My First Kidney Stone

Imagine sitting around the dining table with friends enjoying Southern fried chicken on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. The next thing you know you are feeling queasy. So, you stand up and head over to the bathroom. By the time you arrive you are breaking out in cold sweats. Seconds later, you are on the floor, bent over in pain. It quickly becomes very intense as the unbearable pain feels like a knife in your gut, along with all of your nearby muscles contracting to drive the blade as deep as possible. You move to the left, then right, then up, down, sideways, and cattywampus. You try everything to find a spot that will ease the pain ever so slightly, but it doesn’t exist. Now your clothes are soaking wet from sweat, you are so nauseous you feel you will pass out and the pain has you writhing on the floor like a snake. This is like nothing you have every experienced…your first kidney stone!

Without exaggeration, this happened to me while visiting my friends Jeff and Veronica McCormack in August, 1987. Fortunately, they lived close to a hospital and, though it seemed to me like hours, I was quickly checked into Biloxi Regional Hospital. Once stabilized, I was moved out of the ER into a regular room. There I began a steady routine of going to the bathroom as they pumped me with fluids hour after hour.

The next morning a maid came in to clean the room and asked what I “was in for.” When I told her I had a kidney stone she got very excited and exclaimed, “Honey, I had four children and a kidney stone. I would take having a child any day to having another kidney stone.” I later learned that kidney stone pain is similar to labor pangs during natural childbirth where no analgesics or anesthesia are used.John Cripps Proto Kidney Stone

Enter Bloodgood

As evening approached, I was way past ready to go home. The routine was getting old and nothing was happening. I had asked for my Bible and Walkman to pass the time. When they arrived I said I was going to read a passage, listen to the entire debut album of Bloodgood, say a quick prayer, then get up and pass the stone. That is what happened, in the same exact order. When I made it the bathroom, I immediately passed a black, BB-sized stone. Hallelujah!

Bloodgood is a Christian metal band from Seattle. At the time, they were not well known outside of the small, but burgeoning circle of Christian rockers. I ran into the band at Cornerstone Festival the following year. Being in a Christian rock band myself, I always managed to score backstage passes. When I first met Les Carlsen, the vocalist, and David Zaffiro, the guitarist, I told them the kidney stone story. They got a really big kick out of it and Les said, “Hey, you need to pass that story around.” Well I did, and I’m still doing it, right?

Bloodgood at Cornerstone 1988I hung out with Bloodgood backstage at one of the afternoon performances. I found them to be very committed to what they were doing, unlike many of the bands I spent time with. Michael Bloodgood, the bassist and founder of the band, seemed to be the serious one. On the other extreme was David, the guitarist, who was extremely enthusiastic. In Pete Townsend fashion, he was speaking about a desire to smash his guitar on stage. Les was in-between, and they were all just very kewl dudes. It’s a testimony that 26 years later, Michael and Les are still touring and making music. They just released their sixth studio album, Dangerously Close. You can view the video of Lamb of God on YouTube. In fact, it was listening to the new album that reminded me of this story.

Bloodgood Poster

Some Stories Never End

Unfortunately, the kidney stones kept coming. The 1987 event was merely the proto-stone. The good news is that I no longer feel the same intensity of pain. For the next two or three stones, it was still there. For the last two, I didn’t even go to the hospital. I’m not saying the pain is absent, but it has certainly lessened.

The moral of this story is clear. If you are ever struck with one of those nasty stones, grab your Bible and iPod. Make yourself as comfortable as possible, read a passage of Scripture and settle in to listening to a complete Bloodgood album. There is your cure, plain and simple. Some people have their stones blasted with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). I blast mine with Bloodgood. Both methods use sound wave technology, but my method is cheaper, less painful, and more pleasing to the ears.