I’ll have surgery next Wednesday at Duke. I am expected to remain at Duke until Friday or Saturday. The surgeon has every intention of sucking out that massive abomination of a kidney through a small hole a tad larger than my belly-button. The procedure should take 4-5 hours; I’ll be under general anesthesia.
Having had my pre-op appointment today, the reality is now setting in far more weightily than it had been.
Sitting in a chair. Taking a drive. Bending down to do laundry. Reaching up to put laundry away. Or doing dishes. Or scooping the litter box. And many more activities…they all require generous use of abdominal muscles, and I am quite hindered when my massive left kidney gets in the way. I am not exaggerating to state that I have probably quit on myself a good 20,000 times on takes mundane and challenging when my kidney ached, and it seemed best to retreat and not complete the task.
I was close to joining the track team in 10th or 11th grade. A sympathetic Mr. Y was just going to let me on, to at least practice even if I didn’t have a role, because this would help my self-esteem and help my overall fitness. But, one day, I just flipped and decided it was too demanding given the pain my kidney caused. And that was that.
Here’s one instance (out of many) for which, despite quality therapy, I am unable to forgive myself for being a quiter. I despise myself for having walked away on something that may not have been the answer to everything but could have provided a rewarding experience.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked for a month in the men’s clothing department at Macy’s in Edison, New Jersey. I hated, hated, hated this job. But objectively, it was not a terrible. I just hating standing for long periods of time; my kidneys probably hated that. And the monotony kicked up swirls of anxiety and depression that made it excrutiating to get through the day. So one day, approaching the Menlo Park Mall on Route 1 North, I made a U-Turn and drove home. And I later called in sick, citing kidney issues, and I quit soon after. To make a long story short, I wound up spending the rest of that summer in a mental health program that did very little good, but what choice did I have? I had sabotaged a decent summer job. It should be said that had I worked that entire summer, it’s like my financial situation would have been impoved to the point that sophomore-year credit cards may not have been needed to the extent that they were, and my entire financial future and related decisions could have gone differently.
I could dig up dozens of others of examples of how my PKD got the way of something important–and I left it.
I have been told upon occasion that I am attractive. I’ve gotten this from women. I’ve gotten this from gay men who were either flirting or just trying to make me feel better. I have never been able to accept any of these judgments. Over the years, there have been the issues of my detestation of my moles, my stockiness, my lack of athleticism, and, especially in recent year, my protruding gut, home to my two overgrown kidneys. Again, I am not sure that being lopsided by continuing to carry a huge kidney is going to solve the latter problem. But it’s an enormous deal that the left one is coming out.