Masters of Pain

I had my first renal colic ( Kidney Stone) when I was a third year medical student. I had gone home after the examinations and woke up from sleep with agonizing pain. Soon the pain increased further and moved down to the left testes. It was as if it was going to explode. The only time I wished I didnt have them and if I were a female! I was drenched in sweat and yelled out in pain. Somehow my brother managed to take me to Alphonsa Nursing Home run by Dr Jose. I was writhing in pain all along. The nurse told us that the doctor was not at the clinic.( It was about 3 in the morning).I managed to tell her I was a medical student and from what I had learned I thought it was renal colic. She called the doctor and got permission to give me Injection Baralgan. (The drug was banned later). I cannot describe the relief I got. I thought the fat nurse was an angel. It was bliss.Pain relief after a colic is orgasmic.

I had similar colic many times after that. I always felt that  it was one of the worst pains anyone could have. Because I have felt the pain, I always have sympathy to those who suffer the colic .
On a weekend last year I was woken up from sleep by the telephone ringing. Half awake I looked at the clock and it was three in the morning. I heard the cry of a voice at the other end. “Dr, This is S.. I have severe abdominal pain, and I am going to die”
He was alone, his family having left on a vacation.
“Is there someone to take you to the hospital?”
“Dr, I cannot move, I will die, please help” and the phone went dead.

I had never done house calls before , my job never involved such work. I had kept some painkiller injections at home for my own use, in case. I took some medicines and syringes and my hospital bag and reached his home. The door was open. S was lying on the floor rolling in pain, sweaty and pale. Few short questions and I thought he had kidney colic.

“Have you any drug allergy?” I asked. He would not care even if he had, but I had to.
I loaded the syringe , ( after many years since I left the medical college !) placed him on his tummy and gave him the injection. I prayed to all Gods that he should not have an allergy. I had seen patients developing fatal reactions to Voltaren. His pain was relieved in few minutes, color came back to him and he got up and lay down on the sofa.

“Dr, I will never forget this in my life” He said.
“Don’t worry, take rest and come to the hospital for tests tomorrow” I said.
His investigations later proved he had a kidney stone. He used to tell me often about the pain he had.

When his wife joined him later, he was describing the pain to his wife and said
“This is the worst of pains anyone can have”.
His wife smiled and said” How do you know? The pain of delivery is the worst, only we  women know that.”

That led to an argument on the comparison of pains of kidney stone and that of delivery. We reached nowhere. The following week, he came to my flat and was carrying a lunch box. He said, it was from his wife. It was a full meal with all Malayali curries and accompaniments. He didn’t come back to take his lunch box. I had another call from him a week later to let me know that his stone was removed, and then no more. The promise” I will never forget this”, is never taken seriously by us, doctors. Probably his whole gratitude was packed in to that lunch box.
I have always heard such discussions comparing the severity of pains. Kidney stone is accepted as a master of pain, and women would definitely place the pain of vaginal delivery as the worst. I stumbled up on such a discussion on the net. I was surprised at the way people look at it and the kind of ideas they come up with. Many take it as a joke, especially those who never suffered pain.
The discussion went on somewhat like this. Many had commented as anonymous.

“A kidney stone is not a human being. He probably won't shit his bed while passing it, and if he does take a shit, he'll know about it WHILE he's passing the stone, not find out after. Oh, and if he likes, he can still have sex afterwards... women pretty much tell you never to touch them again after they've given birth. it's not really that bad...  Suck it up”......anonymous lady.
“Yes, giving birth might be a little more painful. But passing a kidney stone as a guy is definitely comparable. It's like trying to shove a strawberry through a McDonald's straw without altering the strawberry. It's difficult and would stretch out the inside of the p…..  and would cause extreme pain. How would you know, anyway? You're a girl.....anonymous male
Yes, giving birth is painful and agonizing, but really you're choosing to have a child and it's 100% preventable. You can't bitch too much about something you caused.”
"I've passed a kidney stone before, and I gave birth. The pain was basically the same. The child at the end made the pain worthwhile whilst the stone at the end made me hate the world”. :P
“Your penis doesn't have to be stitched up after from being torn apart, and I'm guessing you don't have a man begging you for sex like month later, right? Lol...I'm sorry labor and childbirth is WAY worse, not only for the whole labor part, but the recovery.”

“Push... push...
IT'S A BOY! Two grams!
Enjoy your newborn pet rock OP!” :D

“If it makes you feel better, there is a tiny catfish in(I think  in the amazon) called the toothpick fish that has been known to swim right up inside a man's d..., wedge itself inside with barbs, thrash around to make you bleed and drink the blood. Victims have said the pain is so bad that some cut off their penis to relieve the pain.” by skyeyez

“They swim up women's urethras as well but we can't cut ours off D..     by bandgeek

“Cheer up, at least you won't have to pay child support. :) ”

There were so many crack comments, many too vulgar to bring here. I checked on this amazon fish and was surprised to find it to be true. ( ‎Candiru (English and Portuguese) or candirú (Spanish), also known as cañero or toothpick fish, are a number of genera of parasitic freshwater catfish in the family Trichomycteridae,all are native to the Amazon Rivers).   Those of you who travel,beware.

