I’ve always been one for remembering dates. The first date for Dan and me. The day he proposed. The day I found out I was pregnant with Maggie. The day we closed on our first house. Those sorts of things. (However, I’m only kind of okay at remembering birthdays. That is, I’ll REMEMBER it’s your birthday, but I most likely will forget to TELL YOU that I remembered it was your birthday. So I’m halfway there.)

So of course today, I reflected on the 20th anniversary of the day that a surgeon cut me open on the operating table, removed most of my innards, and operated on my left kidney. I was ten years old.

It was a long time ago, but I can still remember a lot of things pretty clearly. I remember being very sick for a while- nearly a year- before the doctors figured out what was wrong. I remember my pediatrician telling my mom that I was just nervous about going to school or I was trying to get attention. And of course my mom KNEW that wasn’t true. As I lay on the couch, my face green and pale and my body weak and dehydrated from puking for 7 days straight, she KNEW something was wrong. I remember when we went to Children’s Hospital after a night spent on the couch next to a paper bag, watching Nick at Night. I remember peeing in 8,092 cups and the nurses taking 7,289 vials of blood and undergoing several rather uncomfortable procedures (catheter, anyone?) before they finally did an ultrasound and saw the problem.

When it came time for my surgery, I remember being upset that I was going to miss my 5th grade Valentine’s Day party (and to this day, I can’t remember if I actually missed it or if I was just panicking that I would miss it.) I remember being in the pre-op area, behind a curtain, all alone, and the nurse asked me if I was getting an IV or gas for my anesthesia. Being ten, and scared, I just agreed with whatever she said, and then started crying as she prepped my arm for the needle. Then someone came in and corrected her- I was supposed to get the gas mask instead- so I was saved. I remember when it came time for the gas, it was grape ‘flavored’ and the doctor told me to count backwards from 100. I think I got to 96 before ZOOM! I was waking up in recovery.

I remember the girl in the room with me- she was young, maybe 4? 6?- and she had spina bifida. It made my surgery seem routine and minor, even if I was in pain for a few days. And it makes the 5 inch scar on my left side seem like a non-issue. Sure, my surgery was necessary and it WAS a little bit scary (the doctor later told my parents that if we had waited much longer, my kidney could have burst and then… well, that would have been very bad.) but the surgery fixed the problem and soon, I was good as new. And 20 years later, there have been no other issues.

At the time, I didn’t really understand what a big deal it was, having such an invasive surgery. But now- as a mother- I can only imagine how stressed out and worried my parents were. Imagining my baby girl being sliced open by a surgeon… just. No.

Anyway. So Happy 20th Anniversary, Left Kidney. I’m glad you decided not to explode on me. That was nice of you!


  1. samantha jo campen

    February 15, 2010 9:03 pm

    Yeah Left Kidney!

    Also? You are a huge dork :-)

  2. Kelly

    February 15, 2010 9:34 pm

    Yikes! Isn’t it funny what we remember? I have really clear memories of a bladder surgery I had to have at age 3. Some of my earliest memories, actually!

  3. Crissy

    February 15, 2010 10:01 pm

    I had something similar, at age 6, after years of severe kidney infections.

    When I had my C-section they cut right over my existing scar from childhood.

    It’s a really big deal going through something like that so young!
    .-= Crissy’s last blog post: Not missing mommy & daddy one bit =-.

  4. the ambitious mrs

    February 15, 2010 10:28 pm

    Any surgery is big surgery, I’m glad you made it through a-okay way back when!
    .-= the ambitious mrs’s last blog post: Body Talk =-.

  5. bluzdude

    February 15, 2010 11:07 pm

    And to think the worst I had when I got my tonsils out at age 4 was the indignity of getting my temperature taken. They tricked me, saying “jump up onto the bed. I hopped up, stuck about half way and they said, “stop right there” and ‘poink’! Temperature taken.

  6. Nichole

    February 15, 2010 11:54 pm

    what was wong with your kidney? just an infection?

  7. red pen mama

    February 16, 2010 9:15 am

    Scary stuff. And to think I was freaked out that Kate needed ear tubes.

    Glad you and your kidney are fine!
    .-= red pen mama’s last blog post: Random Thoughts: The Bored Edition =-.

  8. Caity

    February 16, 2010 9:58 am

    Aww, that is pretty adorable that you remember that. My sister had pretty major sinus surgery when she was 4 years old. It was so major that she had to remain on her back for weeks or she’d leak brain lubricant. I was only about 6 at the time but like you said you don’t really comprehend how parents really feel about their kids at that age. I’m sure I don’t even fully comprehend it even now not having one of my own but I sure understand it a lot better.

    In any case, I’m sure it was an experience that you’re glad you had. I sometimes wish I had surgery when I was little. I’ve never had surgery and at 25 I bet I’ll have a heart attack first if someone tells me I need surgery. I don’t know what to expect!

  9. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks

    February 16, 2010 10:42 am

    Any surgery is risky. And you’re right, I can’t imagine watching a child go through it and not be able to hold their hand. (That’s why I continue to stand in wonderment at my husband who is a surgical nurse at a local children’s hospital!) So glad to hear that 20 years ago, technology was far enough along that they were able to do something to help you! What a win for everyone!
    .-= Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks’s last blog post: Replay =-.

  10. Burgh Baby

    February 16, 2010 11:43 am

    You literally made me snort by thanking your left kidney. You’re such a lovable goober. ;-)
    .-= Burgh Baby’s last blog post: Fire Up the Deloreon =-.

  11. Natalie

    February 16, 2010 2:23 pm

    So glad it was minor but of course, anything involving pain of any sort (catheter? YUCK!) is memorable. Happy Anniversary! :)
    .-= Natalie’s last blog post: Behind the Cloud =-.

  12. Francesca

    February 16, 2010 11:55 pm

    Happy anniver-surgery! I am celebrating one today! I was terrified that I wouldnt wake up from surgery after having seen movies where people didnt! So Im actually celebrating the waking up from it bit :D
    .-= Francesca’s last blog post: Out of the blue =-.

  13. Kelly

    February 17, 2010 7:32 pm

    Whoa. Flashbacks. Every bit right up to the surgery party (the whole point of your post, I know.). I was 5. They never figured out what caused it, and for some reason *poof* it went away. I had to pee in more cups at age 5 than thru my entire pregnancy with Peanut. So uncool.

    Happy anniver-surgery!
    .-= Kelly’s last blog post: She has a reason for this, she has to… =-.

  14. Marie

    February 25, 2010 5:23 am

    Goodness, I think my jaw dropped after you announced your surgery haha. I love the way you introduced it!

    I’m 24 and I’m terrified of the idea of surgery. Both my parents have gone through a bunch of surgeries for various reasons and I think I would just die if I ever had to have surgery. I mean, maybe not but really, the idea terrifies me!

    I still remember the night I went to the ER for the first time because I broke out in hives and waited for 3 hours only to not be helped (after they got us into a room).

    I added you to my blog roll, I hope you don’t mind :)
    .-= Marie’s last blog post: First day of school! =-.

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