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Now What?!

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:28pm
I took Arman in for the ultrasound this afternoon. The spleen is smaller, down from 11.4 cm to 9.0 cm. That's on the upper limit of normal for a six year-old's spleen, but it's not surprising given that his lymph nodes are still not quite normal size either. But it's all heading in the right direction, and as far as I'm concerned we're done, unless anything enlarges again.

Now, here is the problem with medical testing. Sometimes you find something you're not looking for. While Ryan, the ultrasound technician, is looking at the spleen, he notices there isn't a kidney on the left side. Huh? Only one kidney? Yeah. He sweeps the ultrasound probe all over Arman's abdomen, and the kidney on the right is crystal clear, but there just isn't one on the left. This happens. Sometimes people are born with only one kidney. The other one just kicks in and picks up the slack. People live perfectly happy lives, ignorant until their autopsy, that they have only one kidney.

Yet I'm standing there getting that "parent panic" thing revved up. One kidney. No spare. Anything that damages that kidney, and Arman dies. A car accident, a bullet, whatever, and he's dead. (Not really, but we're not talking logical thought here.) Then I realize, well, he only has one liver too. And only one spleen. And only one heart. And in fact, only one brain, which is a pretty important organ. No built in spare for any of those. I think he'll be fine with one kidney.

Ryan suggests that a CT scan would be needed to definitively see if the kidney is there or not. But I wonder, "Will we do anything differently depending on the result of the CT scan? Will we change anything about the way we raise him, or the activities he engages in if he only has one kidney, instead of two?" As I'm pondering all this, I realize that I've never had any abdominal imaging done on myself, so it's possible I only have one kidney too. Ryan offers to put the ultrasound probe on my belly and check. No thanks. I don't need to know, unless I need to know, and I don't think I need to know.

I'll talk to my dad, who's a pediatrician, about Arman and his one kidney.
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