Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

2 down, 1 to go

So Christmas is a pleasant memory and my birthday (Dec. 29), too. Just one more big night left and boy do I NOT have big plans for tonight.

This week will be atypical, too, because of Thursday night’s caucuses. When I asked for early dialysis so I could work Thursday night, boy did I get it.  I’m to be at the dialysis unit at 6 a.m. for a 6:20 connect. And here I thought working a night shift would give me the opportunity to sleep past 5 a.m. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

I stopped by Michael’s after work yesterday and took advantage of their 30 percent off sale on yarn. I got a number of skeins for community knitting. When I knit for the KCRG-TV9 Coats for Kids project, I like to make sure I use durable and machine washable and dryer friendly yarns. Michael’s or Hobby Lobby are both good sources of inexpensive yarns to use to that project.

I started one scarf last night and got about 15 inches done.  I’m going to set my goal at one scarf and hat set each month for Coats for Kids and 2 stocking caps for the Ships Project. That’s certainly doable.

Mom gave me a little gentle flak when I told her I’d gotten more yarn. I mean, just because I have a closet packed full doesn’t mean I don’t need more colors, does it?

So, now we know my sanity is safe for a few months at least.  When tomorrow turns, it means back into the strict meal plans, too.  I don’t think I’ve gained much real weight back over the past week, but I do know my fluid intake has been over the top. It’ll take some time to get that drained off, too.

It’s not a New Year’s Resolution. I don’t do those. I mean, how better to set yourself up for failure than to promise to do something for an entire year? I do believe in the one day at a time approach and I’m not going to whip myself unmercifully for a relaxed week. Just can’t let them happen very often.

I feel very mellow about this holiday season because we managed to have a good one without stressing out extraordinarily. And I know that the close brush with death made me appreciate the quiet celebration with family and friends. I’m going to carry that thought into the New Year: Take it one day at a time, appreciate what you have and realize the miracles in life sometimes come in small packages.



December 31, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss | 2 Comments

A merry little Christmas

It was, indeed, a merry little Christmas for us.

I picked Aaron up about 6 p.m. but by that time, needed to get something to eat and right away.  I hadn’t eaten since about 9 a.m. and dialysis always makes me hungry, too.

I intended to stop at Wendy’s on the way to Iowa City, but wonder of wonders, they were already closed. We went to The Mill mainly because I had seen it was open as I passed.

Of course, being Christmas Eve, there wasn’t a throng of customers there but enough to keep the sole waiter busy, though he wasn’t letting the people there kick him into high gear. Pub grub again, but very good pub grub. They served me a really good tenderloin and a small batch of French Fried onion rings. Both were above norm for pub grub.

Aaron wanted to stop by a Christmas Eve open house some friends were having, so we did that and ended up watching “A Christmas Story,” my favorite Christmas movie. It was interesting to see – in ages ranging from early 30s to 60s – how much everyone loved the movie and could repeat favorite lines at will.  It’s kinda like the gentle, warm version of “Rocky Horror Show” without getting toasted.

And, yes, I did have a teensy bit of Holiday cheer – a mudslide or two — that was delicious.

We got back to the house a little after midnight.  Mom was still up and between the two of us we managed to coerce Aaron into opening his gifts. It really wasn’t very difficult. 🙂

He had lots to open and seemed quite pleased with all he received.  There were more “sweet” s than not coming from his mouth after he opened a gift.

We finally got to bed around 3 a.m. I got up about 8 and came to the office where I worked until 1 p.m. Got home in time to help with the final touches for dinner and to make the gravy. It was all “good stuff,  Maynard.”

The food was eaten and things cleared about 3:30 and after a little checking on the internet to return 3 pairs of sailor dungarees that were too small for Aaron, he and I headed to Iowa City where we stopped at the Christmas night open house some other mutual friends were staging. 

