Here is something funny I have learned about myself: I’m not great at processing fear or anxiety in a reasonable way. If something scares me or causes internal turmoil, I don’t cry, I don’t yell or get angry. I shut down, put on pajamas and read a book. If I’m in a REALLY bad way, my husband will find me in the fetal position laying in my closet staring at a wall or reading. This all waits until I get home. This doesn’t happen in public. In public the most you will notice is that I am not as focused and I’m quieter than usual. My husband doesn’t fear sobbing or a quivering lip. He fears the silence. Not the everyday quite of inactivity or sleepy puppy snuggles after work. Rather the silence that surrounds someone who has vacated reality for a time. I haven’t succumbed to the closet monster since we moved to California. I have read a about a hundred books though.
Reading was an incredible struggle for me as a child (between having the attention span of a hummingbird with a cocaine addiction and enough dyslexia that I still misread things in very amusing ways). My mom spent countless hours reading to me or having me read to her before naps or bed. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this literary escape. If I wasn’t able to put reality on hold for enough time that my brain is able to sort through whatever feelings I don’t have the courage to face head on. This is how I cope.
Lately I’ve read a lot. Specifically I have reread books that I love. I am doing this because they are a guaranteed escape that I will enjoy, in a world I already know, with characters I already love. When I get to part of the story that I know will pull at my heartstrings.. I skip it. because that’s what I am avoiding now. feeling.
Several years ago a doctor stumbled upon an anomaly on my kidneys. After some extensive testing, I was told I have a some benign growths on my kidneys that would have gone unnoticed until someone performed an autopsy on my very dead, very old body. I was advised that I should consider getting them checked every couple of years just in case.
This year I remembered that I am actually almost an adult and I should really get those looked at. My last ultrasound of the area was in 2006. So I went in, explained to my doctor that my kidneys have polka dots and that she should take a look at them. So she did. and she asked me to have my records sent over. So I did. and she said “hmmm….”
I can say definitively that this is not a sound you want to hear from your doctor. It seems that my polka dots decided that color blocking was all the rage in Kidneys this season. The largest spots were much larger.
She sent me to a Urologist. This was probably one of the more amusing doctors visits I’ve ever experienced. Mainly because I walked into the waiting room and a dude with a piss bag strapped to his leg was just chillin in the corner. Before you get all huffy that I am making fun of someone who is clearly sick and suffering, know that it was 55 degrees outside and he was wearing shorts with his bag hanging out in all of its urinary glory.
He owned that bag.
He ROCKED that bag.
He is my ZFG hero. Believe me when I tell you that trepidation about a doctors visit will be cured by the site of an old guy who doesn’t give a single fuck that his piss bag is showing.
They promptly took me to an exam room to wait for the doctor. I guess it never occurred to me that men frequent Urologist more than women as this little gem was hanging on the door.
There is nothing more reassuring than the site of a flaccid penis on the door and flyers for Cialis on the counter. You could say it warmed my cockles.
When the doctor came in, I assumed he had only recently earned the right to buy cigarettes and drive alone in a car. (I found out later that the adage about Asians not aging until the day they just deflate into something closely resembling a raisin is entirely accurate. It turns out the doctor was in his 40s.) I’m pretty sure he learned bedside manners from Dr. House. I found his straightforward lack of empathy strangely reassuring.
These positive feelings were somewhat diminished when he actively googled my condition on his phone while we were talking about it.
He explained that the growths were quite large, and let me know that there were options available to prevent further growth. He mentioned the results of one of these little bastards continuing to grow involved words like Hemorrhage and kidney failure. I asked he what he suggested I do given the size of the growths. He said that the choice was mine. This is not the answer I expected. I tried to explain to him that I am not a doctor and I haven’t even taken a biology class since high school. I really didn’t feel qualified to make decisions about the future of an organ whose use I couldn’t define outside of it had something to do with pee.
He mentioned a procedure that involves cutting a hole in your artery and shoving a tube inside to snake into your kidneys to blast a couple of mini silicon balls to block the blood flow to the growths. Apparently this is totally normal. My other option was to just wait around until they burst either from trauma or they grew so large then started to affect the function of other organs. But he stressed it was entirely up to me because clearly I know enough about this to make an educated choice. Obviously I would like to avoid the side effects mentioned.
The urologist then told me to talk to a more special specialist at another facility to schedule the procedure. This guy was kinda cool even though he totally name dropped during our phone consult. He basically told me that if I’m not a pussy I should be up and moving fairly soon after the surgery and that I would only feel slightly shitty. He seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing.
In these last few months, I quickly learned that after each doctors visit I was basically rendered useless for about half a day. My brain would shut down because mortality isn’t something I like to address. It seems to take me about that long for my brain to freak out and recover. In that time I would bury myself in a book while to help distract from the reality of life. I let all of this information process. I would eventually fall asleep and be good to go by morning.
At times I have trouble reminding myself that it’s not that big a deal and that I will be fine. But my greatest issue is talking about it. You see, I don’t like to telling people stuff like this. For some reason I am afraid my friends will think I am just looking for attention and sympathy. This is not the case, in fact I would rather not mention it at all to anyone. But if they found out later they would be pissed I didn’t say anything. I don’t like the look of sympathy, like I’m some sad Sarah Mclachlan commercial. I’m fine, I need you to think I’m fine, so I can actually convince myself that I am fine, and everything will be fine. There are people who are diagnosed with cancer and horrible disease and they battle on like the bad asses that they are. I don’t feel I have the right to be concerned about something so minor. I know it makes sense that I’m having a bit of a moment about it because this is happening to me and it sounds scary. It’s just easier to ignore it by running away in a story and going on adventures where kidneys don’t exist and I can still be an assassin mage princess ninja.