Exposition: And still my world keeps turning.

“The Orange File” is an irregular series of blog posts through which I will chronicle some of my experiences dealing with a potentially serious kidney issue.

There is a 10.9 cm heterogeneous mass within the right kidney as described above, highly suspicious for primary renal malignancy.

The above information came to me via MyChart at around 4:51 PM on March 17, less than half a day after getting an MRI. The MRI came after a CT scan earlier in the week indicated a mass on my kidney. Working backward a bit further, this all started when I was sent for a CT scan after I went to my doctor complaining of a possible hernia. It all unfolded in, say, about 10 days, from the point of my physical exam with my family doctor to the MRI and subsequent results. So, by most standards, things moved quickly in the grand scheme of things, but seemed to progress agonizingly slowly from day to day. More on that another time.

Even though I already knew there was a formidable mass on my kidney going into the MRI ­– I had received the CT results on that Tuesday morning, reading them on MyChart around 6:30 AM – the experience of getting the MRI results back was exceptionally jarring. In the first place, it confirmed that something scary was going on inside my body, and the findings used the word “malignancy,” which further built upon my looming fear of a worst-case scenario. Additionally, I received the information well after the close of business for pretty much every doctor’s office involved up to date, and none of these places would open until Monday morning.

So there I was, reading, re-reading, Googling, crying, freaking out, and trying to snap myself out of what felt like an awful, awful dream. Much to my surprise, life kept moving along at the same time. My wife and I had plans for the weekend, her birthday was coming up, we had stuff going on with our kids (two adults and a little one), bills to pay, and another work week just around the corner when everything started all over again. Oh, and there’s still a pandemic going on; that actually factored into the situation, as well. All told it was kind of like living through that episode of Growing Pains where Mike Seaver stays home from school and realizes that everyone goes about their business even while his daily routine has changed significantly. The only difference was that there wasn’t a laugh track at my house.


A young Mike Seaver experiences pain and yearning.

In the midst of all this, I remembered a snarky comment that someone fired my way during a Twitter debate years ago. As I recall, I’d stated some kind of plain fact (like a pro wrestler’s PWI ranking or something like that) and my unimpressed cyber foil simply replied, “And still my world keeps turning.” That wry retort was a reminder that by and large, the world is bigger than my opinions, my convictions, and my struggles, up to and including the current one, which was rapidly taking on the appearance of a life-and-death struggle for me. It was a humbling enough barb to catch in a stupid Internet argument, and it was even more sobering to reflect upon it in the context of what was going on in my very small world, – which was in fact situated within a great big world. Imagine a Venn diagram in which I am represented by a circle that is one eight-billionth of a giant circle.

What I did find out soon enough, is that plenty of people care, from individuals to groups, despite the inability of the world as a giant conglomeration of matter and forces (the nature of nature, if you will), lacks the capacity or ability to care. Finding support in the early days of this odyssey was enough to keep me from crawling out of my skin, at least for a little while. That’ll be a recurring theme in due course, though.

I don’t know how people live through this, but I suppose I need to find out.

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