Timidly Exploring Dialysis

We are a Landmark Education family; that is Nima, Abby, and I are all Landmark Education graduates.  Abby has taken many of their enlightening courses and was candidated as an Introduction Leader.

In other words, she demonstrated her willingness to bring Landmark Education to others and now knew enough about the program to be able to do so.  This is a big deal in the Landmark world and it was celebrated Friday night.

Of course Bear and I went to the celebration to support her.  We even got dressed up a little (this IS Arizona – people go to weddings wearing jeans.).  Since I recently retired – yes, again – from teaching, I went right to my teaching clothes to find something appropriate to wear tonight. landmarkqr

While I’ve only gained a few pounds (no, really), my body has finally decided to show my age.  Out went the tightly fitted dressy tee shirts that accentuated the belly.  Out went the fancy blouses with no room for the droopy bust. Out went the casual dress pants with their tight waistlines. Out went the maxi skirts that now reached the floor since I’ve shrunk.

And it struck me.  I looked something like the peritoneal dialysis patient Walter A. Hunt mentions in his book Kidney Disease: A Guide for Living: “ Peritoneal dialysis also causes weight gain and an increased waistline, which are mostly caused by fluid retention.  It may be difficult to find clothes that fit properly, because your abdomen may become quite large.”

I was reading the book on the recommendation of Mark Rosen from Facebook’s KIDNEY DISEASE AND DIET IDEAS AND HELP 1. Any book he recommends is worth a gander.  I had been looking for a newer book than mine that deals only with early stage chronic kidney disease. (There aren’t any as far as I could research.) What I didn’t realize is that Mr. Hunt wrote about dialysis and transplant in his book.

I began to wonder what else I don’t know about either of these medical procedures and ended up where I always do: MedlinePlus, a service of U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health  at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dialysis.html.  This is what I found there:

“When your kidneys are healthy, they clean your blood. They also make hormones that keep your bones strong and your blood healthy. When your kidneys fail, you need treatment to replace the work your kidneys used to do. Unless you have a kidney transplant, you will need a treatment called dialysis.thCAQ0P7T3

There are two main types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Both types filter your blood to rid your body of harmful wastes, extra salt and water. Hemodialysis  does that with a machine. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdomen, called the peritoneal membrane, to filter your blood. Each type has both risks and benefits. They also require that you follow a special diet. Your doctor can help you decide the best type of dialysis for you.”

This may be old news to those of you who are already dealing with renal dialysis and it was to me, too, but what about those people who are still in early stage or who love someone in early stage?  They don’t need to be bewildered when (if) this becomes necessary for them down the road, the way they were when they were first diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease.

As much as I deplore the thought of dialysis – I can’t stand anyone fiddling with me, not even for a manicure or a massage – this may become a necessity somewhere down the line for me –  or you.  We all know I intend to be one of the 80% of CKD patients who never progress beyond stage 3… but what if I’m not?  What if you’re not?

I don’t know much about either kind of dialysis, but am learning by forcing myself to research and finish reading Mr. Hunt’s book.  This is something I have studiously avoided in the last five years but I think it’s time to grow up.  I may never need this information, but it doesn’t hurt to have it.

I’ll tell you this, though.  Even though it’s Passover right now and Easter was Sunday, I made the commitment NOT to experiment with foods that are not on my renal diet.  And, since I know these are family heavy holidays, I took time off periodically to sit down and read a book for more than ten minutes at a time so I was at least rested.

While I was the one who invited nine people for Easter dinner (less than a week before our wedding, no less), Bear popped right in and took the stress off me.  He did the meal planning and the shopping.  I just asked each of our guests to make their specialties: Kelly made her creamy mashed potatoes, Lara her grandmother’s recipe cheesecake, Abby the crescent rolls, Sean’s mom Mary Ann the string bean casserole.  Alex brought wine and on and on. easter-dinner

It was pretty clear I needed something I could eat, so Bear brought me turkey, salad, bananas and strawberries.  I didn’t even miss tasting the ham, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese or some of the home made food.

I have a confession: I always get the adult children (the youngest is 28 for heaven’s sake!) Peeps and since the adults were disappointed they didn’t get any last year, I got them some this year, too. I know, I know, it’s all sugar and food coloring.

Sometimes, I get glutted by just being with my family.  Maybe that’s why while I might ‘taste’ the foods forbidden to me, I don’t seem to want to eat bunches of them.  Whoa, were the Beatles right when they sang, “All you need is love?”

A nice spring holiday present for me: the book continues to do well in the foreign market.  Let’s see what we can do about moving here at home too.

passoverI hope your Easter and Passover were (and still is in the case of Passover) happy, healthy, and rejuvenating.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

Back To Basics

My daughter Abby and I just spent the weekend at Landmark Education’s Access to Communication Course.  If I weren’t already a Landmark graduate, I’d say I couldn’t believe what I learned.  Since I am a Landmark graduate, I’ll share with you my delight at learning just how simple and loving communication can be. people talking

Of course, I’d urge you graduates reading this blog to register for this course and those of you who aren’t yet graduates to explore the Landmark Forum.  You might get an idea of how forceful this work is when I tell you that my upcoming marriage is a result of it.

