So, my year is ending on a decidedly odd note. Odd as in Rod Serling odd. Odd as in ship-in-a-bottle odd. But let me begin at the beginning.
I haven’t been feeling the greatest the past few days. I attributed this malaise to the primarily seasonal ailment known as Festive Gluttony. Too much eggnog laced with Jamaican Rum. Too many Christmas cookies laced with Amaretto. Too much food, too rich, too abundant. Holiday Bloat redux cubed. I wasn’t really in the mood to visit a medical professional just yet. I have an appointment with my cardiologist in a couple weeks and I was trying to put off an extra visit to a physician. That option was taken off the table faster than Mike Leach’s contract renewal. Earlier Wednesday afternoon I found myself doubled over in pain feeling like I’d just been kicked in the gut by a mule. Or maybe a llama and then spit upon owing to the amount of moisture on my forehead. Pain sweet pain.
I endured the suffering for a bit, waiting to see if it might subside and eventually, it did improve. I sat around procrastinating until about 10:00pm and decided I had better shower and take a trip to the ER. I figured I wouldn’t get much sleep anyway feeling like total snail snot.
I checked in and fortunately there were very few people in the waiting room and no one appeared to be coughing up ebola laced phlegm. One for the plus column. I guess most people were waiting to see how their New Year’s Eve celebrations played out before they exercised their ER options.
The ever so caring staff put me in room four and proceeded to hook me up to everything but HBO. Took blood, put me on an IV for pain and ran an EKG. Let me just digress at this point and say ‘Thank God for my Blackberry’. It made the emergency room not only tolerable but a pretty fun place to hang out. I received a news alert while hooked up to the EKG that Rush Limbaugh had been admitted to a hospital this very night suffering from chest pains. Certainly a conspiracy was afoot. I could just imagine all the crusty old right wing bastards in America filling emergency rooms around the country with a common mystery ailment. I didn’t feel so alone.
Anyway, all was going along well until the nurse said ‘We’ll need a urine sample’. Of course, I’d just divested myself of all excess urine prior to leaving the house. Though I made a valiant effort to produce the required amount I failed miserably. But I was given a reprieve and was told that I could try again after they took me upstairs for my CAT scan. Pee deferred.
So I waited for my transport to the CAT room. And while I waited I listened to my Blackberry music (Great Big Sea and Flogging Molly), read my Blackberry news and waited with bated breath for more news on Rush. I considered tweeting my predicament to my twitterati but figured everyone would only think I was looking for sympathy.
While waiting for my CAT taxi a strapping young doctor strode in directly from central casting. He exuded ‘medical professional’ from every pore. He listened intently to my descriptions of the pains I was suffering. I started to feel better just watching him stroke his chin, knit his brow in genuine concern and punctuate my pauses with enigmatic ‘Hmmm’s. He gave a list of probable diagnoses, none of which sounded too life threatening. He zeroed in on my gall bladder as the likely culprit. Now, I’d always figured the gall bladder was something akin to a spleen or ear hair; surely they serve some arcane purpose but what that purpose may be only a wise and benevolent Oprah might discover. I returned my focus to my Blackberry for updates on the Indian Premier League and my favorite cricket club, The Chennai Super Kings.
In due time transport arrived and I was whisked upstairs to the CAT arena where I met my technician. He was an oriental gentleman who spoke impeccable English with a decidedly indecipherable accent. He made me as comfortable as possible prior to commencing the scans. I asked if the scan might affect the titanium plate in my neck and he assured me that there was no danger whatsoever to me or my neck. As he injected the dye into my arm I continued to stare at him because he really looked familiar. Then it dawned on me that hi looked like the Halliwax-Wickmund-Candle-Chang character from the TV show ‘Lost’ played by François Chau. That or it was just the medication.
The CAT scanned a couple times and the technician returned and asked ‘Are you sure you’ve never had surgery other than on the neck?’ Of course I replied ‘Yes, positive’. He then said ‘You’ve never had anything done down there’ as he pointed in the general direction of my lower body. Even with the medication my mind churned out at least 248 snappy comebacks to this vaguely suggestive statement. I left it at a simple ‘No’ and he went back to confer with his fellow tech behind the glass. He was gone a goodly amount of time,
Finally he popped his head in and said they needed a couple more scans about 6 or 7 more minutes. He thanked me for my patience. The machine spooled up again and I watched the little cartoon man holding his breath as the seconds counted down. It was then I discovered that I really had to pee. The machine spooled up again and the little man held his breath and I wondered if I could get my legs crossed while in this devilish contraption.
