Hindsight, it’s said, is 20/20. While it may be true that we can see things more clearly in the rear-view mirror of time, that’s no guarantee we’ll understand them better. If it were so, we’d always learn from past mistakes and keep growing wiser. And we all know that’s not what happens, not nearly often enough.
But isn’t it interesting how often we do see the hidden thread that has been connecting the seemingly random dots of our life-experiences, once the larger pattern has begun to emerge and we can step back from the greater perspective of time?
Take my little visit from a kidney stone. (I should probably insert the old Henny Youngman joke addendum here, “please!”) Only after diagnosis and the removal of the laser-vaporized formation via seemingly endless water-drinking and salutary trips to the Throne Room could I look back and say that not only was my fleeting suspicion at the beginning of the same month correct—I did have a kidney stone—but what I never twigged to at all on the occasions a year or two previous was almost certainly, when seen through this new lens, also a set of at least two visitations from the same rotten little culprit. My symptoms were identical in each of those previous instances, and the reason they subsided without further intervention than my body complaining and trying to evict it with sharp, instant-onset, swiftly passing flu-like symptoms was probably merely that the tiny rock got stuck in other locations along its way and couldn’t move around further at the time, each time. I doubt now that I had food poisoning or high-speed flu at all.
Does this in any way change what I would have done? No, not really. Since the mini geological formation presumably had to spend a fair amount of time forming, I had no obvious way of preventing the formation without knowledge that it existed, let alone what caused it. Much to my surprise, I’ve now learned that kidney stones can have more than one cause, not only having a genetic predisposition as one component but potentially also a variety of compositional materials, so until I get the results of the analysis on my own homemade jewel, I won’t know what is indicated as problematic in my diet or behaviors that could be changed as a preventive measure. And, given that my father and one of my sisters have had the unwelcome distinction of previous kidney stone attacks, I may be at a very slightly elevated risk for recurrence, after all.
No matter; I will do as I’m told by my doctor, however unwillingly if it happens to involve eating less of something I adore or behaving in ways that I find tedious. I’m pretty compliant as a patient, if not in general as a person. (Ask my spouse, said the Stubborn Woman. ‘Nuff said.)
But now that I know I have the capability of attacking myself in this nefarious way, however easily I happened to get through the episode in question, I would be mighty silly not to do something a bit different, going forward. At the least, I will know that what I think or assume to be true about what my body is telling me can still hold surprises. And that if any little pea-sized bit of internal gravel thinks it can hide under the mattress of my middle, I may be coarse and ignorant enough in my casual attitude about many health-related things but I’ll eventually figure out that not is all as it seems. And I will clean house of that little sucker, even if I have to wake up my chauffeur in the middle of the night and evacuate the castle to do it.