Riding with One Kidney

  • April 7, 2012 12:35 PM PDT
    Just wondering others thoughts or experiences regarding riding after removal of a kidney.

    Last fall I was unexpectedly diagnosed with kidney cancer. After having almost died due to blood loss I was cured after my surgeon removed the grapefruit size tumor and my left kidney.  I was so grateful to be alive, cured and given a 92% survival rate at five years after having been initially given 6 months to live that the doctor’s words of what I can and can’t do only somewhat registered. No risky stuff, no riding motorcycles, limit alcohol, be good to that one kidney….etc. I remember frowning at the no riding but with everything that had gone on since the shock of cancer I was not ready to process it so I filed it away for later.

    Last weekend my husband and I decided to spend the beautiful, perfect day on the bike. It was wonderful, I love the feel of him as we ride, the oneness of us and we lean in unison, one rider in two bodies, so much like lovemaking it is intoxicating. Up to a small mountain town, lunch at a biker-famous restaurant, wondering through antique stores and art galleries, holding hands and smiling as the sun kissed our faces with color. Neither of us thought of my doctor’s warning until sitting back at my office the following week. I almost went pale from the thought of it ~ we go down, I damage my lone kidney, and I’m on dialysis or dead. Six months of perfect care of my body and on one glorious day I throw caution to the wind.

    Needless to say I am struck with the full force of my situation. Do I give up these glorious moment with my husband? Or do I, knowing he is an exceptional rider, continue to ride anyway? Thoughts of living a safe life vs. a well lived life toss back and forth in my brain, each trying to edge the other out and gain a toe hold. As a child I remember this argument. My step-father, who I loved most in the world, was a rider. He rode dirt bikes ~ hard. He raced. My mother also but that didn’t stop her perpetual worry for him since he  had lost a kidney due to a football injury in his youth. Riding was what my family did. I’ve ridden since I was a young girl ~ first by myself and then riding with my boyfriend on his bike. I remember before my first ride on my boyfriends bike my mother telling me, ‘don’t fight the rider, become one with him, relax, hold on, and wear your helmet!’ Riding is in my blood.

    My step-father never damaged his kidney by riding. He wore a kidney belt as a concession to my mother ~ I too have purchased one. I would however like to hear from those of you that have experience in this regard or even just an opinion. On one hand I feel it hubris to flaunt my miracle survivor status at the Gods by going against prudent, medical advice, and on the other, I think that life not fully lived is not a life worth living.

    Comments anyone?
    • 823 posts
    April 7, 2012 12:48 PM PDT
    I think it is your choice. If I were in your situation I would ride anyway. I have watched too many friends and family waste away for weeks, months or years under doctors orders to quit doing one of the things, or the thing they love most in life. I hope I never live to see the day I am unable to ride my own bike. I can't imagine injuring your kidney on a bike unless you are jumping a dirt bike. I have been pretty hard on my body and I have never had bloody urine from a street bike. Dirt bikes, riding bulls and bareback horses and getting punched in fights, yes....but never from a street bike and I live in NM where the highways can be rough.
  • April 7, 2012 12:51 PM PDT
    Ocean Lily the only one that can make that decision for you is you. Congratultions for the continued good new! YAY! We all have just one life its our choice what we do with it. Do all that you can to protect that one remaining kiddney. However you can just as easily get into an accident in a car and do much damage to that one organ. Here for you is what the problem will be, you lost your kideny to cancer so they will not give you another one, so again you must decide what your life will be like. Can it happen you yes, how will you feel later that is what you have to weigh out. Me I was told no driving for two weeks after a lung was remove due to a rare incureable cancer, 3 weeks after surgery I went on my bike to have sutures removed. I thought the Dr. was going to have a cow. He read me the riot act! When he was done one he said, you've been given a gift that not many have and that is a chance to see what is and isn't important now, if riding makes ya happy then have a great time. I will after I'm done here I'm going to York PA for the weekend. It hurt don't get me wrong, but my choice was watch my life pass me by or live it, I choose to live it, my cancer isn't treatable so what was I supposed to do? just sit watch the world go by until I pass, or go and experience the joy of life. I choose the Joy of Life however this is my choice one I made. Now you've got to decided what you feel the joy of life is for we each define "the joy of life" differently. have a great one! "T"
  • April 7, 2012 1:24 PM PDT
    Thank you both so much for your replies. Guero, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experience, ie: no bloody urine from a street bike, I was thinking along those lines and it is great to get confirmation from one who rides enough to know. Glad to see a neighbor on site ~ I love NM!

