Monday, July 1, 2013

i am not a doctor

so, apparently, despite extensive google research and an advanced degree in webMD, i am not, in fact, a doctor. not a nephrologist, radiologist, or even an ultrasound technician.

you may or may not know, and you certainly couldn't tell by looking at her, but my sweet squishy little amazon baby was born with only one working kidney. we knew something was wrong with one of her kidneys from about 18 weeks in utero, though they weren't entirely sure what. technology is amazing isn't it? of course this also meant we were freaking out for months before she was even born, whereas 30 years ago, we would have been blissfully unaware, and she likely would have lived her whole life not even knowing anything was wrong! modern science - a blessing and a curse.

anyway, it was kind of scary at first - (before and after she was born, especially after) not knowing exactly was wrong and what the ramifications would be. lots and lots of tests and unanswered questions and medical professionals who, bless their hearts, didn't want to hurt our little peanut any more than we did - but goddammit already, they fah-reaking SUCKED at it. i couldn't PAY them to locate a vein with a needle, or her poor itty bitty little urethra with a ginormous stabby catheter. it still makes me cringe when i think about it. listen, i am not a cryer or a freaker-outer. and judging by the way the NICU and PICU nurses and doctors eyed me suspiciously - like being in close quarters with a wild animal or a bona fide crazy person who's extremely liable to cause a scene, bite you, throw bodily waste, or inexplicably strip naked - i must be in the minority. but that's just not my style. i don't cry when the kids get their shots, and when the little man was circumcised (barbarians, i know) at the pediatrician's office, the doctor (a mother herself) tried to tell me that "moms usually prefer to stay back in the waiting room so they don't get too upset." but i held him for the whole thing and didn't even blink an eye (i can't say the same for daddy ;)). but after the seventh failed attempt to catheterize and/or insert an IV in my sweet angel baby, who's being restrained by three grown adults on a cold, crinkly tissue-paper-covered table like she's being drawn and quartered, screaming bloody pathetic murder the entire time.... well, I was ready to draw blood from a slew of well-meaning needle- and catheter-wielding nurses, and i definitely wanted to cry. ugh. it was brutal. then there was a white-knuckle ride in an ambulance and a hospital stay and hearing the "specialist" say "this is very interesting - i've never seen this before"....

BUT. once they more or less figured out what was up [multi-cystic dysplastic kidney disease- an "atypical" case, a.k.a., they're mostly sure that's what it is] things started looking up. best case scenario - the "bad" kidney shrinks up and magically disappears - voila! worst case scenario - the bad kidney gets bigger or starts causing problems, and has to be removed. obviously, nobody wants their little baby to go under the knife and we were/are really hoping to avoid this, but i was assured that, should we need to go that route, it was actually a relatively minor surgery and recovery process. in either event, she steers clear of rugby, hockey, football, and trampolines. in the grand scheme of sh*t that can go wrong, we are golden.

[along those lines, please don't take this as a "woe is me" type of thing. i know  how lucky we are and how much worse it could be. i'm really just telling this story as a cautionary tale about the twin evils of false confidence and the internets.]

anyway, about 6 months ago Colby had another ultrasound, and the doctors "believed" that her bad kidney was involuting - shrinking (because of the atypical nature of the kidney, it is hard to determine its contours, thus making exact/reliable measurements difficult). they wanted to follow up 6 months later, and as long as the trend continued, this would mean that CJ could avoid surgery. yay!

fast forward 6 months. i take CJ in for her follow up ultrasound. afterward, with all the breezy confidence a fake medical degree culled from countless google searches entails, i proceed to call my dad, my husband, and my father in law (who actually is a doctor) and inform them that, although we still had to wait to hear the "official" results from the doctor, the kidney is definitely shrinking, which means - no nephrectomy! yippee!

so then the urologic surgeon calls a couple of days later with the results. i chirpily answered the phone, and listened while he proceeded to explain that Colby's kidney is not, in fact, shrinking. actually what he said is, "it doesn't appear to be growing, but it doesn't appear to be shrinking either." okay, first of all, what is this "doesn't appear to be" business? if you were answering interrogatories, i would object that these terms are vague and ambiguous. it "appears" that you are not entirely sure what you see. and second of all. no. i was there, remember? and my fully informed interpretation of said renal ultrasound was that the bad kidney was shrinking. or involuting, if you prefer that i use the proper medical terminology. how could this happen??? oh wait, i know! because i am an idiot.

i started to tell a friend about this and she said, "STOP. you just made that up?" Me: "well, not exactly. just sort of overconfident wishful thinking i guess." Her: "no. i was definitely led to believe that you were relaying information from a licensed medical professional." Me: "well, I was relaying information regarding one of two possible outcomes per professional medical advice...?" Her: "no." Me: "okay. yeah. basically i just for some reason thought i was a doctor for a second and was convinced i could read the ultrasound and ..." Her: "AND MADE IT UP." Me: "not on purpose! i just overestimated the power of my mind!" (it's a bad habit of mine.)

but don't worry! there's a happy ending! both the surgeon and the pediatric nephrologist agree that, given CJ's overall health and lack of complications, we still don't have to do the nephrectomy!!! we will just continue to monitor every 6 months or so, and as long as it doesn't substantially change or start causing secondary issues, she's good to go! hallelujah!!! in addition, i learned a valuable lesson - i am not a doctor (or rather, re-learned, since there was that one time i informed my doctor that i had gallstones. he was dubious. i insisted. he was right.) so yeah. all's well that ends well and mack-mama needs to get off the google. the end :)

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