‘Twas The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Christmas Tree’Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house…. The night before the night before Christmas?  Where did the time go? Hmmmm, there are no children here to constantly remind us Christmas is coming.  We rarely watch television (although we often watch movies), so we didn’t see the ads that could have reminded us.  Oh, I did know it was coming… just not so quickly.

And that’s often the case when we deal with a chronic illness.  We know that doctor’s appointment is coming up and we’re eager to see the results of our blood tests.  After all, we’ve worked so hard on diet, exercise, sleep, and lack of stress (that’s funny: stressing for lack of stress).  We just didn’t know it was coming so quickly. Did we have enough time to lower our blood pressure?  Was it enough time to lose some weight?  Did we monitor our eating enough in this amount of time that our cholesterol numbers are down?  Time, time, time.  It all comes down to time.

I have a modest proposal (apologies there, Mr. Swift).  What if we ignore time and just always – okay, almost always – watch the diet, exercise, sleep enough, and avoid stress.  Oh right, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing: lifestyle changes.NAFLD

According to an article published in the European Journal of Social Psychology way back in September of 2009, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. The article was written by Phillippa Lally and her colleagues from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre based at UCL Epidemiology and Public Health, and was based on their research.  You can find more at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401

Since it’s habits that form your life style, I had trouble accepting that number so I kept researching.  Ugh, I kept coming up with the same number although one analysis of this same article did mention that it can take as few as 18 or as many as 254 days to form a habit depending upon the individual.  I’ll take the 18 days option, please.

All right, let’s try something else.  How about getting enough sleep.  How much sleep is enough sleep anyway?  According to Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler on the Mayo Clinic site (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487), seven to eight hours is what an adult needs, but then he lists mitigating circumstances under which you might need more:

  • Pregnancy.      Changes in a woman’s body during early pregnancy can increase the need for      sleep.
  • Aging.      Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. As you      get older, however, your sleeping patterns might change. Older adults tend      to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans than do younger adults.      This might create a need for spending more time in bed to get enough      sleep, or a tendency toward daytime napping.
  • Previous      sleep deprivation. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you      need increases.
  • Sleep      quality. If your sleep is frequently interrupted or cut short, you’re      not getting quality sleep. The quality of your sleep is just as important      as the quantity.

Victorian clockThose first two weeks after Bear’s surgery when I was his caretaker, I rarely enjoyed more than two hours of sleep at a time and there seemed to be no difference between day and night.  I’m not saying this would be true for everyone, but we paid for it dearly.  I ended up in the emergency room needing a breathing treatment to relieve the bronchial symptoms that were making it so difficult to breathe and I just may have brought home a virus for Bear who soon started running a high fever. We were both run down from lack of sleep.  Of course, Bear was already in recuperative mode, but we proved to me how very important sleep is.

When I was first diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease almost six years ago, the value of exercise was brought home again and again by my nephrologist.  Until I researched for What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, I wasn’t clear about why this was important.  This is what I discovered:

I knew exercise was important to control my weight.  It would also improve my blood pressure and lower my cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The greater your triglycerides, the greater the risk of increasing your creatinine.  There were other benefits, too, although you didn’t have to have CKD to enjoy them: better sleep, and improved muscle function and strength. But, as with everything else you do that might impinge upon your health, check with your doctor before you start exercising.

I researched, researched and researched again.  Each explanation of what exercise does for the body was more complicated than the last one I read.  Keeping it simple, basically, there’s a compound released by voluntary muscle contraction.  It tells the body to repair itself and grow stronger. The idea is to start exercising slowly and then intensity your activity.exercising silhouette

Okay, so we know during that 66 days to form a habit, seven to eight hours a night of sleep is one of the habits we should be forming and half an hour of exercise daily is another.  Might as well throw in following the renal diet and avoiding stress as two other habits to get into.  However, considering how long this blog is already, those are topics for another blog.  Who knows?  Maybe even next week’s blog.

KindleAmazon is offering the book in many different countries as well as ours.  It’s also offering the Kindle MatchBook in each of these countries.  Remember?  That’s the program that allows you to buy the digital edition at a 70% discount if you’ve EVER bought a print copy of the book from them.  Why mention it yet again?  It just occurred to me that you can gift the newly diagnosed, their friends and/or family in many different countries! And for those who asked, yes, the book is available on B&N.com, but their digital reader is The Nook, not the Kindle, so there’s no MatchBook discount program on this site.

May you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa if those are the holidays you celebrate.  Oh my!  Just one more 2013 blog. I think I’ll go back to the earliest ones from this year to see how varied they are.  I’ll bet there’s more than one about the health benefits of coffee.Book signing

By the way, there has been some controversy about the authorship of the poem from which I played upon for the title of this blog, but I’m more than willing to accept Clement Moore as the author of “ ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

Until next year,

Keep living your life!

