On my birthday, in addition to the goofy and self-indulgent, which I do here pretty regularly, I also revealed some rather private, rather sensitive information, which I haven’t done so much, here. And a part of me regretted doing so almost immediately. And another part was glad that I did. That’s the part I’m talking about today.
First, I won’t tease you, I won’t go for suspense: I’m OK. I am going to be just fine, and I think it won’t be long now, like next week! But I didn’t know that until very recently. And I want to thank everyone who has prayed for me, and thought about me, and written to me, checking on me. This is, first and foremost, a thank-you note to you.
A little background (I am going to be a bit medically graphic here; if you’re squeamish, go to the next paragraph NOW): In late October, I saw blood in my urine. I had a fever, and I felt lousy. I was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). I had never had one before. I knew they were pretty common; I think most people have had them before this point in life. I was treated with antibiotics, and the symptoms mostly went away, although I still didn’t feel quite right. Just after Christmas, the symptoms reappeared with a vengeance. And with back pain and front pain so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed. But still none of the burning, painful urination that most people with a UTI report. Back to the doc, for a very serious conversation. The symptoms were all there, but cultures revealed no infection, so nothing to treat with antibiotics.
Then there was the matter of family history. When my mother was just my age, and I was just LG’s age, my mother had the same symptoms that I have. She was treated for UTIs for two years. She did’t have UTIs. She had bladder cancer. She is still alive today. But her life, and my life, changed when she was diagnosed. Due to the illness, and the many surgeries, and the many drugs prescribed to deal with pain, my mother was largely unavailable to me for the remainder of my childhood. Following her diagnosis, my life went places it should never have gone. I experienced things that should not have happened. And I’m sure I didn’t experience some things that should have happened. When she became ill, I grew up. I had no choice.
When I, at the same age, developed symptoms that were the same as the ones she had; and when there was no UTI, I became frightened. I was referred to the “Eurologist.” That’s where y’all came in. That Eurologist was not right for me, to put it kindly. He said to me, among other things, “It could be cancer. But if it is, it’s no big deal. Bladder cancer is almost always treatable today.” See, I think when you have cancer, you want it to be a big deal to your doctor. Maybe that’s just me.
I scheduled the peepeecam with him, but a number of things happened that necessitated postponing that. And I was relieved. Which meant that I felt suffering with my undiagnosed symptoms was preferable to getting the tests I needed and getting treated by that man. Which told me that I really needed to find another doc. And I did. And she’s great. I have had scans, and peepeecam, and X-rays and whatnot. And I have an “infectious kidney stone.” I would never have an ordinary kidney stone, because I only do the medically exotic. Next Monday, I will go to the surgi-center, and, under twilight anesthesia, I will have the stone “exploded,” as LG says. And then, after recuperating for a day or two from what they tell me will feel like I’ve been beaten up, I will get back to my normal life. After months of pain, blood, fear, etc. I am blessed.
Once again, I want to thank everyone who has prayed for me. After next Monday, you’re off the hook there — just keep it up a few more days. And to everyone who very tactfully, so very unobtrusively mentioned in comments that you were thinking about me, and to everyone who wrote and asked me what the hell was going on — and everything in between — thank you. And three specific Thank Yous:
The rockstar Nikki. Thank you for asking me the right questions, that helped ME ask the right questions, that helped me get to the care I needed. I have a good plan now and it’s going to work. You are dear and generous and lovely, and I am more grateful than I can say.
And to Evil Uncle Dave, who has proven time and again to be a Master of Distraction. On the day I told y’all about this, I got an email with something like “this is probably the last thing on your mind,” in the subject line. And he was offering to pimp my blog. And hell, yes, it was the last thing on my mind. But in weeks to come, over hundreds of emails, it became the first thing on my mind. With “what do you think about this,” and “which of these do you like better,” and I would just forget that I was frightened and in pain, because here was this strange person that I didn’t know very well at all, spending hours and hours to try to distract me from my troubles, because he liked what I write sometimes. I got a shiny new blog, and a shiny new, and very dear friend. All highly distracting.
And Jess. First a little background. Shortly after Christmas, JessicaRabbit wrote a post about how her mother had given her entire family not one, but TWO sets of matching St. Bernard t-shirts. They are a wonderful family; but they are not your matching t-shirt kind of family. The post was so funny, I begged to see photographs. Jess has always sent me pix when I’m feeling blue. NOT the kind of pix most of you would like to get from Jess. She has sent me pix of her giant puppy girl, and they always make me smile. Many of you know, Jess is rather well-known for various beautiful and abundant attributes. I want to go on record here today as saying that the largest and loveliest part of Ms. JessicaRabbit is her heart. So when I begged, she sent me — you’re going to be so jealous — actual photographs of the people in her family, lined up in their dog shirts. When I paused from my howling laughter long enough to call Jif over to look at the monitor, he said, “The only thing that would be better than that is if the dog were in the picture.” Don’t you know that in the next picture, there was the big girl, Hermione, looking at them all like “WTF?” Not many people have such photos. But I do 🙂
I’m going to show you something, an email I wrote to Jess, that makes me look small and pathetic. That’s OK, I was small and pathetic. I am usually a glass-half-full kind of girl. I do not tend to awfulize things; I tend to look for something to celebrate. But I was in pain. And I was frightened. I wasn’t frightened for me, for my future. Even if the worst happened, I’m pretty OK with that; I believe what I believe and I’m good with that. But I was terrified for my little girl. Feeling that way, and having just cancelled most of our holiday plans, too miserable to have the parties that I had planned, or the company that I had invited, I sat there thinking of just how bad things could get:
To: Kitty Kat
Subject: please thank your mother
Date: Saturday, January 07, 2006 21:58:26
My thoughts this evening: I could have cancer. I could have just celebrated my last Christmas. I might not see my daughter grow up. She might be someone whose mother died when she was 10 years old. That will shape the rest of her life (tears come, panicked feeling starts) . . . then, an image comes to mind:
JessicaRabbit’s entire family has matching dog shirts. . . .
So. Thank you, Nikki, Dave, Jess, Jess’s crazy mama, and all of you. I see the light at the end of this medical tunnel. And I am very, very happy and thankful for what my illness isn’t. And because you really seem to care — God bless you — I wanted to come back on here and tell you what it is.