Greg 1: Grim Reaper: 0. Ha Ha
Well, I stared down the Grim Reaper, and won! Oh yeah! Greg 1: Grim Reaper: 0.
Here’s the story. For the last several months I’ve been on track to become an anonymous kidney donor. Thousands of people are strapped to dialysis machines and some even die for lack of a good kidney. So I figured, if I’ve got two good kidneys and only need one, why not share one with someone who has none? I don’t know why this had never occurred to me before.
Well, after going through a rather rigorous series of physical and psychological exams at the Minnesota Transplant Center, I was declined. No, not because I’m a fruit cake, thank you very much. I’m told I’m in exceptionally good health, but it turns out I have a cyst on one kidney that prevents safe removal and transplantation because of where it’s located. It’s the policy of the Transplant Center to never leave a donor with an inferior kidney. So I’m stuck with two kidneys.
That’s pretty boring, I know. But things got a little interesting when the nice lady at the Transplant Center went on to inform me that a CT scan revealed I had an enlarged lymph node in my abdominal area. She recommended I see a doctor immediately. This was a bit concerning, especially since I’ve had some cancerous skin growths (its a rare condition that runs in my family). I’m told that enlarged lymph nodes in adults usually means that you’re either fighting an infection, which I clearly wasn’t, or you have lymphoma. Not good.
So I went to my doctor who sent me to a specialist who examined my scans and retested me and blah blah…. The specialist was really puzzled because the lymph node in question appeared “very oddly shaped.” This isn’t how lymph nodes typically look when a person has lymphoma, I was told. Also, the specialist thought it very peculiar that I have no other symptoms or evidence of lymphoma. If anything, I’ve been feeling better than normal lately. So what’s up?
Well, on further examination it turned out that the oddly shaped lymph node isn’t a lymph node at all. It’s a stupid fragment of my long gone spleen. When I was 12 I smashed my spleen in a ridiculous but almost fatal sledding accident and I had to have it removed. It seems fragments of the spleen were left in my abdomen and one of these fragments apparently attached itself to my lymph node and has been happily and innocuously growing there ever since.
So, while I still can’t donate my kidney, which is a bummer, I’m Not Dead Yet!!!
The week I spent in the “don’t know zone” was interesting, however. When you get news like this, you can’t help but play out worst case scenarios, imagining saying good bye to loved ones on your death bed, fantasizing about your funeral and stuff like that. It also makes you take an inventory of your life with the realization that you may very well be meeting your Maker face-to-face before too long.
But I can honestly say that Shelley and I both had a strong sense of peace through this time, thanks in part to all the prayer covering that friends gave us. In fact, while I definitely love my life and want to hang on as long as God wants me here, a part of me was actually sort of excited. It was like I had this little kid inside me going, “Ohhhh, the ultimate adventure, just around the corner…”
Well, the kid will have to wait a little longer.
So, I faced the Grim Reaper and won, not because I cheated death, but because the Reaper just didn’t freak me out. But I’m also very happy my deformed lymph node is just a rogue bit of spleen (a spleenie?), and not cancer. And episodes like this serve as a nice reminder that the ultimate adventure is fast approaching, what ever your present state of health. So now is the time to make sure we’re living this penultimate adventure well.