Tuesday, May 06, 2008
So, despite the fact that I haven't strayed since January, and that I log onto Spark People every day like a good little sparkie, and I track my food religiously, and I love and support the bestest little team In Louisiana, I'M NOT LOSING WEIGHT, DADGUMMIT!! I did dip 1/2 pound a week or so ago, but it's back plus I'm two pounds higher than my tracker weight, and I'M NOT CHANGING IT!!!!! (and, you can't make me)
I know, from information here and my own personal knowledge, that I could probably tweak a couple of things here and there (like exercise which is a four letter word in my house), but I haven't made a consistent effort. I am far more active since my health has improved so much, but apparently.. sniff sniff, that's not enough for MY brand new, I paid too much money for it, digital scale.
There is a still a plus side to it. I'm fitting comfortably into clothing I haven't worn in 2 or 3 years. I have more energy. For years, my favorite thing to do has been to get in the kitchen and create. The foodie side of me has really been challenged by this, and even more intensely since I decreased the protein and sodium in my daily diet. I am having a LOT of fun cooking because I had sorta let myself slide into laziness recipe-wise. Now, I not only have an excuse to search out, create, and consume yummy stuff, I'm challenged by it. I just uploaded a photo of a batch of low sodium, cinnamon raisin bagels that I baked this morning. Only problem is, I have to wait until tomorrow to eat one. :(
Spark People motivates me as well. My primary motivation is the social, "we're all in this together" aspect of it. If I slide, I not only let myself down. I let down the very people I've been encouraging! I want them to succeed. They want me to succeed. Win, win!
My own personal finish line is not yet visible, but because of Spark People, I have faith that it's out there waiting on me to reach it.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
In fairness to those who suffered through some pretty emotionally charged rants/complaints/bitching from me about my health and my frustration with the entire medical/pharmaceutical mega-conglomerate-corporate evil empire... here's some news. I'm much much, much improved and thank you so much for sympathizing. :)
I'm taking less than half the blood pressure medicine I took previously and almost certainly will continue to decrease that amount. My blood pressure is fabulous! I stopped taking a diabetic medication that was bad for my kidney disease, and have adjusted the dosage of two other diabetic prescriptions. My blood sugars have settled into a range that is better than it was before I discontinued that medication, primarily because I have really paid attention to my carbohydrate intake. It remains to be seen what will happen to my cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But, at least I no longer need a wheelchair to shop at Wal-Mart. My muscle fatigue/weakness which had turned me into a semi-invalid is completely gone since I stopped taking the cholesterol medications and the side effects which were causing it. I am vigilant about cholesterol and "bad" fats, so, hopefully I can control that as well. I can take niacin if I'm not successful, but I'll never, ever take a cholesterol or triglyceride lowering prescription drug again... ever!!!
I got better for two .. maybe 3 reasons.
3. Restructured nutrition.
1. I got very, very angry because I felt I had been sucked onto a scattershot, lazy, inattentive medical conveyor belt that is operated and dominated by the corporate greed of pharmaceutical and insurance companies. And, far from being healed or helped, I had been spit out with complications that were entirely avoidable if anyone had paid even the barest attention. Yes, I know I sound like a raving lunatic. So be it. I'm not a newbie to the medical community. I've done my homework. I stand by my statement.
2. Thank all the Gods for the world wide web. Once I got a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease, I launched myself on a self-education regime that bordered on the fanatical. Given my energy level at the time (very close to zero), it definitely was fanaticism (and fear) that kept me going.
3. I was already on a diet. I was already patting myself on the back for counting calories and embarking on an exercise regimen. I had already lost almost 20 pounds since joining Spark People in January, this year. However, the diet for CKD demanded some moderately radical (to me) changes. Now, I don't have end stage renal disease and I'm not on dialysis. The diet requirements for that are even more stringent. But, I did have to limit protein and drastically lower my sodium intake. Both of those restrictions are a little tricky, but I venture to say I probably eat a tastier, higher quality, enjoyable diet on a daily basis than I ever did before I embarked on this journey. Check my food log!
