Tuesday, April 15, 2014

kidneys and cancer

Last night I was at the nephrologist’s clinic and it struck me how different the atmosphere was from when we visit the oncologist.
Cancer is noisy the way renal failure is silent.

Go up to someone, tell them the word cancer. Watch them panic.

Now go up to this person again, and say renal failure. Watch them give you a curious or confused look. Now try saying dialysis. Watch their expression again. Just watch.


At the oncologist’s office, it is never quiet. Outpatient departments are noisy. Go on, spend a day at one. You’ll know what I mean.

Cancer day care centres can be the noisiest places in the world. Patients talk to each other. Relatives talk to each other. People just strike up random conversations.

At a hemodialysis centre, people pray. I’m not kidding. They pray. It is quiet. It is crowded but it is quiet. Nobody is really talking to anyone else, although sometimes families that come in together talk amongst themselves. Mine doesn’t. We just sit. Lots of other people just sit as well. Sit. Stare into space. Meet the doctor. Go back home.


At the nephrologist’s clinic, I played Guess The Patient with myself. People on dialysis aren’t automatically bald, the way people on chemotherapy are. So you would think this is a more challenging game to play.

The thing is, I am incredibly good at Guess The Patient, and I suspect everyone at the nephrologist’s clinic is good at this game as well.

I can tell who is on dialysis by the way they walk. Yes. Their WALK tells me.




Maybe the difference is that with chemotherapy you have a plan. Your doctor decides how many cycles of chemotherapy you need; you go through them. You either make it out alive or you don’t. There is a time-frame to this madness, it is definite, and usually, you have a clear idea about how it is going to end. Words and stress collapse into one another and people talk. You can hear the sound of the tension, it is tight, it is rough, it is bursting at the seams, and there is noise.

With dialysis, you float and breathe. There is hope and there isn’t hope.

Dialysis keeps you alive, as long as your kidneys can last. Maybe just a few hours more or just a day more. Or maybe a year. Maybe twenty years. Everything is possible.

I don’t know how this will end, neither do you.

So you reconcile, sit tight and wonder.

Silence is that special space in your head where you imagine the worst and you imagine the best and you sit and watch wide eyed when the two meet and kiss.


Anand said...


Dhara said...

You are so incredible Oofya! Please don't ever ever ever give up. Am right there with you, through the silence and the noise. Love.

oof ya! said...

Anand - thank you for understanding :)

Dhara - Love you, thank you. Returned to my blog after many many days, suddenly remembered how you made this post sort of famous. had so much traffic!