It was great, including the apricot brandy soaked homemade dark fruitcake, oh yeah! We caught up a bit with what’s been happening with Jeff and Paul and got some special attention from their Newfie, Duncan, who’s now a dignified adult, and Rosie, another Newfie who’s still in puppydom though she’s probably near 100 pounds. The two of them had a visiting canine friend, Fred, who broke all the stereotypes for Pitt Bulls and was a real, real love.

Everybody took the “be of good cheer” directive to heart.  How divine.

December 26, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, weight loss | Leave a comment

Happy Holidays

It dates me, I know, but when I think of Christmas, music pops into my head and it’s usually Bing Crosby singing it.

We had quite a storm over the weekend. It dumped 8.5 inches on top of the icy remains of freezing rain, snow, freezing mist again, then the big dump.

It all piled on by noon Sunday but my walks weren’t passable until about 2:30. Lucky for me, my supervisor at work called Saturday and told me he was going to be in Sunday and if it snowed beyond my capabilities to cope, I could stay home. So I did.

I also dialyzed early, early, early Saturday morning (I was hooked up by 5:58 a.m.) in order to avoid the snow that came in just about as predicted at 4 p.m. The first flakes were more like clots of snow than snowflakes and they were preceded by rain. Guess I shouldn’t grouse, though, because the rain probably kept the total snow from passing 10 inches.

Though my stress tests came out better than expected at Mayo, I’m not about to try shoveling 8.5 inches of snow off our walks and porches. Besides, when we moved in April/May one of the things I asked be included in the lease is that we would not be responsible for lawn care or sidewalk maintenance in the winter. I’m glad I did since the house has changed hands and we have a new landlord.

When I asked for the inclusion in the lease, the soon-to-be landlady said, “well, of course, we take care of all that. Why would you want it in the lease?” Because, I answered, it will give me peace of mind to know I don’t have to worry about those things. I’m glad I made the request.

It’s a busy day today, Christmas Eve. I’m doing work until noon, dialysis from about 12:30 to 5:30, driving to Iowa City to pick up my son, wrapping a few late-arriving presents when we finally get home.

Tomorrow is work until 1 p.m., Christmas dinner with Mom and Aaron, relaxing, I hope, or driving Aaron back to Iowa City.  I did finish a handknit, extra long in leg and foot, hiking sock for him. I think I’ve mentioned before that he is an amputee so one sock makes a pair. It’s a sickish little joke with my knitting buddies and me that they envy me because I can get by with knitting only one sock for him.

Otherwise, at his request, he’s getting lots of warm clothes. Gone are the days where he tosses socks and clothes aside in search of the “good stuff.”

I don’t want to sound maudlin, but this holiday season has been especially sweet for me. I find myself thinking often that it’s a miracle that I’m here to see it so I want to enjoy it.  I even watched a Christmas concert on IPTV yesterday afternoon and sang all the Christmas songs with the choir.

Even though it’s been difficult to get around, the beautiful ice storm and now the thick, fluffed snow has been inspiring to see.  I’m not sure how soon the awe at mother nature will turn into grumbling, but for right now, I’ll just enjoy the incredible beauty it’s providing.

I’m relaxing the calorie restrictions for the next couple of days, but I don’t intend to blow it big time.  I’ve had one each of four of the five varieties of homemade Christmas cookies at the coffee pot here at work. OK, confession time: I actually had 2 or 2 or them because they were soooo good. Das ist allus, though those goody two are beckoning me to come have more.

We’ve got a good, but not outrageous menu planned for tomorrow: Vertically roasted capon; bread dressing; low cal cranberry sauce; gravy; scalloped corn; renal-friendly cherry bread pudding.

That’s about it from here today.

May you and your’s have a most wonderful Christmas filled with music – whether or not it’s Bing singing it – love, laughter and most of all, hope.

December 24, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss | Leave a comment

And the winner is …

Jenna Smith!

Jenna won the Kidney Idol contest.  She’s from Iowa City and does dialysis 6 times a week. Wow! Thanks for your votes for her. I’m sure they gave her a boost in the contest.

