Friday, September 11, 2009

Under the Knife

And so it was decided that David would undergo an exploratory surgery to determine the nature of the baseball size mass on his left kidney...

Sounds simple enough. Decisions like this are made everyday to undergo massively invasive surgical procedures. But reason is difficult at these times of high stress. There is no way to avoid the stess. The baseline condition that causes one to consider surgery is stressful in and of itself. The tone of the doctor who gave us the second opinion had been devastating. We faced four possibilities and none of them were good.
  1. The mass could be cancer. Not good, but probably no need to worry about PKD.
  2. Removing the mass would destroy the kidney, leaving 1 kidney still ravaged by PKD. 
  3. The blood filled cyst could be drained. Better, but 2 kidneys are still ravaged by PKD.
  4. Everything's fine on the inside. Unlikely, but 2 kidneys are still ravaged by PKD.
Not a pretty picture, but the fear of cancer drove the decision and I went into the hospital in the middle of June, 1996. Sure enough, removing the mass, a blood filled cyst, destroyed the kidney, so it was removed. Oh, well. The remaining kidney functioned just as well as both kidneys had been functioning, and the once failing redundant system was now just a single failing system.

The surgery was traumatic. The kidney was the size of a small football and the long incision went around the side and through abdominal muscle. Any movement was extremely painful. Being moved around and taken for X-rays was excruciating and I learned the value of a morphine pump. ER was a brand new show and as I forced myself to walk the halls, it was on in every room. I couldn't watch it. It was too real! 

I gradually healed and went back to work and life resumed. I lost a little weight and felt good about that. But the weight came back and the blood pressure kept needing more and more medication. And the remaining kidney kept growing in size. PKD just doesn't stop.

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