Monday, October 10, 2011

The Lone Kidney

The kidney my son bought to replace the one I lost.
There I was, living my life, minding my own business, with no idea that something was going on inside my body.
The first clue was when I saw a surgeon about some elective surgery I was considering (no, not a “job” of any kind). I was floored when he said he couldn’t operate because my GFR was only 37. OK, what the heck is a GFR and what does 37 mean?
Gross Filtration Rate means, in simple terms, how well kidneys are processing what they receive. A good GFR is above 60. Well, 37 didn’t quite cut it.
So I go trotting off to my GP, who does more lab work and finds that my GFR is now 47. We’ll keep an eye on it, she says. Clueless, I say OK and go on about my business.
My GFR fluctuates, once reaching 57 (woo hoo), then falling again. Doc says I’d better see a kidney specialist. This turns out to be a really good idea. For one thing, he looks a lot like Kevin Costner, but the main thing is, he orders an ultrasound.
The results didn’t look too good, he says, let’s have a CT scan as well. Okey-dokey, says me. Well, lookee here, says the CT scan. I do believe you have a tumor of some sort on your right kidney, and it’s huge! Whoa! What?! Time to see a kidney surgeon. Uh….do I have to? Yep.
The surgeon is really nice and wastes no time, which is kind of scary. No need to determine whether the tumor is benign or otherwise, it’s got to come out and the kidney will probably have to go. Wow!
I have another dozen tests, two of which are nuclear, meaning I am injected with radioactive dye. But I don’t glow in the dark, which I thought would be cool. I see a heart specialist, a lung specialist, and an oncologist. (The tests found “something” on my right lung and just above my knee, but the oncologist isn’t worried.)
The big day arrives and I get prepped for surgery. I remember meeting the anesthesiologist and nothing more until I woke up in my hospital room minus a kidney. The surgeon found two tumors on top of my poor little kidney and they were cancerous. He was confident that he had removed everything that needed removing and later tests proved him right.
Six months later the only reminders of my adventure are a ginormous scar and the cute toy kidney my son James gave me for my birthday, in case I ever need a spare.  How very lucky I am!

Till next time,