The Halliwax-Wickmund-Candle-Chang doppleganger reappeared and said ‘Everything is looking healthy. So really, when did you have your kidney removed?’. Two beats. ‘Huh?’ was the most intelligent response I could muster. ‘Your kidney. When did you have it removed?’. At first I thought this might be a trick question to test my mental acuity so I responded ‘To the best of my knowledge never. I thought I had two when I came in.’. ‘Well, you only have one. Probably innate. The one you do have looks very healthy. No worries’.
I looked around quickly to see if I was being punked or otherwise screwed with and found no indication of any such tomfoolery. I left it at that and he saluted as I left the room. He actually saluted. To say this whole moment was somewhat surreal would be a great understatement.
I was completely dumbfounded as I returned to my temporary digs in room four. I got the trusty Blackberry out and googled ‘WTF! One kidney’ as I awaited the return of the doctor. I found info that stated about one in 750 people are born with a single kidney and most live quite normal lives. I checked another site and was astonished to see that ‘Absence of one kidney, congenital or acquired’ is listed as ‘cause for rejection for appointment, enlistment, and induction into the military’. Who knew? Six years in the freakin’ Army and nary a soul figured out I only had one kidney. Wow.
Doctor Perfecto returned and, I swear, the first thing he said was ‘You know, you only have one kidney’. No shit. ‘But that’s not what’s causing the pain. I think it’s for sure your gall bladder but you’ll need an ultrasound’. Methinks ‘What’ll they find missing when I go for the ultrasound? A kneecap? My frontal lobe?’ I says ‘Whoa Docappotamus, where the hell did my kidney go?’ ‘You probably never had one. The one you do have looks very healthy, by the way. A bit larger than your standard, run-of-the-mill kidney but healthy’.
Anyway, moving along, I have to go next week to get the old gall bladder ultrasounded. (Ultrasonded? Ultrasoundidated? ) From the doctors explanation I must presume that my gall bladder is just pure evil. Try to have too much fun and the little bastard goes all party police on you and makes your life miserable. Not a fun organ. Not a happy thing like a small intestine or middle finger, both things you can actually use.
Well, I got narcotics and other goodies and checked out. As I walked to the exit I felt people’s eyes upon my back. I know they’re whispering amongst themselves ‘Did you hear? That guy has only ONE KIDNEY’. I was totally oblivious to the pain as I drove to pick up my scrips. My mind was in a whirl.
So, I’m a freak of nature. I’m less than what I thought I was just yesterday. I’m one kidney short of a pair. My but how your life can change in a heartbeat. I’m a kidney failure. Though, I must say, my single kidney is considerably larger than what normal folk have. Kinda like Lance Armstrong’s oversized heart; large and freaky. (Any comparisons to Mr. Armstrong’s other missing attributes or substance abuse need not be discussed here).
But then I tried a positive spin. I’ll never be in a position to have to decide to whom I would donate my missing kidney should more than one person be in need of a transplant. One less thing to worry about.
Maybe I’m more of a mutant. A veritable X-Man! I’m not sure what powers come with a large unikidney but I’ll investigate further. And by the way Doctor Look-at-the-bright-side, how can you prove I was born without a second kidney? Maybe I lost it somewhere, somehow. At 57 years of age the number of perfectly plausible explanations abound. Here is a brief list of possibilities. I typed these on my venerable Blackberry in room four of the ER at Mercy hospital, 3:13am, December 31st, 2009:
Number 10: I possess a stealth kidney designed by the folks at Lockheed’s Skunkworks.
Number 9: My gall bladder ate my kidney. Look out, spleen!
Number 8: I never had a second kidney. This is the consensus of everyone at the hospital. This is the official, government sponsored, doctor endorsed opinion. Horseshit, I say!
Number 7: Global warming. They blame everything else on the much-debated theory. Why not my missing kidney?
Number 6: An Al Qaeda operative swiped it and is packing it full of explosives. An IEK, so to speak.
Number 5: Jack the Ripper nicked it on my trip to London and baked it into a nice little pie.
Number 4: My kidney was sucked into a microscopic black hole generated when the LHC was tested for the first time.
Number 3: I woke up in a bathtub full of ice in a Las Vegas hotel with a scar on my back and a thank you note with no memory of how I got there.
Number 2: It was beamed out by aliens on one of my many trips to Area 51. It sits in a small jar on a shelf in a museum on the other side of the known universe.
Number 1: I dissed the donkey at an Ensenada bar and had to hock my kidney for bail money. Too much tequila and too many cervezas have caused selective amnesia.
Anyway, I’m going to take a nap. I think I should call Rush and tell him to count his kidneys before he leaves the hospital. Assuming he can count to two.