Rather than bury the lead, I’ll just make this a straight announcement: I’m having my right kidney removed today.

Several weeks ago, at The Urologist’s urging, I went to the University of Chicago to get a second opinion about the condition of my kidney and whether it was worth saving. Although none of us involved were really surprised with the opinion of the City Doctor, we were kind of taken aback by how…certain he was.  We (OK, John) battled Chicago traffic for a little over an hour to get there. The doctor shook our hands, sat down and said, “take it out.”

John and I sat there for a couple seconds in stunned silence.

“So, you can’t massage it or something to get it working again?” I asked tentatively. The Urologist had kind of raised my hopes that this big university hospital would have some special knowledge not available to the average suburban physician.

“Nope, take it out. You can have it done here or with your normal urologist. Whatever you feel comfortable with. I’m not trying to drum up business, but I can do it if you want,” he said. “Well not me. Someone else in our department. We’re all specialized now.”

“All-righty then,” I said, taking his business card.  And we left.

You’re probably thinking, “surely she’s left out a lot of stuff for some kind of humorous affect.” We spent 10 minutes with the UofC doctor. And, if I read the paperwork right, my copay was $300. Awesome.

* * *

“It’s called hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy,” The Urologist said. He was making another of his pictures as he talked. “There will be two small incisions, like the ones from your gall bladder surgery. Where did the surgeon put the incisions?”

The Urologist's picture of what my scar should look like.

Another of The Urologist’s pictures. This one shows where my scar will be and the acronym HALN (hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy).

I lifted my shirt. “Here. Here. And the other is in my belly button.”

“He did a good job.”

“I know, right? I’m requesting him for all my nonessential organ removal.”

“So, I’ll be making two small holes like those and the third is just big enough for my hand.”

He explained there would be another urologist present besides him. There would be two trays of tools available. The backups were there in case he had to “open me up.”

He went on to say of the three doctors at the practice, only one of them had run into problems that necessitated changing from laparoscopic surgery to open surgery mid-procedure. The Urologist also had the good grace to “knock on wood” after each proclamation. It made me feel better.

“To be honest, in my head, I’ve already had the surgery and I’m rocking the scar.” I didn’t tell him that my subconscious mind has given me the larger scar that comes from open surgery. Some things are best left unsaid.

“So, what are your concerns?” he asked.

“I’m scared it will happen again. What if I get another kidney stone?”

“I tell this to all my nephrectomy patients: if you have any back pain, come to the emergency room immediately. You only have one kidney and you have to be extra careful now.”

“Careful how?”

“Well,  no taekwondo or MMA fighting for one thing,” he said smiling. Then, seeing the look of horror on my face, “What?”

“I’m in competitive Karate .”

“Oh, Jes- What are the odds.” He closed his eyes for a minute. I frantically asked him if point sparring was OK. “I don’t even know what that is,” he said.

What it comes down to is I have one kidney. If anything happens to the other side, it means dialysis and my name is added to waiting list for an organ donation. My job is to keep off that list.

So, it looks like I’m done sparring — at least competitively. Sensei and I are looking at additional padding that could let me take part of class activities, which are more controlled.

In the wide, world of things, giving up sparring isn’t a huge deal. There’s people who endure much worse. But, I needed the past couple weeks to mourn.



“Holy crap, I’m yellow!”

OK, so no one noticed that my eyes and skin slowly turning yellow over the weekend. Maybe it’s hard to tell around the red hair and freckles. Maybe it’s the weird, not-quite-right lighting produced by our environmentally friendly light bulbs. All I know is, when I entered the walk-in clinic that Monday, I was convinced my stomach-ache and vomiting were caused by the supermarket sushi I ate for breakfast on Friday.

I lifted my shirt so the doctor could examine my stomach and, for the first time, I viewed the wide expanse of my stomach juxtaposed against the starched white doctor’s office sheets. I was as yellow as Bart Simpson’s ass. [Read more...]

Good Luck to all WKA Competitors

A couple kids from the dojo used an extra piece of poster board to send well wishes to the USA Team at WKA Championships. Go Brett, Cara, et al!

Bridge Phobia

Just in case you’re wondering what it looks like.

Close Quarter Combative Seminar to be Held April 14 & 15 in Romeoville, IL

Military, Police and Martial Arts Veteran W. Hock Hochheim returns to Romeoville, IL, to teach a Hand-Stick-Knife-Gun Close Quarter Combatives Seminar on April 14 and 15, 2012.

Hock will instruct participants on a variety of techniques and strategies from the programs of his Scientific Fighting Congress: This seminar will also focus on:

  • Impact Weapon/Baton Combatives and Filipino Stick Techniques: “The 35 Essentials of Close Quarter Stick Fighting”
  • Knife Combatives Takedowns and Grappling
  • Combat Kicks and Counters to Kicks

Please bring a pair of training sticks (rattan Filipino style is the most common) and a training knife.

The seminar will take place at the Romeoville Recreation Center, 900 West Romeo Road in Romeoville, IL. for more information, contact seminar host Eddie Cavazos at

The seminar will run Saturday, April 14 from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday, April 15 from 10am to 4:30pm. Both days will have a lunch break in the middle of the seminar.

The cost for is $150 for both days, $100 for one day. You can register online at Available discounts:

AOKA members can receive a $25 discount for the weekend.

Instructors will get half off their own admission if they bring 3 students with them. Instructors who bring 5 students can attend for free.

These discounts are not available online. Contact Eddie Cavazos for information,

If you are traveling in and need to stay overnight, stay at the Romeoville Best Western, 1280 W. Normantown Road, Romeoville, IL 60446, 815-372-1000. It is the closest hotel to the seminar site and has very good rates.

Download flyer.