Pain is difficult to measure and titrate.For the person who suffers,his pain is the worst,whatever.Toothache and ear pain has some irritating character which makes them unbearable.The interesting thing is how easily we talk of pain and how we connect  strange ideas and informations.  I was also thinking how easy it is for people to forget the promises they make while sick or in pain or in any kind of needs. Our memories are short, it seems.


  1. I'm no Arnold Schwarzenegger and no woman so do not know about the intensity of labour pain.
    And fortunately till date kidney stones have been kept at bay.So the pain that comes from urinary stone has not been felt. Mercifully!

  2. The discussions or rather arguments you've come across sound 'petty' and 'gross'. Fact is, you can't compare the two. And for each person, the intensity of pain and tolerance to it, is different.

  3. Ah that age old debate - which is more paiful (add your most painful experience) OR child birth? Never having had kidney stones or given birth I couldn't possibly comment.

  4. Cannot tell about child birth but I think worst kind I had was herniated disk in neck...I don't think anything is more painful than that....medicines don't help either.

  5. What made me smile is not the bawdiness of the comments but the fact that people could be normal enough make a joke of the business of pain. Unlike RGB, I do not think the 'discussions' are gross or petty. We have to unwind at times, crack a joke or two even if they are a little obscene. Thank God there are still humans left!

  6. Thanks for the very nice and informative post. Why can’t we find doctors who would make house calls at 3 am if it is an emergency? As the saying goes, it is only a small pain or minor operation if it happens to someone else.

    I have a question. If Baralgan is very effective, why it is banned?

  7. I mean doctors like you who make house calls at 3 am in an emergency.

  8. @ all my friends
    What was interesting to me were those comments. I laughed at many of those.As Balachanran said,once in a while,we can unwind.Even if it is pain,sometimes we laugh.I was wondering how different the views were.

  9. @RGB
    Honestly,as a doctor,and having gone through the pain of stone pains,I know it can be one of the worst.I remember walking around the room,not even able to sit down,and cursing every moment of life.Pain is a sufering,and not all pains are the same.

  10. Now @Doc! If you could share how to avoid Kidney stones in the first place, it will be quite informative. Kindly consider.

    If you ask me right now, I would say the cut in my pinky while cutting pineapple over the weekend hurts more...

    ~ NRIGirl

  11. Hi Doc, Holy Smoke! Very interesting but scary reading.
    I have had friends who had this and they said its like 'going to die' the pain.
    Wonder if man or women has this more?
    Have a nice day, Doc, Lee.

  12. I have heard but never experienced a kidney stone. I take your word that it must be a really bad pain. As far as childbirth is concerned, that is a painful experience too. Why get into pointless arguments, to each person, his or her pain is the worst. And, only the sufferer knows how the shoe bites :).

  13. @ NRI girl..Yes,for any one it is so,till one gets a different kind of pain.I as not trying to compare the pain, but took it in a lighter sense,how peoeple look at the same problem from different view points.
    Kidney stones have many causes.But in general,good hydration..taking enough water,about 2 to 3 litres every day, could help.If one gets repeated attacks, then a cause has to be looked for.
    I am becoming a fan of yours! after reading your stories.Beer is a good substitute for water.It can affect both sexes.
    Yes, all kinds of pain is a suffering.I was just trying to show how we look at the same problem from different views.

  14. It is an extremely painful condition.Like your renal colic pain i had an experience of slipped disc pain when i was about to appear for my third year in dental school.I was hospitalized and still remember the relief i got after analgesic shot i was given.
    The comments you quoted above are funny and interesting too.

    I have never heard of toothpick fish before - scary !And i am wondering about the forgotten promises !

  15. well i am pleased to say that i have had NONE of the above experience THank fully no stones and I am male so no giving birth too.. SO no idea what it would feel like :)

    The cheesy quotes you put and the arguments made me smile :)

    good one DOC... I need to ask you a few questions myself he heh ehe

    Bikram's Blog

  16. @Kavitha
    I wish you never get any kind of pain.I brought the topic for the sake of thecomments.
    You will make headlines if you attempt that Bikram.You have a big fan club, dont disappoint them!The quotes were chesy and you are candy!

  17. I think its like looking at two sides of the coin. To me it might look like, "oh only stone", but to the person who is going through it, it is unbearable.

  18. very interesting post,exploring even the humurous side.No arguements ..the pain of the vaginal delivery is the worst pain ever..:)But i know how the renal colic may feel close friend's husband had this experience.she explained this to me.

  19. FFT.........Emotional pain takes more time to heal than all the above discussed . There are so many docs and medicine out there to heal the physical pain . The former always leaves scars that cant heal.

  20. Have gone through both a natural delivery and a kidney stone. The kidney stone is the worst. Atleast there is some wonderful outcome of labour pain. I think my mother ( she died young, but fortunately prepared me for childbirth) said - the pain at that moment is bad, but once the baby is born all is forgotten - which is very true.

  21. @dashboy
    That is authentic.Pain from different sources have different nature.Like you said, the baby at the end makes the pain of delivery bearable.

  22. Well, I've had both; babies and kidney stones....multiple times. I'd rather push a baby out ANY day than suffer with stones. Just sayin'.........


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