My partner just quit his job. After 8 years of study, he had finally completed his degree and was bound for great new things as a teacher. It was a whole wide world opening up before us, and so we decided to celebrate with a holiday to the sun.
Now a few things to know about my Daniel. One. He doesn’t do free time very well. Two. He prefers sound, any sound, over silence. Three. He is the sweetest person you could know, and the most annoying.
With his studies now complete, his previous job in the distance and a new future ahead of us, we decided to take a long car trip to the top end of Australia for cocktails, warmth and plain old sitting around doing nothing very much at all. Four in the morning called us and we rose like the zombie apocalypse, trudging down the stairs and into the car.
The trip was nothing special. Just long and rainy and full of anticipation for a warmer climate. Daniel talked a lot. A lot, a lot.
“Did you see that sign?” he’d ask as my eyes darted over the words in my book.
“What’s your book about?”
“People.” I was somewhat less of a talker.
“What are they doing?” he pressed.
A minute ticked by. “Now what are they doing?”
The journey continued this way for a while. Probably until I feigned tiredness and assumed the I’m asleep position.
We laughed, we talked, we discussed the important issues of life such as the Real Housewives and where to have lunch. All in all, a relaxed if somewhat long trip.
We arrived at our hotel and lounged before heading out to dinner. The following day consisted of sunshine, sea side coffee, cocktails and general touristy visits to shops with all kinds of odds and ends .
Three days into our trip was Wednesday. After a pleasant night out eating we retired to our room for a movie and some more chill time. The holiday was everything we were hoping. Relaxation. Sunshine. Peace.
On the very early hours of Thursday I was woken by an odd feeling. I felt a painful jabbing in my lower back. It wasn’t stabbing like a blade but more like a wooden stick being poked through the skin. It was enough to wake me up and get me out of bed.
I’ve been known to sleep oddly which causes me muscular issues, but this was another pain altogether. It felt… deeper.
I paced the room for a good thirty minutes before trying to lay down and sleep it off. It’ll be gone in the morning, my brain told me.
Sleep wasn’t easy, but I managed to succumb.
The morning shone bright as does the Queensland sun, and I told Daniel of my pain, which by this time had lessened but was still very obvious.
“You probably need a massage.”
But I felt it was more. Doctor Google informed me I probably had necrosis of my internal organs, gangrene in my legs or the flu. It wasn’t entirely sure.
I presumed, due to my extensive medical knowledge, also known as No Frikken Clue, that it was something to do with my kidneys. Perhaps an infection. At worst, awkward kidney stones. The clue? I was urinating the equivalent of a deep moscato. The shock of that was horrific. One moment you need to go do the nature thing, the next you wonder if this is going to turn into some crazy exorcism of Sigourney Weaver proportions with alien offspring shooting out of my belly button. According to Google, there was a 4% chance of this.
I’m not one for visiting doctors. Not that I’m afraid of them or something. I just can’t be bothered. I’d rather ride the wave that is my occasional slight symptom until said ail is bored with my lack of care and moves on to some other unsuspecting victim. I’d rather have a cup of tea.
But this time, I was almost propelled into their door by unseen guiding lights. Cheers to you spirit watchers! Next appointment, half an hour.
The doctor was a quirky sort who put me at ease with his laissez-faire approach to my symptoms and told me to pee in a cup.
“Oh,” Doctor Craig pivoted on the spot like a champion ballerina. “The light is busted and there are no windows, so just leave the door open a crack.
I don’t know how many of you have peed in the dark, but I assumed it was a task that even the producers of Survivor weren’t wanting to put to the test. I left the door slightly ajar as I filled my jar. Peeing on cue is always a weird feeling. I always wonder if I will have enough. Presto, we did, and the colour was back to normal. Alien vacation perhaps?
The doc stuck a strip in the fluid that looked like the insides of a Christmas cracker that determined I had a fair amount of blood I was passing. This didn’t really concern him. “Probably just the kidney stones moving about.”
He suggested I could get a scan done if I wished or wait until I got home. With my mind still reeling from the fear of having to pass kidney stones, I decided just to go with the flow and get every test I could. I’d rather know if I’m up for passing grains of salt or ping pong balls.
“Can you hear me now? Hello? Can you hear me now Mrs Taylor? Are you there? Oh I give up.” We entered the scanny place and hear the receptionist holla at some poor deaf person on the other end. She was full of life and probably donuts and told me to take a seat.
