Thursday, November 19, 2009

Warning: Medical Jargon

I had a nephrologist appointment today, and I've really don't even know how to explain what happened, mainly because there's so much that I don't understand at this point. The main thing is that (I think) my kidneys are functioning well enough to go ahead and meet with a surgeon. This is a HUGE answer to prayer.

I had already made myself an appointment with a guy at UT Southwestern in Dallas who fit my list of correct credentials, but the funny thing is that my nephrologist called me right after I left her office and said that she was calling over to UT Southwestern to get me an appointment with a urology oncologist there, and I was like, "Oh, I'm one step ahead of you, baby." Okay, I didn't say that. I should have.

She also ordered an MRI and a long list of blood tests, and an opthamology referral to check for cysts on my retinas. ACK! Apparently this is a possibility? She also wants to check the MRI for brain cysts as well, because apparently this is a possibility too? Yikes.

There have been so many moments in the last two weeks where I thought that maybe this wasn't as big of a deal; it might not be cancer, it might be just this or just that. Today was not one of those moments. Specifically when the doctor told me that, yes, I do look like a candidate for one of these major kidney diseases, but that those diagnoses can wait until after I get this tumor issue solved. That's the important issue right now. So let's just put those potentially fatal life-altering diseases on the back burner, shall we?

The thing about this tumor is that it is possibly kidney cancer. I've read many different statistics, but the doctor today told me that it was a 50% chance. The thing about having possible kidney cancer is that it is still just a possibility, which means of course that there is the possibility that it is nothing, a 50/50 shot. However, it is not advisable to biopsy a kidney tumor because the needle will spread the possible cancer, and it really isn't a good idea to leave it in there in case it is cancerous, so tumors that look and act like cancer just have to be removed, period.

This leads us to the impending surgery. I don't know what to expect, but I suppose I will find out at my next apppointment. The internet tells me that a partial nephrectomy (removal of part of the kidney) is possible if the tumor is in just the right place, and I hope it is. A radical nephrectomy (full removal of the kidney) is actually an easier surgery technically and can be done laparoscopically with much less recovery time. The downside is, well, being down to only one kidney for the next 50 years, and I really don't want that.

I'm not totally certain about the hospital and recovery time for the partial nephrectomy; I've read in a few places that it is a pretty large incision and a 4-5 day hospital stay. (I also read a horrifying account of a radical nephrectomy that described the removal of ribs and a huge gigantic monstrous scar, but apparently that was written quite a few years ago and hopefully that was an unnecessary freak out on my part. Let's hope so.)

Meanwhile, I've been having lots of pain in both kidneys, but more so on the "non-tumor" side, which contains a 3 mm kidney stone that may or may not be 'exiting the premises', so that should make for a fun Thanksgiving.

So. To summarize, I don't know anything really, nothing has been ruled out, nothing is certain. I will go for an MRI and then I have an appointment the week after Thanksgiving with the surgeon. In the meantime, I made sure to get a prescription for some pain meds.

We plan to go to Houston next week to celebrate Thanksgiving with some extended family that we NEVER get to see, AND my sister is going to be there, and I am very excited about that. We contemplated canceling it; I'm hurting and cranky and money is tight, but we both agreed that we really need to see family and that it will be nice to get away for a few days.

Thanks again to all of you who have sent me encouragement; I love getting your comments and your e-mails and cards and I've even gotten a few packages. I appreciate all of the prayer and support. I am very blessed.


  1. We're looking forward to seeing you too! Will have to figure out our itinerary. At some point, I'm taking my boys to the zoo down there. Our NC memebership works at the Houston Zoo! :-D (Yes, shocking, I, going to the zoo...)

  2. Don't you love those appointments when they don't really tell you anything and NOTHING is conclusive? AGH!

    Hang in there, I hope there is some good news for you soon.


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