Double Whammy

Just as the flu was walking out the door, sinusitis walked in. No fair! Although, I must be feeling better because I’m starting to open all the doors and windows again.

I live in Arizona. We don’t have an actual winter, but we do have a flu season with all its accompanying ailments. Having a compromised immune system is not exactly a first choice, but I have Chronic Kidney Disease.

I know I need to slow down with this explanation. Good thinking. First off, what is the immune system? I went to NCBI, The National Center for Biotechnology Information at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/ for an answer.

“The immune system (from the Latin word immunis, meaning: “free” or “untouched”) protects the body like a guardian from harmful influences from the environment and is essential for survival. It is made up of different organs, cells and proteins and aside from the nervous system, it is the most complex system that the human body has.

As long as our body’s system of defense is running smoothly, we do not notice the immune system. And yet, different groups of cells work together and form alliances against just about any pathogen (germ). But illness can occur if the performance of the immune system is compromised, if the pathogen is especially aggressive, or sometimes also if the body is confronted with a pathogen it has not come into contact before.”

Notice the word “compromised” in the last sentence. According to Dictionary.com at https://www.dictionary.com/browse/compromised, that means

“unable to function optimally, especially with regard to immune response, owing to underlying disease, harmful environmental exposure, or the side effects of a course of treatment.”

So when you have a compromised immune system, you are not receiving the full protection against germs that you could be receiving. Well, how does CKD affect the immune system?

My GFR (the numbers above the arc in the photo to the left and defined later in this blog) is usually between 49% and 59%. That means at any given time I’m missing quite a bit of the function normal kidneys would have. In other words, my kidneys are working more than twice as hard as those of someone without kidney disease. This is a fact that’s easy to forget now that I have the renal diet down pat … until I get sick… and it takes me longer to recuperate… or I slide right into another illness.

Let’s take a look at the jobs performed by the kidneys to see exactly why. This is what I wrote in SlowItDownCKD 2014:

“Your kidneys filter toxins and waste products from your blood.  They also regulate electrolyte levels and blood pressure and produce hormones, among their many jobs.”

Let’s say I eat some bad food. It would take me more than twice as long to recover and I could be more than twice as sick since my kidneys are compromised. Or maybe I actually took one of Bear’s medications instead of my own (which will never happen since they’re kept far, far from mine. This is just an example.) Same thing. I only have less than half the ability to remove a toxin from my body as someone with normal kidney function does. As for germs? You guessed it. My compromised immune system leaves me open to far more than I would be if I didn’t have CKD.

Now for sinusitius. I had that one covered in SlowItDownCKD 2013:

“The Mayo Clinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-sinusitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351671 has this to say about acute sinusitis:

‘Acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis) causes the cavities around your nasal passages (sinuses) to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.

With acute sinusitis, it may be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face may feel swollen, and you may have throbbing facial pain or a headache.’

Before we get any more detailed here, a few reminders are in order {taken from What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease’s Glossary}.

Acute – Extremely painful, severe or serious, quick onset, of short duration; the opposite of chronic.

Antibiotic – Medication used to treat infection.

Chronic – Long term, the opposite of acute.

GFR  – Glomerular filtration rate [if there is a lower case “e” before the term, it means estimated glomerular filtration rate] which determines both the stage of kidney disease and how well
the kidneys are functioning.”

Keeping it plain and simple, that just about covers my double whammy of sliding from the flu into sinusitis.

For those interested in KidneyX, this may be for you:

KidneyX: #RedesignDialysis Twitter Chat
The KidneyX: Redesign Dialysis prize challenge has a total prize purse of $2,625,000 and aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of next-generation dialysis products. Now through February 28, 2019, the KidneyX Redesign Dialysis competition will be accepting proposals for solutions or components of solutions that offer patients significant alternatives to dialysis as it is generally practiced today.
Innovators that are interested in applying for KidneyX: Redesign Dialysis are encouraged to participate in Twitter chat on January 24, 2019 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and American Society of Nephrology will be available during the chat to answer your questions and provide more information about KidneyX, the Redesign Dialysis competition, and innovation in kidney care.. To participate and follow the chat, use the #RedesignDialysis hashtag.

