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Monday, October 24, 2005

Looking the Elephant in the eye

The elephant. Or maybe the Elephant.

My family has called it the elephant for years. I don’t know why. It is a metaphor. A big stinky animal that occupies your house. You ignore it. You share your house with it and step over it on the way through a room.

I remember James Michener in Colorado said Western pioneers stopped on their way west when they saw the elephant. Maybe they settled in Wyoming or Missouri. Maybe they turned back. Different animal. Same idea: fear.

And, I know that some people who I talk to refer to the same thing as the monkey or the giraffe. I guess the monkey clings to you. It won’t let go of you. The giraffe is probably easier to describe than an elephant, just as hard to acknowledge.

I think elephants are things someone else brings into the house: alcoholism, a classic. Maybe I have a monkey. A monkey, it’s brought into the house by you. Whatever it is, it is something I don’t want to discuss. I’m trying to look the monkey in the eye. I’m trying to blog the monkey.

The monkey is in my right kidney. The urologist said he doesn’t know what the monkey is. Technically it is a cyst. It is a liquid-filled body that may be inside my kidney, or may be on top of it. It may have a blood supply. That would be bad, but it doesn’t appear to have a supply. It may be cancerous. That would be very bad. The urologist doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to biopsy it.

My hand actually stuttered there. I actually typed “bbe cancerous…”

If there is nervousness, I guess it just manifested itself.

I haven’t fully recovered, as I write this, from an appendectomy. It, the appendectomy, has occupied my thoughts for most of the last few weeks. It became infected. The infection delayed my full recovery. And, on top of that, I had just started a job at the Chicago Tribune eight days before I was admitted to the hospital. I’ve been worried about a new job. I was worried about whether I even had a job as the days-off blew through all my personal days and sick days and vacation days.

I have no days left till January. I am back at work. I can’t get sick again this year.

I was awake last night, late. There is nothing unusual about that, I’ve worked a third shift for about 17 years. I often wake-up at 2 A.M. But, last night I stayed up, looking at bills. Can I pay all my bills? Well, no. Some bills will have to wait.

So, already, the medical problems are starting. As the case with many Americans, they are manifesting themselves as financial problems. I have disability insurance. It kicks in at 30 days. But I know now that the problems start before that.

Blogging the monkey won’t make it go away. The urologist, said he may take the right kidney away. The kidney seems to be functioning. Why does it have to be removed if it is working and there is no sign of cancer? I don’t know. How did it start?

Larger question, that one. About three years ago I had my second serious kidney stone attack. There were several procedures. One of the procedures may have knicked my kidney. Perhaps something was left behind in the procedure and the cyst developed, like a pearl that surrounds a grain of dirt.

I don’t think of this cyst as pearl-like.

Perhaps it is just a cyst. I’m told that about half of adults over 50 have cysts.

In February the urologist will have another look at the cyst. In the meantime, he said to forget about it. He forgot to prescribe the medicine that will allow that to happen.

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