I’m Finally Ready to Let National Kidney Month Go

As you already know, I’ve been posting the chapter I contributed to the book 1in9 as my contribution to National Kidney Month. This will probably be the final post of that chapter, unless I decide to post the biography that goes along with the chapter at a later date.

Most of you are aware that I now have pancreatic cancer and the chemo effects are getting in my way. I’m hoping that I’ll not be feeling them so severely in the near future and will be able to research some new material for you. Right now, that’s just not possible. You may have noticed that my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages no longer contain original posts. That’s due to the same reason.

But let’s complete the book chapter:

When I was diagnosed back in 2008, there weren’t that many reader friendly books on anything having to do with CKD. Since then, more and more books of this type have been published. I’m laughing along with you, but I don’t mean just SlowItDownCKD 2011, SlowItDownCKD 2012 (These two were The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1, until I realized how unwieldy both the book and the title were – another learning experience), SlowItDownCKD 2013, SlowItDownCKD 2014 (These two were formerly The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2), SlowItDownCKD 2015, SlowItDownCKD 2016, and SlowItDownCKD 2017. By the way, I’m already working on SlowItDownCKD 2018. Each book contains the blogs for that year.

I include guest blogs or book review blogs to get a taste of the currently available CKD news. For example, 1in9 guest blogged this year. Books such as Dr. Mandip S. Kang’s, The Doctor’s Kidney Diets (which also contains so much non-dietary information that we – as CKD patients – need to know), and Drs. Raymond R. Townsend and Debbie L. Cohen’s 100 Questions & Answers about Kidney Disease and Hypertension.

I miss my New York daughter and she misses me, so we sometimes have coffee together separately. She has a cup of coffee and I do at the same time. It’s not like being together in person, but it’s something. You can find support the same way via Facebook Chronic Kidney Disease Support Groups. Some of these groups are:

Chronic Kidney Disease Awareness

Chronic Kidney Disease in India

CKD (Kidney Failure) Support Group International

Dialysis & Kidney Disease

Friends Sharing Positive Chronic Kidney Disease

I Hate Dialysis

Kidney Disease Diet Ideas and Help

Kidney Disease Ideas and Diets1

Kidney Disease is not a Joke

Kidney Disease, Dialysis, and Transplant

Kidney Warriors Foundation

Kidneys and Vets

Mani Trust

Mark’s Private Kidney Disease Group

P2P

People on Dialysis

Sharing your Kidney Journey

Stage 3 ‘n 4 Kidneybeaners Gathering Place

The Transplant Community Outreach

UK Kidney Support

Women’s Renal Failure

Wrap Up Warm for Kidney Disease

What I hit over and over again in the blogs is that diabetes is the foremost cause of CKD with hypertension as the second most common cause. Simple blood and urine tests can uncover your CKD – if you’re part of the unlucky 96% of those in the early stages of the disease who don’t know they have it.

Each time I research, I’m newly amazed at how much there is to learn about CKD…and how many tools you have at your disposal to help slow it down. Diet is the obvious one. But if you smoke or drink, stop, or at least cut down. If you don’t exercise, start. Adequate, good quality sleep is another tool. Don’t underestimate rest either; you’re not being lazy when you rest, you’re preserving whatever kidney function you have left. I am not particularly a pill person, but if there’s a medication prescribed that will slow down the gradual decline of my kidney function, I’m all for it.

I was surprised to discover that writing my SlowItDownCKD book series, maintaining a blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts of the same name are not enough for me for me to spread the word about CKD screening and education. I’m determined to change this since I feel so strongly that NO ONE should have this disease and not be aware of it.

That’s why I’ve brought CKD awareness to every community that would have me: coffee shops, Kiwanis Clubs, independent bookstores, senior citizen centers, guest blogging for the likes of The American Kidney Fund and The National Kidney Foundation, being interviewed by publications like the Wall Street Journal’s Health Matters, The Center for Science in The Public Interest, and The United Federation of Teachers’ New York Teacher, and on podcasts such as The Renal Diet Headquarters, Online with Andrea, The Edge Podcast, Working with Chronic Illness, and Improve Your Kidney Health.

I’ve been very serious about sharing about CKD before it advances to end stage… meaning dialysis. To that end, I gathered a team for the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona Kidney Walk one year. Another year, I organized several meetings at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Education is vital since so many people are unaware they even have the disease.

You can slow down the progression of the decline of kidney function. I have been spending a lot of time on my health and I’m happy to say it’s been paying off. There are five stages. I’ve stayed at the middle one for over a decade despite having both high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s what this is about. People don’t know about CKD. They get diagnosed. They think they’re going to die. Everybody dies, but it doesn’t have to be of CKD. I am downright passionate about people knowing this.

