Greg went away for work for two weeks. And one night, after going to bed at midnight, I woke at 2am and something wasn't right. My stomach hurt and I felt nauseous. My first thought was that I had gastro or food poisoning. But then the pain was getting worse and I'd never experienced pain with an upset stomach before, so I thought maybe the pain was causing my nausea.
I took the strongest painkillers I had. And the pain seemed to ease from across my stomach but intensified on my right side.
It was now 3am and the pain was getting worse. And I was home alone with a two year old. I was trying to think who I could call at 3am in the morning. I finally called a nursing hotline and the nurse established that while I wasn't experiencing something life threatening, I should get to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible.
At 3am? With a toddler in tow?
Now the pain was verging on unbearable. It was coming in waves and during peaks of pain I could do nothing but cry out and hope it would pass soon. Each peak seemed to last forever. And I couldn't stand it much longer. But what could I do? Take Maya to hospital with me? Call a doctor to come to my house? Call someone - a friend, a relative - to look after Maya? But who do you call in the middle of the night?
I tried calling one of my aunts but no one answered. I tried again. Still nothing.
By now it was 4am and the pain was just too much to bear. And that's when I finally realised what the problem was. I'd seen Greg go through the same thing two years prior. Kidney stone. I'd seen how much pain he'd been in and I had read at the time that kidney stones are one of the most painful experiences. And I was proved right when I had a CT scan the following day, which showed a kidney stone in my ureter.
So 4am and I rang up a locum doctor service thinking my only option was to have a doctor come visit me. But when I was put on hold in the middle of a tremendous wave of agony, I hung up and called for an ambulance. I needed to go to hospital. And I needed to drag poor Maya with me.
The ambulance took a long time to arrive. All the while the pain was at its absolute worst. My whole body was shaking in agony.
And then suddenly there was a slight pause in the pain.
That's when the ambulance arrived.
The paramedics wanted to take me to hospital. But my 2 year old was asleep in her room. Could I really drag her to hospital in the middle of the night? The paramedics didn't recommend taking a 2 year old to hospital during the night while staff are stretched. They wanted me to find someone to come take care of her so they could take me to hospital. But I had no one to call. No one to come. Greg was miles away overseas. My parents are dead. My aunt wasn't answering. My other family is no help. I couldn't bring myself to ring friends in the middle of the night. My in-laws are all far away.
I couldn't bear the thought of dragging Maya to hospital and the pain was easing somewhat. So I decided to stay home and see what happened. I finally managed to flop into bed at 6am and Maya was up at 7.
I was completely and utterly shattered. I've never experienced exhaustion like it. I tried getting in touch with family but people either had other commitments or didn't answer their phones. I managed to find a friend who could help out for a couple of hours. She took me to a doctors appointment, for which I am grateful. But it was not enough.
The doctor explained that passing a kidney stone causes trauma to the body. So I was surviving on a couple of hours sleep, with internal trauma to my body, some pain still and trying to care for a 2 year old - all on my own.
I needed to be in bed. I needed to be sleeping. I needed to rest. But I couldn't.
I felt so alone and missed my mum more than ever. She would have been there for me had she been alive and well. Greg of course would have been there for me too, had he not been overseas. I remember I had to drive him to doctors appointments, to his CT scan and I had to take over all household duties and the sole care of Maya while he recovered. While I had no help and no time to rest.
I tried using the TV as a babysitter, so I could nap on the couch but Maya wanted me. She wanted my attention. I napped when she napped, but it made no difference to how I felt. And that evening when Maya would not go to bed for some reason I just burst into tears. It was just all too much. I had no energy. No energy to fight her into bed. I just wanted to go to bed and go to sleep. And Maya wasn't going to let me. She was probably feeling anxious about me. I hadn't been myself all day. And while I explained to her what had happened, she didn't really understand. So we cried together. For an hour. Until we both collapsed into wonderful, blissful, much needed sleep.