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The Kidney Has Got to Go

“The kidney has got to go.” At the time I remember thinking how I didn’t want to give up the kidney.

dying kidney“I agree. I know it’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but I love beef kidney.” Willow bounced into the room, like a dancer crossing the stage, and landed in the worn leather chair.

“Ewww.” I could feel my entire face squish as the disgust welled up inside me.

“I know it is pretty traditional, but my favorite is Steak and Kidney Pie.” Her eyebrows rose and she looked surprised; which I guess was to be expected because I rarely criticized her. I had found out the hard way that it wasn’t the most productive way to deal with her.

“It’s not Beef Kidney, though I imagine it’s a little beefy.”

“What type Kidney is it then?” Surprise gave way to confusion.

“Well, I guess you could call it PapaBear Kidney.” It was hard to keep from laughing as her eyes went wide.


“My wife took me to the ER a few weeks back because I had a severe stomach virus.” I twisted on my chair to look directly at her.

“Oh, that’s where you were.” She nodded and pursed her lips.

“Yes.” It amazed me that she could know my deepest thoughts, yet miss some of the biggest events in my life. “They put me on IVs, morphine, and all that junk.”

She wrinkled her nose and shivered.

“Then the PA told me that the blood test showed a high white blood cell count, so she wanted to do a CAT Scan of my stomach. She wanted to make sure there wasn’t any bacteria that could be contributing to the stomach problems.” I paused to catch my breath and to make sure she was paying attention. She sat forward and stared into my face.

CAT scan“Luckily,” I continued, “they couldn’t see any bacteria or anything that was causing the stomach issues – just a virus, a very serious virus. The lucky thing was, that while they couldn’t find anything like bacteria, the CAT Scan showed a six centimeter mass in my left kidney.”

“Oh My God!” She stood and pulled me to my feet. Her arms wrapped around my shoulders and chest, then she started to cry. “Oh My God,” she repeated. “We’ve only known each other for such a short time, and now the greatest partnership ever known will end.” She let me go and dropped back into the chair, her elbow on the chair’s arm and her forehead rested on her balled fist. “We had such dreams! How will I ever go on without you?” Her ranting and raving I thought a bit dramatic. If you could have seen it, you probably would have said, overly dramatic.

“I’m not going anywhere.” I knelt by the chair. I was concerned, but at the same time had to stifle a chuckle at her over-the-top reaction.

She sniffled. “But you said you were going to die.”

“I did NOT. I didn’t say anything like that.” I stood up and shook my head. How did she get from ‘I have a mass’ to I need to double-check my Bucket List? “What I said was they found a mass in my kidney.” I dropped into my chair and wondered how her and I could be so closely connected. “We talked with a Urologist and he said they would need to take out the entire left kidney, but it would have little impact on my future. I have to watch how much aspirin I take, along with a few other things, but tons of people live long and fulfilling lives with just one kidney.”

She lifted her head, her eyes narrowed as she stared at me. “Are you sure you aren’t just trying to protect my feelings?” She snickered, smirked more than smiled. “Naw, you worry about my feelings?” She laughed.

That hurt I thought. She must have seen my expression because she stopped suddenly and cleared her throat.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Concern filled her face again.

“Yes. In fact, I have already started working harder to keep my diabetes in control and exercising more to be in as good a shape as I can for surgery. So some benefit from it already. Also, I can’t complain. I’m just blessed that the PA decided to do the CAT Scan or they wouldn’t have found the mass until symptoms appeared, which could have been a real problem.”

“When is the surgery?”

“I don’t know. And I won’t know until two weeks before the scheduled date.” This was the important part of the story and I just hoped she had her listening ears on.

“The way I look at it, they won’t even know if it is cancerous or not until they actually do the operation and take a biopsy. And if it is cancer, the Urologist told me that when he looked at the CAT Scan it didn’t seem as if anything had spread anywhere else, and the right kidney looked in good shape. Though, again, they can’t be sure of anything until they actually do the operation.“ Either way, I would rather deal with the reality as quickly and as cleanly as possible. Being a slice-and-dice type of guy; I am ready to do it tomorrow without a second thought.

She nodded; her lips twisted in thought.

She was listening. I felt relieved.

“And even if it is cancer, the way I look at it is that if I have to have cancer, I might as well get it in something where I have a spare.” I had to laugh, but in spite of the humor, I really meant what I said.

She laughed as well, then stopped and stared at me again; her voice hardened. “If you’re not dying any time soon…”

“Well, I can’t promise, but I do look both ways when I cross the street.” I kept smiling.

She frowned, but continued, “If you’re not leaving us anytime soon, then why aren’t we working on our novels. We’ve still got 30 years or more ahead of us. I’ve got so many ideas; you will be pushed to get them all out in that short a period of time. “

“Okay, okay. We will start next week after the holidays. My wife and I just celebrated our 32 anniversary and I want to relax for a couple of days.” I leaned back and sighed and relaxed; I was the first to admit my male-to-female communication skills weren’t always the best and I had no idea why. Though, on second thought, I realized that may be part of the problem.

“Since we just finished the first draft of the Dragon Whisperer, we need to get Revision going on that. Don’t you have a publisher you want to send that to soon?” She seemed to be clicking off a list as she talked. “And we still have thirty or forty thousand words to complete Betrayal of the Covenant, the second book in the Dragon-Called series.”

Okay, so maybe 15 seconds of relaxation is better than none. Isn’t it? I could never understand why she had to spell out everything in detail, but it was something I had come to expect.

“I understand.” I sat straight, the necessary new and revised scenes already popping into my mind. “Everything will be fine. It Is What It Is.

Her eyes rorolling eyeslled and she shook her head.

I grinned, the double entendre was not an accident. I just couldn’t resist 🙂

UPDATE ON SURGERY: The surgery went off without a hitch, as much as it could have considering they were cutting out one of my Kidneys. I have recovered without too much difficulty (though not painless by any means) and most recent Chest X-Ray shows all clear. The toughest part of it is being on a low-sodium diet for the rest of my life. I just wanted to thank everyone for their support e-mails and comments on Facebook.

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