It came back. Not expected. Not in the least. Sunday morning brought a return to the league of kidney stones. It was a surprise because I had truly believed that I had conquered that ogre of a malady. I made this great life change where I gave up drinking Coca Cola because I was certain that was what was putting those pebbles where they did not belong.
The morning before, my wife and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood together and we passed by the nearest 7-11. Out front there was a big sign advertising their lunch special: A Big Gulp and a hot dog. The hot dog was all but obscured by the towering tumbler of cola. Beads of water dripping down the side, ice hanging on by surface tension at the rim. That brown elixir from my past was crying out to me. I was pretty sure that it wasn't Pepsi. The bubbles roiling up were too big for that. Not root beer or Dr. Pepper. This was the Real Thing. For a moment, I stood transfixed.
"What is it?" my wife turned around to see what was impeding my progress.
Slack-jawed, I pointed at the poster.
"I see," she commiserated.
For a moment we gazed at the obvious focus of the advertisement.
"Do you miss it?" she knew the answer.
"Sure," I said as I started walking forward again, "But I sure don't miss kidney stones." We shared a knowing smile and wandered off into the day.
Less than twenty-four hours later, I was in the throes of the twist and shout that I knew all too well. It wasn't a shock, since I had been on this ride a few times before. The surprise came from the revelation that, after two years, taking Coke off my menu did not preclude me from experiencing all the suffering that kidney stones allow. Or maybe just standing there on the sidewalk, staring at the sign outside our neighborhood 7-11 was all it took to push me over the edge.
And into the abyss.
Or maybe having that history of stones put me in a category that I hadn't fully anticipated. Not that I am any sort of medical doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Which is why I suppose the notion that a picture can cause me to experience the wonder and splendor that one can have ironically with kidney stones.