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At a recent lunch in Oakland

December 17th, 2001

That's Something Else
I've talked about the aches and pains I've been feeling when I get up in the mornings. Some mornings. I've always heard about people (well, what else, older people) who get various aches and pains from the way they sleep at night, the position of their bodies, whatever, and I've assumed that's what I've been experiencing. Feels like aching muscles. Aching muscles feel exactly like aching muscles, nothing else, and I thought, well, aching muscles. Except lately my left testicle has been chiming in with what appear to be harmonics. Testicles catch your attention.

I talked to my doctor about it last July, wondering out loud for the first time if maybe something else wasn't going on, and he said "left testicle suggests kidneys in chapter six of the How to be a Doctor in Ten Days Study Guide", so we ran a blood test. It came back negative. The test. I talked with the urologist last week in the middle of the prostate biopsy - well, what the hell, I was lying there for thirty minutes with a doctor shoving needles up my butt, which made him a captive audience, so I mentioned the left testicle - and he arranged a renal exam. This morning.

I found myself lying on another examination table. You know the kind, hard black vinyl cushionsAt a recent lunch in Oakland with a sanitary strip of paper they pull off a roll mounted at the end where you put your head. Stirups, if it's used in a gynecologist's office, and I was thinking, as the woman was pressing the probe into my kidneys, making adjustments on the CRT screen, punching in coordinates that seemed to mark what looked like white spots of some sort, I was thinking, "what in the fuck are they going to find this time?" Indeed. This growing older is getting old. She probed and punched and fed what looked like big flat xray film holders into the machine, although there were no xrays involved, and it occurred to me she wasn't smiling and when she was finished after what seemed a long time, she went to "confer with the doctor". She took her time. Cold in that room. Looked like an operating theater, a small one. I am thinking, well, hell, if they tell me I've got a year to live - an ambulatory year, not too much pain - maybe I should buy that Jeep, pack the cameras, take a trip. Weird.

She returned. Yes, I had kidney stones and cysts, but nothing serious. Nothing serious. Kidney stones and cysts. Jesus. I need to get this year behind me. I've only got so many organs left. The doctor's appointment is Wednesday where we go over the biopsy results, so I'll also learn about "stones and cysts". At least I've stopped peeing blood. She asked about that. Was I there because I was peeing blood? Nah, not to worry, that's something else.

The photographs were taken at a recent lunch with friends in Oakland.