Here's the sermon part. If you have high blood pressure, PLEASE lower your salt intake. I first started taking anti-hypertensives 36 years ago!!!! When this current health problem started, I was on 4 HIGH dosage prescriptions for blood pressure. I had one very serious episode of hypertensive crisis about 4 years ago. I've had renal arteriograms and doppler ultrsounds of my kidneys trying to find the reasons for my sometimes uncontrollable hypertension. What I'm trying to say is, I had SERIOUS hypertension issues!! The one thing I NEVER did, and this is entirely my fault, i.e., not the mega-conglomerate-corporate evil empire, is limit my sodium intake. Because I had to, I have experienced an incredible and completely unexpected benefit. My blood pressure is like.. normal? One of the reasons I had to lower the dosages of my meds is because I was having dizzy spells from low blood pressure. I haven't had a blood pressure above 120/70 in over a month, and usually they're more like 100/60. I think it's possible I don't even need those medications.
I woke up this morning and felt like a 30 year old.. I'm not kidding!! My blood sugar was 88. My blood pressure was 106/56. As I write this, I have 12 home-made, low sodium bagels rising in my kitchen ready to plunk into a water bath, dunked into toasted sesame seeds and then baked into golden, mouth-watering perfection. My herb garden is shaking off morning dew on a sun-dappled deck in my backyard and I'll soon be harvesting basil for lots of pesto recipes this summer. My bum knee is improving; my treadmill is waiting patiently. Thanks to my family, to my bestest Louisiana team, and to Spark People for providing such a terrific atmosphere for all these good things to happen.
Ain't life grand?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
In my last blog entry, I was still in shock from being diagnosed with Stage 3 Kidney Disease. I was also very angry because the lab info that gave me that diagnosis had literally been in my medical files for years. Ok, so I’ve got it and I’m handling it.. But, I hafta say, I’m not getting much help from my healthcare professionals.
I launched myself into a frenzy of fact finding, advice, and diet advice. The diet for kidney disease is difficult and bewildering. Many of the “healthy” food we take for granted like whole grains, low fat milk, even potatoes, beans and tomatoes are a problem. Again, I’m handling it, and actually enjoying figuring out satisfying meals that meet the requirements.
At first, my most discouraging problem was fatigue. It had become noticeable a few months ago, which is why I found Spark People and started changing the way I live. I lost weight. I exercised until I injured myself. But, everyday, my fatigue worsened to the point of exhaustion with minor tasks. My “bottom” was the day at Wal-Mart when I realized I could not…. walk..one…step…further. I asked for a “scooter”. None were available. I left, that is.. I very very slowly hobbled to my car, totally exhausted.
In my web searching, I learned that anemia often accompanies kidney disease. That must be it! I’m anemic! Makes sense, even though it’s kinda scary. The anemia, like kidney disease, can progress and without intervention.. Well you have to have red blood cells, yanno? I called the pod people at the medical center and asked about getting lab work to confirm my suspicion and should I take iron? We’ll get right back to you on that! They did. “When you come back (in 3 months) we’ve ordered some blood work. In the meantime, we recommend you take multivitamins”. Cue one p***ed off southern belle!!! In order to get my way, I presented myself to the ER. I described my symptoms of steadily increasing muscle weakness, loss of stamina, extreme fatigue and the complete change in my daily life. They ordered blood work and a urine specimen. The nurse practitioner, a very sympathetic woman, looked at the results, summoned me back to the exam room with these words, “I have found your problem”. Weeeeeeeeeeeee. :) but scared, too.
“You have a bladder infection”. Ta da! Was she serious???? Unfortunately, she was.
I was not anemic, far from it. Everything else was pretty much the way it was the last time I had lab work, and they had even included thyroid function tests which were completely normal. I drove home feeling EXACTLY like a person on Mystery Diagnosis.
I pondered over the next hour or so. I am an RN in case you didn’t know that, so I took my new information and started crawling all over the web. Not anemic? Then, what could cause this… crippling weakness?? Well, for one thing, neuromuscular diseases. ALS, Guillian Barre syndrome, MS and lotsa other unpleasant acronyms for progressive, crippling nerve-muscle diseases. Ruled out MS pretty quickly as it is a disease primarily of young adults. Guillian Barre progresses in a very singular fashion, not like my symptoms. ALS (also known as Lou Gherig’s disease) symptoms were a bit more troubling, so I looked at it a lot. Eventually, I clicked on a link that took me to a page about the adverse side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs, commonly called statins. There are pages of “testimony” and hundreds of people complaining about their muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of stamina and muscle pain (which I also had, but it seemed less important..somehow). There are at least a dozen people who claim that they or their loved ones contracted ALS (a VERY rare disease) from taking statins. On the medical sites, one of the warnings for statins is to report muscle weakness, etc etc to your physician immediately. I had.
