Coffee and Musings
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Coffee and Reconstructive Kidney Surgery

Mom. Mom. Wake up. We need to go to the Emergency Room.

These are the words I said to my mom as I stood at her bedside at 4am with the worst pain of my life.

My mom, who normally takes 15 minutes to wake up, throws back the covers, proceeds to fly out of bed, grab the keys, and drives us safely and swiftly to the hospital emergency room.

What killed me the most about that experience was the look of sheer terror on my mom’s face.

They ran tests and more tests and had no diagnosis, a lot of guesses but no real answers. So they sent me home to see my GP later that morning after they got pain under control.

He knew what was wrong and he knew it was bad. He sent us to a Urologist who saw us immediately and he said the funniest and scariest thing you never want to hear a Urologist say.

He said, “you feel that? That’s your kidney. We shouldn’t be seeing or feeling it.” Then he asks the funniest question: “do you drink beer?”

No, I drink coffee, lots of it.

Well, that’s the problem. If you drank beer we would have caught this a long time ago.

How much coffee did you drink last night?

I’m studying for finals for undergrad, so I had three Venti lattes.

Yup, that’ll do it. Your blocked kid. You’re going to need surgery.

Whaaaaaaaat!!!!! I have finals!!! I can’t have surgery. It’ll have to wait.

That’s not up to me kid, you’ll want to talk to my colleague she’s the expert. I’m old school, I’ll cut you halfway around the middle, take half a rib and leave you a 12″ scar and it’ll take you 4-6 months to heal. She does robot-assisted, reconstructive kidney surgery. She’ll leave you with a few small holes and a few weeks recovery time. Go talk to her to see if you’re a good candidate for her surgery. Best of luck to you kid, good luck with finals.

So off we went to see robot-lady. She asked a lot of questions and drew a diagram of what she thought my problem was. She said, “you have UPJ. A congenital condition. It’s a miracle you weren’t diagnosed with this earlier. You’re 37 that’s amazing.”

The simplest way to describe it is: you have a kink in your kidney straw.

So she runs tons of tests to see if she could even perform the surgery as there is a major artery that she needs to be sure is safe to not be affected. After many nuclear tests and tons of peeing in cups, it was determined that I was an excellent candidate for this procedure. She asks when I would like to have the surgery?

At the end of the year. She looks at me and says, “no, seriously.”

I am serious. It’ll have to wait. I already missed some finals and have to make them up. This will have to wait until December. It was July. She agrees begrudgingly and says, “no later. We’re booking it now.”

I said you got it. I literally had my robot-assisted, reconstructive kidney surgery the day after my last final of the year in December as promised. I was back in school 4 weeks later to finish out my last year of undergrad.

The surgery was a success! Everyone was jubilant, especially me as I could now drink 3 Venti lattes without issue while studying for finals which was awesome since I still had two more years of university.

Sometimes I can feel my scar tissue pulling inside when I’m dehydrated. I simply drink some water and wash it down with some coffee (see blog:

9 thoughts on “Coffee and Reconstructive Kidney Surgery

  1. Gail

    I don’t know how moms survive our crisis! The events we have always seem to be MAJOR and immediate. It was 1969 and mom didn’t drive. Dad was away again on another of his trips.
    Mom rec’d a call from a high school staff who said I needed to see a doctor now.!
    My mom’s friend Judy recalls she was out visiting her mom when she suddenly felt she had to go. And away she went. As Judy drove down our street she saw my mom standing in our driveway purse on arm looking distraught. Judy stopped, mom climbed in and off they went to get me.
    My lung had collapsed and the other wasn’t in great shape either as I was so dehydrated. I was going to recover but it was close. I was diagnosed with a genetic condition and now I make sure to stay hydrated.
    I’ll never know how or why the “distress “ connection was so clear between these two friends but I will never question the power of love between these two gals. I am firmly convinced that if it hadn’t been I wouldn’t have survived.
    My mom died in 1980 but I still have a reminder of her love through mom’s friend Judy.

    1. CoffeeFitnessUnicorn

      Oh wow!! I’m so glad it all worked out. Thank you for sharing this story. Big hugs to you.

  2. Rus Sturtevant

    I mean, as long as you can still enjoy a latte or two…

    1. CoffeeFitnessUnicorn

      It was so scary. I’m just glad we got it fixed and nothing was taken from me. Especially coffee 😂

  3. K.S.

    Have to echo Gail . . . I don’t know how mothers keep so calm when they probably want to shriek in sheer, blind, primal fear. I was hospitalized when I was five for a severe asthma attack. I remember how calm both my parents were. My dad was a combat veteran, so that might have been why he was able to project total calm, and my mom has always been able to keep her cool while under pressure, but still.

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing better and the doctors were able to help you and that you can now drink all the coffee you want. But I’m sorry you A) had to go through this at all and B) THAT IT WAS DURING FINALS. HOLY (EXPLETIVE).

    I could easily give up alcohol if told to . . . but coffee and tea?! Noooooooo! Bean and leaf juices are necessary, simply pleasures!

    1. CoffeeFitnessUnicorn

      Yeah, there’s a funny bit to the story as well. My mom was sooooo stressed that her back went out the night before the surgery. She walked in with a cane. Then when the doctor came to give the update that I was out of surgery and stable she stood straight up and walked away leaving the cane behind. We all said hallelujah and laughed.

    2. CoffeeFitnessUnicorn

      Thank goodness I took pictures of myself in the hospital and of my bracelet. I sent them to the professors until I had doctors’ notes. I made sure I wasn’t going to fail my courses because my kidney wasn’t cooperating 😂

  4. Tanya

    So glad that you were ok after being in that much pain and that they were able to hold off the operation until you were done exams! Pretty scary to go through something like that for both you and your mom!

    1. CoffeeFitnessUnicorn

      My kidney didn’t stay swollen. Once the fluid was drained I had to keep my fluid to a minimum so I wasn’t allowed to drink excessively until after the surgery 🥳 which is pretty easy since I have a tendency to be dehydrated.

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