I don't remember if the subject of kidneys came up in our discussions with the urologist before this surgery. If it had, I didn't think much about it other than the possibility that the cancer may have spread to them. And I was so relieved, when I heard the news that there was no evidence of cancer beyond the tumor that was my bladder, that I put kidneys out of my mind.
So when my urologist later concluded that my left kidney was no longer functioning due to a callous formation in the ureter following the surgery, I was shocked - to say the least. But both he and my regular doctor seemed to be pretty much unconcerned by this loss saying that I still had one good kidney and that was plenty for a body to live with; "You'll be just fine."
The other day I got a call from my friend; who I met in the hospital recovery ward after our neo-bladder surgeries (he had the same history and procedures as me.) He called to tell me that he had just gotten out of the hospital. It seems that during his regular post-surgery checkup with the urologist, his creatinine counts were way too high (an indicator of poor kidney function). They did tests and determined that his right kidney was swollen and that flow was severely restricted down that ureter. (He has had the same problems with his left kidney as I had and he is depending on his right kidney for nearly all his kidney function - same as me.) They immediately installed a nephrostomy tube and bag in order to drain the kidney. While he was in recovery his temperature spiked to 102 so they admitted him to the hospital and put him on I-V antibiotics. After a couple days they sent him back home and have scheduled him for a stent from his right kidney to his neo-bladder.
I have talked about my fears in loosing my kidney function in previous blogs. My older sister died of complications from kidney failure so perhaps I am a little more sensitive to this possibility. She had fought rheumatic arthritis for many years and in the end it came down to a choice between pain and kidneys. She never let the pain slow her down and had many joint replacements so she could function as a teacher and a parent. She wasn't a good candidate for transplant because she still needed mega-doses of pain relief and a new kidney wouldn't last very long. (She wouldn't even discuss donation.) And when the kidneys go...
I am told that I would not be a candidate for transplant until I am some number of years cancer-free. This applies to my friend as well. So I pray for my friend's success with the stent.
I am about due for my next check-up and look forward to better news from my tests.