    Tumbles ~ thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts. I am so sorry to hear of your cancer, my hope is that it is gone from your body after surgery but I wasn't clear on whether or not you still have it. So much I wish you to be free of it. Kidney cancer is similar in that chemo and radiation don't work, thus, if it spreads you get a 7% chance of survival at 5 years. How lucky I was that my huge tumor was encapsulated and when it was removed so was the cancer. Take care of yourself and keep following your bliss :-)
    • 823 posts
    April 7, 2012 1:36 PM PDT
    I see you are in Colorado, I am way down in the Southeast corner of NM, in the desert. Going to Red River Rally end of May. Probably go through Durango and Pagosa if I have the time.
  • April 7, 2012 1:49 PM PDT
    I love Durango and Pagosa Springs! I hope that you have a wonderful time ~ not that it is in doubt ;-)
    • 1 posts
    April 7, 2012 2:58 PM PDT
    It the bumps in the road that ya don't see that giveyour kidneys that jump, keep your eyes open wear your belt..can't see a problem...worx for weight lifters and motorcross riders..work even better for a road rider...great post..keep the kneees in th breeze blondie...
  • April 7, 2012 5:00 PM PDT
    Thanks much Jonesy :-) You're right about those bumps you don't see, we hit one last weekend! I really appreciate the advice and your comment.
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    • 19025 posts
    April 8, 2012 1:29 AM PDT
    Agreeing with the others this is a very personal decision you must make. The way I see it do you want to live a tempered life that is not guaranteed to be longer or a life doing what you love that is also not guaranteed? The choice would be easy for me but again it is literally your life.
  • April 8, 2012 2:28 AM PDT
    What Tumbles said!.... You can just as easily slip and fall in shower....etc... its a personal choice you have to make. Have a long time riding brother who lost a Kidney....doesnt ride quite as far... but that may age catchin up too! Sister was riding in boat with brother on choppy lake... kidney ruptured and had large embolism w/kidney removed.... can happen anywhere.... your choice about how you live your life.....Me... always out there on that left line... Later...Wooly
  • April 8, 2012 3:08 AM PDT
    Rex and Wooly, thanks so much for your replies and your perspectives ~ there is wisdom in your words and so much goes along with what I have pondered. Wooly thank you for the personal stories. I agree that a life lived in the shadows is not much of a life at all. The info and stories that all of you have shared is just the type of information that I was looking for, not to support a flippant decision but to have what I need to make a sound, reasonable choice. Of course doctors see so many things and they are also constantly aware of law suits from uninformed or otherwise, patients. They must cover their ***es and then some may genuinely care. This afternoon my husband and I will ride again and I'm very much looking forward to our time on the road together ~ hope everyone's day is wonderful also <3
  • April 8, 2012 5:13 AM PDT

    Not sure if this has been mentioned already or not.....

    Safety Blanket Idea.....

    Sports bike riders use a back support and protector under their leathers, yeah I know, you are in a hot place...but...we all know the risks from riding...its never the abilities of the rider - Its the STUPIDITY of the Drunk or Cellfone using or Un-Insured or Kid running lights ...we all know most cagers at some time or other dont see anything - let alone Motorcycles.....so why not compromise and get the half turtle shell things that sports bike riders wear as a safety blanket...hey...what would I know...its just a Fog Breathing Limey point of view...

