Did She Say Spaghetti?

new hometo Abby Wegerski on her first singly owned home!  I have enjoyed every second of helping her move, even the shopping. I got most of my exercise doing as much of the grunt work involved in moving in the last few weeks as I could.  While I was a little dismayed to discover it was only a fraction of what I thought I’d be able to do, it was still exercise. Nothing like packing boxes, schlepping (do you know the word?) boxes of flooring, or getting down on the floor to scrub carpet spots for a good workout.  So, Abby got into her new home and I got my exercise.  Sounds like a fair trade to me.

That’s the good; now the bad: Bear’s back is finally demanding his attention after years of being just painful as opposed to being overwhelmingly painful. Pollyanna over here found another way to exploit the situation.  He can’t do many of his chores, so I do them.  Wow, more exercise.  I considered writing about the ‘cocktail’ being injected into his spine in two places, but decided there wasn’t enough connection to Chronic Kidney Disease there. Here’s hoping they help him and my honey is out of pain soon.  I really wouldn’t mind getting my exercise from dancing, the stationery bike, or my walking tapes. Honestly, Bear!

So what will I write about?  I think you already know.  Dr. Wile has sent me the slide show with her wonderful visual analogies of how Chronic Kidney Disease works.  We may have to back up a little. You already know the kidneys do important jobs for your body, like filtering your blood every 30 minutes, “regulating the fluid balance in the body, providing vital hormones, producing erythropoietin (e.g.  this spurs red blood cell production), and producing the renin that regulates blood pressure.” The quote is from What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease and the e.g. from the glossary of the same book.Book signing

There have been many attempts to explain how Chronic Kidney Disease impedes the kidneys’ abilities to do these jobs and all the others it is tasked with. The scientific explanation leaves me scratching my head.  Even as a research savvy person, there are too many terms to look up and then try to string the definitions together in some kind of coherent whole. The simplistic versions leave me frustrated that they don’t say much.  I’ve seen visuals that sort of help, but aren’t quite on the mark.

Dr. Wile thought of simply using a colander draining spaghetti as a visual.  Bingo! Even if you haven’t cooked spaghetti yourself, you’ve seen it cooked.  Colanders are common in the households of many different ethnic groups. The holes in the colander are akin to your kidneys’ nephrons. Those are the part of the kidneys that purify and filter the blood.  If a hole in the colander is closed off, or if your nephron is no longer functional, both the colander and your kidneys will not do the best job.  Close off more holes or nephrons and you will have even less filtering.  Hike up that number and the colander and kidneys become less and less effective.  You’ll end up with soggy spaghetti or Chronic Kidney Disease.colander

You can wash your colander for better straining.  You can’t do that to your kidneys. Once a nephron is dead, it’s dead. Sayonara, good bye, adios.  You can’t bring it back to life.  Before you panic, remember you have one million nephrons in each of your two kidneys. The name of the game here is: slow it down, slow down gathering those clogged holes in your colander, slow down the death rate for your nephrons.

I know it sounds like an impossible task but it isn’t. You may have to make life style changes (I am so tired of this hackneyed, but convenient term), such as no longer smoking and cutting down – or out – your drinking. You’ve got a renal diet or, at least, the name of the renal dietician the U.S. government is providing for you.  Call the number and make an appointment.  If you have your renal diet, read it, make certain you understand it, and follow it. What about sleep?  Are you making certain you’re getting enough? And then there’s the ever present exercise.  I say this to myself every, single ()*&*&*O_{{+ day: “Just do it!” Lately there have been studies that indicate stress can exacerbate CKD.  Find new ways to deal with that, ways that work for you.

There’s no one way to do any of the above, but the point is you’ve got to do it.  Sometimes it’s as annoying as… well, whatever is the most annoying thing you can think of, but it is so worth it.  I think one day one of my children may have a child of her own, or my novel will be published, or Bear and I will go to Alaska.  That’s all it takes to stop my moaning and groaning.  I want to be around for each of these possibilities, even though that’s all they are at this point.

This week is the birthday of our country.  I intend to get Bear the bar-b-q food he craves even though I can’t eat it.  Everyone in pain deserves some coddling.  And then we’ll celebrate by hiding in the house with Bella, who is terrified of fireworks, and have a Downton Abbey marathon.  Maybe we can’t do what we once did, but we can enjoy what we can do.  To the United States of America: happy birthday and thank you for paying for our CKD care.IMAG0269 (1)

Until next week,

Keep living your life!