Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

Wow and whoa

My phosphorus is high and that’s not a good thing. My level is about twice normal at this time. Functioning kidneys play a most important role in eliminating excess phosphorus. Non-functioning kidneys — mine — play no role. You can read some of the particulars here on the National Kidney Foundation site.

There are medications called binders that help in the elimination of excess phosphorus by binding in the colon, but because they are available doesn’t always mean they are practical for the average patient. I just got a call from my pharmacy saying the latest drug prescribed for me, Fosrenol, is not in the formulary for my drug plan and is not covered by preauthorization. It’s cost: $600. “Is that for 90 days,” I asked. “No, that’s for a 30 day supply,” she answered.

Back to the drawing board … or should I say prescription pad.

And back to revising the diet. Got to cut out more cheese, dairy products, nuts, whole grains, chocolate, dark colas … and the list goes on. Believe me, I already cut back on many of those things when I learned I had kidney failure.

Kidney disease sucks. A big one


April 28, 2009 Posted by | kidney | 5 Comments

A leg to stand on

I’m back in the prosthetic but watching the skin situation very closely.  The prosthetist brought the silver socks and did some retrofitting to the interior of the leg. It seems there are dual or even triple problems: 1) diabetes has stressed my skin; 2) in the place the blisters form, there are adhesions to the bone; 3) we’ve had problems establishing the contact necessary to combat blistering.

I’ve got to start making myself wear the prosthetic daily — starting with short periods — and need to work not only on exercises to strengthen the leg muscles but on loosening my hamstrings. Nothing like sitting at a desk for hours on end to tighten hamstrings.

Adieu to a friend

Minnie passed away last week. Another dialysis comrade I hate to say goodbye to. I learned a tremendous amount about her from her obituary. She was a strong woman who was instrumental in many community projects.  We’ll miss her around the waiting room table.

Mary Ann is back

Mary Ann is back at dialysis but not to her apartment. It appears this last illness may necessitate her moving into an assisted living center. She looks much improved and says a visit from Hershey, the cat she loves as much as chocolate, helped speed her recovery. It’s great to see her smile and bright blue eyes again.

Book research

The family and Civil War research is keeping me busy and at the computer for long hours at a time. The prosthetist tells me I need to start wearing my leg and elevating it at least slightly while I’m working. I think I’m going to have to get a small desk to accomplish that. Right now, the laptop sits on an oak TV tray.

The family research, of course, has gone well beyond the Civil War, actually in both directions. I mean how can you narrow your focus to a specific period when you find all this information? I find myself thinking, “I’d better get this into the family tree while it’s in front of my eyes.”

I’ve just started reading Shelby Foote’s narrative history of the Civil War and have learned more about the causes and political atmosphere in the first 75 pages than I ever learned in school.

All the time I’m reading and working, the book is on my mind: Where I want to start; who I want to include; what family stories; where I want to place it (I’m thinking dual settings as in both the homefront in Henry County and wherever the war takes I Company).

Needless to say, it’s all keeping me busy and that’s a good thing.

April 27, 2009 Posted by | kidney | 1 Comment

Silver lining

The blisters are almost healed. The scabs are gone and the new skin, though tender, seems to be doing well.  I will return to physical therapy next Wednesday.  The prosthetist will meet me there and we’ll be trying some new things one of which is a silver lining sock.

I’ve always wanted to have a silver lining to my life.

The silver helps to lessen stress on the skin, combats sweating and helps lower the risk of infection. Definitely good things for a diabetic amputee.

An encouraging visit

Dennis and Donna stopped by treatment Friday for a visit. Donna is recuperating from what appears to be a successful kidney transplant at University of Iowa Hospitals. She was all smiles and reported she’s happily peeing on a regular basis, drinking in the amounts she wants, and making rounds of social visits.

I say Wundebar! I was grinning as we talked because I was so happy for her and pleased to hear of her success. I told her we needed to have visits from  her because they’re an instance of progress we seldom see at dialysis. It’s more common to hear of regression. We all fight to keep the status quo and often feel — rightly so — we’re in an uphill battle.

I was doing a little self-examination as we talked: Was I jealous or envious of Donna’s new kidney and new found liberation from renal diet and fluid restrictions? Was I thinking, “Damn, why couldn’t that be me?” Actually not really. I was just happy to see Donna so happy and doing so well. A great deal of that is due to Donna’s positive attitude and sincere concern for others.

And speaking of concern

Please keep the name Mary Ann in your thoughts for good wishes. She’s another positive thinker with a bright smile who’s in hospital right now with a severe infection that’s kept her in intensive care far too long. All of us at the second shift on Monday/Wednesday/Friday are pulling for her.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | kidney | Leave a comment