Paul Harvey used to have a talk radio show called “The Rest of the Story.” It featured primarily background information about headlines that you’d find in the news. I remember listening to it with Dad in the car radio on trips into town when I was growing up.
The title fits perfectly here because as things turned out, there was much more to my diagnosis than we originally knew when I was little.
In March 2003, I was admitted to the Emergency Room in severe pain in my right flank. An ultrasound was done as they determined to try and find out what was wrong with me. It was late at night and the hospital wasn’t the best, so when the ultrasound technician said, “We can’t find a kidney on the right side,” I thought nothing of it at first. Perhaps they were just incompetent.
They did find what was wrong with me, though. I had five gallstones blocking my bile duct. I had gallbladder surgery not long after. Life went on. I had my heart surgery the following year. Even more time passed.
On Valentine’s Day in 2006, I began to experience such severe pain that I had to once again go to the Emergency Room. I had a CAT Scan done. This time the diagnosis was a severe UTI. They gave me antibiotics, which cleared up the problem, and they referred me to a urologist, Dr. Caldwell.
We had a scheduled appointment and he went over the results with me. “Looks like you had a nasty infection. And you don’t have a right kidney,” he said.
“What?” I was surprised. I remembered that the technicians hadn’t been able to find one a few years ago, but I didn’t dream that there actually wasn’t one there.
“Your right kidney never developed properly,” he explained. “It’s about the size of a kidney bean. That’s about this big,” he said, holding up his fingers and demonstrating how small my kidney was. “If it keeps on giving you problems with infections, eventually you may want to surgically remove it.”
Husband and I went home from that appointment, confused and baffled. How had nobody picked up on this before? I had had numerous tests in my childhood. Chest X-Rays should have picked that up, shouldn’t they?
“You know,” Husband said after we got home. “I wonder if there’s a genetic link to all of this.”
“All of what?” I said.
“Well, your heart problems, your missing kidney, etc. It just doesn’t make sense that you’d have all these oddball developmental problems in completely different parts of your body if there weren’t some underlying cause. I’ll do some research and see what I can find out,” he said.
What would he find out? I wondered. Was he right? Was there a genetic link to all of my defects? He wasn’t a doctor. I wasn’t sure what he would be able to find. I was hopeful, but not expecting much.
Tim will post what he found tomorrow. Stay tuned for the rest of the story!