  • April 8, 2012 11:39 AM PDT
    Hey Jetman, that is an awesome idea! I've seen what you are talking about and it would be perfect. I already wear a kidney belt but I was also planning on more protection. You are right that it is the others that one must really watch out for, my husband is an excellent rider with many years experience but we have still had people pull out in front of us, etc.... Hope the weather is good on your side of the world, take care and thank you for the suggestion.
  • April 8, 2012 11:27 PM PDT

    No problem Lily, I look at things differently than most do, I tend to OVER-engineer rather than UNDER-engineer something, I did actually forget to add that maybe it would be good used with the belt...lol...I meant to add that...

    With regard to over-engineering...lol...
    I did the chicken egg hurling contest and won it when I was not much more than a kid, just a bit over 800 yards...Engineering all the way...complicated system of levers and belts, egg suspended firmly in rubber bands and flung by a Trebuchet ...lol... most got between 10 and 20 yards...lol...they all laughed at the complexity of my design, full suspension, system of belts that moved on small pulleys, all anchored inside an extra shell made with cardboard, then weighted one side to make sure it landed the right way round, we had 3 goes to do it, I did it on first go and didnt use other 2 attempts...lol...

    Weather in England?  Think about what East Coast USA gets from around Virginia up to New Hampshire and we get that same weather about a week later unless it hits the Jet Stream, then we get it just a few days later...so while I was laughing at some of the guys here saying about the heavy rain they had last week...well...you guessed it...THATS what we got here right now...dont stop me riding though, although I do tend to not ride when its a thunderstorm...

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    • 1364 posts
    April 9, 2012 12:37 AM PDT
    I had my right kidney removed at age nine. I was told the only thing I could not do is play basketball, To easy to get elbowed from behind. One year later I was riding dirt bikes, playing football, soccer, and baseball. Doing all the stuff all kids do. Yes you do have to be nice to your remaining, But life still does go on. Increase your water intake and life. I ride 10-15K a year and have no issues with kidney soreness. If waring a belt makes you feel more comfortable go for it.
  • April 9, 2012 12:56 AM PDT
    Lily....While riding thru Southeast Arkansas yesterday, hit a rather hard unexpected bump yesterday....thought of you!....Later...Wooly
  • April 9, 2012 3:42 PM PDT
    Hey Highrisk ~ such a comfort to hear your story, really helps to put me at ease, thank you so much! It's good to know of someone in the same situation as me doing so well and still riding, thank you again for responding.

    Jetman ~ OMG on the whole over-engineering thing :-) I work with engineers all day long, so your story sounds familiar!

    And you Wooly ~ hope your kidneys are still in good shape after the big bump, lol ;-) Hope your ride was wonderful, my husband and I had a great time on Sunday, can't wait to do it again :-)
  • April 9, 2012 6:55 PM PDT
    Dear OceanLily. Just "joined" this group, and read your story.AM sorry to hear about losing a kidney.!! What I DON'T understand,--is your Doctor telling you NOT to ride anymore. This makes NO sense. My younger brother contracted a kidney disease about 6 years ago.Something called( I think) PKD. Where the kidneys, turn into "plastic". He lost the first kidney in//about 2006-07, while in the AirForce.Needless to say,-he started dialysis right then. He does this every Monday-Wednesday-and Friday.    Having one good one left,-he stayed in the AirForce, with the medical-boards' permission, until the second kidney did the SAME thing,--turning into "plastic".Now, he has NO kidneys, and a world of culture-shock with all the things he can no-longer DO.   Each time this happened,( losing the kidney ),----one of the first things he asked his doctors,- was IF he could still ride his motorcycle. They all (the doctors--about 6 of them), told him, as long as he stayed on dialysis, AND his medications,--he could ride all that he wanted to, as long as he didn't "over-do-it"   or push himself past being "tired". He was finally discharged from the service. Now, in retirement, after 22 years,--he rides all the time.  He makes trips of an average of 1800 miles. He makes arraingements with Dialysis centers along the "routes" he travels, with a" hotel-stay"  of usually 1-2 days, before continuing his trip, for rest. Dialysizing,(as I understand it ), --"will knock-your-socks-off"".
     I would, out of curiosity, like to  know what your Doctor is thinking,--or what he is concerned about in your case.To lose one kidney is bad enough.But to tell you NOT to do what you love,--in riding,--sounds a litle "odd" for a Doctor. My wife is a nurse and I've asked her about this,--what your doctor advises, and she is not sure,--WHAT he (your Doctor) is "looking at" in your case.     Of course,--take it easy and DON'T overdo it.!! But IF you ARE able to,--and your husband agrees,--DO "keep-it-in-the-wind", and ride it--like ya' stold it.!!!!  I also am in Colorado.
    Probably close by. You and your husband take care,---GOOD LUCK with the health issues, and maybe  the wife and I will run into you guys at one of our "Rallies".  God knows,--we have some of the GREATEST scenery to look at in our state alone.!!!
  • April 9, 2012 7:09 PM PDT
    Just a quick thought here.
    In one of his replies,--jetman mentioned the cagers who don't" SEE"   us, or the kid runnin'  the light, that don't "SEE"  us.
    Struck me funny here.  I  have a "wing" with enough lights on it, to light-up a small city. They STILL do NOT "see"  me.

