Because life is a series of edits

So I’m Having a Little Surgery Tomorrow…

In Family, Health, Science on January 8, 2012 at 8:36 am

I had a bit of a scare earlier this week by way of a doctor's appointment in which the word "cancer" randomly found its way into the list of possible pain diagnoses. Thankfully, I actually have two "significant" kidney stones (9 millimeters and 7 millimeters; one in each kidney) and am scheduled for an outpatient procedure early Monday morning to have them lasered. (All prayers appreciated for this procedure tomorrow; for the menfolk out there, this is where you cross your legs in empathy).

With the exception of one day, I haven't been in any kind of major pain; however, the doctor was concerned when I described to him the pain I had felt being in both sides of my back. He said it was rare to have "synced" kidney stones in each kidney and thought the odds were a little against that. When I asked him what else might account for the dispersed pain, that was when the briefest of cancer discussions began.

In general, I'm not one to freak out at things like this, and I didn't; odds or not, the pain was similar to the only other time I've had kidney stones, so I was pretty sure that's what I was dealing with here. But the doctor had me get a CT scan later that day so we would know what the problem was, and in the 36-hour period of waiting for the results, I experienced a few emotions at the possibility of having cancer that I'm not sure I had felt up to this point in my life.

My first emotion – starting in the doctor's office – had to do with the challenge of the prospect: I felt myself hoping it was cancer so I could take my best shot at beating it. Perhaps a form of denial or just prideful presumption, I remember thinking through how I could "use" this to inspire others through my battle and come out on top in the end. I know: sick. But that was my first emotion, self-serving and naive as it was.

My second emotion – once I moved past the idiotic hope of wanting cancer – had everything to do with Megan and the girls. I began thinking through all the details I needed to figure out (and fast) so as to make whatever time I had left with them the best that I could. I also spent a lot of mental energy trying to figure out when and how to break the news, as their disassociative abilities are not as fully developed (read: non-existent) as mine are in terms of dealing with bad news and not immediately personalizing it.

My final emotion – and the one that was strangest to deal with – was my first real visceral sense that, in my humanity, I am indeed mortal and vulnerable to death. Though I've made peace with this reality from the philosophical and theological perspectives, this was the first true emotional consideration of the fact that I am not always going to be a living, breathing person. I felt fear, sadness, and disappointment creep in at the possibility that I might be dead prematurely (at least by my watch), and I emotionally winced at the Bible's teaching that, "…you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14) I prefer not to be a poster child for this truth (though I – and all of us – are).

Thankfully, I DON'T have cancer, the kidney stones will be taken care of in an outpatient surgery tomorrow, and I fully intend on making a quick and complete recovery and getting back to what God has called me to do. In fact, as I processed all of the above this week, one thing that did encourage me was that, if indeed I had limited time to live, I had no desire to do anything other than what I'm doing – no end-of-life trips or job-quitting plans required. This is reassuring and has brought new focus to the tasks at hand this week.

I'm glad for that 36-hour period in which I didn't know for sure what the future held; if anything, it was a good and practical opportunity to hold on tight with open hands to my life and check how much I do or don't trust God with it. In not knowing, I felt relief that, by His grace, I seemed able to trust Him for whatever would come, as several times Job's words were my own: "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face." (Job 13:15 ESV)

Not doing much arguing of ways these days…just grateful to God to get to have one more.

  1. Craig,
    So sorry to hear about your kidney stones, but it seems God has used them for your good already :) It is a blessing to read your process and your heart in this. May God continue to grant you peace in this, may He give you and your docs wisdom, may he quiet the hearts of your wife and daughters as they wait with you.
    grace and peace,

  2. Praying for you.
    Also, the procedure video is really cool. Although I loathe your distress, I love the science.

  3. So glad it is not cancer!!! Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Indeed, Sandy. Hard but good times earlier in the week, to be sure. Becky, your enthusiasm for the procedure dulls the pain. Thanks. Marcie, you’re welcome (hope you feel better yourself).

  5. You are not warped in your thinking – or maybe I just think like you and we’re both warped? Glad it’s not the big “C”. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts during those 36 hour of unknown. Will be praying for you tomorrow.

  6. I was glad to read your post and know there is no cancer. I am sorry you have the stones, but hopefully the surgery will take care of them. Take care of yourself and let the docs do their thing. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow…

  7. Praying for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.
    And what an amazing blessing to know (to be shown) that you are right where you want to be.

  8. isn’t it “funny” how, when given a list of possible diagnoses, suddenly kidney stones can sound like a nice choice? espcially the kind that can be treated this way…w/o slicing into your body!
    your initial feeling of excitement from the challenge of beating cancer was definitely born of ignorance. i’m glad you weren’t given that “challenge”.

  9. It’s been 24 hours since the surgery – pain is much more manageable today (though still more than I thought it would be). Only dealt with the 9mm stone yesterday as policy dictates that you only mess with one kidney at a time. Not sure if I’ll be doing the same procedure for the 7mm or just praying it breaks up and passes. After what I experienced yesterday, I’ll take the second option, but am still open to a third. Thanks for everyone’s kind words and prayers.

  10. Thanks for the update, Craig. If the 7mm stone has “found a home”, as the 9mm did, it would seem the same procedure should be followed as soon as it would be tolerable, according to doctor’s orders. Just sayin’! Forgive me, but I’ll always be your mother with a bit of advice!

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