I talked to my urologist today. (Oy vey, I have a urologist, this is my life now…) She called to discuss next steps. She had been a little concerned about the odd area in my kidney seen on the CAT scan, and had wanted to research it a little and consult with some colleagues before making a plan on how to move forward.
Fortunately, that’s all completed now. She’s decided the odd area is probably just some old scar tissue or something like that, not anything to worry about. Consequently, we’re going to go forward with the heminephrectomy — which is doctor for “cuttin’ out about half your kidney”.
This is kinda good news, because ending up with 1.5 kidneys is better than having just one. (It turns out, if something goes wrong with the other one, you can eek it out on half a kidney and clean livin’…)
But it’s also kinda bad news, because in order to take out part of the kidney, she’s going to have to open me allll the way up, using something called a “flank incision”. According to Dr. Ganeshappa (my urologist, y’all, keep up), this is one of the more painful surgical incisions when it comes to healing. I’ll be in the hospital for 3 to 5 days after the surgery, and I’m probably going to have an epidural for at least part of that, because the pain will be that bad. (The epidural is preferred for pain management because it doesn’t have the constipation issues you can get with narcotics.)
As you can imagine, I’m eagerly looking forward to that phase of the process. (Only, not so much.) I bet I end up with a bitchin’ scar out of this though, so I’ve got that going for me.
Now, the really good news: she also confirmed that, assuming that the tumor is stage 1 (very likely, due to the relatively small size), once it’s cleanly excised, that’s it — I’m done. No chemo, no radiation. I’ll have periodic imaging follow-ups (on the order of once a year) for the rest of my life, but that’s it.
I still don’t have a date for the surgery — other than “some time within a month” — but I will share it when I do. Between then and now, I have to do a bunch of pre-op stuff (blood work, X-rays, and an MRI (to give Dr. G. a better idea of where things are, tumor-wise and kidney-wise)), and I’ve got a “pre-OP” appointment with Dr. Ganeshappa on June 1st, so it will be after that — but how much after, I’m not yet sure.
Thanks again for all the messages of support and offers of help. <3