Keep That Liver Lively

It feels so good to be (relatively) healthy again. I’ve spent the last several weeks being tested, running to doctors, and feeling like I just plain didn’t want to move… not even for a good cup of coffee.  I like the way I feel now.  Maybe I rest more than I’ve been used to, but I get to do whatever I want again.  That’s the way to live.  I like it so much that I intent to keep my life this way.YGCnpYEUFRtlrF00_f9frLXF_JWiNWNHS9AVZmM1PxI

And that’s why I’m taking the series of Hepatitis B inoculations that are recommended for anyone with a compromised immune system. Chronic Kidney Disease presents us with one of those. Aren’t we just the lucky ones (she wrote with a keyboard that dripped sarcasm)?

“Hepatitis B is one type of hepatitis – a liver disease – caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B spreads by contact with an infected person’s blood, semen or other body fluid. An infected woman can give hepatitis B to her baby at birth,” according to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health located online at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/hepatitisb.html.

liverLet’s backtrack for a little etymology here.  The Online Etymology Dictionary at http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=hepatitis&searchmode=nl  shows the following: “hepatitis (n.)  1727, coined from Greek hepatos, genitive of hepar “liver,” from PIE root *yekwr- (cf. Sanskrit yakrt, Avestan yakar, Persian jigar, Latin jecur, Old Lithuanian jeknos “liver”) + -itis “inflammation.” While this is probably too much information, we can see that the term comes from the Greek for liver and the Latin for inflammation, and was first commonly used in 1727. The key word here? Liver.

Okay then, what’s the big deal with the liver you’re probably asking. While it performs over 500 different functions to keep your body going, one of its primary functions is to filter your blood – just like your kidneys.  If your kidney function is already compromised, you’ve got to be careful not to let your liver function become compromised, too.

We’ve all heard the stories about people with an alcohol dependency dying of cirrhosis – permanent scarring of the liver.  This is a Bubba Miseh. That’s Yiddish for an old wives’ tale.  You can have liver damage from any number of causes. Hepatitis B is one of them.

“Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, leading to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis — a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver.”  That’s from the Mayo Clinic at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-b/DS00398.  I especially recommend their site because it is written in the English we all know and is easily understood.

According to the handout from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention which I was given by my doctor’s medical assistant, the inoculations come in sets of three.  I’ve had the first and was told to come back in a month for the second, with the third scheduled for a month after the second.  In other words, they are spaced over a period of six months.shot

But what if my primary care doctor hadn’t recommended these to me, how would I know if I have Hepatitis B?  According to MedicineNet.com at http://www.medicinenet.com/hepatitis_b/article, “Acute hepatitis B is the period of illness that occurs during the first one to four months after acquiring the virus. Only 30% to 50% of adults develop significant symptoms during acute infection. Early symptoms may be non-specific, including fever, a flu-like illness, and joint pains. Symptoms of acute hepatitis may include:

Those are fairly common symptoms for many illnesses and as many as half the people with this virus may not know they have it.  I might have been one of that 50%.  So might you.

For chronic (long term) Hepatitis B, like Chronic Kidney Disease, there are no symptoms until the damage is done and the liver starts to fail.

Am I urging you to be vaccinated?  No, you’re quite capable of making up your own mind.  Besides, as I keep mentioning, I’m not a doctor.  Did I start the Hepatitis-B inoculations?  Absolutely!  Life is sweeter than it’s ever been.  I want it to go on and on.virus

Talking about life going on, the project to bring Chronic Kidney Disease to the Native American reservations has a name: SlowItDown.  You can expect to see both a Facebook page and a Twitter account with the same name this week.

The National Kidney Foundation asked me to guest blog for them this month and I discussed the project there, too. The address for this is: http://nkfstayinghealthy.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/what-is-it-and-how-did-i-get-it-early-stage-chronic-kidney-disease-experiences/  The NKF expects to promote it on their own Facebook page tomorrow. While this is not the first time they’ve asked me to write for them, each time they do I understand the honor it is and I thank them for the opportunity to spread CKD information via their site.

You already know DaVita (DaVita.com) has offered to supply Chronic Kidney Disease Educators to the tribes within sixty miles of Phoenix.  I have been speaking with the Health Directors of several tribes, but need help getting on the reservations.  I’ve found one or two reservations with Diabetes Education Program that we could easily piggyback on, but none with Chronic Kidney Disease Education Programs.  My appeal to my readers? Please, if you know anyone who is Native American, have him/her email me at myckdexperience.com or ask them for their number or email address and send it to me.

Book CoverIt’s funny: this blog started as publicity for the book and yet I hardly mention it any more.  Thank you to those of you who have bought or recommended the book. Thanks to some lovely people I met at Landmark Worldwide (formerly Landmark Education) the book is now in British Columbia and at the Evans Community Army Hospital in Colorado.  Any way this news can be spread is a good way in my book.  Oh, I meant that literally and figuratively!

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

The Flu: Part 3, The Last

martin-luther-king-jrToday is such a momentous day.  It is not only Martin Luther King, Jr.  Day, but the second inauguration of President Obama.  2013-01-21T024432Z_1452960950_GM1E91L0TCM01_RTRMADP_3_USA-INAUGURATIONAs I sit at my computer, I ruminate how far we’ve come in a relatively short amount of time.  I remember becoming aware of the Civil Rights Movement and crying when I watched fire hoses being turned on the crowds.  I remember how I wondered as a little girl why my friend’s skin was darker… and assumed she’d just been in the sun longer than I had.  And I remember the prejudice both of us experienced as we traveled in the rural south only forty years ago.  She is Black, but I am a Jew.

