As I Sneeze My Way Through Life

Let me first open this up to you: if you were newly diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease and were stunned by your diagnose, where would you  look for information first ?  I ask because whatever you answer  is where I’ll be donating copies of the books.  While I’d love to make back my initial investment, the book was never meant to be a money maker for me. What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease was written so no one else would have to endure the fear I did when I was first diagnosed.  It took me too long to gather the information I needed in a way I could understand it so that my fear could abate.  Why should anyone else have to endure that? Answer: There is NO reason.

Anyone ever hear of Landmark Education?  My daughter, Abby, gave me this seminar as a gift for my 65th birthday back in February.  I’d seen how it transformed her life and was definitely curious.  Guess what.  It is not a “cult.”  This seminar is REQUIRED by the Pentagon (I know that’s not a great endorsement to some people) and The Air Force Academy.  Before you decide it’s military, Buddhist monks, Trappist monks, schools, companies, families, and just plain people like you and me take their courses.  I think of it as learning how to get out of your own way so you can create whatever you want in your life.  I’m still me after the weekend seminar, but I’m a me who has found the joy in her life again.  I’m a pretty happy person, but that joy was slowly ebbing  away without my realizing it.  Not anymore.  I’ll like the whole world to learn this way of thinking about yourself so each and every person can get out of their own way and have a happy, productive life.  Thank you, Abby.

The sneezing.  Ah, yes, I was going to write about the sneezing.  Ever since I was a teenager and got a kitten for my Sweet Sixteen (hey, that is all I wanted), I knew I’m allergic to cats.  That didn’t stop me from always having cats, though.  I just bought more tissues and had chronically red eyes.  Once I had kids, they always had multiple cats in the house.  And, again, I just bought more tissues and put up with red eyes.

Then I moved out to Arizona.  That was almost ten years ago. I noticed the cat allergy got worse, but that was okay because my last child had moved out and taken her cats with her. But, wait, what was this?  Certain kinds of dogs made me sneeze, too.  Luckily, not my sweet Bella who is part Australian Cattle Dog and part German Short-Haired Pointer.  I was becoming uncomfortable and going back to the sneezing and need for lots of tissues without a cat in the house and with a dog who didn’t cause these symptoms.  What made it never worse is that I love fresh air and would keep the doors and windows opened until it hit 90 degrees each day.

It was easy enough to figure out these were allergies, but I thought because I had Chronic Kidney Disease that I couldn’t do anything about it.  When my primary care doctor suggested they were keeping me up at night (which meant I wasn’t getting the eight hours of sleep a night CKDers need), she suggested I see an allergist to see what, if anything, could be done to alleviate the situation.  Thank you, Dr. Zhao of Deer Valley Family Medicine, for suggesting I see Dr.Ching at Arizona Asthma & Allergy Institute.

It turned out that I am not only allergic to cats and certain breeds of dogs, but I now have allergies to weeds and plants that don’t live back East.  I had been exposing myself to vast amounts of pollen from Firebush, Kochia, Mesquite (ack!  I planted one outside my office window when I bought this house), juniper, white mulberry and the list goes on and on.  I could have simply sealed myself into my house with its no-air-gets-though windows and arcadia doors, but that wouldn’t have worked.  I need open windows. I need open doors. To me, they are  as essential as food.

Dr. Ching carefully explained to me that we could start a regimen of injections but it would take a long time to build up the antibodies.  I didn’t really care about that since I was getting sort of tired of red eyes and always having a tissue clutched in my hand.  I was concerned about what was in those injections. Once she explained, I had one of those why-didn’t-I-conside-this years ago moments.  They contained minute portions of each of the substances I was allergic to.  There were no chemicals in them to exit via the kidneys.  In other words, they were safe for a CKDer like me.

This is how allergy shots work: “Allergy shots work like a vaccine. Your body responds to the injected amounts of a particular allergen (given in gradually increasing doses) little by little, developing a resistance and tolerance to it. Allergy shots can lead to decreased, minimal or no allergy symptoms when you are again exposed to the allergen(s) in the shot.” You can read the rest of this explantation about immunotherapy at:

Until next week,

a less sneezy, red-eyed Gail suggests you

Keep living your life!

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Right on, timely information. I am also 65 and found out when I asked a doctor if I was healthy enuf for some minor surgery since I had been hospitalized recently. He said “Just tell them to adjust the anaesthetic for 20%”. I said, “You mean 20% less?” He said, “No, you have 20% kidney function”. I asked to be referred to someone else. The new doctor fortunately enrolled me in his clinic where I see him, a dietitian, a pharmacist and have bloodwork done yearly. I’m up to 40% now. I’m an RN so had basic info but my resource was and continues to be the internet. I have severe hayfever in the spring, so after reading your comments, will speak with my physician. I enjoy the process of researching almost anything, however, I find it odd that personal health issues as important as CKD don’t require more health teaching from the diagnosing physician. In my experience, patients are treated as though they are all of below average intelligence and are not really interested in their health anyway. I regularly irritate physicians by asking questions, continuing to talk after they stand up and occasionally following them into the hall. Patients must be relentless and ruthless. Best of luck.

    • I saw myself in you, Janice. Thanks for speaking up. I can’t imagine why our doctors would shock us like that unless they, themselves, do not have the understanding of just how serious CKD is. But I do clearly remember one of the nephrologists who follows the blog wistfully commenting that he wished all his patients were engaged and interested. Have we trained our doctors to think we’re not?

      • Well, I’ve been a psychiatric nurse for 40 years and sadly I have to say that perhaps half of the patients I’ve cared for r not interested in the medication they’re taking, the illness they have (unless its inconvenient or fatal) or what they can do to improve their health. However, I do believe that physicians’ lack of interest or just plain laziness in explaining what the patient has causes patients to be reluctant to ask. I had an interesting experience in 2011. I was hospitalized for 6 weeks w septic pneumonia, in a coma for a week, then my kidneys shut down. My present nephrologist literally saved my life. He put me on dialysis briefly and apparently sat and talked to me, in a coma, for over two hours. He is compassionate, respectful and ethical – highly unusual. On the other hand, when I told the urologist I’d like to participate in my own care, he said “well ur fat”. I have seen about a dozen specialists in the past three years. Three of them prescribed medication inappropriate for someone w CKD. I’m allergic to iodine and I’ve had heated arguments w 3 radiologists who wanted to give me contrast medium that contained iodine. One was so rude that I told him I hoped his insurance was paid up. My new GP and my nephrologist r the only physicians I trust. I ask a lot of questions and if they try to end the conversation I just keep talking. I research every physician and every test. Most importantly I request a copy of all bloodwork and diagnostic imaging. I often find myself saying, “u know I have third stage CKD” or “u know I’m allergic to —“. One nurse followed me all around the room as I was trying to avoid her syringe. She refused to tell me what was in the needle. I dont think u can ever b too proactive. I guess I’m paranoid but w good reason. If u think ur right, say so. If u have a question, ask. Good luck. I enjoy how u think. 🙂

        Sent from my iPhone

      • With all due respect, psychiatric patients are not always capable of interest in their medications, much less advocating for themselves. You, however, are and I’m glad to see you know that. Don’t forget you can always change doctors if the ones you have won’t work with you in the way you need them to. Thanks for sharing these scenarios with us, Janice.

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