Goodbye to all my friends at home
Goodbye to people I've trusted
-- Steve Miller Band
Help me, if you Can't
In May of 2014 I got some of the worst news in my life. I came to the hospital after I got a call from my primary care doctor's office. In the weeks preceding this I had my yearly physical. My kidney numbers were "a little off" and I had complained about some cloudiness in my urine over the preceding weeks. Three weeks after, I got the call. "Get to the emergency room. Your kidney's have failed."
I mean, who says that? "Your kidneys have failed". That's a god-damned ridiculous thing to say. And who gives that news with a monotone, seemingly disinterested voice? Wouldn't your doctor meet you at the ER in such a case? I mean, we're all busy, but damn. Who even can miss a myeloma diagnosis, or a tumor in a kidney even after an ultra-sound? To say my doctor's office let me down, and specifically my physician's assistant failed me in the worst way at the worst time might be the understatement of the century. They blew it.
What does that even mean, anyway; what does it feel like? I had not been feeling well, I had some other symptoms, but who thinks about kidneys? I had been nauseous, had flu-like symptoms, What do they even do? Turns out a they do a lot. Most people know they filter our blood 24 hours a day every day, and produce urine, which contains all the waste that builds up in your body, including excess fluid.
Turns out your kidneys do many other things. But, bottom line is: if your kidneys aren't working: you die.
The really bad news is that no-one can do anything about kidneys once they go bad. Kidney doctors, or "nephrologists", as undoubtedly they introduce themselves at cocktail parties, can't cure anything. Kidneys do not repair themselves; there's no medicine nephrologists can prescribe; they're too delicate. These organs have tiny passageways laid down while you were in your mother's womb, passageways about the width of 1 red blood cell. Your body simply does not have the tools to repair them.
My passageways were full of jagged little protein bits; so full that it clogged them, and the proteins are of a shape that scrapes them up, damages them. They can no longer function. And there's no fixing it. Nephrologists said "let's wait and see" a lot during these early days; and that's about the extent of what they can do. They can prescribe dialysis or aphaeresis, but they're not fixing anything.
No medicine or miraculous artificial kidneys here. Once they're gone, they're gone.
And: mine were gone. Diagnosis: Multiple Myeloma. Side effect: kidney failure.
Goodbye to People
It's difficult to get through this, I will admit. There were times I did not think I could do it. I felt overwhelmed; it's too big, I thought. Dealing with one of these issues is hard enough, but having to deal with two issues is a lot.
But, with the help of my family and some close friends, I did do it, continue to do it.
Recently, I was recounting this whole story to someone close to me. At some point, I said, "some people got funny".
So I go down the street
Down to my good friend's house
I said look man
I'm outdoors you know
Can I stay with you maybe a couple days?
He said let me go and ask my wife
He come out of the house
I could see it in his face
I know that was "no"
He said I don't know man
Ah she kinda funny, you know
I said I know,
now you funny too
-- George Thorogood
Some people did in my estimation "get funny". These were people that I thought would help out, or at least have a modicum of pity. However, some people ran away, or turned away; some of whom I didn't expect to. And this hurts, because the opposite of "love" isn't "hate", it's: indifference. And some people, whom I expected to help, or show sympathy (or empathy), were indifferent.
The other day when I was at the local home improvement store I saw some people that we know. Our boys played T-ball, baseball, lacrosse together. We go to the same church. However, they didn't even cast me a second glance, even as I put myself into their field of view, in that posture of "hey, hello!". Granted, I didn't say anything, either, but I felt I made myself more than available for: "well! hey, how have you been!?"
But what I got instead
was: nothing. Not even a
Now you funny, too
Well. You might think, ok, they haven't seen you, maybe they didn't recognize you. These folks are already aloof, but either way, I say, no. That is complete BS. I had no problem recognizing them after 3 years of changes hung on them. I might as well have been an apparition, or worse: invisible.
I've had more than one experience like this, and people's reactions, even when we talk directly, are "funny".
I've since learned to shrug this off. It's not easy. Some boats you just have to let sail off.
Hello to my True Friends
So, in the end what was left was my family, and my true friends. I mean "true" because true friends do not turn their backs on you or act like you don't exist any more no matter what. Plus, friends we were just casual with suddenly became close; they had empathy from some prior experience, maybe.
Why do people do become "funny"? I do not know. Am I imagining it? No. I've always been fairly adept at reading people. Some people just turn away.
They get funny. They can't get on the jet-airliner headed to where you're going. So leave them behind and focus on who's with you.