Romancing the stone: A tale of unbearable pain, a stern wife and Coca Cola

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 Bradley Beck talks about his experience with kidney stones during a recent stand-up performance at Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square, Pa. (Photo courtesy of Bradley Beck)

Bradley Beck talks about his experience with kidney stones during a recent stand-up performance at Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square, Pa. (Photo courtesy of Bradley Beck)

In this week’s edition of Patient Files, we take a look at pain, recovery, remorse and a heavy dose of “I told you so.”

 

The Pulse’s Patient Files series explores your stories of illness, recovery, health and coping. In this week’s edition, we take a look at pain, recovery, remorse and a heavy dose of “I told you so.”

 

At first, it felt like gas.

Bradley Beck was at work when the pain started, a nagging tug at his side that had him standing up every few minutes or so. The comedian and podcaster from Wallingford in Delaware County thought the discomfort would pass with time, and didn’t worry about it too much.

That evening, though, the pain grew stronger and stronger. Beck  woke up in the middle of the night, in unbearable pain. His wife, a nurse, said he had to get to the hospital right away. They loaded their one-year-old daughter into the car.

“I was screaming in pain,” recalled Beck. “My daughter just started bawling and crying, she had no idea what was going on, it was awful.”

As any among you who’ve experienced the same malady probably would have guessed, Beck had a kidney stone – one of the most most painful conditions known to our species.

A few days later, the stone had passed, but Beck still faced a tough decision.

Beck’s doctor had given him clear instructions. Something he loved was implicated in kidney stones, and he should give it up.

Would he be able to do it, to avoid the onset of a short-lived agony every few years?

His wife’s opinion was also clear.  If he didn’t follow doctor’s orders, she’d take drastic action. 

Click on the audio button above to find out which path Bradley Beck chose, in this edition of Patient Files. 

A doctor weighs in

Beck’s story raises a familiar question for physicians: Why is it so difficult to get patients to do even simple things that will keep them healthy?

“It’s hard to do all of the things that really take care of your body,” says Michael Baime, an internist and the director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness. “It’s hard enough to remember to change the oil in your car every three months. Do you really want to skip that luscious dessert? Do you really want to get up an hour earlier to sweat in the gym? Nah.”

Baime says he has never been the kind of doctor who gives commands, not because he wouldn’t like to do just that, but because it doesn’t work: “Behavior change is more successful when people make choices for themselves.”

And does Baime do what his doctor tells him to do? Take a listen!

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