For those of you who are caretakers for people with CKD, this may interest you:

Please join us on Wednesday, January 23 at 1 p.m. ET for an educational webinar titled: Taking Care of Yourself While Taking Care of Your Loved Ones – Coping Strategies for Kidney Patient Caregivers!
As a caregiver for a loved one with kidney disease, it is important to remember to take time for yourself. Hear from social worker Renee Bova-Collis, MSW, LCSW, and caregivers Brenda Vasser-Taylor and Ashley Martin … as they share coping strategies to help you take care of yourself so that you can support your loved ones.

 

Click here to Register!

 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information on how to join the webinar. To call-in without connecting to a computer, use this #:

United States: +1 (562) 247-8422

You will be asked to enter the following Access Code: 399-056-972#

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the webinar

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

The Nos(e) Have It.

My father had a deviated septum.  My daughter has a deviated septum.  Why don’t I have a deviated septum?  Oh right, I’m the lucky one.  I only have Chronic Kidney Disease… not that the two are mutually exclusive… or that it’s lucky to have CKD.deviatedseptum

When it was my father’s turn, I was too young to know anything except that my dad was gone over night. I didn’t like that. Now I ask my daughter loads of questions. I don’t like that either.

So here I am very ahead of myself and not giving you a clue as to what a deviated septum is.  Septum comes from the Latin saeptum, which means “a fence, enclosure, partition.” (Thank you my old academia friend Etymology Online at http://www.etymologyonline.com/index.php?term=septum.) We still use that word for the dividing membrane in the nose.

Feel the rigid cartilage under the skin on the outside of your nose.  Inside are two chambers separated by the – what else? – septum.  Deviated means exactly what you think it does: turned aside.  Sometimes you can see the results of a deviated or turned aside septum by looking at a person’s nostrils.  If one is large and the other very small, it’s likely they have a deviated septum.nostrils

Sometimes people are born with them, but 80% of the time, they’re caused by accidents of one kind or another, or even growing older.  Sometimes people don’t even know they have a deviated septum.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter.

sinusesBut when you start to experience frequent sinusitis and nosebleeds, it does start to matter. According to The Mayo Clinic at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deviated- septum/basics/definition /con-20031537

“When a deviated septum is severe, it can block one side of your nose and reduce airflow, causing difficulty breathing. The additional exposure of a deviated septum to the drying effect of airflow through the nose may sometimes contribute to crusting or bleeding in certain individuals.”

Some of the symptoms are: preferring to sleep on one side since that allows the larger nostril to get the most air, noisy breathing, the above mentioned nosebleeds and frequent bouts of sinusitis.  Wait, sinusitis?  According to Canada.com at http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=5694&channel_id=1020&relation_id=70842

“The narrowed nasal passageway caused by a deviated septum can cause mucus to become blocked by preventing the drainage of mucus from a sinus into the nasal cavity. Excess mucus inside the sinuses presents an attractive environment for bacteria, leading to a sinus infection. This in turn causes inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis), and because it can happen regularly, chronic sinusitis can occur.”

sinus infectionOh, my poor daughter! Frequent nosebleeds, chronic sinusitis, their accompanying post-nasal drip, and headaches.  Oh yes, headaches. As I understand it, fluid (can’t drain properly due to that deviated septum, remember?) builds up in the sinuses and exerts pressure.  Result: headache.

This sounds pretty bad, but there are ways of dealing with a deviated septum.Keep in mind that some people have a mildly deviated septum so they don’t do anything for it. Others are troubled by the deviated septum and use medications such as decongestants, nasal sprays, or antihistamines. But when the symptoms are affecting your life and health, surgery is usually suggested. The following is from MedicineNet at http://www.medicinenet.com/deviated_septum/page2.htm

“If a person has a deviated septum and it causes breathing problems or sleep apnea and snoring, surgery may be recommended to repair the septum. Surgery to fix a deviated septum is called a septoplasty, submucous resection of the septum, or septal reconstruction.”

