There’s a scene in an episode of M*A*S*H when company clerk Radar O’Reilly befriends a young, badly wounded soldier. Complications arise and the doctors rush in to save the boy, but to no avail. Radar is crushed after learning of the death and stumbles over to sit on a nearby bench. When one of the doctors, B.J. Hunnicutt, tries to comfort him, Radar utters, “I was just talking to him. How can he be alive one minute and dead the next? How can things change on a dime so quickly?” B.J. replies, “It’s not much more than that.”
I think, sometimes, that B.J.’s reply parallels my own life. I’m not dying of anything terminal, but I’ve had my share of diagnoses that have changed my life forever.
It’s been a long road to get to where I am today, and this week the road got even longer.
A week ago I felt sheer joy after attending a fabulous midlife conference for women. I came away feeling inspired to do and be better in my professional life. I felt so alive and truly blessed.
One week later I received disturbing news. I have three very large kidney stones located on either side of my kidneys. Having had kidney stones six years ago I’m familiar with the pain and suffering they can cause. It’s a pain worse than childbirth, one that brought me to my knees screaming for mercy.
Not a whole lot of fun.
I’m angry at my doctor, a nephrologist who never recommended a simple urine test to check for new kidney stones. I’m also angry at him for, according in my new urologist, prescribing a kidney stone medication at a dosage that was basically benign.
I’m also angry at myself for being a better advocate to others than I was for myself. I should have insisted on testing for kidney stones, but I felt safe in the care of my doctor.
I’m supposed to travel for a reunion in a few weeks with three of my dearest friends. I’ve known these women since I was 10 years old. We are like sisters, and we haven’t been together for 15 years. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Will I be able to go?
I find myself at the starting gate one more time.
I have to have two separate procedures to be performed weeks apart. The lithotripsy “blasts” the stones into pieces using sound waves, allowing them to “pass” out of the body. Sometimes the “passing” causes great pain.
The first available appointment is seven days before my reunion. I must wait and pray the stones don’t “pass” by themselves before then.
I’ve been “sick” for more than half of my life. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m tired of visiting doctors, tired of medications and injections. I’m tired of pain, fatigue, weakness and spasms. I’m tired of canceling plans, of staying close to home and having the need to explain why I’m not feeling well. I hate drawing attention to myself.
And I’m tired of wasting whatever precious time I have on this earth by dealing with illness.
I’m know I’m taking a risk by writing a post that’s not positive or uplifting. But I think that every once in awhile we all need to vent our frustrations a little when we get knocked down. It’s only human. Our courage and inner strength are being tested, and there’s no shame in asking for love and support to get back up again.
Next time when life changes on a dime I hope my dime will fall heads up.