And now I wonder how to slide into a blog about chronic kidney disease.  There is no sedge way here. That’s all right, though, because we’re not exactly dealing with ckd today, but the flu instead.  I do promise that this will be the last blog about the flu (this year, that is).

I have just spent four uncomfortable days zapped of energy and not enjoying the movies I watched or books I read while enduring the flu. I was truly surprised at the OTC (over the counter) medications my nephrologist recommended to me.  Tylenol Cold?  A steady regime for four days?  This for a CKD patient who has taken six Tylenol in the last five years?  But that’s what the man said.

Dylsem Cough Suppression was another OTC he recommended.  Then there was the Benedryl that came with a caution not to take it until I was going to sleep. It would knock me out. Oh, and the Mucinex.  The one recommendation I got a kick from was hot tea with lemon and honey (I actually asked him if he knew my mother, but I think he didn’t hear me.) laced with whiskey. This for someone who doesn’t drink?

Now that I’m feeling better – even if I don’t sound better – I’m nervous about all this medication.  I carefully read each and every label.  Not a single one mentioned anything about possible kidney damage.

I think I’ve become accustomed to not taking OTC medication and I think that’s done me well. As I finished each bottle – especially the Tylenol Cold – I noticed I felt more alert, more aware of my body, and less… less what?  Tamped down?  Cocooned?  I don’t know the word, but I certainly feel more here.

Is it that the medications did their job?  Probably.  Is it that I got more sleep and rest than I have in quite a while?  Probably that, too.  But maybe, just maybe, my body doesn’t like more medications.  Sounds a bit hocus-pocus, but this is the same body that has slowly raised its GFR with careful guidance from me.

Would I take the flu shot again even though I got the flu after taking it this season?  Absolutely.  It was my misfortune to take the immunization for the wrong strain of flu this year. flu shot That’s never happened before, but then again, there haven’t usually been this many different strains of flu before in the same season.

Another reason is that this inoculation against  influenza also prevents heart attack and stroke.

“If you’re tempted to skip your flu shot, consider this: Getting vaccinated cuts risk for a heart attack or stroke by up to 50 percent, according to two studies presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.”  This is the lead sentence in Lisa Collier Cool’s Nov. 26, 2012 Yahoo Health article. You can read the whole article (and I urge you to.  There’s information here that was news to me.) at: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/shot-prevents-heart-attacks

According to a Reuters’ Jan. 18, 2013 article, the number of flu cases is beginning to taper off but this has been a difficult year. We already know that.  Both Boston and New York State have declared Medical Health Emergencies. Look around you.  Are there people missing from your office?  Your school?  I noticed fewer people in the markets, too.

This same article talks about a dearth of Tamiflu.  Weren’t we told just last week that there was a shortage of the vaccine, too?  Do you see where I’m going with this? If you haven’t gotten your inoculation, get it.  If you have, but can’t find Tamiflu (not that everyone is prescribed Tamiflu), ask your doctor. No reason to panic.  Honestly, I sometimes wonder just how objective our news is.  Oh, the article.  It’s at: http://news.yahoo.com/flu-u-still-widespread-starting-ease-cdc-says-191406674–finance.htmlflu

A MedPage Today article offered some startling information on January 19th of this year: “A resounding 85% of 2,000-plus MedPage Today readers voted “yes” to our survey question asking if media attention promoted a “pseudo epidemic” as patients mistake cold symptoms for flu.” Did I do that?  Did you?  As someone who rarely becomes ill for more than a day at a time, did I simply not recognize a bad cold for what it is?

I couldn’t secure an appointment with my pcp (primary care physician) until this coming Wednesday – fully a week after I started to feel symptoms.  Will it be too late for her to tell the difference?  It’s an interesting article, although I’m not necessarily endorsing it.  Read it for yourself at: http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/Vaccines/36924?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&xid=NL_DHE_2013-01-21&eun=g596983d0r&userid=596983&email=myckdexperience@gmail.com&mu_id=5721543

As I read a New York Times article about the severe flu season (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/health/flu-season-worse-than-average-officials-say.html?smid=tw-nytimeshealth&seid=auto&_r=1&) from last Saturday, it occurred to me that when the media refers to the elderly, they mean people over 65.  That means me!  I had not been paying attention to any health warnings for the elderly because they didn’t apply to me.  Hah!  Reality smacks me in the face again.

I could go on and on, but you’ve probably read a great deal yourself about the flu.the flu ends with you

As far as the book, I believe I have come close to paying off the initial cost of publication.  When you buy a book (Amazon.com, B&N.com, or DogEarPublishing.com), my profit goes right back into the book.  That’s what has allowed me to donate books to those who could not afford the book, were just diagnosed, and/or were somehow related to CKD patients.

As soon as I earn enough to pay off turning the book into an e-book , paying for the books I ordered to donate, and then translating it into Spanish (my next project), I intend to order more books to donate.

India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, The UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, The Philippines, and Mexico, as well as the USA,  thank you.  Buy a book for yourself and help someone else who needs it.

Until next week,

Keep living your life.Book signing