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Column - An election night surprise

The headline on today's front page, "Election yields some surprises," was all too true for me, personally.

After getting the final results from the friendly folks at the Douglas County Auditor's Office, I got back into the office at a little after 1 a.m. to write a final story on the vote totals.

I was in the middle of writing a sentence, when I suddenly didn't feel well - at all. And it wasn't because of the results.

I was extremely nauseated, began to break out in a cold sweat and came down with the worst case of chills I've ever had. It all happened without warning, in a manner of minutes.

I went to the bathroom and waited for the sick feeling to pass. It didn't. I then noticed a searing pain on the left side of my lower back. "Am I having a heart attack?" I thought. No, that wasn't it. I didn't have chest pains. My left arm was fine.

"Must be some type of food poisoning," I told myself while trying to remember what I had eaten that day. Another possibility was some sort of ultra-violent flu bug.

As my discomfort grew, all guesses of trying to figure out what was wrong were pushed aside with one blaring thought: This had to stop. Now. I tried to will it away, to shrug it off. This kind of thing had never happened to me before. I'm usually as healthy as a horse. But here I was - a sweating, trembling, gasping mess with a pain in my lower back that was only getting worse.

Finally, I realized it wasn't going away. I called my wife, who was sound asleep at this time of the night, but - thankfully - she answered the phone. "Something's wrong," I told her between gasps of pain. "I don't know what in the heck it is but maybe I'd better go in."

She must have broken a land-speed record in getting to the newspaper office. She took one look at my white-as-a-ghost complexion and my shaking and sweating and didn't waste any time helping me into the car to go to the Douglas County Hospital.

It was an agonizing couple of minutes until we arrived in the emergency room. Along the way, I thought, "What if this would have happened to me miles away from any kind of clinic or hospital?" I realized just how fortunate we are in Alexandria to have such an around-the-clock, top-quality hospital to turn to, no matter what ailment, no matter what time of the day or night.

At the hospital, the pain and time blurred. With brisk but friendly efficiency, nurses took my vital signs, hooked me up to monitors and administered medicine that finally eased the pain, nausea and discomfort.

I could finally breathe normally. I started to relax. While waiting for test results, I thought about my condition and realized one of the worst things about being sick is not knowing what's wrong, that fear of the unknown and the unanswered questions of how your own body could suddenly fail you so completely.

The culprit, the doctor found out after looking at my test results, was likely about the size of a grain of sand - a kidney stone. Through the doctor and nurses, I learned that a kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in a kidney out of substances in the urine. It may stay in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract. A small stone may pass all the way out of the body without causing too much pain. A larger stone may get stuck in a ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. That's usually what causes the pain.

Lucky for me, my kidney stone must have been relatively small because I had apparently passed it while at the hospital. Even better news: Tests didn't show any more stones. After about a two and a half hour stay, I was good to go. Other than being tired - I'd been up for 24 hours straight - I felt just fine, good enough to return to the office and wrap up my election story.

Later, my wife pointed out an interesting coincidence: Fifty years ago, on November 8, 1960 - Election Day - I was born at the Douglas County Hospital. This election, I returned. I hope it's not a trend.

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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