The past few months have been difficult. I am not a good sick person. I tend to hibernate when I don’t feel well. I get on my couch and pretty much don’t move until I’m better…only doing things I must — like going to work or taking my kid to school. I have been known to not leave my house from Friday at 5pm until Monday at 7am. Sometimes I can’t even remember if I’ve brushed my teeth or not. And that’s just if I have a cold.
Recently I was diagnosed with something serious. Not deadly or debilitating. But serious enough that it scared me. I tend to be a bit of a contradictory hypochondriac — I’m convinced I’m always sick but I rarely actually go to the doctor. Needless to say, I put off dealing with the symptoms until I just couldn’t ignore them any longer. And because of that, it took a very long time for myriad doctors to come to a conclusion on what was making me sick.
On the outside, you wouldn’t have necessarily known anything was wrong. I tend to fight through any pain or discomfort. Years of suffering with migraines has taught me that when it’s time to go to work you go to work. So what finally made me sit up and say, “Hey, this ain’t right!”?
I peed in my pants.
I know, I know…TMI. But seriously, I need to say that out loud for 2 reasons. One: HELLO? I waited so long I couldn’t hold my bladder. Not good. And two: I don’t normally do that so, yeah…time to figure out if it was something serious or if I just needed to face the fact that I need Depends.
When I first went to the doctor, I was told to take a drug called Enablex. It helped me to pee only when I wanted to — and not, say, while I was pumping gas at a convenience store in another state. (Yes, that happened and I tripped over the gas hose trying to get inside. I fell into a barrel of windshield cleaner. On the upside, no one knew I had peed myself because I was drenched in Windex. Thankfully I was relatively unhurt.) Enablex had some weird side effects: dry mouth, blurred vision and — my favorite! — CONSTIPATION! My poor plumbing didn’t know if it was coming or going. (Well, I guess it wasn’t really going at all so whatever…)
I was miserable. The very thing that was helping me was making me so uncomfortable I contemplated buying a box of those supposedly fashionable adult diapers and just resigning myself to a life of internal humiliation.
But then something even worse happened: I started to gain weight. No, seriously. I think if I stood in front of a mirror long enough, I could actually see my girth expanding. Now, being the vain hypochondriac that I am…that was not an acceptable occurrence. I was so uncomfortable. I felt like a balloon about to burst! I don’t mean I felt like I ate a huge meal. I told my mom I felt as if I was constantly wearing one of those inner tubes we wore as kids. You know the ones: made of shiny colorful plastic with some goofy animal head on the front to hold onto? Yes, one of those. And I felt like it was INSIDE ME, constantly pushing and expanding. God, I was so miserable. I couldn’t sleep or drive my car for long trips. Nothing helped either. I took probiotics with literally BILLIONS of whatever probiotics have in them to make you feel less bloated. I did a gentle cleanse. I already eat little to no dairy so cutting that out wasn’t going to help.
Since I was under a doctor’s care I guess I convinced myself I was just getting old and my hormones were freaking out. I figured I was simply going to have to live with feeling (and looking) like a bloated tick.
And then one night, on the way home from a late dinner with a good friend, I just had a flash: “Something isn’t right. Go to urgent care.” I can’t even say something specific (like acute pain, etc.) made me go. I think I was just exhausted from thinking about it for so long. The doctor took one look at me and sent me to the hospital. I had an MRI and, lo and behold, it turns out my kidneys had decided to stage a coup. Actually only one of them did. The left one remained loyal to the homeland.
I was diagnosed with kidney cysts. And, because I can’t do anything half-assed, I had 2 on my right kidney. The doctor actually told me, “Yeah, 2 on one kidney is rare. I’ve never seen that before. And the one on the bottom is HUGE.”
It’s been about 2 and a half weeks since I had the procedure to take care of them. (I won’t go into what had to be done because it involves words like “drain” and “fluid” and “OW!”). I was home shortly after it was done and spent a lot of time on the couch watching Netflix. I feel worlds better but there are a lot of residual feelings other than, “Man, I hate kidney cysts!”
The little devils wreaked havoc on those around me. My kid was denied a Summer of Fun (as was I). We missed out on 2 getaways: one to a mini-reunion with good Clemson friends and the other to my dear friend’s daughter’s wedding. I had to settle for experiencing both through Facebook pictures (which I am completely thankful for!) My parents were worried sick about me from afar. I missed out on a Tybee visit from a dear friend and her family. And, because my medical bills are beginning to stack up and driving long distances is still very uncomfortable, I’m missing out on a visit with my beautiful niece and nephew this weekend.
But I’m on the mend. I wish I could say I’ve lost a ton of weight in the last 2 weeks but the doctor says my body will continue to hold onto that for a bit as a healing mechanism. Thanks, Body (she said sarcastically).
One last thing before I go. (You didn’t think this massive missive would end without me getting on my soapbox, did you?) Please, if you drink diet drinks, consider stopping. I may never know what caused my one kidney to decide she needed to encase herself with something ugly but one guess my doctor ventured was the mass quantities of fake sugar I was consuming on a daily basis. You should have seen how high his eyebrow shot up when I told him I was probably drinking a 12 pack of Diet Coke a day. He actually said, “You’re not serious, are you?” I thought about lying but since there was photographic evidence to contradict that, I decided to come clean:
So, I’m on the mend. (Unless you count that nasty URI I got the week after all this happened. Yeah, I was a raving beauty for 3 weeks in June!) I have only had water and unsweetened tea to drink for weeks. And because I imagine it now with devil horns, I don’t miss Diet Coke at all.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging out with me. Please consider having a physical soon…because I’d like you to be here the next time I get off my lazy butt and write something. 🙂