    The only way they will see us,--is if the bike had   "Police"    stencilled on the gas-tank.!!!    THEN,--they will see us 5 miles up the road, and around a corner, or "hidden" behind  a Wall-Mart.    But  let that machine have  POLICE  on the gas-tank.!!!!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    They'll "see"  you THEN.!!!!!!!
  • April 10, 2012 3:44 AM PDT
    Trikeman, thanks for your reply. It makes me feel much more confident that some doctors in the situation did not advise against riding. Mine did, rattled off a whole list of stuff I shouldn't do and I can only half remember what the things were. I don't think I am an unusual case as far as kidney removal goes, but I'm guessing that is my doctor's standard spiel. I had an extremely young surgeon (my doc), a little green as far as bedside manner but funny and young enough to push the hospital into going with the DaVinci Robotics system for surgery. I'm not even sure his hands were ever inside my body, only the robot arms while he sat at the game console! (I'm guessing because I was under so far I could hardly come back from the anesthesia so who knows what went on)

    I am so inspired to hear of your younger brother! At 50 I am finally able to live my life fully without the constraints of children and money (not like I'm rich), etc. I was really down when, just as I was emerging out of my cocoon and finally able to really live, I almost died and then was told to not do the thing that I love so much. Perhaps it was a test for me, to see how much passion I really had for life and living. Guess I passed it 'cause here I am and more free and happy than I've ever been.

    Good to know that you are in Colorado, yes, we may see you sometime :-) I agree that we are so very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place with breathtaking scenery.

    Too bad it's illegal to stencil the word POLICE on one's gas tank! Be a lot safer for us if we could, lol.
  • April 10, 2012 4:18 AM PDT


    We painted the bikes White...then we put the red and gold inch wide striping on them...then we added a clowns face instead of the Crown design the police have.....lol.....Then we stencilled on the word "POLITE" in big letters and directly underneath "POLITE" we had in much smaller letters "Motorcycle Riders Assoc"...  So if you stood and looked at it from any distance it looked like a cop bike.....

    .....Didn't make a blind bit of difference...the incident rate was exactly the same as before...and there was 4 of us did it and rode together... 

    We have Paramedic \\Rapid Response Bikes here in England.....THEY DONT SEE THEM EITHER!!!!!   .....and they have lights and sirens on them...big mega bright flashing lights all over...very loud sirens built in...and even they aint seen.....its the cagers.....they need a small recognition injection injected just behind the left or right ear at a 35 degree angle upwards...I think the injectable material is called "LEAD"...and I think the modified syringe is called a "GUN"......

  • April 11, 2012 3:39 AM PDT
    Jetman ~ it's just crazy that they are still not seeing the bikes, especially the paramedics! Guess we've got to be super vigilant as always.
  • April 11, 2012 8:49 AM PDT

    I reckon we should fit machine guns to our bikes...anyone gets even close to the bike just send them to another place.....

    .....Can mine be a .50 cal full automatic please?