A funny—not as in ha ha—thing happened on the way to work Monday. My son and I got up as usual to go on our morning run. Try as I might, I was not able to do it, so we came back home. After showering and dressing for work, I was eating my usual bowl of oatmeal when my lower back began to bother me. In typical male fashion I shrugged it off, kissed my wife and headed to my car, all the while the discomfort in my back was rapidly turning into pain. I was about two-miles away from home when the pain became so intense it took my breath away. I pulled over and tried to collect myself. The pain continued until tears began streaming down my face. At that point I managed to text my manager telling him that I would not make it today. I turned the car around heading back home. My phone rang—it was my manager—I answered in agonizing pain by saying “I am in such pain, I cannot even drive.” His advice was to pull over and call 911. “I would love to call 911,” I thought. “If I had insurance I would call 911.” I made it home. Once inside my wife could tell immediately that something was wrong. I think it may have been the fountain of tears flowing down my face. Through the tears and the pain I whispered, “I don’t know what to do, we don’t have insurance.” She helped me to the bedroom where I attempted to crawl into bed, but the pain was too intense to lie there. She brought me some aspirin—the strongest pain med we have—and suggested I get into the shower. The hot water flowing over my lower left side seemed to ease the pain. During this time my wife was doing some online research. Once out of the shower she asked me a barrage of questions. “You need to go to the hospital,” she said. I assured her that I would go if we had insurance or a way to pay for it. I then told her the most loving thing I could think of. “If you come in here and find me passed out, then call 911.” Brilliant I know, but I was in severe pain. I went from the shower to the bathtub to find some more relief. She came in with a concoction she found online saying it might help. I asked “help what?” She said “It sounds like this could be a kidney stone.” “Yippie skippie,” I thought. I managed to get the stuff down—it tasted as bad as medicine—without vomiting. The hot water tub helped and I was able to get to bed and rest as the pain began to subside. That was Monday. Tuesday went a little better. After lunch—my meal was a very small bowl of bland white rice—I sat out on the patio thinking the sun could offer some assistance. I fell asleep. When I woke up I felt fine. I helped out around the house, helped my wife with dinner and even ate some of it. I called work informing them that I would be there on Wednesday. It was about 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon when the pain returned, but only for an hour or so. Thursday and Friday I was pain free. Then it happened. Friday evening is our family movie night. We eat a variety of different things and watch a movie together. This past Friday was no different. We ate Tuna casserole, Chicken casserole, vegetable lo-mien, and I had hot & sour soup. We enjoyed the movie The Water Horse. Since I needed to work the next day, I turned in while the family was watching something else. At 1:00 AM I was jolted awake with pain close to the pain I experienced on Monday morning. I got up so as not to disturb my wife. The pain continued from 1:00 AM until that afternoon. By 7:00 AM I knew I had to do something, so I looked up free clinics. I found a place that would see me for a few dollars—which was the limit of what I had to spend. While still in pain, I printed out the necessary paperwork, filled it out and headed to the clinic once it opened. Once there I had more paperwork to fill out—still in pain. At one point I told the person assisting me not to be alarmed if I pass out while we are completing this; I was feeling light-headed. Well, I didn’t pass out, I saw the physician and told it was not kidney stones. I was further told to come back on Monday to have lab work done—the lab isn’t open on weekends. I was released without any pain medication—the pharmacy isn’t open on weekends—and made my way to the nearest pharmacy to get some pain-meds. I finally got some sleep sometime after lunch—which I did not eat. When I woke up I felt better, the pain was minimal so I began doing some things around the house. Today I am pain-free, but my body feels like it has worked a labor intensive 60-hours and needs to rest. The journey continues. The spiritual side of this story is one of much importance since it speaks to this unexpected journey. I believe I mentioned last week that I felt as though we had turned a corner in this journey and that things were about to get better—and they are. In true-to-form godlike fashion, they are not getting better in ways that I would prefer, but they are getting better nonetheless. I applied for and have been awarded a small amount of food stamp assistance. This is only a temporary measure, but one that points to recovery. I do not have a clue as to what this physical challenge will reveal, but I am certain it will be something that yet again points to recovery. Now for the spiritual component; but wait, I have reached my limit for this post. I will conclude it next week. The unexpected journey and its crazy unexpected turns.