“The kidney must come out”.
Straightforward and without unnecessary pleasantries, the doctor stated his course of action. My husband and I looked into each other’s eyes, searching for some kind of confirmation, then back again at the surgeon, who I thought tapped his foot slightly in agitation.
“When?”, I asked. The answer – next week.
It seemed simple enough; the extraction of a kidney. He had two, for heaven’s sake, so there shouldn’t be a problem – or would there be? What if the other one didn’t work? Were they both operating in tandem all these years? If so, would the sole survivor be able to take on the vital task of blood cleansing by itself? Should I give it a name?? Good grief – I felt as if I were the one having a medical crisis!
I hadn’t noticed that my appetite decreased slightly – nothing seemed very palatable afterall. Sleep was not to be mine as I lay in the dark listening to my partner’s every breath and a sense of foreboding settled over me as I fought to remain calm and upbeat.
We vowed not to disclose this event to family and friends until the deed was done A fleeting thought crossed my mind that I (alone) would be handling the explanations and I quickly put that out of my head. This was not the time for “poor me’s” or self pity. Remaining upbeat is normally a chore for this pessimist, but I did my very best for him and I know that it was appreciated greatly.
Today, whenever I feel myself getting irritated with one of his supposedly irritating idiosyncracies – most likely conjured up by my inner lunatic, post-life, hormonal voodoo – I recall the week I sat by his bedside, staring alternately at his sleeping face or in the direction of the lonely kidney, praying for it to do it’s job well. Nurses would urge me to take a break or eat lunch outside and enjoy the lovely day. To appease them, I would take a walk down to the cafeteria for a cup of bad coffee or roam the halls peering into other rooms. I noticed that although my husband just had his kidney removed, he was situated on the orthopedic ward, which would explain the agonized moaning from the woman across the hall who suffered through double knee replacement. It seems that the organ-removal wing was maxed out and orthopedics happily had a vacant private room.
By the third day, color appeared in his cheeks and my husband’s eyes were clearer. He pointed out that he asked the nurse to remove the intravenous morphine feed and I had a fleeting thought of inserting it into my own arm, pushing him to one side of the bed, and flopping down for some much needed sleep. He was correct, of course, in that recovery would be quicker without the drugs. Outside his room, I happened upon the double-knee replacement on a walker. She smiled weakly as she hobbled past me, nodding that she could make it. I noticed something familiar dangling from the end of her bed – a multi-colored triangle made of yarn – the “eye of God”, which I hadn’t seen since the 60’s in some Waikiki head shop. As she passed me, her gaze apparently followed mine and she said “my niece made that for me to keep me safe”. I commented that soon she’d be roller skating and we both giggled at the thought of her careening out of control past the nurses station. She inquired about my own patient and noted that he slept soundly with no obvious discomfort – afterall, the “eye” was a good omen for their end of the floor. I agreed wholeheartedly and wished her a speedy recovery.
Months later, we are back to normal with a slight easement in our schedules. He takes time to listen to the birds sing in the early morning while savoring a cup of coffee on the lanai. An appreciation of our well-being has infused our every thought and smiles come easier. Life is good.