My Kidney and Her Uninvited Guests

My Kidney and Her Uninvited Guests

Bless her heart. My left kidney is misbehaving. During one of my routine urological exams, we discovered my small kidney stone—one we’ve been monitoring for years—has been joined by a much larger brother. This fellow is so large that we’ll need surgery to remove the uninvited guest. (A PCNL –percutaneous nephrotomy– procedure, for those who might be curious.) It’s an outpatient procedure, for most folks. But because of my paralyzed parts, I’ll be staying overnight.

Also joining the gang is a small cyst a few centimeters away, about the size of a quarter. We’ve been watching her, too, but she’s grown, and not in ways my urologist likes.

A specialist is also concerned. “He’ll review the scans with you in detail,” his nurse promised when we scheduled the appointment.

Mentally rehearsing the encounter, I sent him a portal message and asked if a family member should come with me. Within the hour, he messaged back, “Yes, I think it would be a good idea to bring a family member.”

I called my sister, updated her, then added, “Know what I’d really like to ask him, Sissy?”

“What’s that?”

“If it could be cancer.” Our father had kidney cancer. He had his kidney removed and lived five years after his diagnosis, dying at age 72.

“Then ask, Sissy—if you’re ready.”

I paused, thinking. Was I ready to ask this question? More importantly, was I ready for his answer? I took a deep breath and released it, imagining the possible extremes of his response as well as the possibility of no response. A gentle calmness began to slow my spinning thoughts.

“Yes, I think I’m ready, Sissy. I want to know.”

Again, the specialist answered my message promptly. “20% likely that mass is cancerous. We can of course discuss this further when I see you in the office.”

Strangely, I was at once relieved and alarmed. Relieved that my concerns were valid. Alarmed by what the future might hold.

Yet, as his answer settled in, the clarity it provided outweighed the alarm. His response helped me accept the reality. I could move forward in my thinking and actions.

Immediately I began examining my resources and started getting people “in the boat” with me—my favorite way of traveling through stormy seas. It felt good to do something proactive as I wait for our upcoming appointment.

I put wheels on those worries.

Janice McWilliams, author of Restore My Soul, defined this approach as, “productive processing” in a recent lecture. I love this term! Productive processing combats worry, reorienting us to the future in a constructive way. The way we think colors the way we feel, she noted – something I know to be true.

Armed with facts, I feel better about facing the future. My doctor’s reply helped define the problem, giving us an anchor to steady our angst as we prepare to weather the next bout of information. Stay tuned.

Let’s hope my productive processing can keep pace!

As I’ve learned more than once in my crazy life:

Staying steady after an uninvited challenge is less about reacting to it and more about working through it. Your mindset matters.

Staying steady after an uninvited challenge is less about reacting to it and more about working through it. Your mindset matters.

Meanwhile I hope my dear left kidney fends off any other uninvited guests and the planned departure of the ones she’s hosting is safe, swift, and soon.

How about you? How do you deal with worry when “uninvited guests” appear in your life?

And on we go…

My best – usually,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Thanks for your responses to my New Year’s theme of RISE. Yes, I’m already using it now, trying to rise to this latest challenge. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and prayers.