Next thing I know, I’ve got a machine telling me to breathe in, hold it, let it out and a lovely display of tropical fish swimming around. Not so bad.
“I think we’re just going to do one more test.”
One more test you say… Nerves fill me a little.
“Now, you need this dye inside you. No allergies?”
“Good. Any medications?”
“Great. Now in very rare cases, this dye may cause you to have nausea, headaches, heart attack, or death. Okay to go ahead?”
I felt my eyeballs recoil in blank horror. I probably shit my pants, who knows. “Yes. Sure. Okay.”
All done. Scan complete. Just sit and wait for my results on a disc and on with our holiday. Worry about the results when I get home and see my local doc.
“We’re just going to do one more test now.”
Right. Something is going on here and I don’t know what it is. So many tests for a stupid little rock in my guts? I have cocktails to drink!
Finally we head on our way to more shopping in the pretty little town of Montville. I choose the cafe that I decide will be where I write my memoirs once I am discovered for my talents that I am yet to discover myself. I buy gifts for my family and we delve into the world of grand-father clocks. It is here that my phone rings.
“Hello. The doctor needs to see you. Now.”
Between the cuckoos and chimes I hear something along the lines of Kylie Minogue lyrics ‘your disco needs you’. I excuse myself and head outside to try and understand Kylies message a bit clearer. My mistake. I tell Daniel who thinks I am just trying to get a rise out of him.
“I’m booked for three forty five. We have two hours. Yes I am very serious.”
I try my hardest to pretend I want to shop, but all my brain is telling me is that I need to have a massive operation to get these damn giant basketball size stones out of me. I’ll have a scar! How can I flaunt my beach body with a scar? Once I have surgery to get that beach body first of course. Until then, I’ll just stay inside, which kind of defeats my worry really, doesn’t it?
Daniel can sense my panic and we pack up our worldly treats and hit the road, calling and moving the appointment earlier.
“So. Kidney stones?”
“Well, good news. No stones,” Doc starts. Thank the moon and stars! No peeing out razor blades from Hell. Surely kidney stones are the work of the Devil!
“But you do have a tumor.”
I just laugh. What the Hell is he talking about. I’m 32. I exercised once. I am a fit and healthy overweight person! I even ate an apple.
I’m told I need to see my local doctor as soon as I can, and that I will need a biopsy and to see a specialist. Doctor Craig tells me it is pointless for me to carry on in Queensland as we only have a day left of our trip before we go home.
We leave the doctor and try to carry on as normal. Thoughts rush though my head like the waves I’ve watched all week. Is this it? Am I going to die? I answer myself with yes you are, we all are. I sound like a wanker. Chances are this is not cancer. Plus, I go to meditation once a week, so surely it just CAN’T be cancer. But if it is, I do own an oddly surprising amount of wigs.
And so. Here we are. I have a kidney tumor. A 45 millimetre tumor. It’s a bit of a shock, but mostly I am optimistic. It’s rare for someone my age to have this and I want to believe there would be more symptoms if it was serious.
My local doctor tells me that surgery is likely, and yet I’m still not overly worried. I have Daniel to look after and our dog Milly, who just adores me. Ask anyone. It’s true. People ask me how I’m feeling about it and I honestly don’t really feel any stress. I can’t change it, and so until I see the specialist next week, I will just have to roll with the punches. One good thing, the passing of blood seems to have stopped. As has the sharp pains. Maybe it is my guiding angels helping me along. Or maybe the tumor was bored with my lack of caring and jumped out of my body into the nearest hypochondriac? Wishful thinking.
When you have an illness, or tumor in my case, you do notice people being oddly attentive to you. Some you haven’t seen in a long time suddenly want to spend time with you. EVERYONE asks how you are doing. But annoyingly they all have these sad eye faces like your grandmother just died.
I must say, I am milking it for all it’s worth. Daniel asks me to do things.
“I wish I could make you a cup of tea… but I have a tumor.”
“I really want to take the washing off the line, but I have this tumor…”
It’s wearing thin but I still try it!
I’m glad I haven’t had too many “I’m so sorry” responses. My reply will be wildly funny (in my head only I presume) when I snap back “Why are you sorry? Did you put this in me?! DID YOU DO THIS TO ME!?” Ahhh the joy of my humour. I’m really not that funny.
I see the specialist next week for my next step. I’ll update more as my journey continues. In the meantime, I do like flowers and/or chocolates. Friends, you know my address.