I decided to check out ALL of my medications. I was taking metformin, which is a diabetes drug that is contraindicated (DON’T GIVE IT) for people with kidney disease. I was taking TRICOR (to reduce lipid levels) which has the exact same warnings as statins. But worse, you’re not supposed to take them together! The FDA has warned physicians to not prescribe these two medicines together because each can make the other’s side effects worse AND cause kidney failure!!!
I have taken my last doses of lovastatin and Tricor. I’ll take my chances with cholesterol; at least I’ll be able to walk, hopefully. Many of those patient reports said that symptoms did not completely disappear after they discontinued the drugs. I literally threw my metformin bottle across the room (hey, the cats liked it).
One of the most positive health responses I have had since changing my nutrition is that my blood pressure readings have dropped like a stone! I believe I am one of those people who is ultra-sensitive to salt. I’m currently taking four meds for blood pressure. I’m weaning myself off of one of them (the beta-blocker) for lots of reasons. So far, my blood pressure has continued to be like a 12 year old.
I’m sure you’re sick of reading this, if you even got this far.. Lol! But, if nothing else, thanks to SP for providing me with a place to rant and terrific tools to keep me healthier.. In many ways!
Go look up your prescription side effects, folks!
(Hint: Don't expect your MD to do it for you)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I got a shock at my Doctor's office on Tuesday. Out of the blue, I'm told I have Stage 3, Moderate Kidney FAILURE! I'm sorry, but failure to me does not equal = moderate anything! I'm also informed that this is not a new condition; it's been going on for a looooooooooooong time! Huh? I drove home bewildered and stunned. I know a little bit about renal failure because I'm a retired RN. What I remember isn't pleasant, but to be fair, treatments and prognoses have improved.
Once I got to my computer and started googling, I found out something so mind boggling and infuriating, I simply have to share it with you, so maybe you can PREVENT the same outcome.
The test which appeared (for the first time) on my lab work was called GFR. GFR=glomerular filtration rate. My GFR, at 46, is what puts me in the moderate failure group. Here's the thing. The GFR is not a separate blood test. It is an equation taken from very boring, readily available information:
1. Your age
2. Your gender
3. Your race
4. Your creatinine ( a test that is done every single time your doctor orders routine blood work, literally! ALSO, mine is now and always has been "within normal limits". )
Once you plug in those 4 factors, your GFR pops up. You can do it yourself on any one of multiple websites... which is why I am so angry. I'm diabetic. I'm hypertensive. I have high cholesterol. I take medications for all 3 and I get lab work done.. frequently! Why why why why why why didn't my GFR get done 2 years ago.. or 4.. or 7??? Why didn't I know when I had MILD kidney failure? I certainly would have made some changes then!
Here is a link to one of the many websites which will calculate your GFR for you. Call your doctor. Find out what your latest creatinine level is! And then, find out what your GFR is.
My life COMPLETELY changed on Tuesday. I am grateful that I can take steps now and, hopefully, prevent further kidney damage. I would be far, far more grateful if I had been given the chance to start before it got this far.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
As everyone in my family and my long-suffering Louisiana team knows, I sustained an injury using my treadmill. I got a bit over-enthusiastic with it and increased the incline beyond my hamstrings ability to put up with it. So, for a whole WEEK.. or more, I elevated my leg, used a heating pad, wrapped it with an ace bandage, tried not to bear weight on it, and took anti-inflammatory meds faithfully. So, it got better. So much better, I stopped all the treatment. This morning as I strode briskly through grocery store aisles feeling pretty smug at how fit and limber I am compared to all the other old people in the store, it came back. And, it hurts, dammit!!!! I make teasing comments all the time about how old I am, but the truth is, I don't really believe it. I'm sure I bring it up, so that the person who's listening is forced to say.. "Ohhhh, pish.. you're not *that* old!" My right leg begs to differ, thank you. Anyway, I'm laid up again, grouchy and prepped to again clog up my broadband with useless forum posts and blogging, and harassing my children AND grandchildren on their facebook and myspace pages and entering online sweepstakes, and watching pirated movies, and downloading pirated music, and searching for tasty low fat recipes, and.....growling.
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