Friday, February 2, 2018

Everything Happens for a Reason

Author's Note: I started writing this blog post yesterday. And then I tried again today. But the story was getting so long and wordy that I didn't think anybody would want to read it. My dad used to say this about people who talked too much: "You ask 'em what time it is and they tell you how to build a watch!" I didn't want to be that guy, so I decided to try and distill my story down to fewer words, and put it into a format that (hopefully) won't bore people to tears. Enjoy!

"Everything happens for a reason."

I used to have a hard time subscribing to that theory, but as I've gotten old(er) it seems like as good a way as any to explain some of the weird things that occur in our everyday life. Especially the things that start out bad, but end up maybe being blessings in disguise. And the things that make you stop and think hard. Really hard. Case in point...

Afternoon of December 21st: My neighbor sends me a Facebook message asking me if I could come over and give her a hand, because her adorable seven-month-old baby, who was sick, had just thrown up again and it was "everywhere." So she needed help holding the little guy while she cleaned up the mess. I run next door to help--the puke really was everywhere--and eventually my wife shows up, too. My neighbor asks us: "What if you guys get sick?" My wife answers: "We'll just deal with it."

Wee Small Hours of the Morning of December 23rd: I get up to go to the bathroom and I feel super dizzy. A few minutes later, I'm the one who's puking my guts out. Multiple times. After making a mental note to never eat Chinese food again, I wake my wife up and tell her she has to take me to the hospital. I guess this is "dealing with it."

At the Hospital: The doctors and nurses (eventually) take good care of me, and several hours, IVs, and medications later, I'm finally starting to feel like I might live after all. But the powers-that-be decide to keep me overnight for observation. Woohoo!

December 24th: It's Christmas Eve day and I'm feeling reasonably okay. I've even progressed from being on an all liquid diet to eating real hospital "food." My stomach appears to be fine. But wait! The doctors tell me that my stomach x-ray and CT scan seemed to show something abnormal with my right kidney. So now they want me to have an MRI done. Wonderful.

I get the MRI done, but not before I almost throw up in the MRI machine. (Apparently, I had some kind of reaction to the contrast liquid they put in my IV before the test.) Now I'm anxious to go home. But a doctor comes in and says the MRI confirmed that something is indeed amiss with my kidney, and that he doesn't feel comfortable reading the MRI and talking to me about it, so I have to have a urologist do that. And the urologist on call has already left for the day, so I have to spend another night in the hospital and talk to the urologist in the morning. WTF???

December 25th: Merry effing Christmas. I'm in the hospital on Christmas morning, my wife is sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed knitting (surprise!), and we're waiting for the urologist. I, of course, continue to imagine all the most horrible scenarios I can possibly imagine, including the "C" word. The one positive I keep coming back to? At least it's my kidney, because I have two of them, and I'm pretty sure a human only needs one kidney live.

Eventually, the urologist shows up and pulls up my MRI films on his computer. He shows us the mass that has decided to call my right kidney its home. Luckily, it's small (2.0 x 1.8 cm). And it's right on the edge of the kidney, too. (Kind of like a pimple on the end of your nose.) The doctor says it's likely a tumor, not a cyst, and tells us we can either have a biopsy done and go from there, or just have the thing removed, because it should be pretty simple. His suggestion is the latter, and we think that seems like the best way to go.

After the consult, I finally get to go home and open gifts with my family. My favorite Christmas present? A purple paring knife from my wife. My least favorite Christmas present? This goddamn tumor on my kidney! 😢

A few days later, my wife and I follow up with the urologist at his office. We finalize the decision to have the tumor surgically removed, and the next day we're informed that the surgery is scheduled for February 26th. Unfortunately, that's just a couple days before a concert we already have tickets for (Phoebe Bridgers), so we call to see if we can possibly get an earlier date. The surgery scheduler tells us that if we change hospitals, the procedure can be done on February 2nd. Great! Sounds like a plan!

But a week before the 2nd, I get a phone call from the urologist's office. They have to cancel my surgery and reschedule it because my doctor had a meeting come up that he has to attend. Seriously?!? All I can think is that this meeting had better be the most important damn meeting of this doctor's life.

The next day, the doctor's office calls to tell me my new surgery date is February 6th. And after I hang up, I start to freak out a bit.

It took me a little while to put two and two together, but when I finally did I realized this:

February 6th, 2018 = 5 years to the day that my father the same hospital I'm supposed to have my surgery at.


I have to admit, this spooked me out for a few days. I mean, it spooked me out to the point where I was seriously considering calling and having them reschedule my surgery yet again.

The other day, though, I was driving my sister to work--she had fallen and hurt her arm, so she couldn't drive--and we had a conversation about this weird "coincidence." I confessed to her that I was more than a little uneasy about it. That's when she told me about another possibility: Maybe my surgery got moved to the day and hospital it did so my dad could watch over me. "Everything happens for a reason," she said to me, matter of factly. Hmmmmm, I thought to myself. Maybe instead of this being a creepy, scary thing, it's actually a good thing.

To be honest, that hadn't even crossed my mind before I talked to my sister. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt comforted by the notion that my dad might be there with me on Tuesday while my doctor and his robot perform a partial right nephrectomy on me. If you're gonna have someone watch over you in the operating room, it might as well be your dad, right?

So I decided not to change the date after all. Because everything happens for a reason. My neighbor's baby got me sick so I'd go to the hospital and they'd find a tumor I never would've known about otherwise. Then a concert and a meeting caused the date of my surgery to get changed to the anniversary date of my father's death; and the location to get changed to the same hospital that he died in. And my sister hurting her arm resulted in me driving her to work and talking about a fear that she turned into something incredibly comforting.

And suddenly, everything makes sense.

What my Christmas Eve looked like.


  1. Well done Dean. I have the same thoughts. Are we wiser as we age? Are we better at discernment? Life is a river flowing with unpredictable twists and turns. Life is not one big Springsteen concert!

  2. Well written, Dean. I believe in "everything happens for a reason". Sending good mojo and prayers your way.