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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sleepovers- Not for the weak at kidney

In case you don’t remember, sleep overs are the “it” thing when you’re 8. And rightfully so- an entire night at someone else’s house, staying up late (or not going to bed at all) makeovers, scary stories, popcorn and movies you aren’t supposed to watch… then pancakes the next morning in a foreign kitchen, someone’s dad notices your giggling and asks, “What did you girls do last night?”
My first sleepover was supposed to be a liberating and exciting moment for me. It was more exciting than I could have ever imagined.
I come from a long line of hypochondriacs. My favorite person in the world, my grandmother, is the worlds leading hypochondriac. I have seen her convince herself of many an ailment. Truly, it is incredible. I wonder if she concentrated hard enough, if she could make things levitate. This is the intensity in which she often believes there is something wrong with her.
When you come from such powerful hypochondriacs, you swear you will not become one. And like most other things you swear you will never become (fat, your mother, the office bitch) you eventually do.
It didn’t take me long. One afternoon during my childhood, I watched a TV show that detailed kidney failure, general kidney problems, and gave an in-depth look at kidney surgery. I was enthralled. An organ as important as a kidney can go sour? That’s bad news. I hoped I would never have a kidney problem.
The rest of the day was filled with anticipation, and the night proved to be full of fun. We danced around Kati’s basement, played fashion show, staged a Barbie court room hearing (because our Barbies were lawyers) and watched movies late into the night. With movies came popcorn. With popcorn came trouble.
Several years later I was to find out that I was allergic to popcorn. But on this particular night, I noticed an odd feeling on the side of my stomach when we lay down to sleep.
Do you like eating the half-popped kernels? I do. At that particular moment, I wished I did not. I imagined that the unthinkable had happened- a kernel had stuck itself to my kidney, and was slowly burrowing in, leaving a permanent mark, scarring me for life, interrupting my regularly functioning kidneys. I had ingested a popcorn kernel and my kidneys were failing.
I woke up Suzy, Suzy woke up Kati, Kati woke up her mom, and thus the odd stares and questioning began. Why did I think I hurt my kidney? How could a kernel stick? Was I really in that much pain? Yes, yes yes!
Kati’s mom, much against her better judgment, picked up the phone and called my parents. She told them I was having a stomach ache and that I was concerned that my kidneys were in jeopardy. My mother, coming from that long line of hypochondriacs previously discussed, walked the block to their house and picked me up. When she saw me, she knew I was ok, just a bout of the ol’ family syndrome.
After a lot of hugs, talking, glasses of water and even a glimpse into the encyclopedia to see pictures of kidneys, I was convinced by my parents that sleeping through the night would in no way jeopardize my health. If my kidneys were indeed in danger, it could wait till the morning.
The morning came and went without stomach pain and my kidneys seemed to be ok. I chalked it up to a “kidney attack” and went on with my business of Barbie and playing bank as usual. These attacks never returned.

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