And Now for Something a Little Different

Have you ever taken one of those silly little Facebook quizzes?  I usually don’t, but I did yesterday… and discovered that my mental age is 28.  Well, that explains a lot. The truth of the matter is that I will be 67 on Sunday.

As a younger woman, I lost my birthday to the beginning of the new term in whatever high school I was teaching: five new classes for my birthday. Now I lose it to Super Bowl Sunday.  Although this year, I find I’m losing it to something else too, and I don’t mind that at all.

wsjAfter last week’s Wall Street Journal article (Oh, you haven’t read it yet?  It’s included in last week’s blog), I received a bunch of requests to include information in the blog.  Some were for profit.  Those I immediately discarded.

Some were for public relationships coverage.  I replied I would consider a trade if they would publicize SlowItDown, my project to bring free CKD education by trained educators to any community that needs it. Never heard from them again.

And then there was this one from Cameron Von St. James about LungLeavin’ Day. I thought and thought about it since the .com threw me, but finally decided that there was a reason LungLeavin’ Day is the same day as my birthday and I just happen to write a medically associated blog.  Thank you, Cameron, for sharing this:

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavindaylung

Unfortunately, it was beyond my computer capabilities to reproduce or even copy the contents of the site to the blog.  Do click on it.  It is worth your while.

Of course, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Chronic Kidney Disease.  Let me explain.

Just as with CKD, early detection of mesothelioma certainly helps in treating it.  Screening the at risk population- those who have been exposed to asbestos – is an important part of detecting the disease, just as with CKD. However, there are reasons to be extra careful about diagnosing mesothelioma in kidney patients.Book Cover

According to PubMed, part of the US National Library of Medicine of The National Institutes of Health,

“Serum mesothelin concentration is elevated in individuals with renal impairment. Renal function should therefore be taken into account during interpretation of this assay.”

You can read more about the September, 2011 study which resulted in this conclusion at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333373

I wasn’t clear about serum mesothelin so I researched it. MedicineNet.com tells us that mesothelin is “A protein attached to the cell surface that is thought to have a role in cell-adhesion and possibly in cell-to-cell recognition and signalling. Mesothelin is so named because it is made by mesothelial cells. A monoclonal antibody, which recognises mesothelin, binds to the surface of cells from mesotheliomas and some other tumors but not to healthy tissues except for mesothelium.” You can find more, but it is definitely written in medicalese, at: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25335.

So serum mesothelin is measured during a blood test.  This tells your physician if you have mesothelioma and, if you do, how far it has progressed.  BUT, if you have kidney disease, your readings for serum mesothelin may be elevated.  What a Catch 22!

A little more on this.  Serum means “The clear yellowish fluid obtained upon separating whole blood into its solid and liquid components after it has been allowed to clot.”  This definition is from The Free Dictionary, which you can find at: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/serum.

mesoYou probably didn’t need that defined, but I wanted you to see where in the blood you would find this indicator of mesothelioma.  Notice that your creatinine measurement is also taken from the serum.

Years ago, seemingly in another lifetime – when I worked in McKee Vocational – Technical High School in Staten Island – one of my colleagues died of kidney failure.  Rumor had it that the asbestos in the building was the cause.  I hadn’t been diagnosed yet and didn’t really understand any of this.  Now I can understand the possible origin of the rumor, but the result is the same:  we lost a wonderful person, Ms. Alice Schmedes.

Let’s get a bit more on the positive side here.  Here’s a blog by Dr. Robert Provenzano from Accountable Kidney Care Collaborative that resulted from the Wall Street Journal Article.

Educating Patients Means Empowering Patients

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about patients doing more to control chronic conditions. After finishing the article, my immediate thought was I’d like to see more patients like author Gail Rae-Garwood, who is profiled in the article, feel empowered to take charge of their health. Undoubtedly, patients need to muster a great deal of courage to step up and take the lead in managing their chronic kidney disease. And education is the best way for physicians to facilitate that kind of courage.

Educated patients make better clinical choices and are better prepared when treatment is necessary. This is a well-known fact, yet many patients need reinforcement to better understand how to live a longer, healthier, happier life—and that reinforcement can come from you, one of their most trusted resources.

DaVita’s Kidney Smart® program is a great resource for your patients. Through instructor-led classes, Kidney Smart gives people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who have not yet started dialysis the information they need to make healthy choices and slow the progression of their disease—all at no cost to them. Encourage your patients to enroll in a no-cost Kidney Smart class today.

You can also refer your patients to communities like myDaVita.com. This 133,000-member online community helps CKD patients understand and manage their kidney disease, featuring more than 1,000 kidney-friendly recipes, forum discussions, group support and more.Provenazo

Together, we can be a valuable front-line resource for people living with CKD.

Take a moment to read more of the Wall Street Journal article on patients’ role in managing chronic conditions, and figure out the best way you can support your patients.

An open message to Dr. Provenzano, the Accountable Kidney Care Collaborative, my readers, any member of the medical field, and those who know and love people with CKD:

I invite you to contact me at ckded@cox.net to bring SlowItDown to any and all communities that need it.Kidney Book Cover

Until next week (when I’ll be 67!),

Keep living your life!

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Gail, I read your blog regularly and I am excited to see that just in the time I’ve been reading it (a couple of years now) you’ve made such great progress in getting the word out about kidney disease.

    I was wondering if you have seen the movie “Forks Over Knives” (http://www.amazon.com/Forks-Over-Knives-Colin-Campbell/dp/B005K23RS0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1390859965&sr=8-3&keywords=forks+over+knives)? As a Stage 4 CKD patient I think it has made a huge difference in helping me feel as best I can as my genetic CKD advances. I think the eating habits advocated in this movie/book would be life-changing for so many people in the world on the path to CKD and diabetes. It is obvious that a huge change in diet must occur to stem this tide.

    It’s time for me to take out your book and review the information. When I first read it I know I couldn’t appreciate it all. With a chronic disease you find yourself getting comfortable with terms that used to sound so mysterious. I’m ready for a second look.

    Thanks for continuing to educate so many people. Oh, also, Happy Birthday!

    Best regards, Suzanne Kelly

    Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 19:31:06 +0000 To: kelly_suzanne@hotmail.com

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, Suzanne. The movie has been recommended several times. Your emphasis on the contents’ relationship with CKD convinced me to see it… before next week’s blog so I can comment on it. Until nest week, enjoy your re-read.

  2. Since I just had my own 67th birthday this week, I should break down and say “happy birthday” to some one I feel I know. Reading your book and your blog for some time, I do feel we have much in common, besides the CKD. For one thing, we both live in the Phoenix area and at least I understand some of those references. You have helped me slowly understand more and more about this medical issue. I did get the e-book version of your book so that when I meet someone who needs a copy, I can give them the paper version I first got. I admire your energy and know that if you put something in your blog it is well researched and trusted. Congratulations on getting the word out there and Happy Birthday again. Mary Perkins

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, neighbor, and a belated happy birthday to you, too. Many thanks also for the accolades. And yet again for being willing to share the book.

      Since you are local, what communities do you see need SlowItDown? I will gladly contact them.

      As for the energy, it’s not always there but I make sure to take advantage of it when it is!

      • I know what you mean about the energy. I’m in Avondale and not aware of a need for SlowItDown here. Do you think the aging Hispanic population in our rural area would be a target audience? I know it is a challenge getting diabetes information to them. Mary Perkins

      • Thanks, Mary. I will look for a way to contact that population.


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