Did you notice that this surgery is sometimes necessary so that the sleep apnea  – which may be caused by your deviated septum – can be cured?  That’s how it affects us as CKD patients. We already have enough problems without sleep apnea!  Diabetes, cardiovascular illness, mortality may all be connected to a deviated septum as we know from a recent blog that quoted EurekAlert at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-04/elf-sal040214.php.septo

“Sleep apnoea has been linked with elevated blood sugar levels, suggesting people with the condition could be at an increased risk of cardiovascular illness and mortality.

The findings of a new study, published online today (3 April 2014) in the European Respiratory Journal, add to a growing body of evidence that suggests that sleep apnoea is linked with diabetes.”

sad faceYour medical condition is simply not as, well, simple as you think with CKD. Deviated septum may lead to sleep apnea, which may lead to diabetes, or any of the other outcomes listed above.

Okay, we’re ready to take a look at the surgery now. I found this at http://deviated-septum.net/deviated-septum-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatment/ via a simple Yahoo search.

“Septoplasty is the surgical treatment which is preferred by doctors worldwide to correct a deviated septum. The surgery is done entirely through the nostrils, thus no external bruising occurs. During the surgery the portion of the septum which are [sic] extremely deviated will be re-adjusted or realigned or removed completely.”

Sometimes people do have a nose job (rhinoplasty) at the same time.  This completely changes the shape of the nose.  But let’s not judge here; maybe the adjustments made to the deviated septum would make the appearance of the finished product unacceptable to the patient.

I wish my daughter and everyone else who needs this procedure well.  She’s got a pretty nose.  I like the idea that she should be able to adequately breathe through it after her surgery… and may be cured of her headaches, sinusitis, nosebleeds, and sleep apnea.SlowItDown business card

News: the Medicare monthly magazine has profiled me for an upcoming issue.  I have no idea when it’ll be out, but I’ll tell you as soon as I know.

I’m wondering why, if my advocacy for Chronic Kidney Disease Awareness is so important that I’m being profiled by newspapers, interviewed on radio shows, and have so many readers for the blog, SlowItDown isn’t getting more calls to bring free ckd education by trained educators into the community.  Suggestions for speeding up SlowItDown (love that juxtaposition), anyone?Book Cover

Thank you all for keeping the book moving out of the stores and into your loved ones’ lives.  After reading about the deviated septum, I donated a copy to the pulmonologist I saw for my own sleep apnea today.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

The Less Than Sexy Sinuses

photoHappy birthday TODAY to my first born, Ms. Nima Beckie, whose name means (in Tibetan)  the sun up in the sky.  You were, and always will be, my miracle. I was never quite sure I would be pregnant and give birth in this life until there was you.  Thank you, my love.QPJ8IQXD2omxIGstmJVegwlJJ4zLcZLsR0skZQQxogg

This weekend was also the celebration of our first month of married life and I spent it in bed, but not the way you might think.  I have a whopping sinus infection: bacterial, non-contagious infection.  First of all, no one (and I mean no one) will believe me that it is non-contagious.

I wasn’t even sure that I believed it, so I researched it – of course. Viral commonly means an airborne virus which doesn’t respond to drugs since it needs a host to live in , and so, is already  inside our cells by the time we become ill. One way we spread this type of infection is by sneezing and coughing in public.

Bacteria, on the other hand, do respond to drugs like the 500 mg. of ciprofloxacin I’m taking twice a day for ten days. (I ran this prescription from my primary care doctor by both the pharmacist and the nephrologist to make certain the drug wouldn’t harm my kidneys… and I trust my primary care doctor!)  Bacteria need no host and are cells in their own right.