As a matter of fact, there’s an introduction this Wednesday night at the Scottsdale center from 7 – 11.  The address is 16100 North Greenway-Hayden Loop, Suite 108, and the phone number is 602-222-1110. You can always contact me and we can go together.

I chose communication about CKD as the topic for this week’s blog because I have been doing just that… and being startled over and over again at the number of people I’ve spoken with that know nothing about Chronic Kidney Disease.  So, this week, we go back to basics.

Anyone know what the kidneys are and what they do?  Will the gentleman with his hand raised in the back of the room answer the question, please?  Oh, it’s my future son-in-law, Sean, and he’s quoting me!

kidney locationOn page 1 of What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Gail Rae wrote, “Later, I learned that the kidneys were two reddish brown organs which lay on the muscles of the back on either side of your spine above hipbone level and below the diaphragm… Some have compared their size to that of a clenched fist or a large computer mouse, and the right one lies lower than the left since the liver is on that side.” [You can order digital copies of the book at Amazon.com and B&N.com.  Print copies are available at Amazon.com and myckdexperience@gmail.com.]

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  [ Ha Ha. Get it?  I DID say it.] Now about their function… Ah, lady on the left side of the room. Estelle, my dear East Coast buddy, I didn’t know you were here.

According to The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), A service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH) at http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/yourkidneys/#kidneys, “Every day, a person’s kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The wastes and extra water become urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.” Nice job!

What else do they do?  Nima?  Yes, you may answer questions even though you’re my daughter.  Well then:

  • Control your body’s chemical balance
  • Help control your blood pressure
  • Help keep your bones healthyBook signing
  • Help you make red blood cells

You’ve learned well.  What was your source?  The American Kidney Fund at http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-health/kidney-basics/your-kidneys.html.

That’s a good one, as are all the others mentioned here.  They each contain far more information than we’ve included in today’s blog and can make you a sort of neophyte kidney expert.  Well, maybe someone who knows about his/her early stage chronic kidney disease or that of someone you know and/or love might be a more realistic title.

More?  Okay.  How many people have chronic kidney disease?  Look there.  Lara, my step-daughter, who is in very good health (thank the powers that be) is here.  Ummm, I did tell you that number but it’s changed a bit since then.  It’s 26 million in the USA alone and raising.  Those are the diagnosed people.  There are millions of other who have not yet realized they have CKD according to The National Kidney Foundation at     http://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/aboutckd.cfm#facts

How do you know if you have it?  Excellent question, Kelly. As another healthy person, my step-daughter has asked an important question. Since there are rarely symptoms, it’s all about blood and urine tests.  A simply stated E-how article at http://www.ehow.com/how_2051919_test-kidney-disease.html explains without overwhelming.  Basically, your doctor is looking for protein in your urine and at the following values in your blood test: GFR (glomerular filtration rate) and bun (blood urea nitrogen).  I don’t advocate eHow for medical information, but this one is not that bad.

I will, Bear, right now.  The wonderful man I’ll be marrying in April asked me to make certain I write about the renal diet.  He follows it with me so we don’t have to cook two different meals when we do cook and he lost 60 pounds in the first several months of doing so.  I could hate him for that, except that I already love him.

The renal diet is only one part of the treatment. [There’s also exercise, adequate sleep and lack of stress.] I thought the one at Buzzle (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/diet-for-chronic-kidney-disease-ckd.html) was a good example until I realized there was no potassium restriction on this diet.  I follow that of the Northern Arizona Council of Renal Dietitians. What this tells us is that you need to pay attention to the specific renal diet the nephrologist (kidney and high blood pressure expert) has given you or your loved one, friend, and/or co-worker.water melon

Basically, sodium, phosphorous, protein, potassium and fluids are restricted. Sometimes, I feel like my fluids are exaggerated rather than restricted – like when I’m writing – and have to remind myself to drink so I can meet my 64 ounces/per day ‘limit.’

My neighbor and friend, Amy, just asked me to backtrack a bit and discuss the causes of CKD.  That would be helpful, wouldn’t it?

eMedicine at http://www.emedicinehealth.com/chronic_kidney_disease/page3_em.htmers this.  Two thirds of ckd is caused by high blood pressure or diabetes, but they neglected to mention that sometimes ckd is simply a result of growing older – as in my case.

You know the people I mentioned are not in my office as I write this blog, so here’s a public thank you to each of them for the loan of their names.  I kind of think they would have offered those answers or asked these questions if they were here with me right now.

Check out those websites.  They offer quite a bit of information.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!