Read her nomination here

December 20, 2007 Posted by | kidney | Leave a comment

Fistulogram, take 1

St. FicareThe fistulogram was far less harrowing then it could have been and the ristrictions post testing far less restrictive than I’d read about. Sometimes the Internet can give you too much information, I guess.

Of course, had my test revealed any problems, it may have changed thing drastically.

The test was performed in the radiology department and involved injecting contrast dye into the site of the fistula. The injection has left the site a bit bruised and puffy, but it’s still pumping like a trooper and the thrill is still definitely there.

I have dialysis this afternoon/evening. I’m not sure if that means it will be the first attempt to begin using the fistula or not.

Here’s an interesting side note, or at least I was fascinated to find the strange connection to my dialysis experiences in particular:

St. Ficare (or sometimes Ficara) is the Patron Saint of sock knitters AND fistulas. Who’d a thunk it? And, for that matter, who’d be weird enough to look it up? Uh, that’d be me…

One day it struck my fancy to Google “patron saint of knitters” and up came St. Ficare among a couple others. He’s also the patron saint of “barrenness; box makers; cab drivers; fistula; florists; gardeners; haemorrhoids; hosiers; pewterers; piles; taxi drivers; sterility; syphilis; tile makers; venereal disease.” (Source:

Certainly a diverse and eclectic list of saintly areas, some of them less desirable than others. 🙂 If I could find a medal, I’d buy it, but no such luck.  All I can find is garden statues. Go figure.

I hope his faithful don’t mind my adopting him as my patron saint, although he does appear to be a terrible chauvinist. The fistula and knitting connections kinda outweigh my aversion to chauvinists, though. So, until I learn otherwise about the other knitting saints, I’ll be doing a request to St. Ficare to help make the placement of my fistula access in a spot that will let me continue knitting while I’m on dialysis.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Yesterday’s stats:

Blood sugar: 88

Caloric intake: 1112

Additional activity: None

I was a little short on calories since I needed to withhold breakfast and ate a late lunch because of the fistulogram.

“But wait, there’s more!”

I always love to hear and laugh at that phrase on the infomercials on TV, so here’s my today’s BWTM:

Another great piece on the moral dilemma of selling kidneys from The Wall Street Journal

December 20, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss | 1 Comment

Down another pound+

Weigh out was gratifying last night since I was a half kilo lower than when I left dialysis Saturday. Total loss: 2.4 kilos (5.25 pounds). Can you see me doing my little happy dance?

I’m scheduled for a fistulogram at 1 p.m. today. It’s an X-ray procedure that will help determine where the access will be placed on my arm. It’s a more involved procedure than I’d thought, after reading the Ohio State University information linked to above.

Everything sounds good on the fistula at the moment, the thrill is definitely there and Sue’s eyes light up whenever she checks it. The fistulogram will just clarify things, so to speak. It’s 9 a.m. and I’m pretty hungry.  I’m supposed to eat nothing this morning so I’m trying to distract myself.  It’s working pretty well so far.

December 19, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weightloss | Leave a comment

A pound of flesh?

Poll: Should the sale of kidneys be legal in the U.S.?

I’ve been doing some reading about vending kidneys for transplantation, one of the more thorny ethical issues facing kidney transplant patients and their medical teams.

I’ve been pricked by those thorns and I’m not sure where I stand on the issue.  Now that I’m an ESRD patient, things have gotten much grayer.

Does a person own her own body? Yes. I have to answer that since I believe in the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Would vending kidneys exploit the poor? Undoubtedly. Who would sell an organ if they didn’t have to?

Would vending make more kidneys available for transplantation? I’m not so sure, after reading several articles on the situation. On surface, it would seem it would, but how would it affect the number of live donors? Would they be less willing to donate if they knew kidneys were available for purchase? And would it affect a family’s decision on cadaver donation? Again, they might be less willing to agree to organ donation if they knew kidneys were available to purchase.

Would vending kidneys make them more universally available to needy patients? Somehow I doubt it, especially if there was no coverage from insurance or government programs (Medicare). It would certainly be difficult for me to amass $90,000 (the current estimates of how much a kidney might cost) even if my insurance would pay for the surgery and aftercare.

