Outta here — oh, wait


So.  Remember back a couple weeks ago when I was complaining about how boring my medical lab test results generally were?  How I wanted something more interesting?

Turns out it’s best to be careful what you wish for.

When I made that gripe, I what I had wanted were superpowarz.

What I got were a couple of increasingly concerned messages from my doctor that my blood work that morning showed a “significant decrease in kidney function” and that he needed to me to come back as soon as possible for further tests and an ultrasound and to consult with a nephrologist.

Naturally, he had been calling on the house phone; the one that I never bother to answer because it’s never for me.  So it wasn’t until around 8PM that my poor frightened wife finally heard them and played them for me. Much too late to call or make an appointment or do anything other than dive for the computer and start some frantic Googling.

ME: What does “Significant Decrease in Kidney Function” mean?

GOOGLE:  Your kidneys are failing.

ME:  But I feel fine!

GOOGLE:  Many patients notice no symptoms until the disease is well advanced.

ME:  But-but-but I’m a freaking vegetarian!  I don’t drink or smoke!  I take a ton of vitamins!  I exercise!

GOOGLE: Sucks to be you.

So that was that.  Further research — all night long, because let’s face it, sleep wasn’t going to happen — provided me with far more information about kidneys than I had ever wanted to know.  But to sum up: unless I had physically injured them somehow — which I hadn’t — my kidneys were dying.  And I wasn’t going to enjoy the process.

At that point every little ache or twinge anywhere in in my body — and at my age, there’s a few, yes there are — became a symptom.  I must have peed eighteen times that night, looking for blood or discoloration.  And of course the instant the office was open in the morning I was on the phone, making an appointment.

The previous day (when we’d had the initial blood test) I’d done my workout early, because I knew they were gonna draw blood and you don’t want to work out afterward with a hole in your vein.  This time, I blew off the workout.  Skipped the vitamins.  And I took a shopping bag containing all my various vitamins and supplements off to the doctor with me.  I wanted him to look them over and tell me if any of them could have killed my kidneys.

Even my doctor was puzzled.  The lab had showed me with a 60% decrease in kidney function — pretty major.  And yet I was not only upright, but my labs just seven month earlier had been — well, normal.  You know, boring.  I showed him the bag of supplements.  He pawed through the jars and bottles, shaking his head… and then paused, and lifted out a big plastic jar of creatine.

“Did you take any of this yesterday?”

“Well, yes; I know I was fasting, but I wanted to work out and it’s just a powder mixed with water, not food…”

“Did you take any today?”

“Hell no!  Nothing!”

“We’re taking some more blood right now.”

See, creatine monohydrate is a really common workout supplement, especially for vegetarians (since you normally get plenty of creatine if you eat meat.)  The body immediately converts it to something called creatinine, and it floods the bloodstream, providing extra workout fuel for an hour or two.  And then your kidneys filter it out and you pee it away.  Fortunately it is cheap.

But it turns out that what the kidney function blood test looks for is an excess of creatinine in the bloodstream, indicating your kidneys are not working.  By slamming a spoonful (about ten grams, I measured it afterward) just two hours prior to the test, I had inadvertently skewed the results.  As was confirmed by my doctor calling me two hours later.  I swear, I could hear him beaming over the phone.

“Good news!” he chortled.  “You’re normal!”

Normal. Love that word.

— Bob out


— P.S.

Naturally, I felt like I’d been given a new lease on life!  Was going to read to the blind, volunteer at a homeless shelter, join the seminary…

…but  it all wore off two hours later and I was back to porn.