Thanks for taking the time to finish the chapter. The more people who know about Chronic Kidney Disease, the more people can tell others about it. I’d hate for anyone to be part of the 90% of those with CKD who don’t know they have it.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

This Shouldn’t Hurt

Today is our second wedding anniversary, so I took a picture of me in my wedding dress.  While it is a one of a kind, handmade dress, it was far too2 year anniversary small when I bought it.  No problem, I figured.  I’ll just wear those slimming garments underneath.

That worked.  But I think they’re really torture garments. This year, after two years of exercising, renal dieting, and the new addition of high blood sugar dieting (oh, and blissful marriage), I was able to wear the dress without the torture garments.

What’s my point, you ask.  Simply, that there is hope, that exercise and following the correct diet for your health do pay off.  Since I only wear my wedding dress once a year on our anniversary, I got the chance to really see the difference in my body since last year…and, for once, I was pleased.

You know what pleases me. Now here’s what displeases me.  I didn’t know that lancets for testing blood glucose come in sizes.  Actually, I would have laughed had you told me that before I needed them and made some lewd comparison to a personal product that also comes in sizes.

I was working blind.  Now that my informative diabetes counselor told me about ultra-thin lancets, I’m a bit more comfortable sticking myself with them several times a day. But that doesn’t mean I understand the whole deal.  So today’s blog is pretty much about the mechanics of testing your own blood.

As usual, let’s start at the beginning.  Lancet is defined by The Medical Dictionary at http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/lancet as

A surgical knife with a short, wide, pointed double-edged blade, used especially for making punctures and small incisions.

lancetsMine is a little different since it has a cylindrical stem with a detachable, disposable cap.  Under the cap is a sharp, needle looking device that is what pierces my skin. The first few days I used one, I cried. It hurt. Bear was not going to put up with that and went to the pharmacy to find something better for me.  No one had told me these little guys came in ‘ultra-thin.’ I gather my PCP thought my pharmacist would tell me and my pharmacist thought my PCP told me.  Wrong on both accounts.

So, what are the mechanics that allowed the ultra-thin lancets to hurt less than the regular (for lack of a better word)? According to Diabetics Answers at http://diabetes.answers.com/management/blood-glucose-monitoring-how-to-test-your-blood-sugar-at-home

Blood sugar is tested by obtaining a very small blood sample from tiny capillaries under the skin. You do not use a vein to obtain the blood sample. The test is sometimes referred to as a finger stick because the sample is most often obtained from the fingertip with the help of a lancet.

In other words, you’re not creating a deep puncture at all.  That also explains why I can use the ultra-thin lancets; you only need a small drop of blood from the capillaries just under the skin.  Because I can use these, however, doesn’t mean you can.  Each of us is different. The MedSupplyGuide at http://www.themedsupplyguide.com/lancets/ tells us

The higher the gauge, the smaller the perforation the lancet makes. Usually a higher-gauge lancet is less painful to use, but it may be harder to get an adequate amount of blood with a higher-gauge lancet.layers of skin

Okay then, if you can’t get enough blood for the testing with the higher gauge lancet, you’ve got to experiment with lower gauges until you find the right one for you. The lower gauge hurt more for me, but that could be because I didn’t know about the lancet device.

While I was no longer crying with each prick, I was still tearing up.  My loving husband (You don’t need one of these; you can go to the pharmacy yourself which is what I was going to do before he beat me to it.) still wasn’t pleased with my everyday experience, so back to the pharmacy he went and discovered the lancet device. I can only imagine I wasn’t told about this for the same reason I didn’t know about ultra-thin lancets: miscommunication.

lancet devicesThese, my friends, are just plain wonderful. I went to Diabetic Live at https://www.diabeticlive.com/diabetes-101/how-to-use-a-lancet-and-lancing-device/ for help in explaining this one.

This instrument has a spring inside those {sic} forces the lancet to prick or make an incision on your finger. Then it draws back quickly. With a lancing device, you can change how deep or shallow you want the incision to be. Depending on what measurement you choose, it can alleviate additional pain and discomfort.

No more crying; no more tearing up, just the prick I was told I would feel.  Mine has depth settings from 1 to 5.  I’m still on 1 which is the shallowest piercing.  As my device ages and the spring wears out, I may have to use a higher setting to pierce at the same depth.

When you think about it, this is really simple. But who thinks about it if you don’t have to?  For the last month, since I’ve started treatment for the high blood glucose, I have felt like I was in a foreign land and didn’t know the customs. I’m still learning, but am so much more comfortable with the physical part of it.t-shirt

Aha! Talk about being physical… you are joining us for the Kidney Walk in Phoenix, aren’t you?  It’s at Chase Stadium on Sunday,tshirt pix the 19th and you can register there from 7:30 in the morning.  Or, if you’re like me and don’t like to wait for the last minute, you can register early by going to Kidneywalk.kintera.org.  We’re Team SlowItDownCKD.  Can’t make it but want to support us?  You can donate at the same address.  Above are the pictures of the t-shirt I’ve been promising.