Who would determine if the vendor is healthy enough to sell a kidney? I assume there would be rigorous pre-testing, I know I would insist on that if I were going to buy an organ.

Even with pre-testing, there’s always the chance of hidden problems being exposed during surgery, would the buyer have to assume that risk and pay even if the kidney proved unusable? 

Are there increased health risks to the vendor post-removal? Studies done in India and China would indicate so, according to the articles I’ve read.

If problems did occur for the vendor post-surgery, would the buyer have any obligation to help with medical expenses?  This is a question I think would be true in live donation of any kind.

Those are just a few of the questions.

In conclusion, I have no conclusion of my own.  Work needs to be done to provide more live donors for kidney transplantation: A waiting list of 74,000 is pretty discouraging for someone awaiting transplantation, but miracles happen every day.

I think, at the moment having only just begun the transplant journey, I agree with the conclusion of this article that appeared in 2006 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

” Kidney vending might seem like a tempting solution to the organ shortage, but like the Trojan horse of old, once we permit it within our gates, we may find that it brings destruction and not relief. We believe strongly that a bright future for organ transplantation requires that we foster altruism and not stifle it.”

— Gabriel M. Danovitch, and Alan B. Leichtman

Update: I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to add a poll to this post. Maybe you’d be so kind as to add a comment to answer the question: Should the sale of kidneys be legal in the U.S.?
Meanwhile, I’ll try to figure out how to add a poll to the blog when and if I want to.

The best I could do was a link to the polling site. 😦

Poll: Should the sale of kidneys be legal in the U.S.?

Sunday stats

Caloric intake: 1452

Additional activity: 577

Blood Sugar: 97

December 17, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weightloss | 4 Comments

Back on the horse

I dusted my bum off, climbed back into the weight loss saddle and applied the brakes on the slippery slope.  Back at it full throttle Saturday.

Caloric intake: 1398

Additional activity: 275

Blood sugar: 97

Liquid intake: 16 oz. before dialysis and 12 oz. after

Total target: 6 kilos (actual amount taken off: 5.8 kilos)

Six kilos is a high target and undoubtedly totally my fault since my mini-bender-binge on Friday. I’m hoping my total target Tuesday will be less than 6 kilos even though there’ll be an extra day in there.

I will be working on a meal plan and will share it with you, but last week was a bit squirrely with no stove on Tuesday and my Friday blowout so there are recipes from last week that still need making.

I did some actual Christmas shopping Saturday, the only in-store shopping I’ve done this season.  I have, however, spent a lot of hours at the computer ordering gifts in for me and for Mom. It’s not as much fun as shopping in the stores, but it’s a heck of a lot easier on the body and my left knee has been giving me some arthritis fits for the last couple of weeks.

I think I’m done now, except for the wrapping.

Not much else going on today, so I think I’ll say adieu.

December 16, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss | Leave a comment

Sufferin’ succotash

Written very late Friday, early Saturday Dec. 14-15 

Yes, that’s Sylvester Jr. again. He may not look it since he’s sans paper bag, but he “so ashamed” once again.Sylvester Jr

I ate like there was no tomorrow today. Damn. And I’ve promised myself

I will be accountable to you. I hate when this happens.

Caloric Intake: 3671

Yeah, that’s right.  Over 21/2 days worth of my calorie allotment.

Why? Oh, I don’t know. I could blame it on eating out twice. I could blame it on feeling kinda sassy and wanting to celebrate that I was alive and feeling pretty dang good. But I guess I truly have to blame it on wanting to and instant gratification.

I could say “never again,” but that’s probably not true.

What I can say is I’m going to try very hard not to let this be the first slip on a slippery slope.

We had a business lunch at work today and the place only really had pub grub so I decided if I was going to have to break the bank, I’d do it with something I’ve been jonesing for for longer than this food strategy change (note how I did not use the D word). I had a tenderloin with a side of fries and onion rings (about 5).

