Attack of the Killer Kidney

I've been KO'd by a little kidney. Well, not so little – probably huge. Just what you wanted to read about over lunch: my bulging, growing, cyst-filling kidney(s).

I have Polycystic Kidney Disease, which is the most common inherited disease in the world (beating out diabetes!) and the least known about.

So Friday I woke up feeling like one of those commercials for Nyquil – tired, achy all over, sneezing, fever, backache, whopping headache, and nausea. I know you empathize with me.

I went to work anyway and then had to turn right back around and head for urgent care. Three hours waiting, I kid you not, and I headed to the pharmacy for antibiotics, pain killers, packs of Jell-O, and home and straight to bed. I mean, my significant other had wind burns as I passed him in his comfy easy chair, NOT working. (I'm the breadwinner in this family.) Seriously, I was hoping the doc would say, "You have a really bad and very contagious cold – go home, go to bed, stay off your feet." But, nooooooo.

The last time I had a kidney infection, May 22, 2002 (you don't forget these things), I had a CAT scan. The assistant fussed around with me to get me just right and then started this thing that can only be described as a metal cylinder that looks like the back end of a jet – and it will confirm this vision once the engine starts and I mean – you think you are going to take off into space. It's a huge rumbling spinning sound like a whole bunch of loose ball bearings are charging around and around inside that tube.

I was laying there thinking "be an appendix attack. be an appendix attack. be an appendix attack." But when the assistant came out, her eyes were huge, huge pools in saucers; "Wow, you have really HUGE kidneys." They are NOT supposed to tell the patient that. The radiologist himself is supposed to tell you that. Not the 19-year-old, gum chewing, zit-faced KID.

Now here I am again, waiting for the diagnosis of (cross your fingers), a COLD.

Nope. I had a kidney infection.

See, I hate the word kidney infection because it means that my kidneys are getting attacked again and they just don't need any more pressure from the outside world. They are deteriorating just fine all by themselves. This just adds salt to the wound – oh, but I can't have salt. Just in time for the three-day Labor Day weekend. . . . . . . . . . woohoo.

Now, I'd rather give birth than have a kidney infection. (I've heard the same about kidney stones, too.)

The thing is, you see, I pride myself on my happy attitude. I'm up! I'm positive! I'm cheerful! I'm always going forward! And here I am flat on my back with not even enough energy to flick the power button on the computer, let alone SIT there and try to think of something to write and my fingers and my brain are NOT communicating with each other at all. I'd just as easily hit the delete key as the save key and not know the difference. Maybe I'll have an already-made cup of Jell-O.

It's not that I like to dwell on my disease. We all have some cross to bear. I just don't like to go on and on about it. I like to think that my attitude, my positive thinking, my happy thoughts will slow the decline. Most people with PKD end up on dialysis or have a transplant. I should be very fortunate (and lucky) to just go along as I am now with the occasional kidney infection and sometimes the [very painful] explosion of small blood-filled cysts bursting inside my kidney. I tell myself that as long as I am keeping a good look on things, keeping a positive attitude, then these nasty little interruptions too shall pass into oblivion and I can go along like everyone else.

Still, when it knocks you out, you lie there in bed thinking, gee, could it happen to me? Will I have to go on dialysis? Will I have to have a transplant?

Well, I'm back at work – still climbing up the wall of feeling good. And back to my positive attitude. I will not be ruled by my body today.



Cindy said...

I was wondering why you've been so quiet on the blogs!
Feel better soon, Jeanie. And take care of yourself, Lord knows no one else will :-)

Cheryl said...

Good gravy - it sounds quite terrible! Do, do take care of yourself. Is there anything you can do to keep it from happening? Some sort of proactive way to keep it at bay?

KathyL said...

A friend sent me your PKD blog, she thought of me when she read it as I also have PKD (and live in Spokane). I can totally relate to what you wrote, laughed when I read it and I also felt your frustration.
Thanks for sharing!

JeanieSpokane said...

KathyL - thank you for resonding!!! It amazes me that this is one of the most prevalent of the inherited diseases and yet so few know about it - and further, so few of us meet each other unless we go to an organized PKD event. Recently I was talking to a client (I am a legal secretary) and something in our conversation triggered the client to ask me what I had (lives in Moses Lake). I was shocked to find that she had two sisters who both died from this - in their 40's and 50's. Kind of humbling when I think that I am doing "ok" and not on dialysis or a transplant list. My sister has had a transplant for 9 years now; my brother has had a very successful transplant two years ago after being on dialysis for six years. He still carries the giant fistula in his arm. I do try to keep a positive attitude and am fairly confident that I will go along to old age with just a few little kidney infections to make me pay attention. :) I am 59 and my doc says I should be status quo - but I always have a little nigging in the back of my mind when I have an infection (which fortunately is rare) and the bursting cyst (which is also rare but you think you're going to die). I hope all is going well for you too. My email is jeaniecookielee@yahoo.com. I would love to hear from you.