I’ve already let several of you know all about this via email, but I know I have “blogging friends” that, like me, lurk more than comment, so here’s the deal.
Several weeks ago I had a colonoscopy, about a year earlier than scheduled, because I had a lot of “butt” discomfort riding to the Outer Banks this year. There was nothing inside that would indicate what was causing my pain, so my proctologist ordered a CT scan to see if there was anything outside the rectal area that might be anything serious causing my discomfort.
The good news from the internal exam was that I only have diverticuliosis in both the ascending and descending colon. That was a given, what with my mother and an uncle that were plagued with it. With this condition, you usually end up being “short-shooted” at some point in the future. You know you have it, obviously when you see blood in your stool, but, like mom, she was losing blood that could not be explained. Even test and colonoscopies did not find the blood loss issue. She ended up having a full-blown bleed out that scared us all to death!
As for me, there were no polyps or excessive hemorrhoidal issues evident. Therefore, the CT scan was ordered and given.
The bad news is the CT detected unknown “masses” in both kidneys. The right kidney appears to have bleed internally at some point from some hard blow. The question to me was, “Have you ever been in a car wreck?” I then recalled a fall I took back in February of ‘09, while shooting photos upon a nearby mountain. The result of that fall broke 4 ribs! You may even remember that post. The Doc thinks that’s what may have caused whatever is showing up in the right one.
Luck, or Divine intervention, the injured right kidney caused the reviewers to look closer at the CT scan. That’s when they saw the 4cm “mass” on the left one. Without that “double take” they may have never noticed it at all! (Illustration is not my real scan)
The written report said the left “mass” was “reflective” meaning it had blood flow, and that it should be assumed “malignant” until proven otherwise.
I had my first appointment with Dr. Sloan on the 7th. I recorded the audio of that office meeting so that I could hear it over and over until I understood everything. I also wanted the audio file so that I could look up any medical terms on Google. As it turned out, he, like me, talks in simple, down-to-earth, terms. Therefore, the sound bite is just a matter of comfort to me. His confidence and clear plan forward is evident in the recording.
The jest of the doctor’s analysis is this – there is:
1. No bleeding
2. No fever
3. No significant back pain
4. It’s small – about 1.5 inches
5. Appears to be outside of the kidney
6. It is rather early on, so the involvement should be minimal to non-existent.
The next step is to determine if my right kidney can support me on its own, should the left have to be completely removed. I go for a renal scan Wednesday.
Dr. Sloan believes in leaving as much of the kidney as possible, provided cancer has not invaded it, which is doubtful. The old school theory was to just remove the whole kidney. Today, doctors do much more evaluation and leave what they can. As we grow older, our kidneys function less and less, so every bit of working tissue is important.
Bottom line, I will have surgery soon, probably by the end of the month, and it will be determined at that time if cancer is involved, and how much, if any, of the kidney can be left intact. He also expects that chemo or radiation will not be necessary. Renal cell cancers do not respond well to chemo and radiation anyway. The tumor is a T1A size, very small, so it has been detected very early.
I will be sliced open this time, no laparoscopic procedure for this one, because the doctor wants a good view before making his decisions.
So, I’m preparing for another round of tests, needles, poking, and prodding, and most uncomfortably, probably nights in my recliner. If it is the worst then, who knows.
My only concern now seems to be how well the right kidney is functioning. That could be an issue if the entire left kidney is removed.
Regardless, Judy plans to cancel our Ireland trip in November. God willing, there will be plenty of time of travel next year.
For the past three years, it’s been one thing after another for me. My genes may be working against me...cancer in both my parents, a couple of uncles on both sides, and diverticulitis in my mom and on her side of the family.
You can eat healthy, not drink or smoke, run, swim, take vitamins, and have checkups, but you just can’t fight genes! When the pre-programed genes think it’s time, that’s it!
Luckily, we have more advanced science today that can find and cure lots of issues with our bodies, but eventually, time and genes will take you out.
Time ticks away so fast these days, and the moments in time that I get to share now, will probably be even more important.
Thanks, in advance, for your prayers. Almighty God is the “great healer” and it’s all in His hands. I will accept His will for my life.