000.

    Instead, I was flown home in a private jet by my insurance company, stayed in the hospital one night and the angioplasty was performed the next morning. The diagnosis was HEALTHY HEART but a pinched nerve in my back with the pain radiating down my arm and across my chest.
    The actual cost of the angioplasty (to my health care system) was $750. plus one night’s accomodation in the hospital.

    I guess my point is that for $500 CDN ($350 US$) you received excellent care even if you did have to wait. Perhaps there was a much more serious medical emergency that the staff were dealing with and you would have no way of knowing that. Last February my buddy waited in Mission Hospital for more than 12 hours for a kidney stone diagnosis and his private insurance carrier did not pick up the total tab.

    My last point is that maybe you should put a note on your blog or whatever that traveller’s have a personal responsibility to ALWAYS purchase TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE when outside their own medical jurisdiction. That would be a positive comment rather than the negative sounding blog you have written. Is your bottle of good fortune 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?



  • Glad to hear you’re feeling better. Getting ill on the road is always a major hassle. I’m enjoying vicariously following your travels.

  • avatar Roger Botting

    Welcome to Canada. Yes, health care is like that here. One line and everyone gets in it. We get what we pay for!
    Compare that south of the border, 2 lines. One moves fast to the doctor, the other moves fast to no care. You get waht you pay for.
    Might bump into you around Point Pelee. The weather today looks great.

  • Get Well Artie!!! We are looking forward to see some of your photos!

    You sure were on the mild side of this pain…it took to me about 2-3 weeks to finally get rid of my kidney stone, with some wild episodes of nefritic colics, hehehe…(yes, i can NOW laugh about it).

    Greetings from your Fan Club at Dominican Republic (Hispaniola Island).

  • avatar Jim Heupel

    Sure am glad you were able to pass it, Artie. My son has had two kidney stone experiences that required operations–the pain before the operations was excruciating. As bad as it was, I think you just proved you’re “one tough bird”! 🙂

    Glad you’re better–look forward to seeing you healthy for the bear trip!!!