The panic button had been pushed and programmed.
I was starting to feel sick in my stomach. I swallowed back acidic juices that were building up in the back of my throat. I forced myself to breathe and repeat my typical mantra, “It will be okay. You will be okay.”
I had just checked my voicemail from my gynecologist that the routine pelvic ultrasound had shown something ‘odd’ and that she was ordering a kidney ultrasound to rule out that whatever was ‘odd’ was not on my kidneys and was just in my uterus.
Every year, my gynecologist orders a pelvic ultrasound because my second transplanted kidneys were right near the pelvis, and to ensure that all my “womanly parts” were intact and okay. If it were up to me, I would have my entire uterus taken out because I hated my monthly periods with a passion.
But, as all my doctors and people said to me, “You are too young. You may want to have children when you are older. If your uterus is taken out, you do not have that option.”
Me? Children? I would be the worst mother ever—freaking out about little details and going into complete control freak and micromanager mother mode. No, thank you. No children for me.
Snapping back into reality, I shrugged my shoulders at my gynecologist’s voicemail message and the calm voice in me that was trying to simmer down the programmed panic button me said, “Mary, don’t worry about whatever is ‘odd’….the doctors are just trying to cover themselves. No worries. You’ll get the kidney ultrasound. Your kidneys will be okay. You will move on and make it a point to pause in your daily routines to be extra thankful.”
Nonetheless, I called back my gynecologist to ask what was this ‘odd’ on my annual pelvic ultrasound and if I had any cause to worry—although, I would probably worry anyway because I am a natural worrier. My gynecologist was not in the office. The waiting game had already begun.
Throughout my life, I’ve always believed in right place and right time. Someone must have been smiling at me from the heavens above because when I was distantly and distastefully trying to eat my lunch, my gynecologist literally sauntered into the cafeteria. She immediately saw me and sat down with me with her son hovering close by to her.
She explained, “I have the day off. Did you get my message?”
Wide-eyed, I nodded and immediately asked her if I should be worried.
She did not give me a straight “yes” or “no,” and, instead, said,
“The radiologist called me because there is something that has doubled in size since your pelvic ultrasound that was done last year. We do not know what it is. We think it is a fibroid, because you have a history of fibroids that are quite large. However, I’m concerned if the fibroid has doubled in size. We just want the kidney ultrasound to rule out anything wrong with kidneys that were transplanted the second time, and confirm that it is an enlarged fibroid and go from there.”
Out of everything she explained to me, the main words I heard were “Fibroid” and “Doubled in Size.”
My conclusion: I did not like that anything was growing at lightning speed in me.
That unsettled me.
I was suddenly scared.
The worries began to seep in and my mind began to race:
What if this ‘odd’ thing is something on my kidneys from the second transplant? What if it is an enlarged fibroid? Would it be cancerous?
I scheduled the kidney ultrasound immediately. I obtained a report of the pelvic ultrasound. I felt sick all over again when I read the report that indicated a “large heterogeneous mass” located on the anterior of the uterus had grew since a year again.
I reflected on these past few months if I had felt anything different or any symptoms, and the only symptoms I thought of was increased lower back pain, extremely painful periods in the last couple of months, and a pressure I always felt on my bladder.
The little and scared girl in me from when I was sick for so long and finally received my second kidney transplant suddenly appeared. This little girl was a panicked worrier who teetered on hypochondriac. This little girl hated the waiting, not knowing, and the constant following-up that caused doctors and doctor offices to get peeved and produce the label of “Pain in the Ass Patient” rather than “Proactive Patient.” And, now, this little girl was an adult who knew a lot more.
Knowledge is certainly empowering, but also worrying. Ignorance is definitely bliss.
I am not one to keep silent when I am greatly worried, and so I begin to talk. A lot. I shared this latest bump in the road with my closest friends, my sister, and my parents.
They gathered around me with listening ears, comforting words, and humor to make me laugh until my eyes began to tear. They said they would pray for me. They said the marvels of modern science and medicine would probably just zap or break this ‘mysterious mass’ in me. Some did not know what to say, so they said nothing and let me just talk and talk some more. For the first time, my sister accompanied me to the renal ultrasound to keep me company. Her presence meant everything to me. All their actions unequivocally spoke that they were here for me.
They were “Taking my Turns" with me.
I had explained to my Dad and a dear friend of mine, “In life, we take turns. I’m taking my turn now with this latest health bump, but people also take my turns with me. ‘Take my turns’ are people being there for me or for others during their darkest, scariest, or unknown moments with love, care, laughter, and full presence. I have had my turns, and people have taken them with me. People have had their turns, and I’ve taken them with them. We all just take turns.”
My Dad chuckled and said, “Well, you have had enough turns. Time to give your turns to others.”
I said to my Dad, “That is what my life is about—take the turns with them.”
My friend made me burst out laughing when she said, “We all can’t be turning at the same time, otherwise we are going to be dizzy and all fall down.”
The beauty of the unforeseen and unexpected news of this latest health bout or of any unforeseen and unexpected situation is that it forces the pushed pause button to count blessings and reflect on the day of possibilities rather than the required and routine responsibilities.
As scared as I am of what is to come (and I keep saying that it is probably nothing), I am forever grateful that the pause button has been pushed to put life back to its truest and best perspective for me.
The latest is that my kidney ultrasound results returned and confirmed the best and most joyous news I could ask for that my precious pre-owned kidney beans are still functioning!!
Now I am in the waiting game of confirming that this ‘mass’ is indeed a fibroid and how to proceed next. Almost always, the waiting is the hardest part. But, in the mist of all this waiting, I am the luckiest girl to have people ‘take my turns’ with me.
Life goes on in the most extraordinary and precious of ways with the best people in my life that I could ever have. I am as grateful as can be, and then some more.