Let’s Sleep On It

I have been remiss. Thank you to Rick from RDM Concrete (602.695.1789) for laying the concrete under flooring for the library – and come to think of it –  the pad underneath the spa we moved here from Bear’s house.  AND, tada, to Tom and Mark from Tomark Contracting LLC (623.258.5800) for the library, including the handmade window seat.  I am so lucky to keep running into superior people who have delightful personalities and do excellent work. This includes house painter Felix W. Dukepoo and his crew (623.806.5266).

You simply have to give credit where credit is due.  You see you start, the next  person follows your lead, someone else follows their example  and so on and so forth until everyone in the whole world knows (s)he is appreciated.

Of course you’re wondering what this has to do with chronic kidney disease.  I mean I would be by now. Here’s the tie-in: I’ve been reading quite a bit about the importance of sleep with Chronic Kidney Disease. In addition, one of the first things my nephrologist mentioned – after hearing my schedule – when he discussed lifestyle changes was the importance of a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night.

If I’m crowded (you should have seen the hallways, the living room and the family room overflowing not only with books, but book cases.), worried that the 115 degree heat here is making my house paint chalk (which allows more heat in than normal) or wistfully thinking about the screened in porch I was no longer comfortable using (due to heat? CKD? Age?), I am not going to get a good night’s sleep. By the way, that porch is now the library.

These articles will make clear just how important that is. Keep in mind that you are already at higher risk for having a stroke simply because you have CKD.  Add diabetes and/or hypertension and that risk is heightened.

Lack of sleep increases stroke risk

By Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY [yesterday]

The 30% of working adults who routinely sleep less than six hours a night are four times more likely to suffer a stroke, says a new study.

The findings are the first to link insufficient sleep to stroke; they’re also the first to apply even to adults who keep off extra pounds and have no other risk factors for stroke, says Megan Ruiter, lead author of the report. It will be presented Monday at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston.

“People know how important diet and exercise are in preventing strokes,” says Ruiter, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. “The public is less aware of the impact of insufficient amounts of sleep. Sleep is important — the body is stressed when it doesn’t get the right amount.”

Strokes occur when blood to the brain is restricted or cut off.  Stroke is still the fourth-leading cause of death in the USA. Smoking, being overweight and inactivity are key risk factors.

Notice chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  You can read the entire article at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-06-11/sleep-stroke-risk/55506530/1?csp=34news&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+UsatodaycomHealth-TopStories+(News+-+Health+-+Top+Stories)

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine seems to agree as noted in EurekAlert today:

Top risk of stroke for normal-weight adults: Getting under 6 hours of sleep

DARIEN, IL – Habitually sleeping less than six hours a night significantly increases the risk of stroke symptoms among middle-age to older adults who are of normal weight and at low risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study of 5,666 people followed for up to three years.

After adjusting for body-mass index (BMI), they found a strong association with daily sleep periods of less than six hours and a greater incidence of stroke symptoms for middle-age to older adults, even beyond other risk factors. The study found no association between short sleep periods and stroke symptoms among overweight and obese participants.

“In employed middle-aged to older adults, relatively free of major risk factors for stroke such as obesity and sleep-disordered breathing, short sleep duration may exact its own negative influence on stroke development,” said lead author Megan Ruiter, PhD. “We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone.”

The entire article can be found at:  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/aaos-tro053112.php.

Arizona Kidney Disease and Hypertension Centers is where I see my nephrologist.  Thanks is due to another  of their nephrologists for his continual outpouring of ideas for me.  That’s you, Dr. Jamal Atala. One of his ideas brought me back to Tamara Jensen at their main office in Phoenix.  Tamara is the person responsible for placing What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease at the very top of their patient resource list.  She is also the one responsible for implementing Dr. Atala’s suggestion of fliers in each of their 19 centers.  Thank you both! This is the flier:

What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease provides basic information for those diagnosed with kidney disease and their loved ones, covering everything from a glossary of medical terms to what to expect at a doctor’s visit, what tests look for, the need for exercise and renal nutrition. An overview of publications offers resources for further reading. In keeping with the spirit of letting newly diagnosed patients know they are not alone, the book describes other patients’ initial reactions to their diagnosis as well as the author’s own experiences.

Chronic Kidney Disease is not a disease that can be cured at this time. The idea is for the patient to retard the progression of the disease as much as possible. Hence, the renal diet, the need for exercise and all those oh-so-necessary blood and urine tests. Somehow, magically, when you understand something, it doesn’t seem as frightening. Helping you understand your diagnosis or that of a friend, family member or loved one and how the disease is treated is precisely what this book does. Knowing you’re not alone in trying to figure this all out can make it easier for you to understand what is happening to you and – possibly – why.


        Available in both print and digital at

    Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com


      contact Gail for an autographed copy



Phone: (623) 266-2609
Twitter: WhatHowEarlyCKD
Blog: https://gailraegarwood.wordpress.com
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Until next week,

Keep living your life!