Of course I had to have a diet Coke with it, but I should have told the waitress no when she brought the refill. I didn’t and I drank it. Just like a normal person, which we all know I’m not.

Then I took some papers and meds down to Aaron (my son) in Iowa City thinking he probably would just leave his tattoo station for a few minutes to come pick up the things he needed. When I called to tell him I was at our meeting place, he said “Mom, how about you come back in an hour and we have dinner.”

Think I’m going to turn that down? No way, AJ.

So I went to the knit shop and wiled away an hour.

When I picked him up, he said he was hungry for steak which means a trip to Lone Star Steakhouse for us.

Now, I could have had the Chicken Ceasar Salad.  I could have. But I didn’t. I could have had just a plain salad. I could have. But I didn’t. I could have ordered just oil and vinegar dressing. I could have. But I didn’t.

And the Con Queso Dip with tortilla chips just sounded too cheesalicious to pass up and I was feeling good and I was having supper with my son and … well, you get the picture. So it was Con Queso (160 calories), tortialla chips (not sure), a New York Strip Steak (888 calories) with Steamed Vegetables (71 calories),  a dinner salad with 2 dressings (200 calories) and what’s about equivalent of a piece of rye bread (100).

And two full glasses of, you guessed it, diet Coke.

I mean, if you’re way over the top on calories you might as well totally blow the fluid intake, right?  And while you’re at it, make it soda filled with evil phosphorus … and, oh, yeah… don’t take you’re phosphorus binder. It won’t kill ya, will it?  It sure will if you do it every day and once a week isn’t an option either.

I think I must have been in vacation mode or just call me Cleopatra Queen of Denial.

I have to learn to cope when these moods strike. I have to find something that seems as much of a reward or treat or makes me feel half normal or something.  It makes me feel so defeatist and disappointed in myself.

Any ideas???????????

I hope I can report to you tomorrow that I stepped right back onto the right path, my steps sure and steady. I have every intention of doing that. Send good thoughts, please.

December 15, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss | Leave a comment

Such incredible beauty

ice on pole

The above photo is by Gazette photographer Jim Slosiarek

Ice enrobed tree

This photo was taken in Iowa City Wednesday by Gazette photographer Brian Ray.

Like most things in life, there’s good and bad to this ice storm. I talked earlier about our little brush with some of the bad but wanted to show you some of the good, too.

Since I drove home yesterday, I’ve wished I felt more sure on my feet and was about 20 years younger so I could go out with camera in hand and capture some of the incredible beauty around town.  It’s breathtaking.

But I opted for safety.

Since I’m here, here are the totals for today:

Blood Sugar: 160 – not sure why it was that high this morning unless it relates to the “extra” calories ingested. It will be interesting to see how it is tomorrow.

Caloric intake: 1240

Additional Activity: 666 – eeewwwww, what a devilish day

Here’s a recipe I just put together tonight based on a Jello/Cottage Cheese Salad from

Dreamsickle Cottage Cheese Salad

1 24 oz. jar Del Monte Select Orchard Spiced Sliced Peaches in light syrup (400)

1 15 oz. can Mandarin Oranges in light syrup (300)

1 6 0z. package Sugar Free Orange Jello  (80)

1 c.  Low Fat Liquid Non-Dairy Creamer  (160)

2 c. 1% Small Curd Cottage Cheese (320)

1 Packet Crystal Light On-The-Go Lemonade (10)

Drain peaches and mandarin oranges, reserving juices.  Put juices in saucepan and bring to a boil.  Dissolve Jello in boiling liquid (Use a whisk, if gelatin wants to reamin lumpy).

Pour drained fruit into a 9X13 dish and distribute evenly.

Pour Jello over fruit.

Mix cottage cheese, creamer and lemonade together until lemonade crystals are dissolved. Pour mixture into Jello and fruit and gentle blend until the color looks like an orange dreamsickle.

Chill in refrigerator until firm. Cut into 10 equal servings of 127 calories each.

December 12, 2007 Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss | Leave a comment