Now, can I please leave the house?  Or will you at least visit me?  Actually, once I could crawl out of bed, I found myself busily updating and vetting another book I’m working on with pretty good results.  I also found things in the house I didn’t even know were missing.  Not bad for someone who hates to be down and out for the count. I’m not so good at being a patient.

Sinuses are the area of the body that give Bear and his family trouble, not me or mine.  I like trying new things, but this is not exactly what I had in mind.  The obvious question is, “How did I suddenly develop an infection in this part of the body of all places?”.

According to MedlinePlus at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sinusitis.html,

“Sinusitis can be acute, lasting for less than four weeks, or chronic, lasting much longer. Acute sinusitis often starts as a cold, which then turns into a bacterial infection. Allergies, pollutants, nasal problems and certain diseases can also cause sinusitis.”

Well, I have allergies.  And sinusitis just means an inflammation of the sinuses – which is what an infection is.

But what, if anything, does this have to do with Chronic Kidney Disease?  You’ve got to remember that your immune system is already compromised.  Your kidneys aren’t working at 100% (see your GFR).  Your medications have to be monitored and sometimes modified.  If your body is not releasing the meds at full capacity via the kidneys that aren’t working at full capacity, you may need to take less of them, lower the strength, or lengthen the time between doses.

sinusesBack to the sinuses.  I knew where they were because I could feel them when I first realized I was ill.  I’m still not that quick to realize when I’m ill and was at my primary care doctor’s office for the required annual Medicare Wellness visit (How’s that for irony?) when she quickly changed it to a non-Wellness visit and asked me to schedule another Wellness visit.

The Mayo Clinic has this to say about acute sinusitis:

“Acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis) causes the cavities around your nasal passages (sinuses) to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.

With acute sinusitis, it may be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face may feel swollen, and you may have throbbing facial pain or a headache.”

You can read more at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acute-sinusitis/DS00170.

Before we get any more detailed here, a few reminders (taken from What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease’s Glossary):

Acute  – extremely painful, severe or serious, quick onset, of short duration; the opposite of chronic.

Antibiotic  – medication used to treat infection.

Chronic  –  Long term, the opposite of acute.

Chronic Kidney Disease – damage to the kidneys for more than three months, which cannot be reversed but may be slowed.

GFR – Glomerular filtration rate which determines both the stage of kidney disease and how well the kidneys are functioning.

Medicare – U.S. government health insurance for those over 65, those having certain special needs, or those who have end stage renal disease.

Nephrologist – renal or kidney and hypertension specialist.

Hmmm, I hadn’t realized how often I use technical terms which have become part of my personal vocabulary.  I’ll make a determined effort to be aware of that in the future.

I intend to have the acute kind of sinus infection.  I can’t see making this a lifelong practice, so I’ll try to avoid it.  I’m not quite sure how just yet.  Here are some suggestions I found at: http://www.essortment.com/prevent-sinus-infection-62926.html, which calls itself “your source for knowledge.”  I am not familiar with the site, although I did like that they differentiate between viral and bacterial sinusitis.

“Be sure to blow your nose frequently to prevent a mucous buildup. Apply a warm, but not hot, washcloth or compress to your face for five or ten minutes at a time, perhaps twice a day, to help loosen stuffy passages. Very warm showers or baths likewise can help to release tight muscles and open the sinuses to let them flow. Enjoy hot tea on a regular basis. Filled with flavenoids and antioxidants that can track down and kill bacteria, tea’s steam can open up and loosen your sinus passages to prevent problems from developing.”

sinus infectionThis is the simplest and most direct picture of infected sinuses I could find.  I felt as if I had swollen glands, could barely talk, could not stop blowing my nose, and (the worst part for a CKD patient who avoids NSAIDS) had a headache that stopped me cold.

Not quite half way into the antibiotic regime, I’m ready to go conquer the world again… or at least work on getting CKD information on the reservations, but something tells me to hold off another day or so.  Oh, right, it’s Bear.  He keeps saying it’s a better idea to deal with this now than keep having to deal with it in the future.  I married such a smartie!

Until next week,

Keep living your life.