Digital Cover Part 1

Many thanks if you wrote reviews for The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1 and The Book of Blogs: Part 2Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2. I am asking for an anniversary present: please write a review.  Some people mentioned they don’t want their name posted anywhere; well, you can use a nickname or post a review anonymously.

Until next week,Book Cover

Keep living your life!

Sticking It to Myself

First of all, thanks for your patience in the blog host debacle.  Just goes to show you don’t miss your water until the well runs dry.  Translated that means I love WordPress as the blog host and will not be making any changes from here EVER!  Further translated that means the name of the blog will always be SlowItDownCKD and we’ll always be at https://gailraegarwood.wordpress.com. I do believe I’ve just apologized.  I seem to be doing that a lot this week.

National Kidney MonthHappy third week of National Kidney Month. Seems so odd to place ‘Happy’ and ‘National Kidney Month’ in the same sentence.  Yet, it makes sense. How can we spread awareness of Chronic Kidney Disease if we don’t have a national effort? Hmmm, that sort of makes it happy.

Okay, down to brass tacks (or sharp jabs) now. During the first week of National Kidney Month, my PCP decided it was time to deal with my consistently high A1C test results.  Good timing on her part, huh?

Let’s go back just a bit to remind everyone what the A1C test is for. On page 54 of What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, I wrote the following.

Somewhere along the line, one of your doctors may order an A1C test.  This measures how well your blood sugar has been regulated for the two or three months before the test.  That’s possible because the glucose adheres to the red blood cells.  This is important since quite a few CKD patients develop the disease from diabetes.Book Cover

Ah, so she’s trying to help prevent me from developing diabetes. That is the number one cause of CKD.  But I already have CKD.  Let’s see why it’s important for those with CKD to avoid diabetes, too.

I went directly to The National Kidney Foundation at https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diabetes for information.

With diabetes, the small blood vessels in the body are injured. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly. Your body will retain more water and salt than it should, which can result in weight gain and ankle swelling. You may have protein in your urine. Also, waste materials will build up in your blood.

bladderDiabetes also may cause damage to nerves in your body. This can cause difficulty in emptying your bladder. The pressure resulting from your full bladder can back up and injure the kidneys. Also, if urine remains in your bladder for a long time, you can develop an infection from the rapid growth of bacteria in urine that has a high sugar level.

Oh no!  I already have kidney damage. Now I could be exacerbating it. Wait a minute.  How is this happening?  I exercise, watch my renal diet, try to avoid stress, and get enough sleep.  Am I doing something wrong?

In type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time your pancreas isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels normal. Type 2 is treated it with lifestyle changes, oral medications (pills), and insulin.pancreas

This is from the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html  A little clarification here: type 1 is the one in which people don’t produce insulin and type 2 is when the body is insulin resistant.

Wow. Just wow.  What’s tickling my mind now is the latest information I’ve read about statins possibly resulting in type 2 diabetes by affecting insulin resistance in a negative way.  Don’t get excited just yet.  Nothing’s been verified and I’m not even sure I understand the research.

All right, jabs next.  Since this is all new to me, I was told to check my blood sugar daily.  I looked dumbly at my PCP.  She caught the look and explained I could get my supplies at the pharmacy and sent over a script.  After four days of running around after my insurance, it was determined Medicare would not pay for the supplies since I didn’t actually have diabetes.  If Medicare doesn’t cover it, my secondary insurance doesn’t. So, I paid out of pocket.diabetes equipment

Off I went to the pharmacy, where the pharmacist explained what I would need. I looked dumbly at my pharmacist.  He caught the look and offered to get the supplies for me.  I’m sure he meant well, but he gave me the pharmacy brand meter which means I can only use their test strips.  It’s sort of a forced income for them.  He also gave me lancets (I used to think that was just the name of an English medical journal. Silly me.), but they weren’t ultra-thin and they hurt.  What he didn’t give me was the lancet device.  I didn’t know that existed until the diabetes counselor provided by my PCP told me about it.

I suspect I over checked because my fingertips are black and blue.  However 2 hours after eating is the norm.  I just took a break and monitored my blood glucose. It’s 121.  While that’s low for me, normal is in the 70-110 range, so even though I took 500 mg. of Metformin this morning, I’m going to have to exercise when I’m done (Doesn’t scare me; I have to exercise for the CKD anyway.) to lower that number.

I can see I’ll be blogging about this again. There is so much to cover here!Part 2

Digital Cover Part 1I keep forgetting to ask.  Would those who you who have read The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1 and/or The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2 please write a review on Amazon.com. I am interested to hear what you think of these books.

Did you know you can register for the Phoenix Kidney Walk all the way up until that morning, April 19th?  If you’re going to register, why not join Team SlowItDownCKD?  Here’s a link to make that easy: kidneywalk.kintera.org.

Until next week,

Keep living your life.